HEBREWS 12 – The Joy of Discipline

Has society forgotten the benefit of discipline?


Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, sine we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

  • Cloud of Witnesses = The heroes of the Old Testament are shown to be in the stands of the arena, while we are the ones currently in the game. We look to them for encouragement and as an example of the kind of faith that we must possess if we too are to endure through this life.
  • The Race = Let us be reminded that we are running a race, and that race has a finish line…there is a right direction, the suffering and pain is not endless. We are guided by God so that we do not run off course.

Hebrews 12:22-24 – “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

  • The Destination is the City of God = The race for us ends not with more trembling and fear, but with a CELEBRATION in the heavenly city of the living God.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

> The reason that we are called to endurance and discipline is because there is but one long, specific road that leads to life, that leads to the eternal city, that leads to celebration with God and his people.

Look back at verse 12:1 – the race that is set before us.” This road, this path for the race is not chosen by us, but it is God who has set it before us. Therefore God is the one who knows every right turn and every wrong turn, and so it must be God that guides our path. One way that he guides and redirects us is through discipline, which is his love & grace always leading us to life.


Hebrews 12:3-11 – “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

     ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
          nor be weary when reproved by him.
     For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
          and chastises every son whom he receives.’

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

SIN = The extra weight that’s keeping us from running the race.

Remember 12:1, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…” We are called to lay aside this that clings to us…that takes training and discipline. Painful discipline is often the only way to truly SHED this weight. 

God’s discipline is his grace, he is keeping us on the right path that leads to LIFE. He provides the training that is necessary to endure the long race on this narrow road. “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”


(v. 11) – “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

We live in a world of INSTANT GRATIFICATION and all we can think about is the moment. We are like spoiled teenagers, wanting our heavenly father to care as much about this moment as we do. The thing is he sees every moment, and he knows what we truly need in this moment in order that the moments to come would be filled with far more gratification than is available in the NOW.

Hebrews 12:12-17 – “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, ad make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”

  • Esau’s unholiness = he “sold his birthright for a single meal.” Esau epitomizes the sinful man who trades the promises of God for the immediate fulfillment of a lesser but immediate good.

SIN = Sacrificing the better, future promises of God for instant gratification.

This is what Adam and Eve did, and it is what we do every time we try to take a shortcut to the promises of God. Why wait when we can have it now?

> Are we selling out our better promises because we’re not willing to wait on God?

Sometimes we can be angry and confused that God isn’t giving something to us, but he may be keeping something from us that we would likely make our IDOL. He is doing this for our good, to save us from ourselves. God’s discipline might be protecting us from a lesser good in order to save us for a greater good.


Romans 1:18-25 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

“God gave them up…” The opposite of discipline is NEGLECT. Perhaps the comfortable life of instant gratification is actually the wrath of God poured out on us. 


In Proverbs 3:1-12, we see phrases like:

  • “add to you”
  • “good success”
  • “make straight paths”
  • “healing your flesh”
  • “refreshment to your bones”
  • “filled with plenty”
  • “bursting with wine”

Is God’s main objective LOVE or LIFE? Jesus answers this question in John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” And in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

He came that we may have LIFE.

God’s motivation was his love for us, but what he worked so hard to obtain for us is life. Where we get mixed up is when we think about “how could God allow this to happen to me if he really loved me?” We forget God’s goal is not for us to feel loved, but to experience life, abundant life, life to the full.

Not a half life, not a temporary life, not a comfortable life, but an everlasting, eternal, abundant life that can only happen if you find the path that leads to the city of God through Jesus Christ. And so, because of his immense love, he will do whatever it takes to secure that future for you.

> God’s motivation is LOVE, but his objective is LIFE.


Why is it so hard for us to love or even accept God’s discipline and training?
Why is it so hard for us to beg the Lord to discipline us?

Perhaps we’re not clearly understanding the truth of the gospel…And so we INTERPRET God’s discipline to be his anger, his wrath, his punishment for our sin.

But when we zoom out and clearly see the gospel, when we fix our eyes on the real Jesus, think of the true meaning of the cross…we realize that he hung there to take unto himself and away from us the punishment for our sin. Then we realize that God’s discipline is not punishment, because Jesus ALREADY took the punishment on himself. 

When you see that he sent his Son into the world to live the life you should have lived, die the death you should have died, and receive the the wrath you should have received…you can NO LONGER DENY that God loves you, no matter the current hardship you are facing or current discipline you are enduring.

Remember Hebrews 13:6 & 10 – “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”

When you see the gospel clearly, you can know that your Heavenly Father is motivated by love in his discipline of you, and you can faithfully trust that he knows best what you need to move you AWAY FROM DEATH & TOWARDS LIFE.


1. Apply these keys see joy in God’s discipline and training:

  • ZOOM OUT – In the midst of a crisis. Look at the constant message God has delivered over thousands of years through the prophets, the apostles and Jesus.
  • APPLY THE JESUS FILTER – Look at everything God has done and said through the lens of Jesus. Being the ultimate revelation of God, Jesus sheds light on all of God’s other communication. God never contradicts himself. Read the Gospels – MatthewMarkLuke, or John to learn more about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  • TURN IT DOWN – Get into the right posture of hearing — clear the distractions. Turn down the music, give yourself space and time to hear from God, whether that is by prayer, reading the Scriptures, or by creating time in your schedule to worship and discuss Jesus in community. Join a Fellowship Group. We need to teach each other and practice together softening our hearts to the voice of God.

2. Converse about this topic with others:

  • How can we fight back against society’s norm of seeking instant gratification?
  • What is an example of how God has redeemed a hardship in your life? How did his discipline turn out for your good?

3. Reflect personally on the condition of your heart:

  • Do you view God’s discipline more as punishment or his grace?
  • Which better, future promises do you have the hardest time waiting for?

4. Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.


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