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When God Chastens Part 1

December 12, 2006

"There cannot be greater evidence of God's hatred and wrath, than His refusing to correct men for their sinful courses and vanities!  Where God refuses to correct, there, God resolves to destroy!  There is no man so near God's axe, so near the flames, so near hell, as he whom God will not so much as spend a rod upon!  God is most angry, when He shows no anger!" —Thomas Brooks

"The constant cry of the rod is, 'be dead to the profits, pleasures, honors, and applauses of the world!  Be dead to everything below a living Jesus." —Thomas Brooks

We look upon the landscape of the human condition with awe and wonderment   To the naked eye, it would seem that some who ought to be enduring the greatest of torments are prospering and living carefree lives, while others whom we would deem as deserving some measure of relief, are pressed down even further, suffering unimaginable cruelties at the hands of others, never able to hold their heads above water for more than a few seconds before they are dragged back into the deep   

If we were to process such events through the prism of human reason, we would inevitably come to the conclusion that we are living in an unjust world, where evil men prosper, while good men are left to die   If not for the reassurance we have in the Word of God, wherein He tells us that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, we would behold the reward of the deceivers of this present age, and perhaps begin to murmur, or in the least feel a sense of injustice at what is transpiring   

The ways of God surpass human reason, and this is a truth that remains undeniable from age to age   In order to see reality as God sees it, we must perceive it from God's point of view   Yes, to the human eye, processed by the human mind, it would seem that the wicked are being rewarded for their wickedness, the deceivers are prospering, and the hypocrites are growing rich from their constant fleecing of the flock, but it is not so   There should never be a greater moment of utter terror in the life of a believer, than knowing he has done something worthy of chastening or reproof, is left uncorrected   I realize this flies in the face of modern doctrines, wherein if you are going through a trial, a chastening or are rebuked of God, you are no longer beloved of God, that you have somehow become irredeemable, that the only way to truly know you are saved, is that you prosper financially, that all is well, and that you have no trials or afflictions, but leaving homespun doctrine aside, let us see what the Bible says concerning these things   

Nothing is more dangerous or lamentable, than a man who thinks himself on sure ground, having a sure footing, when all the while he is standing in quicksand   It is such with those who have rejected the sovereign truth of God's words, in lieu of men's fables, no longer wondering why God has not corrected the sin they know to be in their hearts, but merrily banging the tambourine singing along to 'it is well, with my soul', knowing all the while, that it is anything but well   

One of the greatest frauds and outright lies perpetrated upon Christendom in our modern age, is that God's primary desire, His primary purpose is to prosper us   The truth of the matter, the ultimate truth, is that God's primary desire and purpose, is to sanctify us, to bond us unto Himself that we may be together with Him in eternity   All else pales, and is irrelevant; all else takes second place whether it be our comfort, health or prosperity   

Hebrews 12:5-6, "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."

The tragedy of forgetfulness is that often times we do not remember when it was that we forgot   When was it that we forgot, that God spoke to us as to sons, that in our times of chastening and rebuke, He whispered it is because I love you, because I have received you?  

A child readily forgets the advice, admonition and lessons of his parents, and so must constantly be reminded of them, that they may be kept at the forefront of his mind, and act accordingly when he comes in contact with that of which his parents forewarned   It is the same from a spiritual standpoint, our heavenly Father continually warning us through His Word, as well as other means, to flee from sin, to turn away from deception, reminding us that only in His loving embrace, under the shadow of His wing, will we find the peace and safety we so desperately seek   

God knows that man is a forgetful creature, He knows that as little children tend to do, we get distracted by bright shiny objects, we choose disobedience over obedience, and even though we may be aware that His way is the better way, our stubbornness does not permit us to surrender ourselves, and give Him the rightful place in our hearts   Above all else, these are the reasons that God constantly reminds us, pointing us to the right path, guiding us, and if we allow Him, even taking us by the hand   It is because of man's nature, that God must constantly contend with him, reminding him always that He is a God of expectation, even though we may already know these things, and even be established in them   

2 Peter 1:12, "Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth."

There are times, in God's attempts of getting our attention where gentle persuasion has no affect, and as a good Father, the means which he employs to bring us aright, are somewhat unpleasant for us His children   Although the means may vary, God's reason for chastening is always the same, to reform, and to restore us, to turn our hearts back to Him, and cause us to seek His face in an atmosphere of repentance   God's desire is always to draw us ever closer to Him   

Faith receives and accepts, with peace and trust any trial that comes upon it, it is at ease even in the most desperate of situations for it knows above all else that all that unfolds and comes upon it is from the hand of God   Faith trusts God's intent, it knows His will and desire are only the best for His children, no matter what may come   

When faith is absent from a heart however, when the man toward which a chastening or rebuke may be directed is not wholly surrendered, trusting in God, the sense of unease and the desire to rebel against the trial through which he is going, is often overwhelming   The man absent of faith, will despise the chastening of the Lord, he will perceive it with loathing and scorn, thinking himself unjustly rebuked or reprimanded   

In order to hinder God from perfecting His plan for our lives, the enemy often attempts to tempt believers into despising the chastening of the Lord, blinding them to the truth that God chastens those He loves, and scourges every son whom He receives   If the enemy can accomplish this, if he can persuade us to despise the chastening of the Lord, to resist it, or by our own means attempt to avoid it, he will have succeeded in keeping us from living in God's perfect will   If we do not recognize and acknowledge the hand of God at work in our lives, if we cannot discern the correction and discipline of God for what they are, then we will not have learned the lesson He was attempting to teach us, or receive the blessing the chastening was supposed to have brought   

It is easy to say we must learn to love the rod of God, but it is much harder to reach that point, that level of maturity wherein we love it in actuality   Only once he is grown can a child see not only the reasons for the discipline he endured at the hands of his father, but also the affects the discipline had, and the final outcome of it all, wherein he was the better for it   

When God uses his rod to chasten and rebuke us, it is a sign that He loves us, proof that He cares enough to correct us   It is the means by which the evil that would otherwise take root in our hearts is dealt with, and God's way of revealing certain errors in our walk   God does not correct out of anger, or hatred, but out of love   If this is the prism by which we view His correction, rather than murmur, we will be thankful, rather than resent the correction, we will welcome it with open arms   

No man desires correction or rebuke from God, but if we know ourselves to have sinned, and do not see God's chastening, it should be infinitely more worrisome and troubling, than to feel God's rod of correction   It would be better for God to punish or rebuke us if needed, than to leave us in a deplorable condition   Yes, it is infinitely better that God chasten, than allow us to wander down a path of sin and rebellion   The correction, the rebuke, the chastening, is a sign that His love has not left us, that we have not been forsaken   No matter what we would go through, we must always remember, whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives   

One of the fondest memories of my childhood is going to the family apple orchard in the summer and picking apples   During one of the family outings to the orchard, my uncle Cornel came along, and as he made his way through the apple trees he would stop by some, and begin to shake the tree   He was a large man, and as he shook the tree, the apples that had rotted on the branches would fall to the earth   When I asked him why he was shaking the trees, he smiled and said, 'only the good apples deserve to stay on the branches, the rotten ones are useless.'

Sometimes God shakes the tree, symbolically speaking, that the unclean things may fall by the wayside   He allows suffering in the midst of a congregation, that those living in hypocrisy, may quickly remove themselves from the body, and in the life of the individual, that those things which still remain that are a hindrance to our relationship with God may be removed   

A trial, or a chastening in an individual's life also has the blessed purpose of causing us to examine ourselves and see how truly living grace is for us, to us, and in us   Those who are attached to the branches, harboring ulterior motives, those who are dishonest as to their reason for being in the house of God, those whose intent is not to worship at the foot of the cross, but merely to hold out their hand in the hopes of receiving some material thing, readily fall to the ground once the shaking commences   Only those whose intentions are pure, those whose grace is a living entity in their hearts, those who are wholly surrendered and committed to the will of God can withstand the shaking   

If we persist with the analogy of a tree and its fruit a while longer, we begin to see that the shaking thereof, the trials that come in the life of the individual are as a welcome relief and blessing, for it eases the burden on the entire tree, and aids the good fruit, when the rotten fruit are torn free and scattered to the ground   If left unchecked, the bad fruit can endanger not only the good fruit in its vicinity, but the entire tree itself   It is far better for God to strip us of the dangerous sins, habits, vices, and traditions, even if for a season it may be painful, then leaving us to the desire of our heart, these things having polluted the entire body, cut us off altogether   

We grow rich in God, every time we are stripped of imagined virtues   The stripping off of dirty rags, is the first step to being made clean, and what else can we equate imitated and counterfeit gifts to, than the dirty worthless rags that they are, worthless things, worthy of being cast into the fire?  

If we perceive chastening and correction in this context, we begin to see the good that comes of it, we begin to realize that they make us beautiful in the sight of God, bringing us ever closer to being the mirror image of Christ   Just as rotted fruit, still clinging to the branches give a tree an unpleasant appearance, imagined virtues are a stain to the souls of men, a stain in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of our fellow men   

Too many today are content with merely a form of godliness, having its image but far removed from its substance, and while for now, they are able to coexist with those who seek true godliness, the day will come when the absence of life, the weakness of their bond to the source of life, will cause them to despise God's correction, for in their lifeless state they did not perceive the blessing that would transpire once the trial had passed   

Every trial in the life of a child of God, is meant to teach us something, it is intended as discipline, and discipline is a manifestation of love, proof of God's parental concern for His children, it is the means by which God often calls us to come out of the world that we may run to Him, trust Him, to believe in His grace, mercy, and love   

If only we would understand, once and for all, that God is not concerned or preoccupied with our comfort level here on earth, whether or not we are rich, whether or not we feel good about ourselves, His only concern is our sanctification and consecration, that we may be with Him in eternity, that we may inherit the Kingdom, and receive the crown of life   

God's correction, His chastening and even His rebuke should not be received by us as a disappointment, or hurtful thing, we cannot perceive them as God's rejection, but rather as the blessings that they are intended to be, for it is the undeniable proof that we have been received, and we are loved   

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

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