The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (4)
He averted his side’s softness.
His body’s desire, he destroyed it.
He destroyed his meanness:
truly the boy is a son of Conn’s offspring.
He destroyed the darkness of envy,
he destroyed the darkness of jealousy.
- Dallán Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Cille, Irish, 6th century
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
- Romans 6.12, 13
For the Irish monks who went peregrinatio pro Cristo, discipline was a sine qua non. By discipline monks like Colum made their bodies obey their souls, and bent their lives to Kingdom priorities and values, even at great cost.
Through rigorous, daily discipline – spiritual and physical – these Irish peregrini attained levels of sanctification which allowed them to take up large challenges, endure great hardships, and achieve lasting results for Christ and His Kingdom.
Sanctification is a mystery. It is the will of God for all who believe in Jesus, but how it actually comes to pass is beyond our ability to understand.
That is, we don’t know exactly how the Word and Spirit of God bring us to higher stages of Christlikeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18) – how sinful desires are replaced by good ones, wicked thoughts overwhelmed by noble, base values undermined by holy, works of mere self-interest replaced by works of selfless love.
Sanctification is God’s work, and He can do all that He commands and fulfill all that He has promised.
It’s not necessary that we understand all the secret workings of God in our souls. But we can plainly understand what our part is in this ongoing struggle for holiness. We must discipline the members of our bodies to forsake all unrighteousness and turn them instead to every good work of righteousness for Jesus’ sake.
This is work. Not work to be saved, but work because we are saved, and unto greater degrees of our gracious salvation. We must apply ourselves energetically and consistently to working out the salvation we have received so that sanctification proceeds in us unto good works of love (Phil. 2.12; Tit. 3.8, 14). We must work, but the work of sanctification will only be accomplished by the power of God’s Spirit within us (Phil. 2.13).
This working out of our salvation requires a clear understanding of what the Scriptures teach about the way of righteousness, beginning with the Law and commandments of God (Rom. 7.12; 1 Jn. 2.1-6).
It also demands that we exercise continuous vigilance against the wiles and snares of the devil, who can capture our eyes, tongues, or hands and put them to sinful use almost before we know what’s happening.
The taming of our bodies is our part in the work of sanctification. But we can only tame our bodies for good to the extent that we store up goodness in our hearts (Lk. 6.45). And this can only come by setting our minds on Jesus, and considering Him in all His beauty, goodness, and truth (Col. 3.1-3; Heb. 3.1; 12.1).
If we will be faithful to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, then God, Who is at work within us, will show us His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6), and grow us in His grace in new, exciting, wondrous, and glorious ways. His grace, refracted through us, shines the light of Christ’s love on the people to whom He sends us every day. Thus we and all the people around us will know the fruit of the disciplined life.
Colum Cille struggled to subdue his body all his life, and he was the holiest man of his day. He and those who associated with him became the means for many to enter the Kingdom of God – ladders, as Dallán elsewhere wrote, into the heavenly city. These were men who knew the value of living disciplined lives.
Should we settle for anything less?
1. What does it mean for you to redeem the time of your life?
2. What is the alternative to a disciplined life? To what can that lead?
Psalm 5.7, 8 (Meirionydd – O Savior, Precious Savior)
O Lord, Your lovingkindness escorts me in this place.
I bow before Your highness and praise Your glorious grace!
In righteous ways You guide me; Your pathway I will know.
No good will be denied me as I with Jesus go.
Teach me to be holy, O Lord, and give me the strength and focus to discipline my body for righteousness!
The Disciplined Life
Looking to Jesus
Only as we look to Jesus, contemplating Him, fixing our minds and hearts on Him, can we make progress in sanctification. Our free download, Glorious Vision: 28 Days in the Throne Room of the Lord, can set you on a course to see Jesus more clearly and consistently. You can download it by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clancy and Márkus, p. 111.