“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. ( Hebrews 12:10-13 )
Christ’s goal is to present His glorious Church to God, pure, holy and blameless. In every sense of the word this was accomplished on the cross. However humanity, being made up of a spirit, a soul and a body ( I Thessalonians 5:23 ), and still being one-third flesh in our soulish realm, will struggle in life and need correction. Just as a father disciplines his children, God will discipline us so that we will share in His holiness.
A few verses before, the writer said to endure hardship as discipline ( Hebrews 12:7 ). Although painful, the results of correction far outweigh the process of discipline. On the other side we come through refined, purified, tried and tested. The goal is to train us in righteousness, peace and holiness.
Since this process is expected and proves our sonship, it is important to understand how God will discipline. Paul told Timothy that the Word is useful for correcting and training, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). God speaks and trains us through His word. Everything needed for life and godliness comes through the knowledge of Him ( II Peter 1:3-4 ), so it only makes sense that this knowledge, through the Word, will train and correct us in the way we should go.
Paul confirmed this to the church at Ephesus, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” ( Ephesians 5:25-27 ).
Keeping this perspective in mind should allow us to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in all things. Our responsibility is to heed His word and repent, which just means turning and going the other way. When this happens we allow righteousness, peace and holiness to dictate our lives which is the desired outcome of discipline. Just as He told the church of Laodicea, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ( Revelation 3:19-22 ).