As Christians, we are to keep our bodies disciplined. This is significant because when we are born again, our souls are saved but our bodies (or flesh, used interchangeably) are not. Our bodies have desires and appetites that go against God therefore, serving these ‘fleshy desires’, which hinder our continued Christian growth. Fortunately for us as believers, the Bible is our everyday manual utilised for discipline. Compared to other books (including Christian books) used for motivation and encouragement, it is the one book that is constantly based on its significance. Consequently, if our Bibles are closed, we cannot keep our bodies disciplined.
The flesh is evil and easily tempted, and with that, there are so many activities that the body wants to engage in (for example, sexual immorality) in which we should constantly strive, to die to ourselves and completely live a life in surrender to God. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul refers to training his body like an athlete because he understood that: as an athlete trains his body continually for a race, so should one train their body in discipline for their walk with Christ, lest they become disqualified. This obligation of discipline does not solely rely on God to ensure that one walks correctly; it is also the Christian’s responsibility to ensure that he or she follows what the Bible commands and requires.
This is crucial because keeping our bodies disciplined prepares us for the journey ahead (much like an athlete preparing for a race). The body is a very important aspect because we are spiritual beings, and the body is the entity that encompasses this. Therefore, we should constantly keep the flesh in check. This is very essential because it might interfere with our ability to hear the Holy Spirit, who communicates to us via the Word of God.
Furthermore, Paul emphasizes disciplining the body because, as mentioned above, the body encompasses the spirit, but because the body desires earthly (sinful) things and the spirit, spiritual (righteous) things, they are at odds; constantly fighting because they are against each other (see Galatians 5:17). Having a disciplined body helps us follow the promptings of God’s instructions over the desires of the flesh. Hence, our body is vital in our Christian walk for it is an instrument to be used for God by God. That is why it is of vital importance to keep our bodies constantly disciplined. Discipline entails the practice of training something or someone to obey. In this context, it is training your body to obey the Spirit of the Lord.
The Spirit of the Lord is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus left with us as a Helper who will teach us about God (see John 15:26). Keeping your body disciplined begins from the inside of your beings, which means not only feeding your mind and heart with the Word but also keeping yourself in constant prayer. Prayer is multidimensional; it is not only used when we make requests to God but it can be used as a tool to bring our bodies into subjection. Moreover, we cannot keep our bodies disciplined without prayer.
The Bible calls us to bring ourselves into the likeness of Jesus Christ, representing God as His ambassador here on earth. However, when we aren’t watchful it poses a great danger to us because then, we will fall prey to any wind of doctrine exposed to us in our walk with God. What is more, when we take charge of our behavioural patterns, this will in turn help better our lives. A disciplined Christian moves from glory to glory because, in every moment, we are in communion with God, allowing Him consistently to lead, guide and direct us. As the Bible states, “faith without works is dead.” Therefore discipline should not only be taught or preached about, but it should also be exercised as well in the same way that it is emphasized in Joshua 1:8; for only then will prosperity and success come.
Many believers want to succeed but don’t want to be disciplined in the reading of the Word. Success comes from obeying God’s Word, but not knowing our Bible leads to disobedience, for we can’t obey what we do not know. Hence, discipline helps us walk in the direction of God’s leadership (for He leads us spiritually, as well as physically) which means to be the sons and daughters of God here on earth.
Discipline should be mastered by every believer. To master discipline in the body you need to keep your mind disciplined, for the body enacts that which is in the mind; in other words, what is seen in the flesh is a product of what is stored inside of us. So when a believer lacks discipline, it won’t be seen in the spiritual but in the physical. And not just in behaviour, but in words too. Our body is a sacrifice to God (see Romans 12:1-2). God no longer deals with dead sacrifices but deals with the living, hence we are living sacrifices to God, called to do what is holy and acceptable to Him and not to us. God desires a sacrifice that He will work on to prune.
In Jeremiah 18:5, we are described as clay pots in the potter’s hand (with the potter being God) meaning we are instruments made to carry the glory and holiness of God. We are called to be disciplined because we are called to be holy, that is, to be set apart from the world (see Romans 12:2). For us to be set apart, we need to be transformed by the renewal of our minds and not conform to the patterns of this world. This then showcases His will for man and what He accepts and requires.
Yearn to keep the body disciplined because it will aid us as we grow spiritually. The body is pivotal in this generation because there are so many false doctrines going on and a lack of discipline gives the enemy access to make advances on us. After all, without discipline, we become like a city without walls (see Proverbs 25:28). Since our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (a Christian who has given their lives to Christ) and not our own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This verse further states that we are God’s possession which He bought at a high price. The importance of the body to God is also captured in Jude 1 where we see that the archangel Michael is disputing with Satan over the body of Moses.
We belong to God, therefore, we are only stewards through whom the dominion of God will rule through and He will fight for us. We are in the last days and these are perilous times hence we should be earnest and disciplined in our prayers (see 1 Peter 4:7-8). It is pointless to think we will have dominion over our body without a prayer life, one thing that makes a Christian strong is the time spent in the secret place. We can train ourselves by remaining in the presence (secret place) of God, in prayer and the meditation of God’s Word. In addition, Jude 1:20 says we can build ourselves up on the foundation of our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.
Another way is to be peculiar about what we allow into our mind and our body too (see example of Daniel in Daniel 1:5 and 8). Boundaries need to be set on what has access to you, to avoid sin. As mentioned above, physical discipline ties with mental discipline therefore FLEE (literally) from temptations or anything that can cause you to fall (for example certain movies or social media posts). Before we engage in something, we are to ask ourselves who it represents and what it encourages in us. Be reminded that what we allow through your eyes, fills our body (see Matthew 6:22).
Boundaries can also apply to people and relationships. Remember, we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation and that in itself calls for separation from the opposite (see 1 Peter 2:9). Who we associate with matters because “bad company corrupts good character” (read 1 Corinthians 15:33). Hence when the Bible speaks about being unequally yoked, it applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.
We need to be believers that have a fortified mind. Therefore, put on the full Armour of God (read Ephesians 6:10-20) like the helmet of salvation that protects the mind. So, let that which accompanies salvation be that which fortifies the mind, meditating on righteousness and redemption. We are to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who is our perfect model. We are an ambassador for and of God, thus we are the Bible that people first read and encounter, which means they will learn about the Christianity that you practice. Therefore, take heed in keeping the body disciplined!