The only time church discipline is necessary is when self-discipline fails. Therefore, we should teach and embrace self-discipline more.
The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” The first part of this sentence means that he kept his body under control. The second part means that he made his body obey him. If we do the same, we will be able to refuse everything that is not good or wholesome, and we will be able to do everything that is good and wholesome.
A body is not all there is to a human being. More importantly, we are a spirit and we also have a soul. Both the soul and spirit are non-material; you can’t touch them with your finger. However, I understand that the soul has more to do with our personality while the spirit has more to do with our God-consciousness. Our bodies re turn to dust but our spirit and soul live on. Our bodies are just a temporary dwelling place for our spirit and soul.
Our bodies should not dominate our spirit and soul; rather, our spirit and soul should dominate our bodies. Therefore, if we say, “My body feels like doing this so I’m going to do it,” we are operating or functioning on the wrong basis. The determining factor is what is right or wrong, edifying or not edifying, according to God’s Word. Our bodies must be our servants, not our masters. Self- discipline is to have our bodies under the control of our spirit, and, in the case of children of God, our spirits under the control of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, which work together.
Scripture which requires self-discipline to fulfill is found in I John 2:15. “Love not the world.” Here the word “world” does not mean the beautiful things of nature, which we all love, but those things which make for a carnal life instead of a spiritual life. Even the most spiritually minded child of God will have carnal inclinations so long as he is in the body, but it is imperative that we each have enough self-discipline to keep those inclinations from taking over and dominating us, body, soul and spirit.
Self-discipline is necessary, not only to keep us from going the wrong way and doing the wrong things, but it is necessary for us to go the right way and to do the right things. As much as possible, we should do those things that are good for our spiritual well-being as well as avoid those things which are bad for our spiritual well-being. As much as possible, we should eat those things that are good for our bodies and avoid those things which are not good for our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?”
The only time church discipline is necessary is when self-discipline fails. Let’s encourage each other to keep our self-discipline healthy and working for the Spiritual life.
(The above is from The Silver Lining, by Willis Ehnle, March, 2001, Volume 55, #3. Published monthly by The Apostolic Christian Church. Address: The Silver Lining, RR2 Box 50, Roanoke, IL 61561.)