In chapter 12 of Hebrews, the author turns to the subject of our suffering and of Christ’s suffering and of how the Lord God is using this as a form of discipline to increase our righteousness.
In verse 3-4 the author argues from the greater to the lesser. He argues that since Jesus has endured the horrors of the cross with joy, should we not for His sake endure with joy our much milder sufferings? Consider also that Jesus’ sufferings were those of a sinless Man for the sake of helpless sinners (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Romans 5:8; etc.) and that Jesus’ sufferings were to result in His death, whereas our suffering and trials are from the loving hand of God the Father and are intended to result in practical holiness, sanctification and righteousness. Christ’s suffering was unto death for our atonement; our suffering is unto life for our sanctification.
But now on to the “discipline” section. The Greek word used repeatedly here in this section is “paideia,” which can be ‘discipline’ or it can also be training or instruction or teaching. So the purpose is training, but the means employed is suffering. God brings trials into the life of every believer for our testing and for our training so that, in the end, after we have endured the tests, we will display the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (In fact, there is a problem if you do not have trials and suffering is your life, because that indicates that you do not have a father to discipline you; 12:8) SO THE MEANS GOD EMPLOYS IS SUFFERING FOR THE INTENDED GOAL FOR THE BELIEVER OF SANCTIFICATION.
Thus the Christian ANTICIPATES trials in his life and RECEIVES trials as given from the gracious hand of God, and then the believer ENDURES trials, knowing that this training will result in sanctification. These trials are the God-appointed means for burning off the dross of our life and for producing greater holiness and practical righteousness. An interesting note here is that the flesh detests and hates all discipline, trial and testing. Thus one of the best ways to keep the flesh subdued and under control is to accept and even EMBRACE the Lord’s discipline. While the new man grows stronger from discipline, the flesh is beaten down.
Trials are the normal course of the Christian life and are to be expected and are to be met head on. God has designed a unique training plan for every individual believer and the believer is to receive this training as coming from a loving God, as He sanctifies us and purifies us with His hyssop (Psalm 51:7). SDG rmb 11/13/2015