To fully follow the Lord Jesus Christ as a genuine disciple will require a spiritually disciplined Christian life. Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, forsake all and bear their cross daily by denying themselves.
Living for Christ in this godless world, controlled by satanic forces and dwelling in bodies cursed by sin and the sin nature, will demand complete surrender to the Holy Spirit and the divine nature given to us through salvation. Any hope of victory or success in holy living, holy worship and holy service will require commitment, dedication and consecration to spiritual discipline.
Self-discipline is a worthy ideal when it is achieved with a sincere, humble heart. Many people have become self-disciplined by force of character, inherited traits, influence of personality, structured programs, leadership, etc. We must however be aware that ungodly people can also be very self-disciplined. We must not allow the apex of human discipline be the goal of our Christian lives, no matter how impressive it looks.
Supervised discipline is needed in all aspects of society whether the home, school, church, work place, nation, etc. Supervised discipline refers to those in leadership using regulations, rules, guidelines, etc. in mandating forms of behaviour for the good of individuals and groups of people.
I suppose, if we lived in a perfect world, full of perfect people, we would not need supervised discipline. Heaven will be such a place! Until then, we need the directives of those in leadership to help promote order, structure and efficiency among people groups and to guard against a form of life lived at the lowest form of accountability and carelessness. Supervised discipline cannot however bring people to the pinnacle of accomplishment. There must be something better.
Spiritual discipline is alluded to in Galatians 5:22-23 as temperance. This word means “strength of control.” It refers to the influence of the Holy Spirit upon the mind and will of a believer so that he or she determines and chooses to live, act and serve in a way that is most Christlike.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 speaks of exercising your self to godliness for the sake of your present life, future reward and for the glory of our great Saviour. Exercise speaks of gymnastics, the training and discipline of your inner and outer man to achieve spiritual heights of victory, service and character.
The Word of God, the example of Christ and the lives of holy people, of past and present days, should motivate us to reach for the highest level of Christian living.
When we yield to the Holy Spirit and give our members as instruments of righteousness in obedience, we will rise to a level beyond self or supervised discipline. Spiritual discipline must be the ultimate goal for ourselves and those we influence.