“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
It is because of corrective discipline that you are able to endure the striving against your sin nature. Part of striving against your sin nature is divine discipline. When you are unable to control your sin nature and it gets the best of you, God must use divine discipline to wake you up before you slide into reversionism. If you are able to endure the divine discipline (and God says you can), you will return to fellowship with God through Rebound. Endurance means not to be discouraged, not to waver, not to fall apart, not to have a negative attitude. In other words, it means to face discipline with calmness, stability, clarity of thought, with realization that this is a part of God’s plan. When we are on track, discipline is not necessary; when we are off track, discipline is that warning signal that tells us we are off track and that we are going in the wrong direction.
God always deals with believers as “sons,” no matter how difficult the situation may be in discipline. He deals with us as with members of the Royal Family of God. At salvation, a believer becomes part of the most unique family in history – the Royal Family of God. No longer merely God’s creation, a believer is a new creation and a child of God. God’s Word has a lot to say about the subject of the royal family and there are several terms used throughout the Bible to indicate this new relationship. Let’s take a look at a couple of these terms.
A term used in the Bible to describe this family relationship is “child of God.” Essentially, it has the same meaning as “son of God.” We must look to the Greek language to see the slight (but significant) difference in the two terms. Looking at both words also helps us get a complete meaning of our relationship with God as believers. “Huios,” the Greek word for “son” emphasizes position and function, but the word in Greek for child, “teknon,” emphasizes our family relationship. As I said, a slight difference, but one that helps us to understand that not only are we related to God through the new birth, we are to function as Royal Family after salvation. (John 1:12; Galatians 4:1-7)
As children of God, the Bible tells us that we are now related to Jesus Christ as joint-heirs. This means that we share in His inheritance, which we know is going to be fantastic. Because of this unique relationship with our Savior, every believer will enjoy an inheritance beyond their imagination. However, for those who reach spiritual maturity, the rewards will be based on sonship (function) not merely being a child of God (relationship). What do I mean by that?
Galatians 4 gives us the answer. Verse one tells us that we are children of God, that we have an eternal inheritance and that we immediately become Royal Family of God at salvation. This is the relationship of the child to God. In function, however, the child must be cared for by servants and is unable to function as a son or daughter. When the child becomes of age and is able to care for himself, they have the potential of functioning as a son or daughter. It is much like the Jewish ritual of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah when the child “becomes of age.” In other words, at salvation a person is born a child of God, but placed (adopted) as a son of God in union with Christ. It is his union with Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit that provides the supernatural power to function as a son or daughter.
The unique thing about becoming a son of God is that the believer has actually been adopted by God into His family. This adoption is a result of the new birth (regeneration). No one is born into this world as a believer in Christ. Therefore, we have no family relationship with God at physical birth. What we have is spiritual death, which is separation from God without the human ability to do anything about it. God in His grace, however, has made a way for us to enter into a family relationship with Him. Of course, this way is through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Once we become a child of God, the potential exists to function as a son/daughter of God. (Romans 8:14-17)
Adoption means to be placed as a son or daughter. It is the Greek word “huiothesia” and carries with it the meaning of being placed as an adult son. This means that believers have the potential for much more than what the term “child of God” implies. All “children of God” will spend eternity with God, but not all will fulfill the responsibilities of royalty as sons or daughters of God. Therefore, not all believers will receive equal rewards in the eternal state. As sons or daughters of God, believers have royal responsibilities, but they also have privileges that never before existed in history.
If you are without discipline then you don’t have a heavenly Father, because we all sin, we all fail. Following the supposition that you do not get discipline unless you’re a child of God, it also follows immediately that you are illegitimate. It is used to draw a momentary conclusion from supposition to illustrate the point. All believers participate (become partakers) in discipline at one time or another and we should understand that divine discipline indicates that they are members of the Royal Family of God. Unbelievers do not experience discipline from God because they are not His children.
“Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.”
The believer can respect God’s authority in two ways: direct or indirect. God can deal with us indirectly. That means through a pastor-teacher communicating doctrine in a local church. The result of the indirect system is blessing for a believer. Or God can deal with us directly and that means divine discipline. So the difference between divine discipline and divine blessing is whether God has to deal with you directly or indirectly. Illustration: A parent speaks to his child and the child obeys. That would be the indirect method. Or, a parent speaks to the child and the child disobeys so he has to discipline the child. That is the direct method.
If we respected the authority of our parents, (and we should have) how much more should we respect the authority of God? You can respect God’s authority in two ways. First, you can respect God’s authority by respecting Bible doctrine and studying under your pastor-teacher and applying what you learn. Or second, you can respect God by means of divine discipline. And God has the ability to know just exactly how and where to apply the discipline. So the believer can respect God’s authority from Bible doctrine or from discipline. The choice is ours!
It is in God’s interest to have His Royal Family under His authority because we are in the devil’s world, we are in hostile territory. We are up against greater power than we can handle. We can’t cope with the tremendous genius and power of Satan and the millions of demons under his command. We are incapable of handling that. Therefore, we must be under God’s authority and His command. He provides then the support to handle the situation which sometimes involves divine discipline.
God is called the Father of spirits, which refers to human spirits. The definite article before Father is used as a possessive pronoun and it therefore means “the Father of our spirits.” And live is not a reference to eternal life, it is rather a reference to living the victorious Christian life as opposed to reaching the point of the sin unto death. Continuing to live in God’s power system involves divine discipline. It is necessary for each one us, in order to stay on track and advance to spiritual maturity.
Childhood is short and the time when the parents discipline their children. As seemed best to them means parents do the best they can. Most parents try to do right by their children, according to the standards of the conscience of their souls. The contrast is between the human thinking of parents and the perfect omniscience of God the Father. Standards by which the Royal Family is corrected and disciplined are perfect standards from God. Good is the Greek word “sumphero,” which means profit. Divine discipline is designed for the profit and the blessing of the Royal Family of God.
That we might share His holiness means that believers participate in His holiness. We participate in His holiness when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and executing the Christian Way of Life. This verse does not mean that we become as holy as God. We become partakers of the God’s holiness when we apply the doctrine in our souls. In other words, we are using the Faith-Rest Drill to claim God’s promises and enter into a partnership with our Savior Jesus Christ as His representatives on earth. Divine holiness is in every believer because the entire Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit indwell us. The key to participate in His holiness is to partner with God the Holy Spirit in allowing the character of Jesus Christ to be formed in you by means of the application of Bible doctrine.
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
For the moment means while discipline is in progress. When you are experiencing divine discipline you can expect to be uncomfortable, miserable, sorrowful - not joyful. God, as a good father, knows exactly how to discipline every believer. So a believer under discipline has sorrow so that divine discipline will accomplish its purpose of recovery from carnality by Rebound or recovery from reversionism by Rebound and changing their attitude toward doctrine.
Discipline produces benefits. When you are under divine discipline it hurts, but if you learn from being hurt it is beneficial. Once we focus our attention on God and on the principle of the intake and application of doctrine we benefit from discipline; we are trained by it. And the training of divine discipline produces a prosperous gain (peaceable fruit) for believers by means of practical righteousness applied to our daily circumstances. So the prosperous gain from experiential righteousness is peace, spiritual prosperity, blessing and happiness from God.
The state of happiness from God is a matter of spiritual growth. The believer who reaches this state of happiness does not require overt blessings to sustain his happiness. His state of happiness does not hinge on fame, fortune, promotion or people. His relationship with God has matured to the point that he does not need special blessings in order to be happy. Therefore, God can give special blessings to him because this believer will not forget the source or base his happiness on this prosperity. This believer will not be distracted from his personal love for God by any details of life, whether it is adversity or prosperity. This believer’s first priority is intake and application of Bible doctrine so that he can know God and fulfill His plan, His purpose and His will. (Philippians 4:8-13; Revelation 2:1-5)
When your spiritual life becomes more important to you than the details of life, you will be able to enjoy God’s happiness in all situations. No person or set of circumstances can defeat you because your happiness does not depend on people or circumstances. Your happiness depends on the doctrine that you have stored in your soul. Because your priorities are in order, you have learned that sharing the happiness of God replaces any false, temporary happiness that this world system offers. Sharing God’s happiness builds spiritual self-esteem, increases capacity for life, eliminates fear, increases our ability to endure suffering and continues to advance us. When we reach the point of increased capacity in our spiritual lives, God begins to pour out fantastic blessings (not always material) to us, which brings glory to Him both now and for all eternity. This means that you are no longer reaping what you sow, you are now reaping what God has sown. (James 1:2-3; Ephesians 2:7; Galatians 6:7-9; Hebrews 3:10-12)
It is impossible to have the capacity to share God’s happiness if you’re not consistently utilizing the Problem-Solving Devices in your daily experience. It’s a complete system. As with everything in the Christian life, sharing the happiness of God is only a potential, acquired only through spiritual growth. If the details of life are keeping you from acquiring, storing and using an inventory of Bible doctrine in your soul, you will never experience the necessary growth required to share God’s happiness. So here’s the litmus test for you and me. Am I progressing or retrogressing? We certainly never stand still in the Christian Way of Life. If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking! (Proverbs 8:32-34)