Discipline, as often used in the Bible, especially in the context of Hebrews 12, simply means to train or to teach. As believers, we are called to become more and more like Jesus Christ. This means to get rid of everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). The Bible assures us in 2 Cor 5:17 that, in Christ, the believer is made new. However, each of us is faced with the battle of choosing between right or wrong each day. Consequently, we need to be disciplined to win these battles daily as we gradually mortify the desires of the old nature and live completely void of its influence, reflecting the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The only way a believer can live victoriously, expressing the character of Jesus is by receiving the discipline that Gods Word brings through a living, active, pulsating relationship with Christ. It is only the child who has a loving relationship with his father who is most likely to receive consistent instruction, correction, chastening and guidance.

An unsurrendered life cannot be pruned

Many Christians associate the pruning of the Father with pain, suffering or bad things happening to them to bring refinement and fruitfulness in their lives. But that is not so! Our heavenly Father is not a critical, fault-finding Gardener with an inspecting look in His eyes and a big cutting device in His hand, ready to slash you to make you more effective in His Kingdom. While man may erroneously see the process of pruning from the perspective of causing pain, our loving Heavenly Father prunes in order to take away that which will eventually cause us harm because He sees so much potential for fruit-bearing!

The Lord said, Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it re-mains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:24). It is obvious that some sort of discomfort or pain or death is necessary for fruitfulness. Instead of having a grumbling attitude towards pruning, we must, instead, ask God for a greater yielding attitude, so we can enjoy greater spiritual success.

Pruning and discipline are two sides of the same coin

In John 15, Jesus uses the illustration of the vine to describe our relationship with Him. He tells us that we need to be pruned to be more fruitful. That is, to become more like Him. In fact, fruit-bearing is the expected outcome of pruning. Pruning simply means to cleanse, or to clean up. Jesus assured the disciples that they would undergo pruning/ cleansing although He also did state that they were already clean because of the Word He has spoken to them. This definitely tells us that after the blood of Jesus has cleansed when we rest receive Christ, we still need constant cleansing to walk in that salvation, in order to bear more fruit. After all, it is only the branches that are found in Him that He cleanses to be more fruitful. The fruit indicates any of the virtues that Gods Word exhorts. For example, the fruits of the Spirit, the fruits of righteousness, the fruit of new converts and fruit of holiness.

The essence of discipline in our lives is to mould our character to make it look like Christ’s { ridding us of all that is unclean, impure and improper in our hearts. The heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23) and Gods word is the only power that can cleanse our hearts of such things (Hebrews 4:12).

Although we need to be pruned and disciplined, we need to rely on Christ’s indwelling presence to bear fruit, for we must remember that before the process of pruning comes to play, the branch is rest of all connected to the vine, and that connection is the only thing that renders it capable of bearing fruit. Fruit bearing is enhanced by pruning.

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