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The Reality Behind Discipline

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction
Illustration: Eager Police Deputy
While patrolling the streets of his small town, a new policeman gave a citation for every infraction he could find. When a car came rushing by, he immediately turned on his siren and lights and pulled over the driver. The young man jumped from his car and tried to explain his emergency, but the officer perceived the verbal initiative as a threat so he cuffed the man and hauled him off to jail. Every time the guy tried to speak, the policeman exercised his authority and insisted on silence.  After making the arrest and feeling confident he had demonstrated the complete power of his badge, the policeman started an autocratic monologue with his prisoner. He smugly said, “Lucky for you, ‘fly boy,’ the chief is at his daughter’s wedding and will be in a good mood when he finally gets here to see you.” The prisoner replied, “I wouldn’t count on it, Barney. I’m the groom!”
Sometimes, we do not see things clearly. Sometimes we mistake what is going on for something else. This can be embarrassing at best and tragic at worst.
One thing that is mistaken many times in our lives as Christians is when hard times come our way. We ask the question, “Why is this happening to me?”
speaks to this issue very plainly. The author of Hebrews was writing to people who were experiencing intense hard times because of their faith in Jesus. They were being persecuted in terrible ways because they had left the religion they had grown up in to follow Jesus. In this passage, the author reveals to them the reality of these hard situations. He shares with the readers of this letter that these sufferings are actually discipline.
Discipline can be a scary word. For some people, discipline brings up images and memories of times when they were punished for doing something wrong. Some of this discipline may have crossed a line into abuse. The author of Hebrews takes a moment here to show what God’s intentions with discipline are.
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Hebrews 12:7–11 CSB
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
The Reality Behind Discipline

Discipline serves as proof that you actually belong to God.

In , the author says that when God disciplines His children, it is because He is acting as their Heavenly Father. One of the responsibilities of a parent is to train up a child in the way he or she should go (). Part of this training is to discipline when the child gets out of line. This is to protect them from something worse.
God does not discipline those who do not belong to Him. God is not bound to protect those who will not come to Him by faith from the error of their ways. The Bible calls them “illegitimate children” in .
One question that comes to many Christians’ minds at times is, “Am I really a Christian?” It is okay to ask this question of yourself.
= Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless you fail the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5 CSB
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.
One clear indication that you are a Christian is that you are disciplined when sin comes into your life. If you can sin and it does not bother you, then you have some serious problems. God reveals who belong to Him by giving discipline when we need it.

Discipline demonstrates love.

In , the author compares God to our earthly fathers. He talks about how we have earthly fathers who discipline us when we get out of line, and we come to respect them for it. We may not like the discipline at the moment, but as we recognize what was behind it, we respect our earthly parents for the discipline that they gave us.
Hebrews 12:9 CSB
Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?
I can remember going to my parents my senior year of high school with two things. First, I came clean with them about all that I had done behind their backs over the years to the best of my knowledge. As a Christian, it was eating at me that there were things left uncovered and not dealt with. So, we got them in the open. The second thing was I wanted to thank them for the ways that they tried to discipline me because I saw what it was more clearly.
Discipline is done not just for the protection of a child, but as a demonstration of love towards the child. Parents, if you love your children, make discipline a part of their lives. It does not feel good, but it is one of the best ways that you can show a child that you love them. To let a child completely have his or her way all the time and never correct them is to cripple them and set them up for something far worse down the road.
God loves us too much to leave us to ourselves. He knows that the sin within each of us will only bring us death and destruction. tells us that God demonstrates His love by letting Jesus take our place when we were the worst we could be, but He also demonstrates His love towards us on a daily basis by discipling us. He wants to keep us from the harm that our selfish desires will bring to us.

Discipline produces righteousness in our lives.

Hebrews 12:10–11 CSB
For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
The author of Hebrews tells us that God disciplines us so that we can share in His holiness and that it might yield fruit of righteousness in our lives when we’ve been trained by it.
It is common to hear someone say, “God’s still working on me!” That is true. We call it the process of sanctification. After a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, God begins a lifelong process of molding and shaping that person to resemble Jesus. This does not happen automatically. God does not just zap His holiness into us and make us perfect.
There is a reason that the image of us being clay in the potter’s hand is found all throughout the Bible. Clay has to be worked through and through to make it into what it needs to be. It takes time, and often it takes pressure.
Illustration: Kintsugi
There is a form of pottery that comes from Japan known as kintsugi. It is known as the art of “precious scars.” In this process, pottery is taken and broken into pieces. Then, it is put back together using a lacquer mixed with gold. This actually makes the piece more valuable and stronger than it was originally.
God has a plan for each of us. If you belong to Him, meaning that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, then God wants to more like Himself. This calls for discipline to be present in our lives. It is not that God wants to be a “kill joy,” but rather He wants you to be all the He created you to be.
Conclusion
There are going to be times when you go through hard times. Suffering is not something that we can get away from in this life. But, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, the suffering that a Christian experiences is not without good reason. There may be sin in our lives that God is trying to free us from. There may be lessons that we can learn no other way.
Make no mistake about it, for the one who has trusted Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, God is your Heavenly Father. He cares for you like no one else has or will. Do not resist His discipline. Rather, embrace it and learn from it. God is using it to complete you!
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