Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
— Hebrews 12:11

As you grow in your walk with God, you will discover that one of the strongest forces you’ll have to face and overcome is your own flesh! Your flesh will try to oppose you, stand against you, and coax you into believing that you can do a little but still get a lot.

If you’re going to be mightily used by God, your flesh must be disciplined so it can become an instrument through which the Holy Spirit can flow. You have to pay the price of crucifying the flesh in order to have the resurrection power of Jesus Christ expressed through your life.

If you look at a child with no parental guidance or discipline, you’ll see exactly what the flesh does when it has its own way. The child will probably lie around, watch television, and eat junk food from morning till evening. And any person who lets his flesh do what it wants will most likely adopt the same lifestyle! That’s why dealing with the flesh is almost like chastening a child. The flesh must be controlled, corrected, and made to obey even if it wants to do otherwise. The process is painful, but the rewards are eternal!

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bookmark2This is what Hebrews 12:11 is talking about when it says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

The word “chastening” in this verse is the Greek word paideia, an old Greek word for the education or instruction of a child. It comes from the word pais, the Greek word for a boy. However, as time passed, the word paideia came to signify the education of all children. By the time of Plato, the word paideia included not only the education of children, but also of adults. The concepts of discipline and regimen were so intrinsically interwoven in this word that in Luke 23:16 and 22, the verb form of the word paideia is translated as the word “chastise” and refers to Jesus being whipped or scourged as punishment.

So when this verse speaks of “chastening” in Hebrews 12:11, it refers to disciplinary attitudes and actions that lead to one’s betterment in life or to one’s education. The fact that this word can also be translated as a whip, a scourge, or punishment explicitly tells us that rigid discipline is required for the flesh to be chastened and changed so that fruit can be produced in one’s life. The word paideia describes not only the process of education and change, but also the attitude required to bring about these benefits. An attitude of discipline is obligatory if the flesh is ever to make the needed changes.

Although the benefits of disciplining the flesh are too many to list, Hebrews 12:11 informs us that when this disciplinary process is in full force, it doesn’t seem joyous but rather feels “grievous.” The word “grievous” is the word lupe, the Greek word for pain, distress, trouble, grief, or sorrow. Although the discipline itself is good for us and provides us with the means to change, the flesh hates it when discipline is forced on it!

Haven’t there been moments when your flesh screamed in disgust at the idea of discipline and commitment? It may be painful for the flesh to be crucified, but it is essential if you’re going to render your flesh dead to sin and alive to God so He can transform it into an instrument through which His power and wisdom can flow!

Hebrews 12:11 says that this discipline will yield “…the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” The word “exercised” is the Greek word gumnadzo. This word gumnadzo depicts radical discipline! It was the word the ancient Greeks used to portray the athletes who exercised, trained, and prepared for competition in the often barbaric athletic games of the ancient world. It is where we get the word gymnasium.

This word gumnadzo (“exercise”) portrays people who want to develop and change so much that they are willing to put themselves through vigorous, demanding, and strenuous discipline in order to bring about change and to achieve the results they desire. Now Hebrews 12:11 uses the word gumnadzo to tell us that if we will discipline the flesh, we will see great results in our lives, for we will begin to yield “…the peaceable fruit of righteousness….”

Let’s face it — there is nothing more thrilling than to see progress in your life. But to get the kind of progress you desire, you will be required to do something more than you’ve been doing. You will have to say no to your flesh, denying its appetites and disciplining yourself to do what God says even if your flesh doesn’t want to do it. This process often feels long and laborious, but afterward when you can see and appreciate the results, you’ll be so glad you didn’t quit!

So let the Holy Spirit exercise His discipline in your life. If you’ll pay the price to crucify your flesh and to submit yourself to discipline, it will pay off with big dividends. You may not see immediate, tangible results while you are training and preparing. But eventually you will see the fruit of your labor, and you’ll be so glad you took your flesh to school and taught it to obey!

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, I admit that I need help in bringing discipline to my flesh and my emotions. Forgive me for being too easy on myself, and help me to be fiercely committed to bringing my body and my flesh under the control of the Holy Spirit. I want to be Your instrument so Your power can flow freely through me. So please help me today to submit to Your Word and to the control of Your Spirit. From this day forward, I purpose to no longer give my flesh the freedom to have its way in my life!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I declare that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are working inside me! Every day my flesh is being rendered inoperative and my body is responding less and less to sin as I reckon myself alive unto God. I am God’s instrument. His power flows through me. Because I am allowing God to bring discipline into my life on a daily basis, I have become a mighty weapon He can use to set people free and to make a significant difference in the world around me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. What is the number-one area in your life in which you know you need more discipline? What have you been doing to bring discipline to that part of your life?

2. If you haven’t yet made any plans to change in this area of your life, what steps do you plan to take now that you’ve read today’s Sparkling Gem? Do you want to stay the way you are, or do you want to bring that part of your life under the control of the Word and the Holy Spirit?

3. Name three areas of your life (such as diet, emotions, thought life, laziness, etc.) that used to be out of control but are now successfully crucified and brought under the control of the Holy Spirit.