Basics for Christian Living: Disciplined by God’s Chastisement

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:11 (KJV)

When was the last time you asked God to chastise you? As human beings, we are by nature, “pain averse” and are quick to ask God to remove anything we feel is uncomfortable or unpleasant. This includes times when He chooses to “chastise us”. This week the writer of Hebrews shares how God uses chastisement as part of His spiritual discipline to facilitate the believer’s spiritual growth and development.

In the New Testament, chastisement (paideia) is defined as “discipline or training in proper conduct for the purpose of better behavior.” In the Old Testament, chastisement (yasar) carried a similar meaning with greater emphasis on “discipline and correction” and was viewed as a “blessing from God” (Ps. 94:12-13; Deut. 8:5). In Hebrews 12: 5-6, the writer accuses his readers of “losing sight of that piece of advice which reminds them of their sonship in God and regarding lightly the chastening of the Lord.” (J.B. Phillips -The New Testament in Modern English) So why do we need to receive spiritual discipline?

It is a sign of God’s love and the believer’s sonship. As believers, we need to understand that we are children and heirs of God (Rom. 8:16-17). While we quickly embrace this relationship when asking for God’s blessings and protection, we must also be respectful and accepting when God administers spiritual discipline. We protect and correct those we love—so does God! “For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12).

It is designed to both correct and prevent sin in the life of the believer. Just as an earthly father corrects his child, our omniscient Father sees influences or behaviors in our lives that may cause physical and/or spiritual harm. Therefore, He will exercise spiritual discipline (Jer. 24:5-7; 2 Cor. 12:7-9) to protect us. To reap the full benefit of His chastisement, we must be willing to be “exercised by it” (gymnazo)—to learn from the discipline experience. This will prepare us for future trials and temptations (Jas. 1:2-4).

It will result in repentance and submission by the believer. Spiritual discipline is not designed to harm or destroy us, but to solicit repentance (turning away from) for our sinful behavior and return us to Him (2 Cor. 7:10). During spiritual disciplining, we turn to Father God for direction and guidance who then “redirects” us in paths of righteousness (Psa. 23:3; Prov. 2:20).

These three (3) factors collectively result in “spiritual benefit” to the believer described as the “peaceable fruit of righteousness”—goodness in character. Although spiritual discipline may not be “joyous”, it is not intended as punishment for sin. Jesus Christ, as our Substitute, received on the Cross the full penalty and chastisement (musar) that should have been given to each of us (Isaiah 53:5).

God’s chastisement is a reflection of His love and is provided for our spiritual growth and development. Next time you experience unpleasantness or upheaval in your life, ask God if He is using this event for your “spiritual discipline.” If He answers “yes”, then spend time reflecting on Proverbs 3:11-12: “Do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

Good to the Last Byte…
Lord God, we thank You that You love us enough to chasten us. As our heavenly Father, we trust Your hand in our live. We embrace that which You allow to touch our lives that we may be corrected when needed, redirected as You plan, and grow to full maturity as Your children.