Hebrews 12:11

“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

Our verse begins with a truth so obvious and universal that no serious objection to it could come from any quarter—“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.” Who could honestly object? Who has not experienced chastisement of one form or another? Who could not render credible testimony to the grievous nature of chastisement? No one rightly enjoys the chastisement itself whether it is lovingly or hatefully administered, though the latter does add to its grievousness.

A reasonable question would be: Why state a truth so obvious to any reader? One reason we find is the contrast made in the passage. Here the chastening from God is set apart from all other chastisements. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). In the fact that He chastens, He is like many others, but in the nature of His discipline, He is different from all others.

We have all been chastened by our father or some other authority over us, but all of those chastenings cannot be said to have immediately been for our good. “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure” (Hebrews 12:10). However good or ill intentioned, man’s discipline does not always effect good in the recipient. It is easy for man to take the rod, be too severe, and do great harm rather than good. It may fulfill their design to inflict pain but it is not for the good of the chastened. It is also easy for man to neglect the rod or be too soft and also do great harm, although the harm is different from the physical pain of severity.

However, God is neither too soft nor too severe with His discipline. God’s chastisement is ever tempered by His design, which is expressly “our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Joseph came under such discipline and rightly discerned the hand of God from the hand of man. He said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

You may be surprised that I would allude to Joseph for he suffered wrongfully at the hands of his brothers and how could that be the chastening of God? First, note that I am not attempting a full exposition of the doctrine of God’s chastening. Secondly, we must realize that God’s chastening is not punitive only but also instructive as the Greek word paideia suggests. That word is a broad word that means training, including both correction and instruction. It is used such in Ephesians 6:4 and there rendered ‘nurture’. Regardless of the form chastisement takes, God always designs and administers it for our good.

Here we find a reason for the obvious statement of our text—That we might rightly discern and acknowledge God in our afflictions. In affliction, some are like Pharaoh and ask, “Who is the LORD” (Exodus 5:2). Others complain against Him terribly exclaiming, “Why am I suffering so? I have done nothing to deserve it!” Our response should be more in line with the godly Joseph who said, “God meant it unto good;” or like Job who said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21); or even as Eli who confessed, “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Samuel 3:18).

Finally, the verse provides us with another important contrast. Scripture does not conceal the fact that God’s chastening does involve grief. In this, it is not entirely different, nor entirely the same as other chastening. However, the contrast is seen between the temporary nature of the grief compared to the lasting fruit of His discipline. “Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Our temporal displeasure, discomfort, or pain gives way to the lasting “fruit of righteousness” of our sanctification in Christ. And, that sanctification works to our final glorification in Him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Hebrews 10:3

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
~ Hebrews 10:3

The Law enforced that a blood sacrifice was required for sins. The Jews would observe the Day of Atonement as well as the daily ministrations, when they would bring the various sin and trespass offerings for their offenses. However, these sacrifices did not ultimately remove their guilt before God. We see that these offerings were made over and over again. Our text tells us that this repetition meant that there was a remembrance of sins made continually with those sacrifices. No matter how perfect their sacrifice was, it could not take away sins. It was not possible.

The Law was “weak through the flesh.” It was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could satisfy the exacting justice of God. It seems that the Law was a failure, but it fulfilled the Divine plan for which it was intended. The Law was not given to save from sin, “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Romans 5:20 states: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.” So, the Law gives a knowledge of sin. The Law shows man his exceeding sinfulness before God. Paul refers to the Law as the ministration of death. He said, “The letter killeth.” The Law brought the curse it did not bring the remedy. But, it did point to the remedy.

The Law had a “shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things.” It was just a shadow. It did not have the substance. It was pointing to and leading to Christ. Its glory was to fade and the glory of Christ would remain. These continual offerings showed how inferior the Law was to the work of Christ. The Law sacrifices were made over and over, but the sacrifice of Christ was “once for all.” It is written of Christ, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (He 10:14). The sacrifice of Christ has freed us from the dread curse. We sing with the hymn writer:

Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it;
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

In Christ, our sins are swallowed up and remembered no more. Hear the testimony. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Is 43:25). “Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Ps 32:2). Whereas the Law had a remembrance of sins, in Christ our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. In Him we are not dealt with after our sins. This is a precious and plain truth from our text. But, there is more to be gleaned if we look further.

We know that the Law foreshadowed Christ and that the repeated offerings showed that only by His sacrifice are we saved and our sins forgiven. What other reason could there be for the repeated offerings? When we consider Leviticus 4:1-6:7 we can see a very practical reason for the repetition. In these verses a particular sin is in view. Therefore, the offerer was guilty of some sin or trespass and he would bring his offering, but before long he would sin again and have to repeat the process. The law of the sin and trespass offerings enumerates several different kinds of sins and sinners so that, with the offering a particular object is in view. The offerings were not made in a vague general way, but rather to expiate certain sins. We can also consider Ezekiel 18:4-9 to get the same sort of enumeration of sins.

This is a wonderful picture to show us how complete the substitution of Christ was. As foreshadowed in the offerings, Christ actually died for actual sins. His death was not in general for sins, but rather in particular for the sins of His people. I believe that He bore all of my “sins in His own body on the tree.” If I had one sin that Christ did not die for, I would be eternally lost. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Ja 2:10). He suffered the punishment for all those actual and particular sins.

The exact justice of God demanded that “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward” (He 2:2). Oh, what a Savior! He became a curse for us. We exult with Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Ro 8:1). There is no remembrance of our sins God-ward, because Christ has taken them out of the way. If Christ has not paid for your sins, you will have to pay for them. Put your trust in that Lamb that was slain and you will find forgiveness of sins. Oh, praise His name! He has provided Himself a sacrifice and will remember those sins no more.