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Bible Study: Godly self-discipline

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

Discussion Questions:

  • Does your life paint a stronger picture of discipline or lack of discipline? In what area(s) are you most disciplined? Least disciplined?
  • Would you say discipline and spirituality are intimately related, friends, casual acquaintances, or unknown to each other? Explain your answer.
  • Thinking of the witness of your life, what does the way you discipline your body testify about Jesus?

Food for thought:

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? We are about three weeks into a brand-new year. If you are still keeping your resolutions, you are doing better than 30-35 percent of people who have already let theirs drop.

The new year offers a fresh start, a time to hit the reset button and begin anew, hence the rash of resolutions. A resolution is a declaration we will discipline ourselves in an area we haven’t been disciplined in. We’ll discipline ourselves to exercise more, eat less, eat better, quit smoking, spend less, or learn a new skill or hobby.

According to one website, five of the top 10 New Year’s resolution for 2022 dealt with improving physical health. How appropriate, then, that we begin this new study from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Joyful Surrender on seven godly disciplines, the first of which is “The Discipline of the Body.”

Elliot asserts, “Discipline, for a Christian, begins with the body” and stresses the connection between the body and spirituality. Our bodies are the primary material we have with which to make sacrifice and offering to the Lord. To separate our bodies from spirituality would be to replicate the error of the Gnostics, against whom Paul and John wrote.

While we might be able to determine any number of ways to discipline our bodies for godliness, Elliot has addressed three. We discipline our bodies in the area of food. This speaks to both the short-term discipline of fasting, but also to the ongoing issue of gluttony. We likewise are to discipline our bodies in the areas of rest and exercise. Neither the abuse of our bodies through too much activity nor the absence of disciplined activity contribute to our goal of godliness.

Finally, Elliot stresses our need to discipline our bodies in the area of purity. Holiness and purity are two basic character traits of God the Father and the Son. We cannot hope to faithfully reflect the image of God while ignoring such a central element of the character of God.

Resolved: I will discipline my body for godliness.

MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at Lifeway.com/masterwork.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources