Foundation 9 – Self Discipline

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.. 

In the verse we just looked at the word temperate means–“self discipline.”  No matter what steps you take in fighting your addiction and no matter what kind of precautions, there are going to be times when you are going to have to have the self discipline to say “no”.  Even after salvation, after you have grown a lot spiritually, even though you are involved with church, separated from the wrong crowd and have an accountability partner.  Even though you have come along way and are doing all the right things – the temptation can come upon you and be almost unbearable.  You and I are going to be faced with times where we must be “self disciplined” or we will easily give in to temptation.

The Bible College I attended had a wrestling team.  I had the privilege of wrestling for Dave Hazewinkle, who wrestled in the Olympics and was a silver and bronze medalist in world competition.  Coach Hazewinkle felt that the most important things in wrestling were:

  1. Conditioning
  2. Knowledge/Skill
  3. Strength/Speed
  4. Aggressive attitude

In order for us to be successful in wrestling we had focus on these four areas.  Coach Hazewinkle would repeat this to us over and over again.  If a wrestler is not in condition, he may be very skillful, strong and fast, but fatigue will prevent him from applying himself in the match, and he will most likely lose.  A wrestler who is in condition, but does not know how to apply himself, will also have a difficult time.  A wrestler who is not strong enough or quick enough to apply his technique will also be unsuccessful.  If a wrestler is in condition, knowledgeable, strong and quick – he will automatically have an aggressive attitude and will normally be successful.

This was Coach Hazewinkle’s wrestling philosophy which is basically what the Bible teaches.  Paul says “he that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”  Those that want to win must be self disciplined.  It takes a lot of discipline to get stronger, get in shape, improve your skill, diet, etc… but this is what is required to win.  The same is true for a Christian that wants to win!

The word disciplined means “to be closely controlled.”  To be self disciplined means to have self control — to be able to control our self.  Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:27 “I keep my body, and bring it into subjection.”  Paul is saying that he keeps his body under control.  We must do the same if we are going to be a successful Christian.

One of the keys in life is being able to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right things.  There are things we must say “no” to and things we must say “yes” to.  We must say “no” to sin, and we need to say “yes” to Jesus.  The Bible says in Proverbs 1:10 “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”  The Bible also says in II Timothy 2:2“Flee also youthful lusts.”   We must not become a slave to our appetite, but we must learn to be strong and to resist.    It takes self disciplined to be able to do this.  In this foundation I would like to look at a few Biblical principles that will help us to become more self disciplined.

  1. Determination

Every athlete is going to face opposition.  Fatigue, competition, pain, laziness, injury, and discouragement will stand in the way of being victorious.  For an athlete to win he/she must want it.  In the same manner a Christian is going to face opposition from: the world, the flesh and the devil.  These will all stand in the way of us being successful.  In order to be self disciplined we must have determination.  We must want it!  No matter what the cost, no matter what it takes, no matter how many times we fail, we must be determined to win.  Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  The devil is going to work very hard to make us fail.  He will not stop tempting us.  We must continue on doing right because we “shall reap if we faint not.”

(1 Cor 15:58)  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

It will take determination on our part to say “no” to the devil and “yes” to God, but it will be worth it in the end.

  1. Repetition

In order for an athlete to get in shape (condition) he/she must do a lot of repetitions.  They must run just about every day.  They must exercise several hours a day.  If the athlete is a boxer then they must punch the heavy bag, work the speed bag, spar many, many rounds, jump rope, etc… and this must be done over and over again.  The same is true for a Christian.  We must build up the “inner man.”

Ephesians 3:16, 17 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love

(2 Cor 4:16)  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

To do this we must read the Bible, pray, attend church, witness, serve, etc… and we must do it over and over again.  Habits are formed by repetition whether they are good or bad.  If someone is going to be disciplined then good habits must be worked at.

It takes at least 21 days to form a habit.  This means that you have to do something at least 21 times before it begins to become part of your everyday routine.  This works for anything that you want to do – Bible reading, prayer, exercise, etc…

  1. Decide exactly what you want to do.Write it down and post it where you can see it everyday, like your bathroom mirror.  Be as specific as possible.
  2. Schedule time to do what you want to do.Again, it takes 21 days to form a habit, so schedule at least 21 days on your calendar and don’t let anything get in the way of your schedule.  If you miss one of your days, it’s best to start over and schedule another 21 days.  You must be consistent and dedicated to doing what you want to do.
  3. Once you reach your 21 days–congratulations!Don’t stop now though, schedule another 21 days, and then another and so on, until you do those things you want to do, without even thinking about them…like brushing your teeth.

If we form the right kind of habits and continue to do it, our inner man will be strengthened.  We will have the power to say “no” to the devil and “yes” to God.

  1. Inspiration

Many times before a big game coaches will give the team a pep talk.  This is to inspire the team to win.  I remember watching “Rocky” before we played an important football game in High School.  Inspiration is very important.  Nothing will give us more inspiration than the Bible.  We cold also read inspiring books about men and women of God.  Listening to sermons could provide a lot of inspiration.  Hanging around godly people will inspire and motivate us to be disciplined Christians.

There are many people that can inspire us to be a disciplined Christian, but no one can inspire us like Jesus can.  The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is our inspiration!  Consider this about Jesus:

“He was born in an obscure village.  He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.  He then became an itinerant preacher.  He never held office.  He never had a family or owned a house.  He didn’t go to college.  He had no credentials but himself.  He was only thirty-three when the public turned against him.  Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.  All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as Jesus Christ!”

Phil 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He left heaven’s throne, a place of honor and glory, to come down to this earth to suffer and die.  The King of Kings became servant to all.  He resisted temptation, He always did what pleased His heavenly Father, and He loved people to where He gave His life.  Jesus Christ is our inspiration.  He is the One that can and will inspire us to become self disciplined.  Jesus is our perfect example – we must look to Him!

  1. Refutation (just say no):

We must be able to deny our self and say “no.”  There are many things in this world that is bad for us.  There are foods entertainment and habits that are bad for us.  There are places that we should not go and people that we should not be around or talk to.  When we are faced with things that are wrong or bad we need to deny ourselves. Even though we want to do it – we must say “no.”

(1 Cor 9:25)  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate (self disciplined) in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

An athlete has to say no to junk foods and a Christian must say no to anything that will hinder his spiritual walk.

(Prov 1:10)  My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Just as an athlete needs self discipline to become a winner, we as Christians need self discipline to be a success in the Christian life. To have the ability to say “no” to certain things and also to say “yes” to certain things, this will determine what kind of Christian you and I can become!


  1. What does the word “temperate” mean?________________________________________________________________
  1. What are the three points made in this lesson that will help us to become self disciplined?
  1. _____________________________
  2. _____________________________
  3. _____________________________
  1. Just like an athlete faces opposition, a believer faces opposition.What is the opposition that Christians face?
  1. _________________________________
  2. _________________________________
  3. _________________________________
  1. How many days does it take for someone to form a habit? _______________
  1. One of the keys in life is to be able to say _____ to the wrong things and _______ to the right things.

Memory Verse:  1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

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