Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chapter 5 Chastisement and Discipline of God

Chapter 5 Chastisement and Discipline of God


After wrecking my life and reaching the point of despair, I found myself at the bottom of a deep black hole and I realized that it was my own fault. I thought that I could run my own life, but all I did was hurt myself and everyone else around me. No matter how many times God warned me I refused to listen. Eventually, because of his love for me, he had to intervene in order to keep me from totally destroying myself. God knows exactly how to get our attention and make us listen by using fear and pain. It is amazing how wise we become after it is too late, however.

Once God decides to punish us for our negative behavior, it is too late to make a quick apology and escape the consequences that are coming. God will eventually give us another chance to pass his test again, but we will just have to endure until the season of chastisement is over. All we can do, at this point, is hope for a fast recovery and that we will learn from our mistakes. In this chapter I will discuss the purpose and process of God’s chastisements, as well as clarify the concepts of anger vs. wrath and chastisement vs. condemnation. Finally, I will also elaborate on the different levels of God’s discipline and chastisement.


Chastisements of God:

We live in a world that teaches that it’s ok to do whatever feels good. Anyone, with even a small amount of wisdom, can see the demise of following such a philosophy. The human race is too immature to survive without God. We’re about to blow up the planet now. We are certainly free to do whatever we want, but along with that freedom comes responsibility and consequences for engaging in foolish and destructive behavior.

Do not let anyone fool you with useless doctrines that teaches that God would never punish us because he loves us too much. This foolish teaching says that God’s love and grace will protect us even when we deliberately sin against him, but that is a bold face lie. We may still be saved from Hell and death, but the consequences of our bad choices will be harsh. Even though we are forgiven for all our bad choices, God will still, without a doubt, punish his children if we continue to deliberately disobey him, especially when we have already been warned over and over.

Those that lie about God’s chastisements are appealing directly to people who live according to their “Flesh.” They want you to think that it’s ok to do whatever feels good, even it it’s wrong, because God will not get angry and punish us. It’s no wonder why so many subscribe to this error; they don‘t want to stop sinning. Remember that the flesh is in constant conflict with the Spirit of God and desires to live in the old self-destructive ways. If we follow the Spirit of God we must co-operate with him by turning away from our old evil desires and patterns, not tenderly embrace them.

It is impossible to be a child of God, with his Holy Spirit living inside us, and continue to “enjoy” a sinful self-destructive lifestyle. The Holy Spirit will not allow it. God will bring his rod of correction upon his children, in order to teach us his ways because he loves us.


Why does God discipline us?

God Chastises his children because he loves us and doesn’t want us to perish. Sadly, we desire many things that are very dangerous and harmful to us. As any parent knows, we can not allow our children to do whatever they want because they will get hurt. They would eat whatever they wanted, never brush their teeth or go to school. They can’t be allowed to play in a busy streets or with fire or they could die. Without proper guidance and correction they would end up destroying their lives. If we do not care enough to teach and instruct our children, then we are demonstrating how very little we actually love them. In fact, God says that if we do not chastise our children then we really don’t love them. (Rev. 3:19, Prov. 22:15, Prov. 23:13, Prov. 29:15, Heb. 12:5-11)

It is quite clear that God promotes disciplining our children when it becomes necessary. Pain is one of the greatest teachers in life and God actually tells us that it is better to beat our children with the rod, then to let them go to Hell. The temporary pain of discipline is far better than the eternal wrath and condemnation of God.

I can testify that God has taken the rod to me many times. I deserved every bit of the punishment he gave me. I continued to test his patience and disobeyed his ways continuously until he was forced to correct my behavior. If he allowed me to continue to live a self-destructive life I would have surely perished.


I did it to myself:

I have seen many people make terrible choices in their lives and then whine and complain about the consequences. They will blame God and everyone else instead of taking responsibility and simply realize that they deserve exactly what they get. We have been blaming others for our problems since the Garden of Eden. Adam blamed God for giving him the woman, then Eve turned around and blamed the serpent.

I must admit that most of the pain in my life had been self-induced and undoubtedly deserved every bit of it. I have been my own worst enemy, making Satan’s job real easy to destroy my life. I can’t relate to those who suffer for no apparent reason, because I have done it all to myself.


Avoid God’s Punishment:

We are taught how we can avoid the punishment of God. All we have to do is confess our sins and repent from going our own way. “If” we are God’s children, then we must deny ourselves and follow God’s teachings. We will not only avoid the painful consequences, but God will increase his blessings in our lives.

Unfortunately, I repetitively found myself facing the awful consequences of my foolish behavior. If it wasn’t my own evil desires rising up inside me, it was the clever little tricks of the Devil that would distract and lure me into a trap. Either way, I continued to ignore the reality of the God’s consequences and provoke his anger. (2 peter. 1:3-10, Heb. 3:8-12, Heb 10:26-31)


Anger vs. Wrath and Chastisement vs. Condemnation:

God did not appoint us unto his wrath or condemnation, but unto salvation. (1 Thess, 5:9)
Many people completely misuse this scripture to mean that God will not get angry and punish us. This is simply not true. To understand this teaching properly it is important to clarify the concepts of God’s anger vs. wrath and his chastisement vs. condemnation.


Anger vs. Wrath:

God is love. (1 John 4:16) This is one of the attributes God chooses to describe himself with. Because God is love, people incorrectly assume that he will not get angry and chastise us. That is laughable. There is, however, a big difference between God’s anger and his wrath.

Anger is a godly trait and is necessary sometimes. Anger can be used for evil or righteousness. We are taught that it is ok to be angry as long as we do not sin, but to avoid wrath, which is unmerciful, uncontrolled anger. (Eph. 4:26) When we do something to provoke God’s anger, we must understand that he still loves us. Even if we are stubborn and rebellious, he will not completely reject or condemn us. If we have the faith and confidence that we are truly his children, we should never doubt his love for us, even if he severely punishes us.

The Devil will try to persuade us that if God is angry at us then he must hate and reject us, but our faith should keep us from believing this lie. I have been beaten many times by the rod of God, but I have never doubted his love for me. This is our faith and we must hold it firmly. We are the blessed children of the living God and he will not stay angry with us for ever. (Ps. 30:5) Even though he may be temporarily angry with us, we will never experience his ferocious wrath, which is reserved only for those who reject and hate him.

The wrath of God can best be described as God’s anger without his mercy and love. This is specifically reserved for those who perpetually reject his grace, love and offer of salvation. The enemies of God who hate his truth and reject his kingdom will inevitably see the wrath of God. They are called children of wrath. (Eph. 2:3; Eph. 5:6)

For those of us who make a diligent effort to obey God’s will, we are filled with the confidence of his love, knowing with absolute certainty that we will never see his wrath or be condemned. Even if he gets angry and chastises us, we have his Spirit inside us assuring us of his great love. But for those who abandon the faith and continue to reject his love and grace, and who insatiably desire the darkness rather than his light, they will experience the dreadful wrath of God.

Although we will not taste God’s wrath, it is still not a pretty picture to make him angry. The Bible tells us that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living God, referring to those who willfully practice sin after learning the right way. When we willfully choose to fall away and practice sinful behaviors, the anger of God will increase against us. This is a direct consequence of our negative behavior and will multiply the longer we remain in stubbornness. However, those who abide in the love and Spirit of God will not experience the anger of God, because obedience to God will always cast away the fear of God’s anger and build confidence in our salvation. (Heb.10:35)

I remember provoking God’s anger persistently and caused him to chastise me by diminishing my confidence that I was his child. It was terrifying to find myself in a condition where I was wondering where I would go when I died, especially after having such strong faith before. I don’t like to speculate on this issue because only God can judge a man’s heart, but we never have to doubt our eternal condition if we just simply obey and follow God’s teachings. (Heb. 10:35, Heb. 10:26-31)

Our security and confidence depends on our faithful relationship with God. We are under his grace, but if we persistently neglect and reject his love we will intensify his anger against us. There are many painful consequences for this and if we continue we can even be judge with death. (1Cor. 5:1-5) That is exactly why God gets angry and chastises us, because he wants to save us from his wrath and condemnation.(Heb. 2:3, Heb. 6:4-6, Gal.5:4, Heb. 10:26-31)


Chastisement vs. Condemnation:

There is a big difference between the temporary chastisements of God and permanent condemnation. Every child will eventually need to be disciplined and corrected by God. These temporary chastisements are designed to teach and guide us into the wisdom and knowledge. We may struggle with areas of weakness our whole lives, causing God to constantly chastise us, but he will never condemn or reject us.

Have you ever wondered why some people can do whatever they want and it seems as though they are getting away with it? The Bible tells us that God only Chastises those that are his. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone belongs to God’s family. The Devil has children here on earth also. (John 8:44) I have learned to be grateful for the corrections of God. At least I know that I belong to him and that he loves me and I will never be condemned to Hell. God did not appoint us, his children, unto wrath or condemnation, but unto salvation. (1 Thess, 5:9) as long as we keep learning and growing we can be confident that we will avoid his wrath and condemnation. (Luke 21:36, 2 Peter 1:4, Heb 2:3, 1 Cor. 10:13, Rev. 20:12)

Condemnation, like wrath, is specifically for those who belong to the Devil. They hate God and refuse to partake in his grace and love, so they will be utterly destroyed. The children of the Devil are also called the Children of Wrath and the Objects of Wrath. They will be forever cast into Hell and permanently condemned. That is why they appear to be able to get away with the evil that they do in this world. God will repay everyone according to their deeds at the judgment, so they are not actually going to get away with their evil forever. (Rom. 2:6) Those who reject God’s truth will be subject to his wrath and the children of disobedience will al be condemned. (Col. 3:6, Rev. 14:10)


How God Disciplines us:

No one knows our hearts like God does. Everyone is different, so God will treat each of us according to his wisdom. He knows exactly how to correct his children. He knows our desires, values, likes, dislikes, treasures, pleasures, dreams and goals. He will do what he knows is best for us based on his omniscience.

God is loving and fair when he disciplines us and he doesn’t have any favorites. He will only chastise us according to what we deserve. Some learn faster than others and do not require as much pain in their lives to grow in wisdom. Let’s take a look at the process and stages of God’s chastisements. (Col. 3:25, Rom.2:6-8)


Stages of Chastisements and Discipline:

The measure of correction always depends on the severity of a Child’s error. It stands to reason that the steeper the rebellious behavior the harsher the penalty should be. Sometimes, all it takes is a stern look and a firm voice and a child will quickly straighten up. However, even though I had been beaten with many lashes, I would still drift in the wrong direction. The more stubborn I was the more pain I would experience in my life. We can either learn the easy way or the hard way. Unfortunately, I have been a slow learner.


Hard way or Easy Way:

Like my mom used to say, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. This statement is also applicable to how God corrects his children. If I was a fast learner I could have avoided most of the painful experiences in my life. I wish I would have learned the easy way.


The easy way.

First of all there is no such thing as a pleasant correction from God. No matter what level of discipline we may experience it isn’t easy or fun. At the minimum we will experience what it feels like to “Quench” and “Grieve” the Holy Spirit, which lives inside every child of God.

When we “quench or grieve” the Holy Spirit, we will experience a discomfort in our spirits. It feels like we have decreased in the power, blessings and presence of God within our hearts. The Spirit of God, which lives inside us, is our source for everything and when we quench the Spirit we will suffer spiritual loses.

For example, we know that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) When we are following the Spirit we are increasingly filled with these precious fruits. However, when we choose to drift away into dangerous behaviors we will “Quench” and Grieve” the Spirit of God within us, which will directly affect our spiritual supply.

God will gently chastise us by allowing us to immediately experience the feeling of grieving his Spirit within our own hearts. Our spirits will be directly effected by God’s Spirit. This is the very first consequence of displeasing God. He shares this with us to let us know what he is feeling when we make bad choice.

When we “grieve and quench” the Spirit, we will experience a decrease in the fruits of the Spirit. Suddenly, we will recognize that our love, joy, peace, self-control and kindness are immediately affected. There is no denying the change that will take place in our hearts at this point. Although God will always love us, it is very affective in getting our attention when God decreases some of the joy, peace and happiness in our hearts. If we are close to God and sensitive to his teaching we will surely notice this unsettling and disturbing feeling in our hearts.

For the wise and quick to learn, this is quite enough to make them turn from their errors and follow a better path. This simple correction compares to a father who simply has to frown or slightly raise his voice to correct his child. Unfortunately, that was not enough for me. I needed a much harsher penalty.


The hard way: For stubborn children

I can honestly testify that God is a gracious and merciful God, even when he uses a more drastic measure of discipline on me. He has always given me plenty of new opportunities to prove my faith to him, no matter how many times I made the same mistake. Unfortunately every time I repeated the same mistake over again, the penalty would increase in measure. That didn’t stop me from trying to go down my own path anyway. Needless to say, God had no other choice but to intensify the punishment for my dissidence. What else was he supposed to do when I persistently continued to fall back into my old self-destructive behaviors.


Pain and Fear:

Some people have misunderstood how God uses pain and fear. Just because God loves us doesn’t mean he won’t pour out pain and fear into our lives to correct us. Pain and fear are very affective tools when it comes to getting our attention and correcting our behavior. Even though God loves us, he will increase the pain and fear in our lives, when the gentleness of quenching and grieving his Spirit does not work.


Pain:

Pain comes in many forms. There is emotional, physical and Spiritual, the worst of which is spiritual. There are countless Christians on prescription drugs, right now, who are trying to deal with the emotional and psychological pain in their lives, which has come as a direct result of their bad choices. There are many people who are slowly allowing God to heal them from the addictions to these drugs, but there are others who would rather take a pill than discover and learn what God is trying to teach them.

Many are absolutely convinced that taking prescription drugs is the only way to deal with their problems. They choose to medicate rather than develop their relationship with God. I had also found myself seeking any doctor that would write me a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs.

If you research the psychotropic drug industry closely, you will discover that it’s all a scam anyway. Sometimes the drugs may temporarily make someone feel better, but the side affects and the addiction ultimately destroy the user in the long run. Plus, the problems that they are running from are still there; they just can’t feel them anymore. It’s one big trap.

God will also use physical pain in our lives to correct us. There are many Christians who have developed cancer and numerous other diseases because of their disobedient behavior. (1 Cor. 11:28-32) It also seems reasonable that many of the accidents that result in bodily injury could also be a part of the divine measure of discipline in our lives. Anything can happen to us at anytime. We are truly in the hands of a living God.

Spiritual pain is the worse kind. When we quench and grieve the Holy Spirit continuously, we will diminish the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and when these precious treasures are gone we will experience an increase of spiritual darkness. That’s when despair, loneliness, obsessions, hopelessness, pain, fear, anxiety, insecurities, depression, psychosis’ and endless phobias will begin to suffocate us. When we are empty of God’s Spirit and power, the Devil knows that it’s the perfect opportunity to attack us. He is directly responsible for sending the spiritual bondage into our lives.

Please, don’t be confused by this teaching. The Devil would love to confuse us on this issue. God is not trying to hurt us. He would rather for us learn fast and obey his teachings than to cause us to feel pain. He will only allow these things to happen to us as a last resort to correct us. The Devil is the one who enjoys our suffering and anguish, not God.

Also, not all our misfortune and pain are because we are disobedient to God. If someone is suffering it doesn’t mean they are necessarily being punished by God. We do not have all the facts to solve these mysteries, so we should not go around judging others on this matter. What we should be focused on is how we should be living our own lives. Study the whole book of Job found in the Old Testament of the Bible and you will get more understanding on this topic.


Fear:

There are a few different ways the word “fear” is used in the Bible, but they all apply to God. Fear can mean to highly respect and honor God, as well as to be dreadfully scared and terrified. The concept of fearing God has been misunderstood as well. Many claim that we should not fear God if he loves us, but we must pay attention to the words of Jesus if we are ever going to learn the truth. He tells us that we should fear no one on this earth, but that we should fear only God, who is able to destroy our bodies and our souls in Hell. Also, we are told that we should be afraid when we do bad things. (Matt. 10:28, Rom. 13:4)

This clearly proves, that although God loves us, the “Fear of the Lord” is still viable. The type of fear that we experience all depends on our love and obedience to God. We can fear him with the highest honor, praise and worship, which is different than being terrified, or we can fear him because we have disobeyed his teachings.

When God gets angry at us we will know it because of the fear we will experience. It is normal to be afraid when we do something wrong. The first person to be afraid of God was Adam, right after he sinned. The Bible says that to “Fear the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is a great method for getting our attention and correcting our behavior and is designed to turn us away from sin, (Jer. 32:40, Gen. 1:10 and Rom. 13:4, Gen. 3:10, Prov. 1:7, Prov. 9:10, Ps 111:10)



Fear will keep us from, not only disappointing God, but disrespecting him as well. Sometimes it is necessary for God to correct us by replacing his peace, joy and happiness in our hearts with an increased measure of fear. He has purposely designed our hearts to experience fear when we turn off his narrow path.

When I was younger I would consistently ignore it when I quenched God’s Spirit and felt a deterioration of peace and happiness in my heart. He allowed pain in my life many times trying to correct me. Unfortunately, a small measure of these consequences wasn’t enough to teach me a lesson. So God would have to increase the pain and fear in my life, causing my sorrows to multiply.

I was much too stubborn for a normal amount of discipline to work. God figured out a way to bring me to my knees. I lost my marriage, house, money in the stock market, my good credit, business clients and even my health was starting to fail. I was suffering from depression and intense fear, but the most important thing that was beginning to fade was the assurance that I was a child of God. My confidence was shattered.

I began to wonder if I was really “Born of God” anymore. There wasn’t any visible evidence in my life that God was living inside me. The only thing that I had was my “verbal confession” in Christ. I still told people that I believed in Jesus as my God and savior, even though I was living like a total hypocrite. I began to look like the classic case of a “deceived counterfeit Christian.”

There are countless people who think that they are real Christians who do not follow the teachings of God. They think because they “know about” Jesus and the message of salvation, that they are automatically saved. This is an epidemic deception, but that’s exactly what I was turning into.

Fortunately, God will not lose any of his children. He promises not to cast us away, so he will eventually lead us to repentance through many chastisements. This is the grace of God that he loves us unconditionally. But when we are drowning in fear, our confidence is very weak. Without the evidence of a transformed life and a strong verbal confession in Christ, no one should be confident in their salvation.

The only way we can tell who belongs to God is by the life that they live. If we display love in our actions and live holy lives, along with a strong verbal confession in Christ, we are proving we belong to God. We are judged by how we express our faith in the Son. A verbal confession in the Son, without the evidence of love and holiness, is the perfect recipe for self-deception. This is a dangerous game to play. God expects us to, not only have faith in the Son, but to walk worthy and prove that we have his Spirit. That is the only way we can overcome the dreadful fear of death and be confident in our salvation. It is the power of the Holy Spirit within us that gives us the ability to live worthy and build confidence.

Unfortunately, I did not live worthy of God for most of my life. It wasn’t until God used “death” to warn me that my time was running out. God will eventually take the lives of his children if they do not listen to him. Death is the ultimate consequence for deliberately continuing to rebel. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 1 Tim. 1:20)

Death:

Finally, the ultimate price to pay for persistent disobedience is Death itself. Don’t let anyone fool you with their unbalanced, disproportionate teachings about God’s love. God can and will take our lives away from us if he decides to. The Bible tells us that God alone can take life and give it. There is no one else who can do this. He will allow the death angels to come and take us to the grave. (Deut. 32:39) This is why Jesus tells us to fear no one on this earth, but we should fear God who is able to destroy our bodies and our souls in Hell. (Matt. 10:28)


Death in the Bible:

There are many examples in the Bible of God taking the lives of his children because they pushed him too far. People have been killed for lying to God. (Acts 5:1-11) They have died for disrespecting the sacraments of God. (1 Cor. 11:28-32) Some have died from totally indulging in sin without repenting. (1 Cor. 5:1-5) This should not be a shock to anyone. We can not put God in a box and say that he would never do something. I have seen him take someone’s life with my own eyes.


Brother’s Death:

I can testify first hand that death is a reality for those who continue to disobey God. Not only have I personally come close to dying myself, having driven myself to the hospital thinking that I was having a heart attack, but I witnessed the death of my brother. He finally succumbed to substance abuse at the age of 41. I witnessed him slowly killing himself over the years, until one day, I found his dead, cold, stiff, rigor mortis body face down in his bedroom from toxicity.

I am not sure why, but my brother’s death affected me much more than my personal close experience with death. God used this devastating event to harshly chastise my brother, who had the “verbal confession” of Christ, but did not live worthy of the calling. His death also chastised me and my entire family, none of which were obeying the teachings of God very well. It was the most painful experience that I have ever been through in my life. It permanently affected me in such a way that I can not explain it with words. I have not been the same since and it was the beginning of a permanent change in my life.

My brother’s death reminded me of the “Fear of the Lord.” I instantly realized that it could have been me who died. I was overwhelmed with awe. The days of letting myself casually slip back into the old sinful patterns are over. I wish it didn’t take his death to teach me this invaluable lesson, but I will treasure this wisdom in my brother’s honor. I am not claiming to be perfect, yet, but I have been transformed by this terrible beating that God has given me. I can’t even imagine falling back into the drugs and alcohol now. I might as well kill myself.

Even now I am still a little puzzled by my outrageous rebellion and dissidence, but my life definitely reflect the fruits of a child of God now. The fear is subsiding and the love of God is growing in my life, but I am not sure how long it will take before I am completely healed. Eventually God’s love does cast out all the fear, pain sorrow and tears.

Love casts out Fear:

The scriptures tell us that God’s “perfect love” will cast out all fear. (1 John 4:18) What this actually means is that when we abide in God’s perfect love, by faithfully obeying him, we will not experience the dreadful fear of terror that those “who are of the world” will experience. Those who don’t have the promise of eternal life will be devoured by fear when they die.

The dreadful fear of death, God’s wrath and condemnation are not for his children, but for those who are unwilling to accept God’s peace offering and repent from their own path. The forgiven children of God will only experience God’s love, which will drive out the horror and terror of God’s judgment. Even now on earth, if we “walk in his perfect love” and obey all his teachings we will never be afraid of anything. The only fear that we will ever experience is the fear that brings wisdom, which motivates us to highly respect, honor and worship our God.

But, if we choose to disobey God, we should expect to feel a dreadful scary fear in our hearts. I have learned to be grateful for the pain, chastisement and fear of God in my life, because is guides me back to the right path. I am responding much faster now to God’s simple corrections, so I don’t have to experience the pain and fear that I used to. I don’t test him like I did when I was young and foolish. The rod of correction has finally worked wonders in my life. I am learning how to submit to God and allow him to finish transforming me.

In Conclusion, Anyone with wisdom can understand why it’s important and necessary to be disciplined by God. No matter how we end up in the grip of God’s loving discipline, we should know that he still loves us, even when he is angry with us. If we are truly his children then we will learn to appreciate the process of chastisement and grow from it. Remember that after a little suffering God will eventually restore us. His anger will pass and he will always forgive us, so don’t lose your faith. You will get through it. (1 Peter 5:10)

Our Faith must remain intact even during the darkest moments of chastisement. We may experience less confident, more fear, pain and despair, but we must overcome all this by remaining faithful to God. If we deny his name and abandon the faith, we will lose all our hope of restoration and eternal life. Diligently pray and seek God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. In the next chapter I will discuss the restoration process and how the cycle of failure and recovery can perpetuate for years.

1 comment:

  1. Some of your words are jumping out at me. I can definitely see myself at this stage of the book.

    ReplyDelete