Disciplining Yourself for a Purpose

“Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).


Godliness should be the believer’s priority in life.

I’m amazed at how devoted people can be to what they believe is important. There are many people outside Christianity who live in rigid conformity to a lot of meaningless rules. People in totalitarian countries, for example, live in rigid conformity to rules predicated on a denial of biblical truth. They walk circumspectly and toe the mark.

Some cultists are so rigid and walk so circumspectly according to the principles dictated to them that if they’re told they can’t get married or can’t be with their spouses, they conform. They’re made to live in abstinence from physical relationships, follow strict diets, fast, and so on. Some attempt to attain spirituality through such self-disciplined acts as lying on a bed of nails or walking through hot coals.

Others, such as athletes, go through tremendous self-discipline through dieting, running, weight training, and other means that involve great sacrifice.

People disciplined in things that are ultimately meaningless may be lax in things that count. I know people who run three miles every day but will not bother to read the Bible regularly. I know other people who cannot discipline themselves to feed on the Word of God but stick rigorously to a diet. Many Christians worship physical fitness and health and are so conformed to the world’s system that they’re careless and lazy about conforming to Christ.

If you are a wise Christian, you’ll be sure to discipline yourself for godliness. You’ll know what pleases God, watch for Satan’s traps, resist the Devil, defeat temptation, and be selective about your behavior. In other words, you’ll not walk as a fool; you’ll walk in wisdom—living by God’s standards.

Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for His Son, the perfect example of spiritual discipline and godliness. Ask God to help you be like Him.

For Further Study
• According to 1 Timothy 4:7, what is the purpose of spiritual discipline?
• According to 2 Peter 1:3, what has God’s divine power granted us?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187

Playing the Fool

“Behold, I have played the fool” (1 Samuel 26:21).


A Christian should not act like a fool.

In Deuteronomy 32:6 Moses looked out at the belligerent children of Israel who had failed God so many times and said, “Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?” The children of Israel were playing the fool. Sadly, God’s people today continue to play the fool.

One way they do so is through disbelief. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to two disciples who didn’t believe that He had risen from the dead. Jesus said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). To disbelieve God and His Word is to play the fool.

Another way believers play the fool is through disobedience. In Galatians 3:1 the apostle Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” And in verse 3 he says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” They started out well but were disobedient and got caught up in the works of the law.

Still another way Christians play the fool is through desire for the wrong things. First Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires.” If you desire the wrong things, you play the fool.

Finally, you can play the fool through doing the wrong things. James 3:13-16 says that there are two kinds of wisdom. Godly wisdom produces “good behavior” (v. 13), but foolish wisdom produces “jealousy and selfish ambition” (v. 16). A self-centered person plays the fool.

It’s sad to see so many Christians playing the fool. It doesn’t make any sense. Why should Christians live as blind, ignorant, foolish people when they have the wisdom of God?

Paul says at the end of Romans, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil” (16:19). If you have to be a fool at all, be a fool (unknowing, unacquainted) about evil.

Suggestions for Prayer
Make Paul’s exhortation in Romans 16:19 your prayer.

For Further Study
Read Proverbs 2:1-22 as a reminder of what benefits you’ll receive from following true wisdom instead of playing the fool.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,