How our Father Chastens 3

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NKJV) 18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NKJV) 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In my last post I shared the process I believe our Father uses when he chastens us. We learned from Hebrews 12 that God chastens everyone he loves. If he does not chasten us, we are not his children. There is a problem in any human society with child abuse. God is not a child abuser. He does not discipline out of anger. He does not discipline because we irritate him. He does not discipline for his good. He only disciplines for our good. He does not use abusive methods to discipline. Let me list the process of God’s chastening as I see it. This list comes from the study of the word and my own experience.

1. God first deals with us personally and inwardly. He lets us know something is wrong. He leads us in his Word to scriptures that point out the problem. He may use the pastor, other preaching and in some cases the prophetic word to bring conviction into our hearts so that we will deal with the problem.

2. If we do not respond to this kind of discipline, he will begin to lift his presence from our lives. We have all experienced this. There are times when we do not feel his presence and it has nothing to do with discipline. When this situation goes on for a long time, we need to ask God what the problem is. I believe we usually know. We simply do not want to face what needs to change.

3. If we do not respond to the lifting of God’s presence, he will lift his anointing. The anointing of God is his enabling ability. It is the touch of his hand on what we can do taking it to another level. We need the anointing for ministry to others but I believe God gives us anointing to live. We need his touch in our home life, our work and our witnessing. When the anointing lifts things just do not work the way they should.

This is obviously a superficial look at God’s chastening but I think any Christian will recognize this process. For each individual, it plays out differently. God can deal with us at each level for long periods of time. The duration may depend on the severity of the sin and how dangerous it is to us. If my children were about to run into the road, my response was swift and seemed severe. That was because I did not want them to get run over by a car.

If we do not respond to the inward dealing of God, the removal of his presence or the removal of the anointing we may find ourselves in the position described in the above scriptures. In 1 Timothy, Paul is exhorting Timothy not to be like Hymenaeus and Alexander. These two men had rejected faith or total reliance on God and, what the bible calls, a good conscience.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul speaks of those who have their conscience seared. The conscience is where the three phases of chastening occur. Paul is speaking of people who have chosen to ignore the conscience until they no longer hear or feel the dealings of God. They no longer realize that his presence has departed from them and they do not care that the anointing has left. We need to take special notice of this as he describes it as common in the latter days. I believe we are living in the latter days and I see far too many with this condition in the church and her leaders.

In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul tells Timothy that rejecting God’s chastening has caused them to be shipwrecked in their faith. He makes a frightening statement. Paul has delivered them to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. I want you to notice that it was not God actively chastening them at this point. They had ignored that. Now Paul had no choice but to withdraw his protection and intercession. They had put themselves into the hands of Satan. Satan does not chasten, discipline and train. Satan abuses.

It seems that Paul is the agent that allows them to come under the attack of the devil. I believe it would be more accurate to understand that God had shown Paul that because Hymenaeus and Alexander had ignored the chastening and discipline of their loving Father God, their only hope was to be allowed to endure the fruit of their disobedience.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is referring to a situation in the church where a person had fallen into gross sin and the church seemed to be allowing it. Sometimes we do not want to be harsh with people when they sin. The bible does say that we should consider ourselves before we are too hard on someone else. However, it is clear in the scripture that there is a point where we cannot allow sin among us. As a pastor for 39 years I understood that I had to consider the good of the whole flock. There is a time to aske the sinner to leave if they will not repent. We must also see that this is the best thing for the sinner as well.

If a person will not respond to the chastening of the Lord including that which God uses the local church to accomplish, we are not helping them by allowing them to continue in their sin with no response from us. Paul says that they needed to deliver such a one to the devil for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved in the end.

We are so temporally minded that we have a very difficult time accepting that statement. We feel bad for the person. We feel guilty that we are not reaching out to them. We want to “get them back into the fold.” In our love for them we may say, “Well, I know he shouldn’t be doing that but we can’t reject him. Everybody sins.”

Paul is not talking about lightly rejecting someone. He is talking about someone who has refused to respond to the chastening of the Lord. Although Paul says we must deliver them to Satan, it could be said that we must let God deliver them to Satan. We cannot fix what God says is broken. The motivation here is not that we have peace in the church or that we can remove an irritant from our lives. The motivation on Paul’s part and on God’s is that this person will come to a place where they will end up with Jesus in the end. That is more important than the temporary hurt that may be caused to them. God is concerned about eternity far more than about today.

This is not what God wants for any of us. We see again that God is not the active agent in what happens to that person. The person has made the choice to reject his Father’s dealing and must now reap the consequences. In my last post, I used the example of a child who rejects the parents training and chooses to drive too fast. We could add chooses to use drugs or alcohol or engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.

The consequences are not the parents fault if they have done all they can to train and discipline the child. The consequences are their fault for disobeying. The parent did not cause the accident or the pregnancy, etc. The child did. The parent will use the opportunity to teach the child but the thing that happens is not part of the discipline, it is caused by ignoring the discipline and rejecting the training.

God is a good Father. He does his part by dealing with us. He gives us leaders to love us and care for us and help in the chastening process. If we do not listen, we will endure hardships. That is our fault. In my next post, I will share what God does after we come to this point in chastening. Thank God there is hope even then!

(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog.   I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom.  I may be partial but it is awesome!)

How our Father Chastens 2

Psalm 51:8-11 (NKJV) 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

In our last post, we looked at one of the most important aspects of knowing God as Father (John 17:3.) Paul said in Romans 8:15 that our spirits cry out to God, “Abba, Father.” Abba is akin to our term daddy. We all want God to be Daddy but he cannot be Daddy unless we receive him as Father. Daddy blesses but to be father requires discipline as well. God is both to us. He will chasten us because he loves us.

Chastening can involve punishment. However, God does not punish as we would punish. He is a perfect father. We are not. His motivation is always and only our good. Our motivations are not always so pure. He does not chasten the way religion teaches. He does not withhold necessities of life, cause us illness or bring us into poverty to discipline us. That would be abuse and God is not an abuser.

I believe there is a pattern to how God chastens his children. In Psalm 51 we see how David responded to God’s chastening. This Psalm was written after the prophet Nathan confronted David concerning his sin surrounding Bathsheba and Uriah. The prophet revealed that David’s sin was not hidden but I think we can see in Psalm 51 that he had already been under the chastening hand of God.

I believe the first way God chastens his children is via his Word and the intangibles of our relationship with him. We have all been in the place where we just knew something was wrong. Sometimes it is nothing but the ebb and flow of life. Many things can cause us to feel out of sorts. It is different when we know that we have been going in a wrong direction or have allowed something in our lives we should not have allowed.

(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog.  Click on the post that talks about the atmosphere created in the home.  It is a beautiful example of what I am talking about.  I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom.  I may be partial but it is awesome!)

Sometimes it is sin but not always, at least not in the beginning. Hebrews 12 speaks of both sins and weights. Sin is sin. It is always wrong and will always open the door to things we do not want in our lives. Weights are not quite sins but they are things that hold us back from the full flow of the power and will of God for our lives. They may be habits, relationships or things that are just getting in the way of our Christianity.

In America, we have so many avenues of entertainment it is very difficult to be without it. I do not believe that movies, video games or television are, in themselves, sinful. I do believe they are often weights. They can keep us from prayer, study and church participation. It is not wrong to enjoy them but if the Lord is dealing with us about something we may need to set them aside. If we allow them to rob us of the things of God, weights can become sin. There are as many kinds of weights as there are people. You know what yours are.

God will begin dealing with us inwardly. He may lead us to some things in his Word that we know are speaking to a sin or a weight that needs to go. God is chastening us. He is letting us know that we need to make a change. If we respond at this point, there is no further need for chastening. If we do not, God loves us enough to make his will clearer and make the chastening more unpleasant.

We see this in David’s Psalm. The language is very poignant. He implores God that he might feel joy and gladness. When we are being chastened we often lose our Joy. We are not glad. David knew why he lost joy. He asks God to hide his face from David’s sin. David sinned. That is what was wrong. The lack of joy was a part of God’s chastening.

There are many reasons we may lose our joy or simply feel “down.” If you know there is something you should change, the quickest way to get your joy back is to repent. If you are not sure, you should ask the Father if there is something wrong. He wants you to know and he will not withhold the information from you. In my nearly 50 years of living as a Christian, I usually knew that something was wrong, I just did not want to face whatever it was.

I believe every Christian knows what I am talking about. If you have been a child of God any length of time you have had times of God’s dealing in your life. If we do not respond to the first type of chastening there is a second step. David reveals in the next level of chastening in verse 11. He cries out that God will not cast him away from his presence nor take away the Holy Spirit.

God will never leave your nor forsake you. Paul tells us that in the next chapter of Hebrews. However, part of the process of chastening is that God will cause the sense of his presence to lift from us. I have experienced this in my life and it is not something I want to experience again.

As with the first step of chastening, there are times we do not sense God’s presence that are not a result of chastening. Some days we just do not feel God there. It can be a physical or emotional thing. It can just be life. When something is wrong we usually know the difference. If the sense of a lack of God’s presence persists, we must go to the Father and ask if something is wrong. Do not be afraid to seek counsel from someone older in the Lord or a spiritual advisor. If chastening comes to this point, it indicates that something serious may be going on. We really need to respond.

If we do not respond to the second phase of chastening there will be a third. The concept of anointing is important to a believer. Anointing is enabling ability. It is the touch of God’s hand on life. We most often apply the word to ministry. However, I believe God’s enabling touch can and should be on all aspects of life. We can be anointed to do our jobs. There is anointing for marriage, child rearing and any other thing we do in life. We may be able to do them in our own ability. The anointing adds a touch of the supernatural.

I am a good public speaker. I know how to present a message. I know the techniques of holding people’s interest. I have been doing it a long time and I can do it in my own strength and ability. I cannot change lives without the supernatural touch of God’s anointing. Others may not recognize the difference but I will. I am sure David felt the lack of anointing on his kingship. There is another character in the Old Testament that is a more vivid example of this kind of chastening. His name is Samson.

Judges 16:20 (NKJV) 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

There is no specific statement that says God disapproved of Samson’s behavior. However, if you read about his life he was rebellious, ungrateful and given to the wrong women. I cannot say for sure that the first two levels of chastening were experienced by Samson. I can say that before you come to this point they will be in your life. Your really want to respond to them and not wait for what Samson experienced.

He had gone too far by the time we get to this verse. The source of Samson’s strength was not his hair. It was his Nazirite vow. No razor was to touch his head. He had been in the wrong kind of relationship with woman before. He had gotten away with it so many times he thought God would continue to overlook it. However, he had passed into the next stage of chastening. The anointing was no longer with him. It had been withdrawn.

To live without God’s anointing is something none of us should want to experience. A very few times I have had the experience and, thank God, it has never taken more for me to come to my senses. In our next post, we will look at the final stage of chastening. You do not want to get there.

How our Father God Chastens 1

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NKJV) 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 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.

In our quest to know the Father we have looked at various aspects of his nature as revealed in his Word. It is important to know that God is a good Father. Just as any human father wants good things for his children and provides those things as he is able; our heavenly Father wants good things for us and he has no limitations in his ability to provide. Certainly, the most important thing he has provided is salvation through Jesus Christ. However, his covenant also makes a way for us to walk in health, prosperity, peace, joy and victory.

We would like to believe he just gives us those things. Like every father, God also wants us to be productive adult believers in a world that desperately needs to see him for who he is. Just as a truly good father provides more than blessings to his children, our heavenly Father adds discipline and training to his relationship with us. He loves us as we are when he finds us. He will never love us more. He also loves us too much to leave us as he finds us. Since we are his children, chastening, discipline and training, must be a part of our relationship with him.

Last time we saw that God chastens every child that is really his. We must not despise this process. It will do more to make us the kind of productive, stable and healthy person than any of the blessings that come with being his child. We must not be discouraged by it. He chastens us to train us and make us more like him. Even when his chastening is painful, it is for our good not our destruction.

Chastening means discipline through punishment. We pointed out that today we often equate punishment with abuse. They are not the same. God is not an abuser he is a father and fathers discipline and even punish to help their children become the people they need to be.

Good parents chasten in many ways. They may speak harshly to their children to make sure they understand that something is wrong. They may withhold privileges but never necessities. I still believe that the rod of correction is an important tool of parenting. In Western culture today, it is considered a terrible thing to physically punish children. I teach all over the world that our culture, wherever we may live, must be subject to the Word of God not the other way around.

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

It is never right to abuse children in any way, especially physically. It is necessary to be sure that we discipline them so that foolishness will not overtake them. Proverbs 23:13 gives us another viewpoint. I will quote it from the Amplified Bible as it makes it a little clearer for our modern ears.

Proverbs 23:13 (AMP) 13 Withhold not discipline from the child; for if you strike and punish him with the [reedlike] rod, he will not die.

I did not want my children to die young. Today we see children dying from things like gang violence and drunk driving to aids and suicide. Can we afford to reject the wisdom of the Bible and risk the lives of our children by not doing our God ordained job? God certainly will not leave us without the love that is expressed in discipline.

When does discipline become abuse? Hebrews make this very clear. In verse 10 we see that earthly fathers chasten as it seems best to them. I did the best I knew how to do as a father when it came to disciplining my children. I was not perfect. Although I do not think any of my children would say they were abused, there were times when I punished because of my own flesh. I was annoyed by their behavior and I just wanted it to stop. This is not good discipline and when chastening comes from that motivation it can lead to abuse. I will go so far as to say that abuse always comes from selfish discipline.

God’s chastening is never from a selfish motivation. When he tells us, either personally or in his Word, that something is wrong it is not because that thing annoys him. It is because he knows better than we do what will bring life to us and what will bring death. His chastening has only one motivation. That is to bring the highest blessing and greatest productivity to us. We must trust that. The more we cooperate with what God is asking from us the quicker we learn and the easier his chastening will be.

This verse also is saying that earthly fathers do not always know the best way to discipline their children. I raised six. Some of them required a harder hand before they would respond. Others melted at a look. Chastening is not a one size fits all process. We need to learn our children and how to deal with them as people. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us and he knows what types of discipline or chastening is right for each of us.

Verse 11 makes a statement that is both obvious and important. No chastening is joyful in the present. He clearly states that it is painful. That is just the way it is. It is designed to produce in the future. If we yield to it we will reap the fruits of righteousness in life. Nevertheless, chastening is a part of the love of the Father and without it we are not his children. He wants a bright future for all of us. It is his desire to bless us but he will not withhold chastening when we need it.

When we ignore God’s chastening we may find ourselves sick, impoverished or discouraged. We may lose relationships. We could even die as a result of ignoring God’s dealings. Religion tends to equate the results of ignoring the dealing of God with the dealing itself. They are not the same.

We discipline our children in the hopes that they will avoid something much worse in the future. God is no different. If a child is in a car accident because he or she did not obey the things I tried to teach them about driving, the accident is not discipline. It is the result of ignoring discipline. Discipline is when I take away the privilege of driving when I see bad behavior. It may include a rigorous lecture on what they did wrong and why it was wrong. The accident is not the chastening.

God does not chasten with the difficulties of life. He will certainly take the opportunity when some bad thing happens to reinforce what he has been trying to tell us all along. The bad thing is not the chastening. How does God chasten his children? I believe there is a process he uses. There is a progression of things that applies pressure to convince us that one way is wrong and another is right. In our next meeting, we will look at this process. Understanding it will help us cooperate with it.

Chastening will never be pleasant. If we understand what God is doing, it will be one of the most important and effective things that God will ever do for us. Blessing is wonderful but rarely changes us. God’s grace provides forgiveness and access to relationship with the Father. Chastening helps us be the happy, healthy and productive person the Father created us to be.

God is a Father Who Loves us Enough to Discipline

Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV) 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.”

The summer has gotten me a bit distracted so I have been lax in posting. I am back and I want to finish looking at what kind of Father God is to us. We began this study by reading John 17:3.

John 17:3 (NKJV) 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus tells us that the nature of eternal life is to know God. However, he is talking to God the Father. To fully access the kind of life Jesus is talking about we must know the Father not just God.

Here is what we have learned so far.

1. Genesis 1:26 He is a Father who wants every one of his children. He chose to create and then gave man the right to participate in creation. He wanted man to fill the earth with his children. He wants you.

2. John 3:16 He is a Father who will never abandon his children. His created family had overwhelmingly rejected him as their Father. He provided for himself a perfect son. He could have abandoned those who abandoned him. Instead he “gave his only begotten son” so that his abandoned children could once again have access to life. He will not abandon you.

3. Luke 11:11-13 and James 1:16-18 God is a Father who gives good things to his children. Anything that comes from him is good. It may not seem good at first, but in the long term it will be the best thing for our lives. In the short term, he will do everything he can to bless us with health, wealth and wellbeing. No earthly parent would do less and God is a far better Father than any of us. He will not give us what we want if it will hurt us even if we think it is what we need.

That brings me to the next thing the Word tells us about what kind of Father God really is. This is one that is not popular today but it is one of the most important aspects of parenthood. God loves us enough to discipline and train us so we can be the kind of people who will bring glory to him and fulfill the destiny he has planned for us.

There is a real press in today’s bible teaching to say that God loves us and therefore he will not let anything bad happen to us. There is truth to that statement. However, the problem is how we define bad. There is a message that says because of God’s love and grace, sin does not matter. There is a movement away from christian discipline and sacrifice towards the sentiment that says God’s grace will make everything we do alright. This is not true.

The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23 has not been rescinded. That is not the Old Testament nor even a quote from the Old Testament. It is a New Testament statement made by the greatest expert on grace who ever lived, the apostle Paul. God is a Father who knows what is good for us and what is not. Sin and a lifestyle outside of the constraints of biblical principles will hurt us. Maybe not today but at some point, it will bring bad things into our lives, the lives of those around us and it will compromise our ability to fulfill God’s purpose in our world.

One of the most important jobs any father has is to prepare his children to be productive adults. If a father does not discipline his children he is not a good father. If he does not train them to do good and avoid evil he sends a liability into the world not an asset. He will ensure that his children will not be happy or productive and they will not bring happiness others. If they obtain natural success it will be at the expense of inward success. We would not praise that kind of a father and God would never be that kind of a father.

There was a famous child psychologist who advocated a method of child rearing that eliminated discipline and punishment of any kind. People were encouraged to let their children find their own way. They were told to encourage whatever they did. They should not require anything of them. The result was one of the most unruly, ungodly and unproductive generations in the history of our country. That is not parenting!

God is a perfect Father who loves us too much to neglect our discipline and training. He has standards that he will not compromise not matter how uncomfortable they may make us. He knows what will bless us and make us productive as well as what will compromise and destroy us. He created us. He knows what we need and he knows what he created us to be in life. His choice is to lead us with our cooperation and submission. If we will not cooperate nor submit, he will help us by correcting our behavior.

The scripture quoted above makes some powerful statements. We should not despise God’s chastening but be encouraged by it. We should not be discouraged when we are rebuked by him. The word rebuke is very strong. It means to convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke. The English definition of rebuke is to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.

Any good parent knows that they must give their children love, acceptance and encouragement. However, they also know that if they do not “rebuke” when necessary their children will lack some very important things in life. We do not like rebukes when they come to us. They make us feel bad. Today that is the most important consideration. A father knows that feeling bad for a moment can lead to a lifetime of being better. God is a very good Father.

Do not be discouraged by God’s rebuke. Obey it. Conform to what it is trying to change in your life. You will not regret the changes that he is trying to make.

The language in this verse does not get easier. It says that the Lord chastens everyone he loves. In this chapter, it goes on to say that if a person is never chastened it is because he is not loved. God the Father loves you!

Chasten is an interesting word. It carries with it the meaning of discipline through punishment. We often equate punishment with abuse. They are not the same thing. The writer of Hebrews makes that clear. Abuse is when we punish in extreme and to satisfy our own flesh and anger. Chastening is punishment that desires only the best for the one chastened.

This word also carries the idea of training. I raised six kids. When they were small they often wanted to touch things that could hurt them. We had a wood stove in one house where we lived. It would get very hot. When the youngest of the children tried to touch it I told them no. When they persisted, I got louder and more disapproving in my tone. Finally, I would slap their hand and say, “NO!” This was not abuse. It was training. I inflicted a small but safe pain to train them that touching the stove meant greater more dangerous pain.

The writer says that God the Father loves us enough to “scourge” us if necessary. That means he will whip us if necessary. The term is certainly figurative. He is not going to damage us the way a Roman scourge damaged its victims. He will however, make our chastening as severe as necessary for training. Not because he hates us. Not because he simply wants us to “do it his way.” He chastens us because he knows a better way with better wages than sin.

Next I want to look at how God chastens. It is not like we chasten. Its only aim is to bring us closer to God.