DIVINE DISCIPLINE (IN THE FORM OF SUFFERING) COMES FROM THE HAND OF OUR LOVING FATHER FOR OUR GOOD
The age old problem of suffering is addressed here in the context of family discipline from a loving heavenly Father. False professors of faith in Christ will respond poorly to such pressure and fall away in apostasy. But true sons of God must understand the purpose behind such discipline and see the benefit of promoting holiness and righteousness. We need to endure, but not with a kind of stoicism, but with the expectation that God is conforming us to the image of His dear Son. Therefore, we should not be surprise by such suffering or lose heart and become discouraged. Instead we need to submit to the Father of lights and live by faith.
Deffinbaugh: In our text in Hebrews, the author wants us to know several important truths about suffering:
– Suffering comes ultimately from the hand of God, for our good.
– Suffering in the life of the Christian should thus be viewed as divine discipline.
– Suffering should be patiently endured as something that is designed to produce righteousness.
– Suffering, because it is divine discipline, should be viewed as an indication of God’s love, and that we are a part of His family.
The discipline we experienced in our human family should be instructive. We should realize that if the discipline administered to us by our (fallible) earthly fathers was beneficial, then surely the discipline administered by our heavenly Father will be infinitely more profitable.
All discipline is painful for the moment, but it produces peace and righteousness which is profitable for eternity.
I. (:4-7a) 4 REMINDERS REGARDING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
A. (:4) Level of Suffering Caused by Discipline is Not Excessive
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood
in your striving against sin;”
Spurgeon: you have not shed your blood for Christ yet, for these are not martyr days, so can you be wearied and faint? If you run with the footmen, and they weary you how will you contend with horses? We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we grow weary in a race that is so easy compared with that of the men and women who laid down their lives for Christ’s sake It has never come to a bloody sweat with you as with him, nor to death upon a cross, as in his case. Shall the disciple be above his master or the servant above his lord? Our trials are little compared with those of the martyrs of the olden times. Courage, brethren, these are small matters to faint about! Moreover, our chastenings are love tokens from God, let us not be alarmed at them.
Wuest: The readers are reminded of the fact that the persecutions they were enduring, had not yet entailed the shedding of their blood, as was the case of Messiah, who became obedient to God the Father to the extent of death, yes, to such a death as that upon a cross. Their striving against sin was their battle against the temptation of renouncing their professed faith in Messiah in order that they might be relieved of the persecution which they were enduring. His striving against sin was His submitting to the death of the Cross, with all that that involved, His becoming sin for us, the breaking for the time of the fellowship between the Father and the Son, and all the intense and awful physical agony of crucifixion.
B. (:5) Value of Discipline Reflects its Significance
“and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;’”
Leon Morris: Suffering comes to all; it is part of life, but it is not easy to bear. Yet it is not quite so bad when it can be seen as meaningful. The author has just pointed out that Christ endured His suffering on the Cross on account of the joy set before Him (He 12:2). His suffering had meaning. So for Christians all suffering is transformed because of the Cross. We serve a Savior who suffered, and we know He will not lead us into meaningless suffering. The writer points to the importance of discipline and proceeds to show that for Christians suffering is rightly understood only when seen as God’s fatherly discipline, correcting and directing us. Suffering is evidence, not that God does not love us, but that He does. Believers are sons and are treated as sons.
Bruce Hurt: Forgetfulness causes a lot of unnecessary problems and heartaches. Our greatest need is not for new light from God, but for paying attention to light we already have. When God’s Word is neglected it is forgotten. Sometimes the answer or the help we need is in a truth we learned a long time ago but have let slip away.
These believers were upset about their afflictions partly because they had forgotten God’s Word. In the Old Testament God not only had spoken to them about suffering and discipline, but He had spoken to them as sons. They had forgotten more than simply divine truths, they had forgotten the exhortation of their heavenly Father. Turning to Scripture is listening to God, for Scripture is His Word. For believers, it is the Word of their Father.
Charles Stanley: The writer of Hebrews knew all too well our tendency not to take the discipline of God as seriously as we should. So he warns us, “Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord.” In other words, the potential severity of God’s discipline should be enough to keep us in line. One of the reasons we fall into sin so easily is that we forget God will discipline us when we step out of bounds. We have forgotten that His complete knowledge of sin and its destructive consequences compels Him to take drastic measures with us. As much as He must disdain using adversity to remind us to live a righteous life, the fact is that He will if He knows that is what it takes.
C. (:6) Necessity of Discipline Tied to the Love of the Father
“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
Barclay: HERE the writer to the Hebrews sets out still another reason why men should cheerfully bear trouble and affliction when it comes to them. He has urged them to bear it because the great saints of the past have borne it. He has urged them to bear it because anything we have to bear is a little thing compared with that which Jesus Christ had to bear. Now, he says that we must bear hardship and affliction because they are sent to us as a discipline from God and no life can have any value apart from discipline.
D. (:7a) Purpose of Discipline = Endurance
“It is for discipline that you endure;”
Wuest: The writer is not saying “grin and bear” it as if we can endure in our own strength. The last thing our old man, the fallen flesh, wants to do is endure divine discipline. We can endure only as we choose to rely on the Spirit of God “Who gives perseverance (hupomone the noun form of hupomeno) and encouragement” (Ro 15:5+). The point is that the things that God demands of us He gives us the supernatural power to carry out. Perseverance is hupomone which describes the ability to abide under or bear up under a “load” with a courageous attitude in the face of the real suffering experienced. Morris says: “It is the attitude of the soldier who in the thick of battle is not dismayed but fights on stoutly whatever the difficulties.” This is clearly not NATURAL but a SUPERNATURAL work of God’s Spirit (Ro15:13+). If something happens in your life that is hard and painful and frustrating and disappointing, and, by grace, your faith looks to God’s Word and to Christ and to His power and His sufficiency and His fellowship and His wisdom and His love, and you don’t give in to bitterness and resentment and complaining, then you endure. As someone has well said it is better to go through the storm with Christ than to have smooth sailing without Him.
Kent: Recognizing that God is in ultimate control of all conditions, and that He is using even adverse situations as part of the “all things” that work together for good to His children (Rom. 8:28), the believer is thus encouraged not to despair, compromise, or apostatize in the face of persecution.
II. (:7b-10) 3 ANALOGIES BETWEEN THE DISCIPLINE OF OUR EARTHLY FATHER AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
A. (:7b-8) Our Family Identity
1. (:7b) Identity of Legitimate Sons Confirmed by Discipline
“God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
2. (:8) Identity of Illegitimate Sons Exposed by Lack of Discipline
“But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
B. (:9) Our Attitude
1. Attitude towards Our Earthly Father in the Context of Discipline
“Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us,
and we respected them;”
2, Attitude towards Our Heavenly Father in the Context of Discipline
“shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits,
Hewitt: “father of spirits” – The phrase is simply used to bring out in vivid contrast the authors of men’s physical existence to whom submission is given under discipline and the Author of spiritual beings to whom greater submission should be given, for not merely physical life but spiritual and eternal life come from Him.
C. (:10) Their Motivation
1. Motivation of Our Earthly Father in the Context of Discipline
“For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,”
2. Motivation of Our Heavenly Father in the Context of Discipline
“but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.”
III. (:11) 2 IMPACTS OF DISCIPLINE
A. Immediate Emotional Impact
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;”
B, Long Term Behavioral Impact
“yet to those who have been trained by it,
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Hewitt: genitive of apposition – the fruit which consists of righteousness
Kent: God always disciplines in accord with what is profitable, and His methods are always wise. God’s goal is that we may partake of his holiness. Holiness is the basic characteristic of God’s nature, and because He has shared His nature with us by regeneration, it is incumbent upon believers to reflect increasingly His holiness in their lives (1 Peter 1:15, 16). The particular aspect of holiness in view here is probably “the goal for which God is preparing His people = that entire sanctification which is consummated in their manifestation with Christ in glory.