The book of Hebrews was originally written to people who were suffering. They were suffering, not because they were bad people being punished for their disobedience, but because they were good people being persecuted for their faith. Because they were suffering, some were beginning to question the rationality of walking with God. Perhaps some were even tempted to ask – “What’s the use of trying to do what is right if this is what it’s going to get us?”
No doubt some of us have at times asked a similar question. Warren Wiersbe writes – “Satan wants us to believe that the difficulties of life are proof that God does not love us, but just the opposite is true.” According to today’s passage, the chastening these believers were experiencing was actually proof of God’s love and involvement in their lives.
Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
According to Hebrews 12, spiritual chastening has at least two very important purposes:
1) It Validates Our Son-ship
Every one of us knows at least one individual who says they are saved, but who fails to exhibit the evidence. Only the Lord knows for sure what is in a person’s heart, yet the Bible teaches us that there are some who profess what they do not possess.
- “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Mt 7:21)
- “Whosoever is born of God doth not (habitually) commit sin; for his (God’s) seed (Holy Spirit) remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually) sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that spiritual chastening is part of the evidence of our son-ship. John tells us that if a person can habitually sin and not at some point experience some sort of spiritual chastening, they are not truly a son or daughter of God. Why is this so? It is because God loves His children so much that He will not stand by forever and watch them live in willful disobedience. God gets involved in the lives of His children.
2) It Causes Us to Become Partakers of His Holiness
Hebrews 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure ; but he for our profit , that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby .
Chastening is never enjoyable while it is happening, yet is always has a perfect purpose. The psalmist said – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71) For some strange reason, God never has our attention so much as He does during the times we are suffering. The promises of the Bible become much more powerful. The words of Christian songs seem to speak directly to our hearts. Opportunities to pray become our sanctuary. It is for these reasons that God allows us to suffer. It is His purpose to prune away that which is useless, and to cultivate that which is useful.
“My son, do not disregard the discipline of the Lord, nor become weary of heart whenever He is correcting you. For the Lord has promised to discipline all those He loves and to help them live as His children.”(author’s paraphrase)