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Whipped Into Holiness


Hebrews 12:5 10 says, "you have forgotten the word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'my son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as sons.'  Endure hardship as discipline.  God is training you as sons   God disciplines us for our good, so that we might share in His holiness."    Even though the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers, this quote from Proverbs 3:11 12 is directed to all sons of God.  No Christian is exempt from this admonition.    


The author of Hebrews tells his readers that they have forgotten one important aspect of being sons of God.  I suggest many Christians have forgotten this too.  We claim all the blessings associated with being God's sons, but we tend to forget that fathers discipline sons, and that includes our heavenly Father.    


The word "discipline" in this passage is translated from the Greek word "paideuo", which means, "to train, teach, or cause to learn".  Despite present trends, God does want us to be educated in Biblical truth.  We're not always eager for the kind of education this passage expresses.   It's through being punished that we learn, get educated, or receive discipline.  This is what the Jewish readers had forgotten.      


The NIV uses the word "punish" in this passage. The KJV uses the word "scourge".  "Scourge" might better reflect the meaning of the Greek word "mastigoo" which "scourge" or "punish" is translated from.  "Mastigoo" means, "to scourge, whip, or flog".  "Mastigoo" is also found in Matthew 23:34, and the NIV does translate it as "flog" in that instance.  Matthew 23:34 states that some of Jesus' followers would be "flogged" because of their association with Him.  The word "mastigoo" is also found in Luke 18:33 where it's used in reference to Jesus being flogged.  The NIV translates "mastigoo"  as flog in this verse as well.  The NIV translators could have used the word "flog" in this Hebrews passage, but didn't.  Maybe the idea of God flogging His people didn't sit well with the translators.    


God doesn't literally strike us with a leather whip.  The text says He flogs us with hardships.  The Christian life isn't always about blessings and prosperity.  The author encourages his readers "not to lose heart" in the midst of these trials.  These hardships were severe enough that some were losing heart, ready to give up.  Some people find it hard to trust Jesus in the midst of hardships.  They can't figure out why Jesus would have them go through such things, but this passage explains why.         


1 Peter 4:17 says that "judgment begins with the house of God."  The word "judgment" in this verse is translated from the Greek word "krima", which means, "to separate".  God does judge His people.  Through hardships He separates those who want to be His from those who aren't so sure.  Hebrews 12:10 states that this discipline, or judgment, is for our good, since it will help us live a holy life.  Who would like to volunteer to be a guest on the Larry King show?  You could tell the world that our Lord whips us into a life of holiness.  That probably wouldn't go over very well.  Such talk isn't socially or religiously correct these days.    


I suggest that Christians are entering a time of judgment and discipline through hardships.  This judgment comes from the Lord, even though the hardships come from society around us.  The pressure put on us by governments, institutions, employers, and society in general, will separate those who want to follow Jesus from those who aren't so sure.  This separation will bring much needed holiness to the Body of Christ.  This pressure is now mounting exponentially, but take heart, it's for our good, so we can share in God's holiness.    


As sons of God, we should realize that God will discipline us.  Some of this discipline comes through trials of all sorts that we all experience.  Beyond our daily struggles, I believe we will face hardships placed on us by the world around us.  There is no escape.  We are sons, and our Father will discipline us.  We might as well embrace His discipline, and begin the process of  being educated into a life of holiness.  It's for our good, and for God's glory. 


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