Day 32: Self-Discipline


WHAT KEEPS YOU UP?

He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.

Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)

She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said:

“Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.”

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. -Proverbs 7:8-27 (NIV)

I struggled against sin for years, many of those times falling into temptation during the night. Years continued to go by and I refused to develop a habit of discipline regarding my sleep routine. I watched movies, played video games, surfed the web on my phone, all in the late hours of the night. This isn't necessarily as much of a problem for everyone, but it is still worth addressing. Whether it's at night, during the day, or in the morning where you struggle the most, something always leads us to that place of severe temptation, where we feel as though nothing in the world can stop us from giving in (least of all our own will!)

God calls us to be self controlled and alert, how can we do that when we are running back to the same places (literally or figuratively) that have caused us to stumble in the past? Our enemy is prowling around, waiting to strike when we are vulnerable. The perfect opportunity for this is when we’re in a place we've fallen before. One of my favorite novel series' of all time is The Dark Tower by Stephen King. It tells the story of a gunslinger who travels across worlds (literally) in search of a mysterious tower that he is sure will solve all of his problems and restore balance to the universe. He risks everything, including the lives of others, in search of this tower. At the end (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) he comes to a shocking realization:

As he climbs the steps, Roland encounters various rooms containing siguls or signs of his past life. When he reaches the top of the Tower, he finds a door marked with his own name and opens it. Roland instantly realizes, to his horror, that he has reached the Tower countless times before. He is forced through the door by the hands of Gan and transported back in time to the Mohaine desert, back to where he was at the beginning of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, with no memories of what has just occurred. [1]

This is the trap that many of us fall into because we fail to see the need for discipline in our lives. We fall behind, refuse to change and become easy pray for the enemy:

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OLD HABITS

Habits that lead us into temptation must be done away with. If we cannot learn to discipline ourselves in this area, how can we hope to be free? Like the man in Proverbs 7, we are walking right into a trap every time we refuse to discipline our bodies and make changes in our lives. For me it is quite simple, I had an issue with staying up too late. As a result of being tired and alone, I was tempted and often fell. I had to develop a habit of going to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 5 am… every day (even the weekends). Many days are less than perfect, but God grants me the strength to have a routine on a regular basis.

So what habits are you holding onto? What areas are you failing to become more disciplined? Self-discipline isn't accidental; it's intentional. It isn't discovered; it's created. When I think of self-discipline, I'm reminded of a quote I read once on a nursery wall:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago... The second best time is today.

Will you commit to being disciplined today? Not next year, not next month or next week, or not even tomorrow, but ... today ... NOW, this very minute!"

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WHAT DISCIPLINE LOOKS LIKE

  • Eliminate Bad Habits

To expand on this, develop a system. For me going to bed on time meant I'd eat a banana, drink a glass of milk and read 30 minutes before going to sleep. These were practical steps that allowed me to start stepping away from a lifestyle of sin.

  • Replace with Good Habits

There are many ways to practice this and develop a habit of praying, studying God's word, and worshiping. Research some of these methods, and find ways to stay disciplined, motivated, and focused.

  • Don't quit

It may go without saying, but it's far too easy to give up on good habits and good discipline. Similarly, it is far too difficult to develop good habits, but that can't be an excuse for us. If you want to be a winner, if you want to break free from sexual slavery, you have to push through to the very end!

Day 31 Application

What did the man in Proverbs 7:8-27 lack?

What areas of your life are in need of self-discipline?

What needs to change so that you can continue to deepen your relationship with God? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?

Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?