20: Disciplined Children (Hebrews 12:3-11)
Jesus is Better (a Study of the Book of Hebrews) • Sermon • Submitted
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Early on in ministry, Tonya and I served at a small church in Sarasota. As is always the case, some of our teenagers had solid parents and others didn’t. As we talked about why parents must discipline their children, many of our students rolled their eyes - because - and this might come as a shock to you - very few people appreciate discipline while it’s occurring.
It was then that a precious young teenager named Brandy said, “I wish my mom would discipline me.” The other students looked stunned! When I asked Brandy why she had said that, she responded, “Because then I would know that my Mom loves me.”
Parents who DON’T discipline might SAY they love you, but they don’t SHOW that they love you. Good parents both applaud and punish, encourage and correct.
Good parents don’t always intervene to keep you from the consequences of disobedience, but neither do they leave you to drown in your mistakes.
Good parents discipline their children and guide them to make wise decisions in the future.
So too, our Heavenly Father disciplines His children to know and grow in holiness, for this life and the life to come.
Catch the Context
Catch the Context
2 weeks ago we talked about keeping our Eyes on the PRIZE - the Lord Jesus - the One who endured the cross to pay for our sin, Who stands at the finish line - to give us the crown of righteousness.
Hebrews 12:1b–2 (CSB)
Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus is the One who stands at the finish line of this life as Paul pointed Timothy to in some of the last words written by the persecuted apostle:
2 Timothy 4:6–8 (CSB)
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.
And now we come to one of the major reasons for writing this long letter. The author knows his audience is struggling. Some are being pressured & lured away by Jewish family & friends who think these folks being are blaspheming God and are in a cult. Others are facing persecution from enemies who want to destroy them.
But rather than cower and compromise, the author reminds them to FOLLOW THE LEADER.
Hebrews 12:3–4 (CSB)
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Consider Him - what Jesus went through for us - made fun of, spit on, beaten in the face, beaten over the head with a stick, scourged with a Roman cat of 9 tails, and led away carrying the crossbar (patibulum) until so weak He was unable to carry it. Then finally, Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross and set up so that others would see what happens to the supposed ‘King of the Jews’.
If Jesus, our sinless Savior, was treated with such hostility from sinners who refused to listen to His message, then we shouldn’t think it strange when people treat us poorly.
While this ancient audience, like us, had not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood, they were emotionally fatigued and tempted to quit the race.
Have YOU ever felt that way? Difficulties, discouragement & doubt get a foot in the door, friendships fade, and God feels far away. What do we do?
We follow the LEADER. When we grow weary and want to give up, we must remember that Jesus didn’t. When the shadows of Gethsemane fell on Jesus, He didn’t stop seeking the Father.
He prayed and asked to be delivered, but wanted the Father’s will be done.
Jesus also asked His closest friends to JOIN HIM in prayer.
And then He endured the harsh treatment from others because He trusted the Father’s plan.
If you’re really a follower of Jesus, then the author of Hebrews now lays this powerful truth on the table.
Hebrews 12:5–6 (CSB)
And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: [Prov 3:11-12 LXX] My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.
Even those without good parents, people like Brandy understand that good parents WILL discipline their children.
One of the greatest evidences of you being a child of our Heavenly Father is His willingness to reprove you - to confront and correct your bad behavior. Like any good parent, God doesn’t discipline and punish to harm, but to help you. The Lord disciplines the one He loves.
When you sin, does God confront and correct you quickly? Do you have a need to make things right quickly or can you continue to wallow in your sin without a sense of conviction and need to turn back? If not, there should be a red warning light going off in the back of your mind we will discuss in just a moment.
While our Heavenly Father will discipline our disobedience, He also allows the difficult days to shape us into disciplined disciples. These are those moments when our prayer might go something like this:
“Father, why would you let this happen to ME? I’m trying to obey You in every area of my life. So, why would you let me SUFFER like this?
Hebrews 12:7–8 (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.
When were the times you’ve grown the most - the times your prayer life was tearful and sincere - the times you were SEEKING and SENSING God’s Presence stronger than ever before? Was it during the easy times when everything was going right? OR…was it during the difficult days?
The authors of The Good Book write "When you encounter your next difficult season, resist the urge to pray, God, get me out of this! Instead, choose to pray, God, what do you want me to get out of this?” [Deron Spoo, Kyle Idleman. The Good Book, Kindle location 4537.]
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons.
If God is NOT confronting and correcting your sin, nor using the suffering in your life to grow you into a disciplined child, then you AREN’T His child.
It’s time for you to bow your heart, turn from your sin, and ask God to adopt you into His family and make you HIS CHILD.
I don’t know if you noticed, but Discipline is used 8 times in this short stretch from verse 5 through verse 11.
God is serious about correcting and growing His children to maturity.
How serious are YOU about growing in your faith?
Hebrews 12:9–10 (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? 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.
Think about a time your father disciplined you and you didn’t appreciate it at the time, but you did later. You recognized that your father knew better than you did, that he disciplined you for your future good, not to harm you - but to help you.
And there might have been a time that your father disciplined you for something you weren’t responsible for, and you still gave your good father the benefit of the doubt - that his intentions were for your good.
My Dad once spanked me for something I had not done. He was convinced I was lying and later realized I wasn’t. So, he handed me the ping pong paddle and asked me to spank him for the injustice I had suffered. I did not…and sometimes I wish we could replay that and I’d get give something to think about, letting him know that “this hurt me worse than it hurt him”.
I still knew my Dad didn’t typically punish me for things I didn’t deserve, because He’s a good father.
If we respect our fallible earthly fathers’ intentions - that they discipline us with our best interest in mind, shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? After all, God has never punished me for something I didn’t deserve.
Our heavenly Father disciplines us for our benefit, so that we can share in His holiness - both on this side of eternity & the other!
Hebrews 12:11 (CSB)
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 discipline of sweating, running, and straining during sports practice isn’t enjoyable at the time - it isn’t something that most of look back on with favor, but we knew that those tough times prepared us to really compete in the games.
The discipline of doctor’s visits, surgery, medicine, & physical therapy are not enjoyable at the time and are often painful. But the end result is worth it - physical health!
The final result of discipline for the disciple of Jesus is the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
God’s Disciplined Children grow in:
Purity & Character - we stop living in sin and become known as people of integrity who can be trusted.
Endurance & Eternal Focus - Rather than living for the immediate, we make the right decisions in light of eternity. Our focus shifts from from temporary relief to eternal satisfaction. We come to keep our eyes on Jesus and follow His lead to endure during tough times.
Love for God & People - We learn to trust God through it all, confident that He loves us and wanting to love Him back. The overflow of loving God is that we love people made in His image. We become more compassionate & patient in sharing and caring for others.
Respond to God’s discipline when you disobey. Your Father loves you and wants you to protect you and direct you.
Endure during the tough times, knowing God loves you and asking other believers to help you.
GROW in righteousness and take the hope of Jesus to those who are hopeless. It’s those who have BEEN through tough times that can help those going THROUGH tough times. It is those who have found the HOPE of Jesus in the most difficult days that can point others to HIS PRESENCE.
R. A. Torrey was a great Bible teacher of the past generation, pastoring Moody Church and founding the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. When their twelve-year-old daughter - Elizabeth - died of diphtheria, Torrey and his wife went through a great time of heartache. The funeral was held on a miserable, rainy day. As they stood around her little grave and watched her body being buried, Mrs. Torrey said, “I’m so glad Elizabeth is with the Lord, and not in that box.” But even knowing that, their hearts were broken. The next day as Torrey was walking down the street, the misery came to him anew. He felt the loneliness and heartbreak that lay ahead. In his misery he cried aloud, “Oh, Elizabeth! Elizabeth!”
He writes: And just then this fountain, the Holy Spirit, that I had in my heart, broke forth with such power as I think I had never experienced before, and it was the most joyful moment I had ever known in my life. Oh, how wonderful is the joy of the Holy Ghost! It is an unspeakably glorious thing to have your joy not in things about you, not even in your most dearly loved friends, but to have within you a fountain ever springing up, springing up, springing up, always springing up, springing up under all circumstances into everlasting life.1
[R. Kent Hughes, John: That You May Believe, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 384.
* Quotes R. A. Torrey, The Holy Spirit (New York: Revell, 1922), p. 95.]