“Discipline…produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
Does a loving God spank His kids? You bet! It is the last resort of a discipline process He uses to conform us to the image of His Son. Spanking is just one of five basic means God uses to communicate to us what is right and wrong, the consequences of our choices and how to get right with Him. All His means of discipline are motivated by His love for us. He wants to protect us from harm and prepare us for faithful service, but ultimately His purpose is to make us holy. “God (disciplines) us for our good in order that we may share in His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)
Here are the five basic ways that God disciplines and trains us in holiness.
1. His Word – The Bible is God’s primary means of communicating His will and purpose for our lives. It spells out His expectations for living a righteous life that pleases Him and will garner His blessing. And most importantly it reveals the means of righteousness through establishing a faith relationship with His son Jesus Christ. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)
2. Rewards – In religious parlance they are called blessings. God delights to affirm us when we are on the right path. Who doesn’t love positive reinforcement? Nothing beats hearing God say “well done thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) He rewards faithful service with promotion. (Luke 16:10-13) If we would give serious heed to the promised blessings for those who walk in His ways, we would not need to experience God’s other forms of discipline.
3. Natural Consequences – When we disobey God’s Word and wander from His path of righteousness the natural consequences of sin begin to take effect. Since “the wages of sin is death” we immediately begin to feel the weight of guilt and shame. (Romans 6:23)
Bad choices usually open the door for bad effects and things do not go well. Like the consequences for disobedience spelled out in Deuteronomy 28, sin opens the door for the evil effect of curses. Things such as confusion, oppression and vulnerability to spiritual attack begin to afflict us. The good news is that repentance and turning to Jesus brings forgiveness and freedom from every curse. (1 John 1:9 & Galatians 3:13-14)
4. Silence – Sometimes God waits silently while we proceed with our own self-willed way. Like a parent ignoring a pouting and rebellious child, He waits on the side-lines until we finally come to our senses. No matter how loudly we scream, complain and demand our own way, He remains silent. After a time, His silence starts to unnerve us. We realize what a fearful thing it is when He simply allows us to do our own thing. And hopefully we decide to run repentantly back into His waiting embrace.
5. Spanking – Yes, our loving Heavenly Father also uses physical punishment to get us back on course. There is nothing worse than a divine spanking. It is His last resort. But sometimes it is necessary to arrest our waywardness, tenderize our hearts toward Him and motivate us to choose life rather than death. Job, who knew something about the discipline of the Lord said “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.” (Job 5:17-18)
Throughout Biblical history we see God’s discipline, sometimes by using an enemy (either physical or demonic) a financial shakedown or sickness. All three of these are illustrated in 1 Chronicles 21:11-12 as God confronts David in his sin and gives him these three choices as consequences. No one expresses the comfort of the redemptive process following discipline quite like David. Read Psalm 38 or Psalm 51 today and let God speak to you.
What is your take on the holiness process? Do you think a loving God would do such things?
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