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Condemnation or Chastisement?
By David A. DePra
One of the most common mistakes Christians make is to interpret the chastisements of God as condemnation. By definition, chastisement is unpleasant. It will mean experiencing a penalty for my actions or attitudes, or perhaps having a blessing withheld. This might be either temporary or permanent in this life. Thus, it is easy to interpret the chastisements of God as condemnation.
But if we do interpret the chastisements of God as condemnation, we are in error. Not just once in a while. But all the time, every time.
How do we know this? Because Paul wrote:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)
The writer of Hebrews puts things into proper perspective:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 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 seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Heb 12:5-11)
So what we have here is a promise: God will never condemn. But He will chasten. Indeed, one PROOF that we Godís children, and that He is faithful to us, is that He does chasten. It is a sign of His love.
Have you ever met a child who likes being chastened? No. In fact, most resent their parent at the time. This is, of course, what we do to God at times. It seems like He is being too hard on us, or is being unfaithful to us. But He is not. He knows exactly what we need, and He is giving it to us.
Now notice WHY God chastens us: That we might be partakers of His holiness. In other words, if we submit ourselves to the chastening of God, we will develop a greater and greater purity of devotion to God. We will have a single eye on Him and His purposes. This is really what holiness means Ė the holy works and actions being the outcome of that devotion.
In this we get a clue as to the issues over which God will chasten us: Anything which might detract from holiness. And make no question, God does not necessarily wait until we do something wrong before He disciples us. As an earthly parent should do, God trains us through chastening, even if we have done NO wrong. He is trying to keep us out of unnecessary trouble.
The next time it seems as if God is coming down on us in a condemning way, we can remember these words of scripture, that God never condemns those in Christ. Thus, regardless of what may come, it is for our good, that we might partake of His holiness. The key is that we must submit to Him in this and get out of it what He intends.
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