The Power of Discipline

Fruits of The Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:07:41
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If you haven’t been here for the past several weeks we have been going through the a series comparing the works of the flesh and the fruits of the spirt as recorded by Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia, specifically as listed in vs. 22 & 23 of chapter 5.
So far we have discussed love; joy; peace and patience; kindness and goodness; and today we’re tackling three words at once in talking about faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Faithfulness - Maintaining faith or allegiance; showing a strong sense of duty or conscientiousness.
Gentleness - acting in a manner that is gentle, mild, and even-tempered.
Self-Control - the trait of resolutely controlling one’s own desires (which would produce actions); especially sensual desires.
These words seem inextricably linked in my mind, just as some of the words in the list of works of the flesh. The lists that are provided in some ways are lists of synonyms.
Paul gives us a list of 15 words to describe the works of the flesh, but only 9 for the fruits of the Spirit. Yet a person living by the fruits of the Spirit is going to be acting very counter to a culture like ours.
Dostoevsky in his novel masterpiece, The Idiot writes of Prince Myshkin, who is thrust into a culture obsessed with wealth, power, and sexual conquest. Yet the prince himself has no pride, no greed, no malice, no envy, no vanity, and no fear. His behavior is so counter cultural that the people don’t know what to do with him. They trust him because of his innocence and simplicity, yet his lack of ulterior motives causes them to conclude that he is an idiot.
Of the prince, the narrator in this novel notes: “He did not care for pomp or wealth, nor even for public esteem, but cared only for the truth!”
Dostoevsky once said of his prince, “My intention was to portray a truly beautiful soul.”
I think one could make the same argument when considering the fruits of the Spirit. Paul’s intention was to list the marks of a truly beautiful soul. If in our lives the fruits listed:
Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)
...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...
if these fruits are evident in our lives they truly are the marks of a beautiful soul. Our challenge, as followers of Christ is that we recognize our lives are marred by impure motives, selfish desires, fear, anger, envy, etc.
So let’s take a few moments we have together to talk about these three words: Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.


faith is more than momentary assent to the truth of God. It is commitment to that truth, and it manifests itself in continued obedience.

When I think of the idea of faithfulness I think of the list of people in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.
We read in Hebrews 11
Hebrews 11 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The author then lists biblical characters such as Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and more.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Yet we remember this is a FRUIT of the Spirit, this is a result of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. It is something to strive for.


The word that is used here in the Greek is praÿ́tēs. The Greeks highly prized the social virture of “mildness” or “friendliness in dealing with others,” seeing it as opposed to roughness, bad temper, or sudden outbursts of anger. The word being used here has the sense of “Quiet and friendly composure which does not become embittered or angry at what is unpleasant, whether in the form of people…or fate. This is an active attitude and deliberate acceptance, not just passive submission.
As we have been describing the Fruits of the Spirit we’ve spoken about them growing from us imitating Christ.
Matthew 11:29 ESV
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This spirit is grounded in Christian love, and we’ve talked about how all of the fruits really grow out of that Christ love in us. Which brings us to our final word for the day:


Self discipline, self control, these are not necessarily fun words for us to hear. The Bible admits that:
Hebrews 12:11 ESV
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
All discipline seems painful. Think about all the forms of discipline: a parent/teacher correcting a child, a boss correcting a worker, or a police officer correcting a speeding driver. It seems painful. Yet, the truth is that for those of us who are trained by it it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. A fruit that brings us peace.
Way back in Genesis 4:7
Genesis 4:7 NIV
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
What does it mean to rule over it? It means that we must be disciplined in the way we live our lives.
1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Or as it is put in the NIV 1 Cor 9:27
1 Corinthians 9:27 (NIV84)
No, I pummel my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Discipline and Failure

As we talk about these three words, in fact as we discuss all the fruits of the Spirit, I think it’s important to recognize that we are not perfect. Yes, we want to set the bar high, in fact Jesus sets the bar at it’s ultimate height - holiness. And yet we know, if not from our own life experience then from Scripture:
Romans 3:10 ESV
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
Romans 3:23 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The truth is we are going to fail. We are going to miss the mark. We are going to let others and ourselves down. Yet our Creator God knows absolutely everything about us. Our Lord is not surprised by our failures, nor surprised by our struggles. A wise person once said, “God expects you to fail far more than you do.”
Yes, we’re going to fail. One of my favorite quotes on failure comes from Michael Jordan, it was used in a Nike commercial:
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
And yet, Jesus calls us to Himself: Matthew 11:28-29
Matthew 11:28–29 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This is where the Gospel is such good news. Jesus does not say, “hey, straighten up and get your life in order, then come to me.” No, he invites us to come right from where we are in the moment. All of dreams, all of our failures, all of our love, all of our anger, all of our selves and the incredibly complex people that we are.
Perhaps the greatest things that prevents us from being faithful, from having gentleness, and even from having self-control is our own fears. Fear of not getting what we think we deserve; fear of others thinking less of us; fear of not getting what we think we want.
Fear is rooted in our own lack of faith in our Jehovah Jireh, our provider. Jesus addressed it in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:25
Matthew 6:25 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:31–33 (ESV)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’...your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
So throughout this list of fruits of the Spirit we have seen how they all come back to the first fruit, Love. And in that sense we could come back to the Greatest Command: Mt 22:37-40
Matthew 22:37–40 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Our challenge as Christians is, and will always be to 1) Understand God’s Love for us.
2) Reflect that love in our love for God and our love for others.
I recently heard of a coach just yesterday, who has turned around not only a school, but an entire community in Memphis. When asked why this worked his comment was that it was all about taking the focus off of oneself and putting it on others by serving. It is in serving that we lead, it is in serving that we love. It is in serving that we truly receive fulfillment.

The Power of Discipline

The Power of discipline is not in our own self discipline, pick yourself up by your boot straps faith. No, it’s a discipline of self reflection and intentionality in seeking after God, seeking to be the person God has called us to be, and regularly reflecting on our progress. And with that I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:12 NIV84
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
As Christ’s own, let us press on to be the people God has called us to be, to the Glory of God. AMEN.
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