by Pastor Tim Burt
I’d like to have you read some scriptures that I know have terrorized a great many Christians! These words have terrorized, but not because that is what God wanted them to do, but because they have been taught wrongly to the body of Christ. Here they are. Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV “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; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Sometimes when we hear the word chastening, we think of a spanking or beating. This is what many teachers of God’s Word have said God does to us when we sin and do wrong. They’ve said God judges and creates levels of hurt and destruction as a consequence. They see it in the Old Testament which was a covenant of obedience and judgment, and they try to bring this into the New Testament. The New Testament is a new and better covenant. It is the new covenant of grace and mercy to God’s children. As Christians, God sees you as His righteous, washed in the blood of Jesus that was shed for your sins. Your sins have been forgiven. He sees you as spotless. He loves you and wants to help you. This kind of love is so wonderful and great, it’s hard to mentally grasp. The truth is, you can’t mentally grasp it except that the Holy Spirit reveal it to your heart through God’s Word.
God’s method of disciplining us is through His Word! Not calamity! Not sickness and disease! God is a Spirit and ministers to us in Spirit and in truth. His Holy Spirit speaks to our heart as He leads us by God’s Word through life. Romans 8:14 NKJV says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” God will always try to lead us into right decisions and choices. But, He will not force us to do anything. If we refuse to let God speak to, correct, instruct, and discipline us through His Word, that’s our choice and frankly, our loss! The consequences of our actions will be there before us, and as we all know, some are more painful than others. Although some wrong actions don’t appear to have a consequence (such as a little white lie), they all do! You just don’t always see it in the moment. Much of the world calls this Karma but, it’s really what God calls the law of sowing and reaping. Our indifference or disobedience carries its own pain, but don’t attribute that to God. If we received God’s judgment, wrath, and consequence for every wrong thing we did, we’d all be beat up or dead. That includes all those that judge you. But, beyond the consequences, we will miss out on the very thing that helps us transform into God’s image and produce better fruit within our lives.
God’s intent is not to hurt or condemn or make us feel guilty. His Word is to cleanse us, wash us, bring forgiveness and help us live out lives that represent His love, influence, healing, and transformation to this sick and dying world. Anytime you see yourself guilty of not following God’s leading, you can feel condemned. But if you do, He is not the one condemning you. The devil is the condemning voice your hearing. God sent Jesus to love, save, and wash you. His relentless love desires to teach you to embrace the correction of His Word knowing that it will transform and refine you into a better person. God calls His words or correction, chastisement and discipline. They are that but they are also words of exhortation! The Apostle Paul rebuked those teaching this wrongly and judging people saying in Romans 2:4 (NKJV) “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” It is the love and kindness of God that makes us want to love Him back!
The Greek definition of the words rebuke and chastening imply, to point on what is false or untrue with the intent to correct. It also means to prick your heart to reveal your wrong, with the intention of helping you get it right. Chastening helps us recognize and discern godly behavior from ungodly behavior and teaches and instructs us how to walk godly. Even if we fail over and over, which we do, God’s grace will be there to help us work to get it right. God isn’t interested in beating us up nor is He trying to lay guilt trips on us. He is interested in helping us learn how to cooperate with His will, because that cooperation transforms us and helps draw the very blessing Jesus died to provide for our lives.
I remember 45 years ago, when I was a three-month old Christian. I had given my life to the Lord but knew little to nothing about the Bible. I had many behaviors that were absolutely wrong according to God’s Word. The problem was, I didn’t know God’s Word. As I was sitting in church one Sunday, the Pastor was preaching a sermon taking us through the Bible that touched on many of my wrong behaviors. It convicted my heart. I learned right there and then what I should change. The Word of God chastened me through His Word. I was happy to make the changes. Some came easily and some I had to work hard at. God wasn’t mad at me. He just wanted to help me. A short time after hearing this message about ridding myself of these bad behaviors, a guy at work said, Hey Burt, How come I never hear you swear or see you drink anymore? You used to swear and get drunk all the time. What’s going on with you? I had changed and I told him why. Some weren’t comfortable with it and others, especially my bosses, liked it. I suddenly began to be looked at for promotion in my job.
Chastening from God’s word hurt my heart when I first realized that I had sinful or negative behaviors. But over the years, I have grown to appreciate God’s Word chastising me and showing me His better way!
In closing, God didn’t put you in a car crash or break your water heater, or any other bad thing to teach you to change. The Bible, His word is quick and powerful… Let it speak to you and lead you to the changes that will transform and bless your life! As Psalm 94:12 NIV says, “Blessed is the man that you chastise and instruct from your law O Lord.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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