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Discipline is good for you

July 27, 2017

I wrote this a couple of years ago, but the topic came up in discussion this week…so I’m sharing it again.

Hebrews 12 is a familiar passage. At least bits and pieces of it are familiar. Put it all together and you will be encouraged.

The chapter is about battling sin, but we often emphasize God’s acts of discipline.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” (v 5-6).

The following verses compare and contrast the discipline that we receive from our heavenly Father with that which we received from our earthly fathers (v 7-10).

Usually it’s taught that the discipline is a result of sinful actions.

You do something bad, God will punish you.

But if you go to the beginning of the chapter it appears that the topic is not punishment for sin, but victory over sin.

That fits with Romans 8:1 and a host of other passages about the penalty having been paid through the death of Christ.

Look at the commands at the beginning of the chapter:

“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (v 1-2a).

Laying aside, enduring, looking to Jesus don’t sound like instructions for someone who is living in rebellion, but someone who is struggling with victory over sin.

They want victory, but it’s hard and they are discouraged.

They want to live like the great saints in chapter eleven, but it’s so hard.

To that person comes the chastening of the Lord. or maybe those acts of enduring, laying aside, and looking are aspects of that chastening, the discipline.

The writer is not sending a warning, but encouragement.

If God weren’t correcting you, it would mean He doesn’t love you. You are not His child (v 7-8). Take heart that you are being disciplined. It’s an evidence that you are loved by God.

God disciplines us for our benefit. His goal is our righteousness. He is in control and has a plan (v 9-11). Even though this phase of discipline looks out of control, it’s not.

The writer continues his encouragement by giving instruction to those who are battling sin in the next verses (v 12-15).

  • Don’t get discouraged (v 12-13).
  • Don’t stir up trouble (v 14a).
  • Don’t miss God’s goal (v 14b).
  • Don’t hinder other’s spiritual growth (v 15a).
  • Don’t get bitter (v 15b).

The context of the chapter seems to indicate that discipline should be a frequent part of the Christian’s life. It’s not punishment for sinfulness, but part of the process of sanctification.

“What sins are you battling?” should be a part of our conversations to encourage one another in spiritual growth.

All believers are battling sin.

And we may need to go to Hebrews 12 to encourage one another in the battle.


From → Hebrews

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