Along the path of Righteousness we will all sin or miss the mark, but what matters is that we choose to repent again and again correcting ourselves more and more into alignment with God.
Perseverance produces (NIV)
Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
2 Timothy 3:10-11 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
2 Peter 1:5-7 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
We must avoid the temptation to quit or rest on one's laurels. Inwardly we will struggle in discomfort as we seek to increase toward God. We will naturally desire comfort and be tempted to stop the struggle. Jesus Christ and the apostles did not stop when things became difficult. We are to grow as he did and in some cases struggle as he did. Continuing in the struggle means everything for our spiritual transformation and growth. Without persisting in the struggle we have little chance of building our relationship with God. We will either obey God or we will not, but we make the choice each day.
Fortunately as Ezekiel 18describes, it is our present condition which God cares about.
Luke 16:31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Does it really matter if we believe Jesus is raised from the dead if we do not give our hearts and minds to him? Don't our actions testify to our faith? We are still commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, entitlement, anger, fear, dishonesty, worry, and self-centeredness are often what lead us away from God's love, mercy, and peace. The Bible is clear, we are not to obey fear, pride, anger, and selfish ambition. What great things have come from it? Such character leads toward destruction. So let us now persevere with every effort to increase our knowledge about God and make changes within our hearts and minds to build in God's character.
We all have our good days and our not so good days. We lose focus, fall back into automatic pilot and into self seeking instead of God seeking. This is normal for many of us. Self discipline is required to help us get back on course. It all begins with our focus and thinking. We need reminders to prompt us toward seeking God's will. Regular prayer, like St. Francis, is wonderful at helping with this.
God's discipline may hurt, like an alcoholic hurts going through detox, the discomfort is the body purging poison. God is calling us into the discomfort of purging selfish, sinfulness, and destructive habits. Discomfort does not always mean bad, wrong, unhealthy, dangerous, rude, or mean. Discomfort we feel giving ourselves over to God's ways can come from our fear of losing control. We give ourselves over to a new way of life relying on new principles, behaviors, thoughts, and associations. It is perfectly normal to feel apprehension and grief for the loss of our old life, habits, and familiar ways of doing things. For a deeper psychological understanding of the discomfort in new learning see Jean Piaget disequilibrium.
Blaming will not help anyone at this point. Fault finding will distract from the path we ought to be on. Forgiveness and mercy is our solutions now. We are feeling the pains of justice and it is fair. More than fair, because we will be rewarded with God's love and grace. Please read the scripture about discipline below. Understand that it is a positive, supportive, and encouraging resource to help keep us be safe, free, and at peace.
Deuteronomy 4:36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you.
Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
Job 5:17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law;
Proverbs 3:11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
Proverbs 3:12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 5:12 You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!
Proverbs 5:23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.
Proverbs 10:17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 13:18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 15:5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
Proverbs 15:10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.
Proverbs 15:32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
Proverbs 23:13 [ Saying 13 ] Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.
Isaiah 26:16 Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer.
Jeremiah 17:23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.
Jeremiah 30:11 I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’
Jeremiah 32:33 They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.
1 Corinthians 4:21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 11:32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
Colossians 2:5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
Hebrews 12:4-12 God Disciplines His Children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Repentance is not turning away from sin, but instead, it is turning toward God and giving in to being a demonstration of God's love and excellent character. Discipline is first getting the person's attention, turning them away from the wrong, yet they still need instruction toward the right and correct way with demonstration of how to do it.
2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Self discipline is needed to redirect ourselves back into God's grace.
We, Christians, have been instructed to love God and our neighbor, but we get temptations, distractions, and selfish desires. These distract us from looking at and following Godly character. Self discipline necessary for guiding our minds and hearts each day into viewing and seeking participation with God's grace and character. We must accept this responsibility.
Living out God's character and attributes can lead us into peace, love, fulfillment, contentment, and Joy. Following our selfish desires, doing what other people do, seeking worldly pleasures, and physical gratification can be destructive when it does not comply with God's will. God's way must supersede everything with our attitude, choices, and focus.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (NIV)
Self discipline with our thinking
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)
Self-examination, taking captive our thoughts, and guarding our hearts are skills which require development through practice and corrections. Like other skills it takes investment, effort, repetition, consultation, and perseverance. Trial and error is part of the process. Like riding a bike we will make mistakes, fall off, perhaps get some healthy bruises to our pride, and learn to embrace humility. It's best to meet with others who have experience in it for counsel, coaching, encouragement, and guidance.
We are to apply every effort (NIV)
Luke 13:24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
Ephesians 4:3 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Romans 14:19 " Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."
2 Peter 1:5 "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;"
Hebrews 12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
We ought to look closely at how well we are following God's ideas for us and make corrections by submission to God's ways, methods, character, and principles. Utilizing our time to increase our focus in this direction develops real change in our minds, hearts, and actions. If we do not think about God we simply will not respond with him. The spirit is inside us, but are we listening, following, and obeying?
1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."