But if you are without discipline–which all receive–then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:8-11 HCSB)
In ancient Rome the sons of the family were often trained by educated slaves that acted as tutors. This process was known by the name paideuo. Paul used this term in Acts 22:3 to describe his training in the Jewish law as a child. In this passage the term is translated discipline perhaps because it focuses on the less pleasant aspects of training.
As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. (Revelation 3:19 HCSB)
Jesus is so committed to his children that he rebukes and disciplines them. I’ve had many people suggest to me that my sickness was caused by demons or Satan, but I’ve not heard anyone say to me that Jesus may be using this sickness in my life as a tool of training. Perhaps that is because it is hard to imagine our gentle loving savior doing this but the author of Hebrews says “He does it for our benefit so that we can share in his Holiness.”
But It’s Painful
If your child had cancer, you would send them to receive radiation and chemotherapy which are dreadful, painful treatments. You would do it to save their life. You would do it because it is the only way.
Are there some things in my life that have such a hold that God had no other choice than to allow sickness to devastate my body to be rid of them? I don’t know and I could probably never know for certain but the writer of Hebrews instructs me to “Endure suffering as discipline” so I should think of it this way.
My Father loves me too much to cater to my sinful desires. He loves me enough to cause pain so that I can share in His Holiness. This tent, this body is outwardly decaying but the inner man is being renewed day by day.