Receiving discipline as God’s children

Ps Joey Bonifacio // March 14, 2019, 8:09 pm


Photo by Marivi Pazos on Unsplash.

Nothing is greater than the extraordinary call of God to us. We have been called to live a holy life: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

It is an impossible task to be holy like God. He’s so far different from us.

But holiness is not something you do, it is who you are.

Being by becoming

As the verse before that implies, the way we can become holy is by becoming God’s children (1 Peter 1:14-15).

Holiness is not something you do, it is who you are.

Let’s put it this way, my three sons need not try to be Bonifacios – they are Bonifacios. In fact, all of my sons have stitches in their heads because their own father has stitches in his head. They are not trying to be different, they are just being who they are. We even share very similar attitudes because of the amount of time we spend together.

Think about it, you become who you hang out with. The way holiness works is not trying harder, it’s spending time with God.

The more we spend time with God, the more we realise how He is love, and that He is patient, long-suffering, wise, holy.

As His children, we do things like reading the Bible because we are His children and we love Him. We will not measure up to His holiness by trying harder because our greatest holy acts will never measure up. We become more and more like Him through a period of time; we grow into it.

Holiness through discipline

Another way to share in God’s holiness is through discipline. 

“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?” (Hebrews 12:7)

The way holiness works is not trying harder, it’s spending time with God.

The words “discipline” and “disciple” are akin to each other. Discipline is not about gritting your teeth and making things happen. It’s something God does to you, one day at a time so that one day you can become like Him.

He allows hardships to happen in our lives to put us in a place of realisation that there’s no other way to live this life apart from Him.

There are times when I’m counselling someone that God will tell me there’s nothing I can do about the situation because this person needs to go through discipline. God knows unless you go through this discipline, you will never share in His holiness. He loves you so much, He wants you to be like Him.

Discipline is an indicator of the legitimacy of being God’s child (Hebrews 12:7-8). 

A Father’s hand 

Similarly as parents, if you truly love your children you will discipline them because there are certain things you know they should not do (Hebrews 12:9).

If we continue to do certain things not pleasing to God, we will find ourselves more and more separated from Him. 

Our hardships put us in a place of realisation that there’s no other way to live this life apart from Him.

When you have a toddler who can walk and is curious, then sticks their fingers in the electric fan, you take the rod and you put a little pain to alert them that they are off-track (Proverbs 23:14). 

My second son, David, when he was younger, was the toughest to discipline. I sometimes had to give him the rod multiple times in a day. I would not let go because I needed to discipline him.

He would then cry and say sorry; in turn, I kneel down to cup his face and tell him: “I discipline you because I love you so much.” I would rub his back, wash his face and tell him to go to his mum and say sorry.

God wants you broken. Discipline allows Him to shape you to be who He designed you to be. If you don’t become the person you were supposed to be, you will miss out on the extraordinary life God planned for you.

The way you live this extraordinary life is not by trying harder, going to church, raising your hands. All of these instead should be because you’ve encountered a holy God and you are undone. The mere mention of His name makes you cry, makes you want to sing and lift up your hands.

Because He has bought you, He has called you by your name. You do these not because you have to, but because this is who you are: You are God’s child.

“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 his holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)

Relationship restored

Why should you let God discipline you? Why would you let God allow some of these hardships in your life?

A parallel verse in Romans tells us: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God knows unless you go through discipline, you will never share in His holiness.

You may not know how, what, or when, but everything that happens in your life is permitted by God for your good.

Lordship is understanding that everything that happens to you is being orchestrated by God, for your good. Our earthly fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Our heavenly Father disciplines us for our benefit so that we can share in His holiness.

The goal, the very simple reason God disciplines us, is so that we can be holy.

The writer of the verse “Be holy as He is holy” was the apostle Peter. If you remember, he denied Jesus three times. The rooster crowed after he denied Christ. Jesus encountered Peter after he was raised from the dead and spoke to him (John 21:15-17).

Peter was hurt because he had to be asked three times. When you think about that, God wanted to restore that relationship and yet He didn’t just allow the restoration without Peter getting hurt. As Peter denied Christ three times, God brought him to the point of realisation. Then, he was restored.

Resting in His presence 

God may allow us to get hurt for the purpose of restoring us to where we should be.

God does these things because He wants to share greater things with us. He will not just do that flippantly. He will discipline us for our good. He will discipline our minds, our hearts, our finances, our health, and every area of our lives because He wants to share so much more with us.

Holiness is all about enjoying God for who He is and as you do, you become transformed.

This is the first time the word “holy” was mentioned in the entire Bible: “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:3)

God purposefully did not create man on the first day, the second day, the third day, the fourth day or the fifth day. God created man on the sixth day with the full intent that on the first day he would live, He would not see God working, but God resting.

Holiness from beginning to end is all about a relationship with Him. Holiness is all about staying in the presence of God. Enjoying Him for who He is and as you do, you become transformed, not confirmed, not informed.

As we behold God and walk with Him, we become holy, as He is holy.

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About the author

Ps Joey Bonifacio

Joey Bonifacio serves as the Senior Leader at Every Nation Church Singapore, and also in the leadership team of Every Nation Ministries, a worldwide family of churches and ministries. He is the author of five published books. Joey has been married to his lovely wife, Marie, for over 35 years and together they have three married sons. They are also the grandparents of four children, and they can't wait to have more.