Does God discipline us?

Have you ever heard someone ‘testify’ how God used a particular sickness and / or calamity to teach them a lesson? After all, so the stories go, so and so was away from God and he broke his leg, and while lying in the hospital reflected on his life and came back to God! Sounds like a good ending, but is God in the leg breaking business or leg healing business? We need to make up our minds on this otherwise satan will exploit the ongoing confusion.

The word does teach that God, like any good father, will discipline or chasten His children.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 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 12:3-11

No doubt about it. God does discipline His children, but how does He do it? We cannot presume things on God. God is referred to as the ‘Father of spirits’ in verse nine. He corrects us in our spirits through His word and by His Holy Spirit. When we realize that the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, and not the flesh, we will better understand how He disciplines us.

“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart”
Proverbs 20:27

God first speaks to our hearts, giving us opportunities to repent. He is longsuffering and patient. However, if we refuse to listen or are dulled to His voice, He will allow us to go our own way, fall into trouble, experience pain and finally wake up to what He has been saying to us all the time.

What earthly father will go unpunished by law for breaking his child’s leg in order to teach them a lesson? He would be put way for child abuse. We are taught that God is much better than any earthly father. He does not deal with us according to our iniquities, but according to His covenant, our faith and obedience, and His promises.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:10

God uses His Word to chastise His children

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be

complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Apostle Paul brought correction and discipline to the carnal Corinthian Church by writing a hard-hitting letter, not by asking God to send an earthquake or some other disaster to judge them for their sins! The words he wrote cut deep into their hearts and brought them to repentance.

He starts out by invoking a blessing on them, identifying with them as ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints!’

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

He then goes on to speak of them as carnal, babes in Christ and still not ready to receive solid spiritual food.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

He considers them babies in the spirit. No wonder they were ‘messing up’. That is what babies do, because they have not yet been trained. What parent, and God is our spiritual Father, disciplines a child in a cruel way by bringing on them some calamity? No, parents train up their children with their words. Only when a child rebels against their authority is it necessary to discipline a child physically with the rod.

God, because he is the ‘Father of our spirits,’ disciplines or chastens us spiritually with His word.

The Word of God is powerful and able to do what God sends it out to do. There have been times when God has spoken a word of correction to me through what I was reading in the Bible or hearing in a sermon, and even in conversation with trusted advisors who know me best, and indeed care for me the most. It cut deep into my heart convicting me of where I was falling short, and also giving me hope and instruction of how to make things right.
Don’t let anyone confuse you by commenting on some calamity that you or your loved ones have endured by saying God is judging you. He does not need to break your leg or arm in an accident to teach you something. If He did, He would be perverse, since He has already said He uses His word to bring correction into your life.

Of course, if a person got drunk say, had an accident, got hurt and is now lying in hospital reflecting on their life, and God speaks to them in some way about what went wrong, it would be presumptuous to say that God brought that upon them. No, they got drunk by themselves. God was not in that! They had the accident bringing it upon themselves. The fact that a loving heavenly Father takes advantage of their belated humility, is no indication that He initiated the whole event. God uses what we give Him and when we give it. If the fellow in question had given God time earlier on, he would have stayed on track, not got drunk, and not had an accident. Everything that is needed to live a godly life is found in the word.

Good people, even Christian people, stray off the path, not completely and consistently adhering to God’s ways. God will call them back to the pathway with His word, but not by bringing personal injury to their lives.

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