Christian Growth Through Godly Discipline
Life After Salvation: its Beauty and Urgency

Introduction: The series: Christian Growth through Godly Discipline addresses the issue of the believer progressively and daily living as one saved. What characterizes the believer is patterned Christian growth through godly discipline. The series could also be termed growth of the Christian in godliness through discipline or growth in Christlikeness. It emphasizes progressive sanctification which is the daily process of becoming more like Christ. Further, Christian growth requires godly discipline

I. Change is the essence of life and the believer is a most changed person having been rescued from Satan’s kingdom and family and the mindset that accompanied it. As a believer there is Christian growth through godly discipline. Said another way to emphasize the believer’s call and the believer’s lifestyle is growth in Christlikeness by the agency of the holy Spirit by godliness through discipline.

A. At regeneration, the believer was changed:

1. He was brought into a new kingdom and family (Colossians 1:13),
2. He was given a new relationship with God in Christ (Galatians 2:20)
3. He became a new creature in the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17);
4. He was declared not guilty by God and His son (Romans 5:1-5; 8:1: justification);
5. He was adopted into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-6).

B. In sanctification, he is changing more and more into the image of Christ to become more like Christ (BMLC) in his thoughts, desires, and actions. There is Christian growth through godly discipline.

II. However changing is hard and comes slow – slower than you want and perhaps slower than what you think God wants.

A. What is happening? What is hindering Christian growth through godly discipline for the purpose of increasing in Christlikeness/godliness in order to please God?
B. Habits of living include thoughts, desires, and actions.

1. These developed when you were the old man – the old you.
2. They are ingrained and part of you – habitual, patterned lifestyle.
3. As an unbeliever, you were developing more into the likeness of your father Satan.
4. That mindset and lifestyle consisted of self on center stage: for me, by me, to me that occurred in varying forms and with various expressions.

C. Changing daily into Christlikeness requires a paradigm shift in thinking and desires.

1. Unbelievers are motivated by self-pleasing: for self, to self, by self.
2. Self-pleasing competes with the motivation to please God. The two are mutually exclusive unless pleasing God is the ultimate expression of pleasing self. This motivation describes Jesus Christ.
3. A God-pleasing approach to life is what the believer was designed for in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4), is what characterized Christ’s life (John 4:31-34), and is to characterize the believer’s life (2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 John 3:1-3). It goes by several names that are summarized as the dominating awareness that this is God’s world and that I will give to Him an account of everything I think, desire, and do,

a. Fear of the Lord
b. God-consciousness
c. God-awareness
d. Desiring to holy – the quest for holiness

4. Becoming more like Christ (BMLC) is the greatest privilege that any believer has.

a. It flows from the heart: Proverbs 4:23.
b. It reflects the moral drama played out in every believer’s heart.
c. It is a matter of choice, trust, and faith: God or self.
d. When push comes to shove and when the chips are down, what controls a person and his heart will be demonstrated – exposed: what holds your heart molds you.

5. BMLC is the only way to truly please God because it is the only way to imitate Christ!
6. It is the only way to live satisfied and contented: Proverbs 13:15b; 26:11

D. Changing daily as a God-pleaser is not instant but it is gradual and consistent.
E. Godliness is BMLC so that thoughts, desires, and actions follow His mold.

1. Godliness through fear of the Lord can be developed.
2. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge which is the forerunner of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). It is antithetical to the fool and foolishness.
3. Godliness in thought, desire, and action comes through the application of biblical truth added by discipline and endurance.
4. The Holy Spirit is the agent of BMLC.
5. The Spirit works in and with a person but never for or against him (Philippians 2:12-13).

III. Christian growth in Christ through godly discipline: Godliness defined

A. The Greek word is eusebeia: an attitude and thinking about God that flows from a changed relationship with God by the Holy Spirit that results in changed thinking, wanting, and actions both vertically – toward God – and horizontally – toward others.

1. It includes the concepts of piety and devotion.
2. It is well-directed reverence.
3. For the believer, tis well-directed reverence that lows from a change heart as opposed to externalized piety.
4. True and biblical godliness: A whole-person response in term of thoughts, desires, and actions is motivated by the desire to please God simply because He is God. .
5. It results in seeing Jesus Christ in the person who is living godly.

B. 1 Timothy 4:7: discipline yourself toward (or for the purpose of) godliness.

1. There is no option about being godly – it is a divine command much after the order of Matthew 5:48 (love your enemies) and 1 Peter 1:15-16 (be holy).
2. The goal is not perfection: 1 John 1:8, which is unattainable in this life due to remaining sinfulness and previous habituation as a legacy from prior membership in Satan’s family and kingdom.
3. BMLC is God’s goal for every believer and it begins at salvation.

C. Discipline is the means for developing godliness.

1. The word implies structured and organized living. It comes from the world of athletics – gymnasium and gymnastics.
2. God wants believers to be godly, has commanded them to be so, has given them direction in His Word, indwelt the believer with the Holy Spirit, and He has given each believer a relationship with Him through Christ.
3. God’s resources abound: therefore there is hope.
4. Believers by nature are to will and want what God wants: Matthew 5:10.
5. Believers are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a new orientation – away from self and to God.
6. Believers are also blessed with and given grace: saving and enabling grace.
7. It requires effort – exertion: 1Timothy 4:7; 6:11.
8. Godliness can be false and compounded by false teaching: 1Timothy 6:3, 5; 2 Timothy 3:5.

D. Facts of newness as a believer

1. The fact that the believer is a new creature doesn’t mean that he has arrived.
2. There is still much work to be done.
3. There is remaining sinfulness and pro-self/anti-God habituation as a legacy from previous membership in Satan’s family and kingdom.
4. What you are in Christ in God’s eyes doesn’t always demonstrate itself in daily life this side of heaven – self-pleasing still abounds
a. Thoughts and desires are still ingrained which motivates the believer to function as if the world is and centers on him.
b. Others and circumstances are still considered the problem and not the believer.
c. Old habits die hard but are changed!

IV. Discipline is one key to godly living: discipline yourself, not in your strength but in the Holy Spirit’s as a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:9, 14-17; Philippians 2:12-13; 4:13)

A. How can you and any believer change?
B. Biblical discipline means work, endurance, and sustained effort from the proper motivation and desire to please God.
C. The words (gumnazo: 1 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:14; 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14 and its noun: gumnasia: 1 Timothy 4:3, 8; Colossians 2:23) come from the world of athletics and gymnastics.

1. Regular, sustained practice and consistent effort.
2. Long obedience in the same direction
3. It requires work/effort.

D. 1 Timothy 4:7-8: have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather train yourself to godly. For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things holding promise for both the present life and the life to come

1. Paul brings together the temporal – now, present life – and the eternal – spiritual and heavenly life.
2. An eternal perspective – heavenly – influences the temporal – right now.
3. Godliness requires a proper perspective of this life and of eternity. Christ had this proper linkage. So, too, are believers.
4. 1 John 3:1-3: the hope of seeing God face to face pushes the believer to pursue godliness here.
5. These verses are a commentary on Jesus’ teaching (6 times in the gospels): deny self, take up your cross and follow Me.

a. Matthew 10:32-38; 16:24; Mark 8:32-36; Luke 9:23; 14:25; John 12:25
b. Self is the problem: say no to self – that is the beginning of discipline for godliness. A person is to put off pleasing and replace it with God-pleasing.
c. How do you say no to self? It is by saying yes to God.
d. Daily denial of self means saying no to what you at the expense of God and others simply because you want it: Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 8:14.
e. Daily there is a war within the heart of every person. At the center of that war is the question:: who do you serve: self or God? It is that simple. .
f. Daily denial of self means daily putting on Christ in terms of thoughts, desires, and actions (Romans 13:12-14).

E. Changing via godliness is hard – difficult. It is impossible unless the person is a believer.

1. The hardness may be a source of discouragement. Consider these facts:

a. Habit is a God-given capacity that is to be used for His glory. Sin-pleasing is the use of that capacity in competition with God – for person’s glory.
b. Habits, both God-pleasing and self-pleasing ones, die hard.
c. They are ingrained and long-developed.
d. Sometimes the effort is so demanding because pleasing-self is so easy and even enjoyable for the moment.

2. The time spent in Satan’s family and kingdom is not the issue.
3. Apparently not much time is needed to be spent as a self-pleaser before that habit becomes second nature and requires God’s supernatural activity to change the person.
4. Functioning as the new creature requires God’s grace and wisdom but also your effort to be what you are in Christ daily 24/7: Philippians 2:12-13.
5. God expects His child bought with the blood of Christ and indwelt by the Spirit to use his God-given resources to discipline self for His glory and the believer’s good.
6. Discipline requires:

a. Right knowledge about God and self.
b. It requires practice: Hebrews 5:13ff.

7. The call to discipline self is part of God’s redemptive program and His promise: practicing what God says leads to the faithful and obedient life.
8. It is not simply practice alone that is crucial.

a. It must be the correct practice for the correct reason.
b. Practicing self-pleasing leads to further self- pleasing: Proverbs 5:21-22; 26:11; 2 Peter 2:14, 19, 22.

9. You must discipline yourself toward godliness – any other effort leads away from godliness.

F. How do you answer the question: can you change?

1. You are already changed as a believer: salvation. God did it – 100% God and 0% you.
2. God does not change His people at salvation without an agenda for them after salvation.
3. God says you can or He would not command you to discipline yourself if it not possible.
3. God has provided resources (see above).
4. You don’t do it alone: Philippians 2:12-13; 4:13; Galatians 5:22-23
5. So God makes very clear that the problem of an undisciplined life lies solely with the person – the believer. He is not being what he is in Christ and what God intended.
6. What are reasons for no change – no discipline

a. The person may not be a believer.
b. The person may enjoy sin, at least for a time.
c. He may not want to change even as a believer.
d. He may fear change for a variety of reasons.
e. He may be hopeless: he gives up and not endure to the end. Why?

1) The lack of endurance may due to the fact that people want change now – instant and effortless without hard work.
2) He may be ignorant of the power/influence of habituation: the longer a habit is practiced the more natural and second nature it has become; the harder it is to change it.

f. Change is always possible. Don’t live the lie! It is a reality in the believer’s life because he is already changed!
g. Change/effort/endurance is never the believer’s alone:

1) It is learned from the Bible (your ideas won’t produce it) and the Holy Spirit: Romans 15:4, 13
2) It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23
3) It can be developed: Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4,12; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Hebrews 12:14
4) It is blessed by God: James 1:12
5) It is modeled by Christ: Hebrews 12:1-3 and every believer is BMLC!

V. Consider these summary thoughts:

A. The believer is to develop a holy indignation for sins and the excuses for it : Ps 119:104, 113, 115 – God does!
B. Regularly: read, recite, mediate, memorize, verbalize, and actualize the Word of God.

1. Study the Word and apply it as an obedient and trusting child of God: Psalm 1:1-3; 119:9-11.
2. Rely on one standard – God’s word: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4
3. Being aware of the new mindset in Christ and cultivating it so you can live by it: Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14-15
4. Growth comes in the doing: John 13:17; James 1:25
5. Structured living through discipline brings freedom and simplifies life.

C. Regularly read the Scriptures, prayerfully and humbly as you do; practice them in terms of thoughts, desires, and actions; and enjoy God and His obedience.

1. Do the above on a schedule regardless of how you feel and out of gratitude for the cross, grace, and God’s kindness to you in Himself, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
2. Praise God as you grow.