The Discipline of the Spirit

Greetings and good morning brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series
where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years,
the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them
with you. This morning we seek to understand the discipline of the spirit. 

And now, sit back and listen to today's message. 

The Discipline of the Spirit 

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." Psalms, Chapter
119, Verse 71. 

Brothers and sisters, to love, worship, and serve the Father requires that the Father be known. How
does the Father transmit knowledge of Himself to us, his sons and daughters? And having
transmitted that knowledge to us, how does he discipline us so that we gain maturity in that

There is only one way that we can know the Father and that is through our faith. Faith is a kind of
super knowledge that utterly transcends intellectual knowledge. Intellectual knowledge leads to
increased knowledge about a thing, a meaning, or a value, but intellectual knowledge can never cross
the boundary between knowledge about a value and knowledge of a value. Spiritual knowledge is
knowledge of value, even the supreme value--God the Father. And this knowledge of the Father is
transmitted through his Son, Jesus. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. 

The knowledge of the Father can only be known through experience. The reality of the Father exists
within our souls, but this reality far transcends the intellect of the mind. Spiritual reality can never
be proved by intellectual or material means. Spiritual reality can only be proved through spiritual
means, and this means that the soul can only know the Father as it becomes like the Father through
His Son, Jesus. 

The act of believing wholeheartedly makes the Father a reality. But consciousness of the spirit value,
of the Father, can never be more than partial since the reality of the Father is absolute, infinite and
eternal. Always will our souls be growing in the knowledge of the truth. The faith that allows the
soul to know the Father is in itself a spiritual quality, and the very act of exercising this faith is
tantamount to gaining knowledge of the Father since the Father is the source of this super

As we gain knowledge of the Father, how does the Father purify the faith that we use to gain this
knowledge? We know that initially the exercise of this faith is likely to be contaminated with
material concepts of the Father. When our faith is not pure, the knowledge that we gain of the Father
is likely to be erroneous in part, even as the knowledge that the earthly child has of his father is likely
to be erroneous in part, requiring experience over time to arrive at the true concept of his relationship
with his father. But this partial knowledge of the spiritual Father in and of itself creates a hunger for
more, thus rapidly bringing into existence the supreme desire to know the Father, accompanied by
the supreme dedication to do the Father's will--achievement of divine perfection. 

Dedication and discipline are closely related. The dedication of our souls to doing the Father's will
is directly proportional to the discipline of the soul that strives to do the Father's will. For without
discipline we cannot ever ascend to the supreme doing of the Father's will. Discipline always has two
faces. One is the face of correction--justice; the other is the face of truth--mercy. Thus, all discipline
not only seeks to correct error but also seeks to impart truth. 

There are several ways of looking at discipline. But let's look at it this way. We may think of
discipline as being that quality that holds a person fast to the course and the goal that he has set that
has supreme value above all other values. A person may set out on a journey to reach a certain
destination for a certain purpose. As he pursues his journey there are sure to be distractions that vie
for his attention, suggesting that he pursue another course as opposed to the course that he has set
his mind upon. There are sure to be hardships and handicaps that beckon to him to turn back or turn
aside. But discipline allows him to overcome all of these values that are of lesser value than the
supreme value. 

Spiritual discipline starts off when the believer enters the Kingdom of heaven, thus consciously
beginning to strive for a spiritual character like the Father as revealed in his Son, Jesus. Entering the
Kingdom of Heaven involves a definite process of commitment and reorientation of the soul to the
supreme spiritual loyalty of doing the Father's will. This also involves a process of growth and
development and inherent in that development and growth is the process of discipline. Spiritual
discipline has its foundation in the love of the Father for his children. This love of the Father inspires
a supreme loyalty, a courage, and a dedication to serving the Father of love. 

First, there is the discipline of origin. This discipline of origin places restraint upon our choices by
limiting the arena of choice. We can only choose that which we are conscious of, and that which we
have the power to choose. For example, we can choose to do the Father's will because that is the
Father's will. This choice though begun in a finite sense is by no means limited to the finite arena
of choice in the total sense, though it is restricted by the delays of time and the handicaps of space
on this level of existence. 

Secondly there is the discipline of experience. The discipline of experience results from functioning
in various assignments, those that are difficult, sometimes painful, and emotional trying. These
assignments are progressive. The success of the next experience is contingent upon having
completed the previous assignment. Each experience is built upon the one before. We must master
previous divine values and meanings before we proceed to the next divine value and meaning. The
discipline is gradually and progressive, requiring more and more restraint as the experiences increase
in spiritual difficulty. 

We may not start off able to carry out a great spiritual responsibility, but as the responsibilities are
gradually increased, the growth of the soul increases so that we can bear greater and greater spiritual
responsibilities. The discipline is also proportional to the size of the responsibilities. The greater the
responsibility, the greater is the discipline that is required to successfully complete it. 

Third, there is the discipline of justice and mercy, the discipline of correction and of truth. This
discipline has penalties for default, for deviation away from the truth. The penalty for evil is the
experiencing of evil. The experiencing of evil is a very distressing ordeal for our souls as our souls
suffer the consequences of evil and disharmony. But the very experience of evil allows our souls to
receive an enhanced revelation of mercy. And this mercy is always the revelation of truth made
possible by the enlarged capacity of our souls as a result of suffering from evil. The goodness that
is revealed as a result of suffering from evil is a value that further reinforces the dedication to doing
the Father's will, an increased strength and power for continuing on the path of truth and

As our soul serves in the experiences that are designed to develop the spiritual character with love,
patience, mercy, and forgiveness, we receives a new enhancement of divine goodness. As we serve
in the assignments we perceives a unity in our experiences. We perceive divine beauty which is the
unification of our spiritual experiences. As we serve in our assignments, trying our very best to treat
others the way that the Father treats them, we receives a new revelation of our relationship with the
Father. We perceive a greater revelation of divine truth. And as we continue to unselfishly serve our
brothers and sisters, we perceives a new value and a new meaning of our relationship with our
brothers and sisters. We perceive divine love which is the supreme quality that holds all relationships

The discipline of the spirit eventually produces a soul that dares to declare that the Father and he are
one, that their purposes are inseparable, that he has embarked on an infinite and eternal course with
the resolve and dedication to go all the way, even though the way has no end. Faith instructs the soul
that even if he should never find the end of the journey, the Father is with him every step of the way
guiding and directing, ever revealing higher and higher meanings and values of truth, beauty, and
goodness of His love. 

The soul discovers that the essence of the journey is the journey itself since the journey has no end
but is an endless exploration of the infinite and eternal values and meanings of the Father. Discipline
of the spirit holds the soul on course even when it cannot see the way or discern immediate meanings
and values. Love requires trust that transcends understanding, for our understanding is finite and
incomplete. The soul recognizes that love only directs and guides in the best and highest interest of
itself. And this recognition transcends finite understanding, even ultimate since it consorts with
absolute understanding. 

This concludes today's message on understanding the discipline of the spirit. We hope you find
something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day. Until next time, this
is Dr. James Perry. 

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       By Dr. James  Perry       
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