2. Discipline

The soul begs discipline. This is not to say the soul likes discipline. It’s like the idiom ‘to beg the question.’ The question in question is perhaps not burning to be asked. Sometimes, rather, it insinuates some irony or sense of dissatisfaction. In which case the word ‘beg’ is understudy to ‘assumes knowledge of.’ So, then, the soul perhaps cannot discipline itself and ought to be in submission to a higher power.

Before explaining why the soul begs discipline, it would do well to explain what discipline is not. It is not beating, nor insulting, nor chastising, nor making one to feel inferior So, then, if these measures are off limits, how would one go about disciplining? Galatians 5:22 gives a list describing the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Now, we often stop there. But verse 23 goes on to say “Against such things, there is no law.” In other words, any thing or action in direct contradiction to the fruit of the spirit is against the law.

Now, which law is that? The only commandment given in the New Testament is to love others as Christ loved us (John 13:34). This, as we know, lines up with the 10 commandments of the Old Testament which Jesus ingeniously compressed into two: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31).
The implications here are astounding. First, this means love is tantamount because it is the common denominator. Second, it means we cannot love our neighbour (effectively) before we have genuine, godly love for ourselves. Third, and implicit by the second point, love is an action and not just a fuzzy feeling in the gut or loins. And fourth, and perhaps most importantly, this means the soul—made up of mind, will, emotions—must submit to love. There are no shortcuts, and there are no alternative readings. Therefore by deductive logic, discipline cannot be any thing or action that falls outside of God’s laws on love.

So, why does the soul beg discipline? Simply put, because it is unruly. Sigmund Freud described the human mind as composed of the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id is pleasure-seeking, compulsive, and insatiable. The super-ego is moralizing. The ego has more complex processes and reasons between the id and the super-ego. (Notice the ego, which reasons between the insatiable id and the moralizing function of the super-ego, is still subordinate to the super-ego.) The ego sounds much like the ‘mind’ as defined biblically, and the id like the ‘will.’ The undisciplined id, then, is the only part of the body we beg God to rule over every day. Never noticed? It’s in the Lord’s prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:5-14).

Anything that manifests on earth (in the physical realm) is the direct result of what happened first int he spiritual. To submit your earthly will to God is to first loose in the spiritual realm what will subsequently manifest in the physical realm. This is kingdom discipline. If—from our first discussion—discipline cannot be any thing or action that falls outside of God’s laws on love, then submitting our earthly will to God is an earthly manifestation of what has already happened in the spiritual: witness of the Father’s love. Which means that while the spirit is developing, in the natural we are often blind before we see.