The Three Dimensions Of Discipline—Part 1

Jerry Sivnksty

One of the greatest struggles that many Christians have is maintaining a proper balance in their lives. This isn’t an easy task, but we should stop to consider how well balanced our lives are. Before I proceed any further, I want to point out that for us to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be a “disciplined one.” In Matthew 16:24 we read, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples [disciplined ones], If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Luke 14:33 declares, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple [disciplined one].” And, in John 8:31, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” In John 15:8 our Lord said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples [disciplined ones].” Our heart’s desire should be to live a disciplined life for our Lord.

The first area of discipline is the discipline of the mind. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.” How do we discipline our minds? It begins with memorizing the Word of God. In the Old Testament, the memorization of Scripture is highly emphasized. Deutoronomy 11:18, 19 says, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” The Lord wanted His children to know His Word! And there is no better way to know it than by consistent memorization. The Jewish children were so well versed in the Scriptures that by the age of twelve they could quote large portions of the Old Testament.

When I was saved as a teenager, my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Paul Phillips, challenged our class to memorize John 14:1–15. He said he would buy the student whatever he wanted if he memorized that passage. My whole life was wrapped up in playing sports; I needed a new baseball bat, so I decided to go home, borrow my mother’s Bible, and memorize that passage. The next Sunday I went to Sunday school and our teacher asked if anyone had memorized John 14:1–15. When no one else raised his hand, I raised mine and said, “I did, sir.” Mr. Phillips then told me to stand up and quote the entire passage in front of the class. I went into shock because I was terrified of speaking in front of other people, but I stood and blurted out the passage as fast as I could. When I was finished, Mr. Phillips asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted a baseball bat, and the next Sunday I saw him standing outside waiting for me. I ran to him to retrieve my new bat, but instead Mr. Phillips handed me a Bible. I had never owned a complete Bible; I took it home and decided to read it one night. As I started reading, I found I couldn’t put it down. I found a greater joy in the Scriptures than in any sport I’d ever played. I began to memorize the Word of God that shaped my life as a new child in Christ, and it has been a wonderful journey and constant challenge in my ministry. Our authority for living as a Christian is the Word of God. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

The discipline of the mind begins with memorizing Scripture, but simply memorizing it isn’t enough. We must also discipline our minds by meditating on Scripture. Nowhere does the Bible declare that the Lord will make you a success just by memorizing it. I was preaching to a group of pastors several years ago, and at the close of the service they asked me questions about the ministry. One pastor asked a question about a man who had memorized 8000 verses but who now was praising the pope and making close friendships with Charismatics. He wanted to know how a man could know so many verses and go in that direction. I told him that he might have indeed memorized all those verses, but it was apparent he did not meditate upon them. Success doesn’t come by memorizing the Bible but by meditating upon it. Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Meditation is applying the truth of Scripture to your life by dwelling upon it throughout the day. You memorize the Word and then constantly bring it up to your mind, fully digesting its truth.

Regardless of our ministry, we need to discipline our minds by memorizing and meditating upon Scripture. C. H. Spurgeon said, “The Holy Ghost rides in the chariot of Scripture, and not in the wagon of modern thought.” It is my prayer that many will see the need of disciplining their minds and act upon it by God’s grace.

 Part 2 ♦ Part 3

Jerry Sivnksty is an evangelist based in Starr, SC.

(Originally published in FrontLine • July / August 2005. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)