Friday, February 18, 2011

Divine Discipline

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

(Heb 12:4-8)

If you desire a god who does not punish misdeeds, you desire a god who does not care about his creation. To destroy this world, God would need to expend no effort, He would simply cease holding it together by His power and it would be no more. It is because of His love for His creation that we are allowed to continue to exist – it is that same love that causes us to be disciplined by Him.

In our text today, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (whose name has been lost to us in the fog of time) opens with something very plain: Those reading his letter had not yet given up their lives fighting sin. Others before them had. Many after them would and countless Christians continue to do so today in China, North Korea, Indonesia and other places. To complain as we so often do of our trials and tribulations, whining that the temptation we face is too great to bear, is a disgrace to the memories of those who would sooner die than sin against the Living God. We give into our sin, claiming that we had no other choice and then we despise the discipline God has for us.

When chastened, we are identified as God’s children. While a man will indulge the illegitimate child who he wishes nothing more than to keep quietly hidden, the son who will bear his name will be ever corrected. Why? He cares about his son. He wants his son to be an honor to himself and to his father and to be the very best he can be.

If you do not feel the conviction of God when you sin, it is because you have not accepted Him as your Father. You live in freedom now because the heading of your ship is Wrath and He will not expend any effort trying to remold someone who will not bear his name and for whom it will come to no profit. But if you recognize your sin and come to Him for His forgiveness, you will be adopted as a son. You will be called by His name (as a Christian) and will be a beloved member of His household.

Christian, when the Lord rebukes you and punishes you for your sin, accept it as in your best interest. When a human father disciplines, he can be wrong. He can over-punish, under-punish, punish when none is due or make a thousand other mistakes. In His infinite wisdom, God will not do any of these. He will punish you appropriately for your sins so you will turn away from them and better serve Him. When we understand this, we can sing with David:

Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

(Psa 51:8)

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