Choose Discipline Over Deliverance

Choose Discipline Over Deliverance

How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways.
–Psalm 119:2-3

In order to make obedience part of our everyday lives, first we have to appreciate the power of discipline. While poor habits can lead us further into sin, godly habits can help us develop patterns of obedience in our lives. That leads to a second truth: learn to choose discipline over deliverance. In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul said, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” That word “discipline” comes from the same Greek word as “gymnasium.” You can smell the sweat all over that verse. Work out, practice, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

Let’s be honest: Most of us prefer the miraculous to the mundane, don’t we? If we find ourselves enslaved to an addiction or trapped in an immoral relationship or wandering far away from God, we would much rather have a one-time solution to our problem–perhaps some kind of ecstatic religious experience, or maybe even an exorcism. We imagine having a one-time experience that would take care of everything, instead of developing these daily disciplines like time in God’s Word, prayer, and personal holiness. We want an easy fix to our problems, but it does not work that way. I think Satan laughs his head off when he watches Christians engage in some of these flamboyant activities like exorcising demons or praying for the binding of Satan’s power, as if there is anything you and I could do to bind Satan’s power. These ecstatic experiences are not going to deliver us once and for all from the power of sin, but Satan is happy for us to go on thinking that they will.

In Randy Alcorn’s modern version of “The Screwtape Letters,” a senior demon named Lord Foulgrin writes to his demonic student about the “vermin” (that is, humans) they are trying to deceive. This is how the senior demon advises his protégé: “Let them cast us out, or imagine they have, as long as the vermin keep making the daily choices that invite us back in. Let them ‘name’ and ‘bind’ us to their hearts’ content, as long as they entertain the thoughts and engage in the activities that give us power over them. . . . It’s not power plays and sweeping declarations of our defeat that frighten me; it’s quiet prayers for personal holiness and greater yieldedness to the Enemy. Far better that they focus on us than look to their own hearts and ask the Enemy to cleanse them.” I think Satan is much more threatened when he sees Christians on their knees, in God’s word, or confessing their sins than he is by some ecstatic religious experience. Choose discipline over immediate deliverance, and eventually you will experience deliverance from the power of Satan.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power Of A Habit” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Randy Alcorn, “Lord Foulgrin’s Letters” (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2001), 111-12.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.;