God’s Discipline

This entry is part 357 of 371 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Do any scripture verses inform us how God disciplines us?

Before I answer this question, I must make the distinction between God’s judgment and his discipline. God’s judgment is far harsher than his discipline. And his judgment is pointed toward unbelievers while his discipline is for his children,

The Bible tells us that God disciplines the ones he loves (Hebrews 12:6). The writer of Hebrews quotes verses from Proverbs 3:11-12. God disciplines us because of sin (Hebrews 12:4). He goes on to explain that God disciplines us because he treats us as his children (Hebrews 12:7).

We don’t look at discipline as a good thing. Nobody likes to be disciplined because it is painful at the time. But as the writer continues, the result of discipline is righteousness before God (Hebrews 12:11). So the Bible is clear that God disciplines us.

In what way does he discipline us? Well, if we commit sin, and we should not because we are dead to sin (Romans 6:1-11), then he convicts us by his Holy Spirit (John 16:8). You might say that he is supposed to convict the world of sin. But if we are sinning, we are like the world instead of like God.

God’s conviction begins with that nagging feeling that something is wrong in our relationship with him. Indeed, something is. We do not lose relationship with God, but we feel the separation from him that sin causes. He will hound us until we deal with the sin issue in our lives.

Throughout the Old Testament when Israel sinned against the Lord, he did all kinds of things to the nation from making it unfruitful to even sending enemy nations against it. Because Israel refused to obey the Lord, they were sent into exile, kicked out of the Promised Land that he gave them.

God only needs to discipline us when we are not walking with Christ. When we walk with him, he has no need to discipline us because we’re doing what we should be doing as his children. There is a verse that says that judgment must begin with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Peter talks about the suffering we go through as Christians (1 Peter 4:12). It is suffering that comes from the world, but the suffering we do must be for Christ. If we suffer because we are not doing what God tells us to do and not representing Christ, this is where our discipline begins.

God makes his judgment about each of us. And if he finds that we are not following him, he has every right to discipline us. And he will. The Bible talks about the suffering of Christians. It mentions fiery trials.

Sometimes God tests us like he tested the faith of Abraham (Genesis 22:1). Other times he will use a time of trial to see that we are righteous before him (Job 1-2; James 1:2-4). But God enhances our character and faith, strengthening it through these trials. God doesn’t make trials, but he will use them to sharpen us.

These are some of the ways that Scripture describes the discipline of the saints. But we must keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts that God does this because he loves us. He doesn’t want his children to be wayward. The Father disciplines his children.

We must also remember that while it is not pleasant to be disciplined by the Lord, he is returning us to the path of righteousness. In the end result, his discipline makes us more holy and closer to being conformed to Christ when the discipline is finished.

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