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Disciplined to Do Right June 30, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Hebrews 12:1-11
What hinders you? Set it aside. Jesus said, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It would be better for you to enter the Kingdom of God maimed than to be thrown into hell. That is some pretty hard teaching. Jesus was not being literal of course. He was saying that whatever hinders you, whatever causes you to stumble, you should get it out of your life.
We all have that thing that hinders us. We all have that thing that causes us to stumble. I said that from the pulpit one Sunday in church. A well respected man in the church told me later he did not have anything like that. I disagree. To say you don’t have a “thing” is to reveal it. In this case, it is pride.
What hinders you? What are you doing about it?
Sin entangles. It is a nasty business that sucks us in like a miry pit and closes in around us. The more we struggle and fight, the more difficult it is to get free. God knows we have this sin nature within us. He made a way where there was no way for us to be freed from it. We do not have to live in constant fear of God striking us down because of His grace. He sent Jesus.
The world deceives. It is all we see and know. It is all our senses perceive. We must be very disciplined to avoid the pitfalls of the world. God knows this and helps with our development. As Christians we have a new nature and a new identity. We are spiritual beings, but the old, earthly nature remains. We live in this tension between the already spiritual and the not yet arrived. God corrects us when we are wrong. He shapes us to be who He wants us to be. Just as the potter shapes the clay, so God shapes our lives to be what He wants them to be. (See Jeremiah 18)
God disciplines. His discipline brings a harvest of righteousness. Discipline is different from punishment in that punishment is the direct result of wrong actions. Discipline involves guidance. It is choosing to live right when opportunities abound to do wrong. It is choosing right over wrong for the sake of right. Dogs love treats. But, a dog can be trained to balance a treat on its nose before eating it. This is a well disciplined dog. People can be trained as well. We put ourselves on diets and avoid ice cream. We drink water instead of soda. We eat broccoli instead of chocolate. We get up and go to work or school instead of lying in bed extra time. We say please and thank you. We don’t lash out at the irritating person who just . . . You get the idea.
God’s training helps us overcome our sinful nature. Just as a parent knows what is best for their child, God knows what is best for us. Even if the child does not understand, they learn to trust their parents. It may not be pleasant at the time, but God has our best interest at heart. With faith, we can know that the discipline we are receiving is for our good. “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 289:11) God is chipping away the stuff He doesn’t want to leave behind what He does. A sculptor was asked how he created such magnificent images. He simply replied, “I imagine an image and remove everything that doesn’t look like that image.” We are created in the image and likeness of God. He is forming us all the time to be more like Him.
We all know people of character. How did they become people of character? They endured the fiery trials. If we want to be people of character someday as well, we must also endure those trials that shape us, form us to be the person God intends us to be. We are not alone. We have a great crowd of witnesses. We identify with them in our sufferings. These unnamed men and women of faith described in Hebrews 11 endured more than we will ever know.
We also identify with Christ when we undergo discipline. Jesus was persecuted, abandoned and abused. He was despised and afflicted by sinful men for their sakes. He was forsaken by His own Father. He was crucified on a tree that we might be redeemed by His blood. We will never know the depth of His sorrow nor the suffering He endured, we can only know our own. If you are willing to endure, your character will be perfected. Your soul made right. Without it you are an illegitimate child of God.
Wouldn’t you rather endure a little discipline now than endure the wrath of judgment forever?

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