“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
As he grew in his relationship with God, Simon Peter learned to operate by discipline rather than by default. When you read through Acts and then through 1 and 2 Peter, it is evident that Peter had becoming increasingly more disciplined in his life. In 1 Peter 4.7 he called it being “self-controlled and sober-minded.”
Default is easy. It takes no effort, no skill. It simply reacts based on emotional impulse. This was Simon Peter’s behavior pattern before he was transformed by Jesus. Discipline, on the other hand, is not easy. It requires you to pause and think. To intentionally choose to follow the way of Jesus. It requires you to pray and seek God’s wisdom and power.
Discipline-driven people do what is necessary even if it is uncomfortable. Default-driven people do what is comfortable even if it isn’t effective. By following Jesus, the apostle Simon Peter slowly and progressively became a discipline-driven man.
The role of Spirit-empowered discipline is essential to life in Christ. Here is what Galatians says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5.22-23)
Note that the final fruit of the Spirit is self-control, or self-discipline. It is the capstone virtue of the Spirit and the critical factor in this list of characteristics. It is the virtue that determines how effectively we build all the other virtues into our life. Without self-discipline, we will not operate with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.
Self-discipline is the Greek word egkrateia. It comes from the root krat, which denotes power or lordship. Self-discipline means exercise powering over yourself. It is keeping yourself under control. It is self-mastery over your inner desires, thoughts, actions, and words. It is the control a believer must exercise over their life, and it is the cornerstone spiritual virtue in our battle against the old nature.
The Greek word that this verse uses for “self-control” (enkrateia) comes from the root krat, which denotes power or lordship. Self-discipline means exercise powering over yourself. It is keeping yourself under control. It is self-mastery over your inner desires, thoughts, actions, and words. It is the control a believer must exercise over his or her life.
There is self-discipline that is disconnected from the Spirit. We might call it “self-driven self-discipline.” That is not what scripture talks about. Scripture calls us to Spirit-empowered self-discipline, which is what happens when a Christian trusts God, seeks to obey scripture, asks for the Spirit’s power, recognizes and rejects the impulses of the sin nature, and then exercises self-mastery.
That is what happens when we follow Jesus on The Path. As Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
May we, like Peter, move from default to discipline. May we trust God, walk in the Spirit, and do the work.
Follow the Path.