Discipline vs. Punishment

So many times believers misunderstand Discipline to be the same thing as punishment.

Christians sometimes believe that when they fall on hard times that they must have done something wrong or have some sin that they need to repent from. What ever the case, this is not so.

First remember after a person accepts Christ Jesus and is saved they come to the Lord in faith and God forgives them of all there sins.

Hebrews’ 8:12 FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

Romans 4:7-8 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO’S SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

The truth is that God does not punish us for sin. God has already imputed the punishment that we deserved onto Christ Jesus on the cross. Even though we deserve the punishment for sin,

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23a For the wages of sin is death, Christ took all sin and was put to death, so he was punished for us,

Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

So then if we as believers are not being punished by God when trials and tribulation come upon is, what is it?

It is for Discipline.

Proverbs 3:12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a fatherthe son he delights in.

Please understand and believe this. God does not do anything harmful to any believer. On the contraire it is the Devil, our sinful nature and our rebelliousness that causes all the destruction in a believer’s life. Consider Job. In the first chapter of Job we find, Job was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. But Job had his life completely devastated. Did God do it? No! The devil did.

Job 1:6-12 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

God does however lift his restraint from the devil and allow him to do things in a believer’s life to discipline and strengthen them. Paul wrote in the book of

2 Corinthians 12:7-10  Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Proverbs 13:11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke,

As believers God has called us to a will that is unique for each of us. I know of the great commission. We are all called to spread the Gospel, the good news of Jesus and the finished work on the cross. However, how each of us does this is all by God’s design. It is not something that when we become saved we for the most part are even aware of. Also in the same way we are all in a spiritual battle against the flesh and the devil. So in order to grow we need to gain faith, wisdom and knowledge. We can only do this through discipline. Faith we grow through the discipline of the word of Christ. Wisdom and knowledge we gain through revelation and the discipline of life lessons.

An example is military basic training, boot camp. An army is in place to defend against attack from an enemy. So in order to become a good solider and have all the skills to survive during a battle in war time you need to learn every survival skill it will take to survive and defeat the enemy. This is discipline. Even so basic training is not easy. I know, I was in the army and boot camp was the hardest most grueling time.  The purpose for boot camp is to prepare you for every situation that you might face out on the battle field. The drill sergeant completely strips you of everything you know of the outside world, your concepts, beliefs, and fears and then builds you up in the knowledge, weapons and tactics of modern warfare, as well as builds confidents in your ability to defeat your enemy.

A Father’s Discipline

Discipline is not easy and can be very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful

An example is a good earthly father that loves his child. He will teach them the way of the world to protect them and how to survive after they grow up and leave home. A good father disciplines the child for their own good. I have three boys all around the same age. Two are twins and the other is just one year older. One day when my son’s were still very little, while walking with the three holding onto each of their little hands I came to a very busy street.  Two of the boys stopped at the corner with no fuss but one wanted to keep walking. He pulled at my hand and strained to keep walking. He didn’t know of the danger. Being a good father and loving him so much I had to pull him back. Wanting to keep going in the direction of the oncoming traffic he pulled harder and when he could not brake free of my grip he went limp and threw him self to the ground and threw a tantrum. Because I love him I had to rebuke him by scourging him with a swift pop on the bottom. God in this same manner does the same to us.

Even though we go through the uncomfortable discipline of our loving Father remember the hardship and suffering Christ went through at the cross.

Hebrews 12:3-11 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

So many times we fall under the hard times of our Fathers discipline and we think that maybe we have sinned or that we did something wrong. We often take it upon ourselves to try to figure out what we need to do to be relieved of the hardship. Maybe if I just pray a bit more, or harder with more faith. Or maybe if I confess all my sins and do more for the church, maybe I need to give all I have to the poor. This is wrong thinking. God is not punishing you for anything you lack or anything you are doing wrong.

Most of us pray, oh God please deliver me and bless me and lift me out of this hardship. Again this is a prayer that has already been answered at the cross. God has already given us grace. God relayed this to Paul when He said “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

So again, why if we have grace and we already have all of Gods blessing why is our prayer not being answered? Gods’ word answers this simply; the easiest way to endure the discipline of God is straight down the middle. Hebrews 12:12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Instead of asking to be delivered from discipline that seems to be hardship and strife, we need to pray that God will take us straight down the middle and allow us to gain the revelation of His wisdom and knowledge of his discipline

Psalms 27:11 Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

There is a saying the closes distance in-between two points is a straight line.

We are saved by grace and have the full benefits of being a beloved child of God. This does not mean that we will live a life of easy not lacking any hardship. God disciplines us because he loves us and wants to prepare us in every good thing. His discipline grows us up in perseverance, character, and hope so with that hope we will never be disappointed,

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

So why does God discipline us?

Paul in Asia went through almost unbearable discipline.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,  

God our loving Father wants us not to be self reliant but rather He wants us to rely 100% on Him and to continue set our hope on Him. In order to become totally reliant on God we need to be put into a position that ends our own reliance and self-confidence so we know that there is no other way for us to get through except by Him. God disciplines us to shed us of all self reliance.

From the very beginning God has wanted to provide everything. In the beginning God created a garden and put man in it to tend it. Even after man fell short and God had no choice but to put him out of the garden God fashioned skins for man to cloth him. Understand self reliance always develops in to pride and self glorification.

Self exaltation (self-confidence, self reliance) was what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven.

Isaiah 14:12-14 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!  You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

“I will” is all about self. Self exaltation (self-confidence, self reliance) it leaves no room for God even to the point of relying upon ourselves to come close to Him. Trying to come close to God through our own effort is impossible and leads to self righteousness; we are putting our self on the same level as God trying to become right with him. This is not something we deliberately do. It is done out of ignorance and a response to our flesh.

Ever since man first sinned and was removed from the garden man has had to learn to rely on his own self effort. But Christ became atonement for us so we don’t have to try to rely on our self effort any longer.

The word atonement actually means,

1. satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.

2. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) Theology . the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, especially as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.

3. Christian Science . the experience of humankind's unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ.

4. Archaic . reconciliation; agreement.

Our Father God wants us to become totally reliant on Him. So he disciplines us to the point that we will only be able to rely on him.

Have you come to the end of your resources? Do you trust solely in God’s power, in His strength for your every need? When we hold things back, when we do things our own way, our Father says He will discipline us and bring us to the point of realizing our need of Him. He will allow our own stubbornness and our own rebelliousness nature to affect us. Also God will allow Satan freedom to touch one particular area of our life. God is always in control, and always disciplines us in love.

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