In my last post, we looked at the topic of pruning. Today I want to take a biblical look at God’s punishment and discipline.
We shared how pruning benefits the vines in the vineyard. I also meandered into how God disciplines us.
Does God punish us? Is God’s discipline punitive or preventative? My meditations channeled over into chastisement, and chastening.
Have you ever been confused about how the Lord disciplines his children? I sure have, and I still don’t have all the answers, but I want to weigh in on the topic.
We know God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9, NKJV).
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9, NLT)
The big question is; what is a natural consequence of our sin and what is God’s disciplinary role?
People question if God “punishes” them for wrong choices? The scripture is clear — God disciplines and does not punish. We do know that God disciplines us.
Discipline is for training
Discipline trains and teaches us vital lessons. Discipline is not fun but makes us think twice when making choices.
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11, NKJV)
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”(Hebrews 12:6, ESV)
Discipline brings the fruit of peace and practical righteousness (or uprightness). Have you ever confused Godly discipline and judgment?
Have you ever felt like God is mad at you? I have.
Have you ever thought you were receiving God’s wrath?
God’s Wrath is personal
God’s children do not receive the wrath of God. God’s wrath was poured out on Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Nevertheless, it is easy to understand why some believe they are receiving wrath.
Maybe you believe that when a loved one dies, it is God’s punishing you for sin. No, absolutely not. God does not punish a child for the parent’s sins, and the parent is not punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their wickedness. (Ezek 18:20, NLT)
God does not punish his kids but holds each one individually accountable for their sin. And it bears repeating, for those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior, the punishment for sin is not administered by God the Father on his children. God no longer punishes us for our sin; Jesus took that punishment. God does however discipline us for sin.
When discipline is administered by God it is corrective. God’s discipline is always for preventative purposes and not punitive in nature. There are also consequences to sin. God will forgive you for murder, but that does not mean you will not serve jail time. Punishment seeks to punish the recipient for the wrongful acts or ungodly behavior, and punishment is about pain and retribution for wrongdoing.
Punishment seeks to punish. Discipline seeks to change. The outcome of healthy discipline is a heart change in the recipient. God’s discipline results more in rehabilitation and Godly correction.
Consequences are not God’s “punishment;” they are the natural results of wrongful actions. When we disobey God, there should be a consequence. It is similar to the classroom teacher that cannot control their class, and the teacher receives no respect. Many parents fall prey to wanting their children to “like” them. Our children will like us when they are adults if we gain their respect as children
Discipline is not condemnation
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NKJV)
We must learn to receive God’s discipline with a teachable spirit. God’s discipline is for our good and benefit.
One cannot grow weary when God chooses to discipline us. We often stray away from what is best for us, but we have a loving God who is willing to draw our hearts or even yank us back to Him. We are not to grow weary when God chooses to discipline us.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5–6, ESV)
God’s “discipline” and “chastisement” comes to “everyone.” His correction is a perfect sign of His love for His children. Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline.” So if a parent says, “I love my children too much to discipline him.” Scripture tells us otherwise.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24, ESV)
The discipline and correction of the Lord is a deep study. I hope this article helped but it is much deeper than a blog can master. Hebrews 12 in The Message Bible is a master passage on God’s discipline. Enjoy.
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through — all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline but don’t be crushed by it. He disciplines the child he loves; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for the well-trained find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Hebrews 12:4–11, TMB)
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This post first appeared here.