Sunday, 14 April 2019
But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Hebrews 12:8
The author now turns to a set reason for the Father’s chastening. In this, He says, “But.” This is to contrast what was just said –
“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But…”
With the contrast firmly set, he then says, “if you are without chastening.” In essence –
If you endure chastening, X is to be understood.
But if you are without chastening, Y is to be understood.
With this understood, the author continues with, “of which all have become partakers.” The words, “of which,” are speaking of the chastening. In not receiving such correction, the author makes it understood that “you are illegitimate and not sons.”
To be overlooked in correction when correction is due, is how a person would treat an illegitimate son. Such a child has been abandoned by his father, and he is living outside of his care, correction, and upbringing. He goes unrecognized by the father. And this is how those who are not in Christ are treated. If bad things come their way, they cannot say that it is God’s chastening for correction. It is simply time and circumstance, or it might be God’s judgment, but it is not a corrective measure. Until a person comes to God through Christ, they are not considered in the family of God.
Life application: After the previous verse where it says, “God deals with you as with sons,” when you are disciplined, the writer today uses common logic. If your father doesn’t discipline you, then you’re an illegitimate child.
There is an obvious exception which would be a father who refuses to discipline an unruly child. However, the Bible uses the example of a proper and loving father when making a comparison to God. A father who refuses to discipline a child is an immoral example to his children and those who see him. Such a father is sure to raise a child with no morals, who is spoiled, and who will be a problem to society.
God, however, is the perfect Father and will never leave sin or haughtiness in one of His children unattended. The reason should be obvious – just as an unruly or disobedient child brings discredit upon his earthly father, Christians who act in a like manner bring discredit upon God.
A person who continually runs through marriages and yet claims to be a Christian is a poor reflection on God. Likewise, a saved believer who spends his hours at a bar or gambling casino gives those around him a reason to mock God. Paul uses this logic in Romans 2 –
“You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.” Romans 2:22-24
Here, Paul was quoting Isaiah 52:5. God’s name resided on the Hebrew believers, but their actions brought discredit upon Him. Nothing has changed and our actions today, likewise, need to be carefully considered lest we diminish His glory in the site of unbelievers.
Lord, Holy is Your name. May we be perceived as children of obedience so that Your name may be glorified among non-believers. And may our actions cause them to look inward and determine that they too should desire to be a part of Your covenant people – sons through adoption because of faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.