Message – How does God Chasten His Children?
Series: Thru the Bible
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By Request: How does God Chasten His Children?
The first thing we need to identify is what is AND what is NOT meant by the word “chasten”.
…and before we get started we need to know and recognize that while we are not dealing with the love-sick, soft and wimpy God the “grace movement” purports is revealed in the New Testament, NEITHER are we dealing with a harsh and vengeful God Who is only out to right wrongs with no regard to correct the behavior and justify the guilty.
Like in most things – the truth is somewhere in the middle.
We are taking our text from the classic passage on the topic in Heb. 12, so let’s turn there and read it before we go any further.
“(1) Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, (2) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. (4) In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (5) And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; (6) for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. (7) Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? (8) But if you are without discipline–which all receive–then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (9) Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? (10) For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. (11) No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Now there is more to this passage which we will look at before we close, but this is enough to get us started.
When I first looked up THIS word for CHASTEN it immediately caught my attention and set me on a mental pathway for this teaching because I recognized the Greek word which is Paideia which comes from another word meaning, “to instruct“.
Teri and I have two dear friends whose children attend a small and growing Christian school which goes by this name of Paideia. So I contacted him to make sure I was correct about the name and he confirmed that they picked that name since it speaks of the instruction of children. This was a GREAT start to this study because I know a little about their school and the way it is run and also, I know the very good character of my friend’s children. They are being trained in the home and in the school and in their church and all are largely in agreement and this has a collective effect towards Paideia in the lives of these precious children…and we have witnessed the awesome results! In fact, there are many ways in which Paideia can “correct” behavior BEFORE bad behavior can even develop and take root which is FAR better.
So, as I said, this word comes from another word meaning “to instruct” – originally it was limited to the instruction of children but changed over time, as all words do, including to correct as well as instruct.
Chasten is actually a fair representation of this Greek word.
What God is interested in instructing us or correcting us concerning is BEHAVIOR which springs from CHARACTER. This is, as always, about being conformed to His likeness – taking on the character of Christ which is our hope (expectation) of glory! So as we progress, understand that the two things God is aiming at is our besetting sins (ones we easily give way to) and those things which slow our progress towards our transformation into Christ’s likeness.
Let me just offer a general example which is certainly among the most heinous of sins and things which thwart our progress in Christ…
Self-pity and wallowing!
The world is generating a culture which is SO abnormally focused on it’s own “rights” and it’s own “feelings” as if those are the highest reference points for all actions. Everyone is a victim and No one is to blame (except everyone else)!
Social media is perhaps the worst propagator of this mindset ever! It has become so pervasive that people do not even realize how obvious they are in their seeking attention and coaxing.
Posts will start with, “If I were to disappear, I wonder who would notice?” What is this but a plea to pet my emotions and make me feel better? It is a not so subtle hint to everyone on their FB page to feel compelled to say nice things about them or their friends will feel bad that they didn’t. This is manipulation and self-love to the point of it being nauseating and it SHOULD be embarrassing to the person who even thought of posting it!
The Bible encourages us to take responsibility for our own emotional state – not burden others to become our emotional crutches! James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let THEM pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let THEM sing psalms.”
The only place it encourages us to get our siblings in Christ involved is in our sins – we need to confess them to one another and then pray fervently with and for one another. However, even when this IS done it is often only to create a “biblically acceptable” environment for venting – it is NOT used to humble one’s self before God and pray with fervency! In fact, many times people supposedly doing what this verse says never get around to praying at all.
Another example which I’ve seen more times than I can count are posts which will start with outright lies in order to solicit attention. I’ve seen at least two of these this month one from someone I knew in high school and another from someone I do not even know personally nor how they got on my friends list but who claims to know Christ. The posts will say something almost exactly like this… “So many have been asking me about why I’ve been looking depressed lately so let me just explain this once and for all.” ou Their statement appears to almost be on of frustration with having to repeat this SO much and being tired of people’s constant prying. It has the outward appearance of NOT wanting to have to discuss this any further, when in reality – that is all the person is wanting to do! The simple truth is – NO ONE HAS BOTHERED to notice they are depressed! This hurts them… makes them angry…and makes them MORE focused on themselves and depressed, so they will post a lie in order to drum up sympathy!
Now you might legitimately wonder….”What does this have to do with chastening?”
Well, it is behaviors just like these which God is wanting to steer His children away! Sadly, they are the very ones which are not only tolerated in Christian circles – Christians are often the worst perpetrators of it!
Self-love, self-pity, self-focused depression and anxiety are all condemned outright in scripture and yet Christians wallow in such decadence with regularity!
Now, there are a few other words which could have been used here and ARE employed at other times in the New Testament.
- One is nouthesia which is instruction mainly by word.
- The other is kólasis, penal infliction, punishment to correct and better the offender. Which is why our legal system in America is has a penal branch. In original concept – it had to do with the punishment of offenders of the law towards their rehabilitation and release back into society.
- The other is timōría, penalty, punishment which is retributive justice and is therefore focused on the outrage of the offended at the violation of law and honor due the offended rather than on their rehabilitation.
Which takes us back to Paideia which again IS to correct through instruction and educative discipline by deeds!
Now contrary to many modern teachings in the church which has gone almost entirely soft on sin and even more soft of the offenders – turning them into victims rather than perpetrators. All of these words have their place in Christian doctrine and all but one in every Christian life.
Nouthesia which is instruction mainly by word can be found in 1Cor. 10:11-12.
“(11) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (12) Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
“(10) Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
“(4) And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
When it comes to kólasis and timōría the differences are not always 100% obvious. Because while they do have different meanings – based upon how they are used in a sentence, one can take on the greater meaning of the other.
Kólasis – Is punishment. It’s purpose is to correct and better the offender. But when it is used in Matt. 25:46, it is used to describe the punishment one will be inflicted with eternally in hell. So, clearly this is NOT for bettering their character – but it IS an eternal answer and correction of their defiance.
So it only lacks the motive vindictiveness to be the word timōría.
The word timōría only occurs ONE time in the entire New Testament and it it reserved for those who after coming to Christ in salvatioin, willingly and defiantly forsake Him.
It is found in Hebrews 10:29, (Heb. 10:26-31)
“(26) For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. (28) If anyone disregards Moses’ law, he dies without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. (31) It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”
In this case the punishment is NOT to correct and DOES involve vengeance since these are those who had known the intimacy of Christ and understood by way of experience His love, mercy, grace and salvation and from malignancy of heart forsake Him for either the world or out of anger at Him for some perceived injustice!
SO ALL OF THESE play a role in the life of a believer except this last one.
However, the one we are specifically focused on tonight is Paideia which again IS to correct through instruction and educative discipline by deeds with the goal of character transformation in view.
This type of chastening is ALWAYS inside the context of a parent / child relationship. Let’s see an Old Testament example. Turn to 2Sam. 7:12-17.
“(12) When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (14) I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. (15) But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. (16) And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ‘ ” (17) According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”
This is just as true in our passage in Hebrews as is seen in verse 5 & 6,
“(5) 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; (6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
Now HOW this correction comes may not be able to be completely tacked down for while I see an overarching principle established throughout scripture of God’s dealings with His children – it is not 100%.
Most of the time I believe God offers verbal warnings which eventually escalate into physical warnings all of which are to correct His children and bring them into the submission which brings life.
This is also revealed in verse 6 “(6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
Here the write uses the words chasten and scourges interchangeably.
Chasten is a derivative of the word Paideia and means to influence the conscious will and action of a child to conform to divine truth. The word scourge literally means to plague, whip or flog – but both are for instruction and character transformation!
Prov. 23:12-19, “(12) Apply yourself to instruction and listen to words of knowledge. (13) Don’t withhold correction from a youth; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. (14) Strike him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol. (15) My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will indeed rejoice. (16) My innermost being will cheer when your lips say what is right. (17) Don’t be jealous of sinners; instead, always fear the LORD. (18) For then you will have a future, and your hope will never fade. (19) Listen, my son, and be wise; keep your mind on the right course.”
Now, Divine chastisement, is not strictly action taken for sins in particular. Though it does include this, it also entails all and any suffering which God ordains for His children which is always designed for their good, to correct either sin or laziness in their pursuit of Christ being formed in them.
And we have several NEW TESTAMENT passages for this – one is Rom. 5:3-4, which says,
“(3) And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, (4) endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. (5) This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
People (like those in the Grace Movement) do not freely acknowledge this. They cling to the verses just before this, but in action ignore what follows.
The first verses say,
“(1) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
We cannot be “FAVORITE” word people who teach and develop doctrines based upon cherry picked verses outside of their context. In this case we not only rejoice in our being declared righteous but also in afflictions which work His character in us.
Also there is 1 Peter 4:12-19,
“(12) Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. (13) Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. (14) If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (15) None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler. (16) But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name. (17) For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? (18) And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? (19) So those who suffer according to God’s will should, in doing good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”
So, God’s chastisement of us includes not only His “whipping” us, as it were, for specific transgressions with the intentions of conforming our character to Christ, but also the entire range of trials and tribulations which He ordains and which work to destroy sin in our lives and nurture the nature of Christ by faith in Him. This He does not because He is angry with us, but quite to the contrary He is trying to correct our behavior towards union with His.
Now, as I said earlier, I believe that most of the time God offers verbal warnings which eventually escalate into physical warnings.
I believe this not only because this is the pattern which I believe is overwhelmingly revealed in scripture, but because our chastening is “as a father to a child” intended to correct and bring back into fellowship once more.
What do most “good” parents do? Do good parents immediately inflict the harshest punishment for all wrongs regardless of circumstances or do they often begin with verbal warnings in order to correct aberrant behavior?
Now, are there not times when warnings are not appropriate? YES, and we see both in the scriptures.
When a child has been instructed about a certain behavior – the first time they “miss the mark” is not usually the time to inflict punishment…unless the child is being deliberately defiant. In most cases, to correct the misbehavior only a verbal reminder is necessary and appropriate. A few days later the child “misses the mark” again, but it has been a few days and they are not yet in the habit of thinking this new way, so again, another verbal reminder is probably most appropriate to work the child towards correct behavior. However, after this pattern has happened a few times – a structured consequence is in order which the parent may or may not have discussed with their child. God does the same thing. There are times He warned Israel…”If you do this – I’ll respond by doing this” other times, He just warned them – don’t do it again or it will cost you. Again – both are appropriate at different times. As the parent you will know when that is BECAUSE you know your child. Your child on the other hand may NOT know when either is appropriate – because they are the child.
THE SAME APPLIES TO US WITH GOD!
Now when I say God will often offer us a verbal warning first – I mean directly from His communication to our hearts by His Spirit, also by means of His word, through a brother or sister in the Lord, through an inspired message or messenger…etc.
Examples of these are found in such places as:
- John 10 – where Jesus tells us that His voice is known by His sheep and they will follow His voice.
- Ps. 32 – which tells us that God Himself will guide us if we will not be stubborn but trust in His mercy.
- Ps. 17 & 119:9 – David had kept away from the paths of the destroyer by taking heeed according to his word.
- Ps. 141:5 – “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, Let my head not refuse it.”
- Prov. 27:5 – “Open rebuke is better than secret love.”
- Titus 1:12-14 – “(12) One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” (13) This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (14) not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”
- Jesus, in John 15 told his disciple that they were now clean through the word He had spoken to them and Paul told Timothy that he had carefully followed his life, doctrine, purpose, faith love, longsuffering and perseverance as well as the teachings of His mother and grandmother in his youth.
However, if verbal will not work God will seek your attention and salvation of soul by other means and that both are sometimes required is indicated in Jude 1:22-23,
“(22) And on some have compassion, making a distinction; (23) but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
An example of physical discipline is found in 1Cor. 5:1-13 and is of particular note because it aligns with our passage in Hebrews which points to the corruption of sexual sin.
In this case the punishment is administered through the church, where Paul tells them to turn their brother over to satan for the destruction of the flesh SO THAT, their spirits may still be saved in the day of judgment.
The word destruction does not mean the annihilation of the flesh but it’s unavoidable distress and torment…and WHY is this to be inflicted? To correct ungodliness, that repentance might be secured and their salvation protected.
Let’s turn back to Hebrew 12 now the first of two passage we will read which reveal God’s chastening along with His clearly stated reasons, intended results and purposes in doing so.
Heb. 12:11-29, “(11) 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. (12) Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (14) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (15) looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (16) lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. (17) For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (18) For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, (19) and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (20) (For they could not endure what was commanded: “AND IF SO MUCH AS A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT SHALL BE STONED OR SHOT WITH AN ARROW.” (21) And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING.”) (22) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, (23) to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, (24) to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (25) See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, (26) whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO HEAVEN.” (27) Now this, “YET ONCE MORE,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (29) For our God is a consuming fire.”
In the end, Rev. 3:19 are among the very last words Jesus ever spoke to His church and the focus of them is to correct behavior that is not in accordance with His stated will. It says,
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.”
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