The truth about “The chastening of the Lord” is probably the most confusing subject in the church world today. It has kept many believers in fear of something that is intended to bring peace to their lives. We should never be afraid of the Lord’s chastening. Rather, we should invite it into our lives and open our hearts to it. Why? It will help us experience the peace of God.
This short teaching is intended to clear up any misunderstanding or confusion you may have about what “chastening” really is.
God’s discipline isn’t punishment for past sins. It is godly instruction, insight, and wisdom for the future. You see, if God punishes you for past sins, He would have to apologize to Jesus who took our punishment for all sins. Besides, how can God punish you for past sins when He gave you His word, “He would never remember your sins again”? (Hebrews 12:8).
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).
Origins and meaning of the word “chasten”
If you study the origins of the word “chasten,” you will understand that the Greek word from which it is derived simply means “to train up as a child.”However, over time, translators and some early church fathers reinterpreted the meaning of the word to imply punishment.
Since Jesus showed us the character of His Father, we can easily see that Jesus “chastened” His disciples, but He didn’t punish them. For example, when they passed through Samaria, the Samaritans wouldn’t let Jesus and His disciples spend the night. The disciples were angry about this and asked Jesus if they should call fire down from heaven upon the Samaritans for their egregious insult to them. Jesus responded by correcting — aka chastening them — with truth. He said, “You don’t know what spirit you are of. I didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
Let’s read the following verses that describe chastening and show its effects and results.
“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:7–8).
God corrects us because He is our Father.
God corrects us because He is our Father, and we are His children. A loving father has a responsibility to train and correct His children. Needless to say, this correction isn’t always pleasant. In fact, at times it can create inner turmoil as we make the necessary adjustments to our thoughts and belief systems.
This is what the word “scourging” in verse 6 refers to. No doubt, reevaluating what you once believed or thought to be true can be traumatic. And so, I am sure the disciples were conflicted when Jesus rebuked them for wanting to call fire down to destroy the Samaritans. He pointed out their hearts weren’t seeing things as they should. Jesus also explained to them His purpose wasn’t to destroy people’s lives; it was to save them.
God’s correction is to help change what we believe.
The disciples’ views and beliefs did not align with Jesus’. They believed it was OK to call down judgment if people didn’t do what was expected of them. But Jesus chastened/corrected them for believing what they did. Why? Jesus knew that in the future, a different type of fire would sweep across Samaria saving and delivering the entire city (Acts 8:14–17).
If Jesus didn’t correct the disciples about their wrong views and beliefs, they couldn’t have been used mightily in Samaria.
Let’s keep following this insight into chastening, which the author of Hebrews is helping believers understand.
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:9–11).
A comparison is made in the preceding verses between our natural fathers whom we honor and our heavenly Father whose corrections lead us to profitable, fruitful lives where we experience God’s holiness and His peace.
Discipline isn’t PUNISHMENT.
Clearly, the discipline of God isn’t punishment but godly instruction and wisdom for your future. Jesus’ disciples experienced His chastening for their wrong views. They had to realize that their beliefs and purpose were out of sync with what Jesus believed and His purpose. Later, we see the fruit of peace fills the hearts of His disciples as they joyfully went to the same Samaritans they previously wanted to destroy.
We should all crave God’s discipline and never be afraid of it. It will always keep our hearts in peace and produce the fruits of righteousness.
~ Ed Elliott
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