New Believers Series: Discipline of God, The #19, by Watchman Nee


Verse 9 says, "Furthermore we have had the fathers of our flesh as discipliners and we respected them; shall we not much more be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?" The apostle pointed out that the fathers of our flesh discipline us and we respect them. We acknowledge that their discipline is right, and we accept it. Shall we not much more be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

This shows us that the matter of sonship leads to the matter of discipline, and discipline issues in submission. Because we are sons, there is discipline; since there is discipline, there must also be submission on our part. God orders everything in our environment for the purpose of teaching us. It walls us in so that we have no choice but to take His way.

A. Being Subject to God in Two Matters

We must obey God in two matters: One is to obey God’s commandments, and the other is to obey His discipline. On the one hand, we have to obey God’s word, that is, His commandments. We have to obey all of God’s ordinances written in the Bible. On the other hand, we must subject ourselves to God’s arrangement in the environment. We must obey His discipline. Often, obedience to God’s word is enough. But there are times when we have to subject ourselves to God’s discipline as well. God has ordered many things in our environment, and we must gain profit and learn lessons from these things. This is the profit God has ordained for us. He wants to lead us to the straight path. We must learn to obey not only His commandments but also His discipline. Obedience to God’s discipline may involve a price, but it puts us on the straight path.

Obedience is not an empty word. Quite a number of the brothers ask, "What should I obey?" The answer to this question is simple. We may think that we have nothing to obey, but when God disciplines us a little, we immediately think of ways of escape. It is strange that many people seem to have no commandment to obey! Please bear in mind that when God’s hand of discipline is upon us, that is the very time we have to obey. Some may ask, "Why do you not call God’s hand the hand of guidance? Why do you call it the hand of discipline? Why do you not say that God is guiding us all the way, rather than God is disciplining us?" God knows how terrible our temper is, and we also know. There are many people to whom obedience will never come without proper discipline.

B. Learning Obedience through Discipline

We should know the kind of person we are in the eyes of God. We are rebellious and stubborn by nature. We are like naughty children who will not obey unless their father has a rod in his hand. Every one of us is the same. Some sons will never obey unless they are rebuked or scourged. They have to be spanked before they will pay attention. Please bear in mind that this is the kind of person we are! We pay attention only when we are spanked. If we are not spanked, we turn our face the other way. This is why discipline is absolutely necessary. We should know ourselves. We are not that simple. Even a spanking may not change us that much. The apostle showed us that chastisement is for the purpose of humbling us and making us obedient. He said, "Be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live." Submission and obedience are indispensable virtues. We must learn to obey God and say, "God, I am willing to subject myself to Your discipline! Whatever You do is right!"

(New Believers Series: Discipline of God, The #19, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)