It will help us to understand the question and determine the “Why” of Godly discipline when we grasp the fact that because God loves us as His children, He carries out discipline for our good. To begin with:
- When we accept Christ as our personal Savior, we become members of God’s family.
- By the new birth, a person becomes a child of God. (John 1:12-13)
- Included with becoming a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17), we acquire a new Father. (John 20:17; II Thessalonians 2:16; Matthew 6:8-9)
- A special blessing is the fact that the believer knows God. (John 17:3)
- The believer is able to have fellowship with God. (I John 1:3, 7)
- The believer can talk to God sharing his or her life. (Matthew 6:-15; 7:7-11; I Thessalonians 5:17-18)
- The believer can study God’s Word and learn through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit who now indwells the child of God. (I Corinthians 2:9-13)
- Because the believer is a child of God, the believer has the responsibility to be obedient to his new Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. (John 15:1-17)
- The believer is expected to have fellowship with God on a daily basis. (I John 1:9)
- To do that the believer must live a holy life to the best of their ability and at the level of their Christian growth [maturity]. (Hebrews 5:11-14)
- Because God is holy, his children are expected to live holy lives. (I Peter 1:15-16; I John 1:5-7; Psalm 119:105)
- Because sin is disobedience against God and His Word, all sin is against God. (Psalm 51:4) Because God is holy He must punish sin [discipline His child for their own good].
Upon acceptance of God’s Son as Savior and having been adopted into God’s family, the believer becomes subject to God’s parental discipline. (Hebrews 12:5-7) The goals of God’s loving discipline are:
- To correct His children. (I Corinthians 11:32)
- To lead them to submit to His authority. (Hebrews 12:9)
- To produce in them His practical holiness. (v. 10)
- To make them more spiritually productive. (v. 11; cp. John 15:2)
- Because God corrects with infinite love and wisdom, the child of God should not faint because of His dealings with them. (Hebrews 12:5)
- The believer should endure God’s corrections patiently (Hebrews 12:7) in order to receive the benefit that can be derived from God’s disciple.
The believer should remember that they are the objects of God’s loving care. (Matthew 6:31-33; 10:29-31) His loving care started even before the world was created (Ephesians 1:4) and continues for the believer every moment that they are on earth and beyond. God is ever aware of our needs and ministers to the believer continually.
He has provided for all that the believer needs for their pilgrimage through this world and for achieving all His child needs to glorify Him and bring pleasure to Him. (2 Peter 1:1-4; Philippians 4:19; Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11) As the believer humbly draws near to Him through prayer, God draws to us (James 4:8-10) and as we delight ourselves in Him, He satisfies our heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4) Because of His great love and wisdom, God judges our conduct and when it violates His Word, He lovingly administers discipline to help us grow and keep us in a position of being blessed by Him.
It would be well to remember that Hebrews 12 points out that “all” of His children receive His loving discipline. Inasmuch as “all” receive His godly discipline and if some do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, so in that sense we can say that God’s discipline can mean that they are a child of God, experiencing His love and on their way to Heaven. However, if a person never receives God’s disciplinary action it can also mean a life correction is in order.
If the believer does not repent and confess his sin to God then God’s discipline can and will be applied to the believer’s life for disobedience to His Word. Notice the statement in I Corinthians 11:27-32; particularly verse 30: “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [die].” There is a red line that if we cross it God will act. Why? Because He loves us and wants to be able to bless us but He cannot if we practice sin in contradiction to His Word. Further, if we are living a sinful life, our testimony and His are placed before the world bringing disrespect on our wonderful God. How we live reflects whether or not God is alive and on the throne. In other words our lifestyle must confirm that God is alive and on His throne, offering His free gift of salvation to those who want it. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 13:34-35)
As first Corinthians 11:31 points out, if we will judge our own sin then God will not have to judge our life. However, if we refuse and continue to practice sin then God has no choice to apply His discipline to our lives. Like salvation, living in obedience to God’s Word is a choice that we make.
FACT: God’s discipline is applied to the lives of His children simply because He loves them and wants to bless and protect them.
Rev. Tom Shelton