Monday, July 26, 2010

A Biblical Understanding of Suffering - Part 2 of 5

Continuing on in our Biblical understanding of suffering... type number two is Corrective Suffering – It is when we are disciplined by the Grace of God.  Chastened by the Lord.  It is suffering that is meant to get us back on the path of righteousness.  A practical example would be spanking our children rightly.  Why do we do it?  Because their behavior has strayed from Godly behavior and the spanking is a jolt… a painful reminder… to get the child’s head on straight.  And beyond the age where you feel you can spank them, we correct them in other ways.

We have to teach them that when they do what is right in their own eyes that there are consequences.  We do it because we love them and so it is with the Lord.

Hebrews 12:5-11 - and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”  7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.  11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

I know I’ve had times in my life where God has had to thump me to get me back on the path to righteousness.  This type should truly be at the front of the list because every time we go through any type of affliction, the first thing we should do is a heart check to see if we need to confess and repent of a sin and return to the path of righteousness.

We need not to confuse this with punishment from God.  It is correction.  Discipline.  Punishment from God is the final judgment from God.  Punishment is the wrath of God poured out on all who reject Jesus.  Punishment from God is condemnation.  Condemnation will come on the unbelieving world.  The believer in Christ does not come under condemnation.

John 5:24 - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

God does deal with the sins of believers, but because of Christ we are not cast out.  He deals with our actions by chastening us; disciplining us.  You see, when God saved and forgave you, He also placed you under His Lordship by giving you His Holy Spirit.

The call to salvation is a call to discipleship.  Submitting ourselves to Christ and His Lordship in our lives, and when we step out of line, He will discipline us to put us back in.  Think of the Disciples.  When Jesus said to them ‘Follow Me’, they didn’t just acknowledge it and then go right on living the way they wanted, nope, they dropped what they were doing and followed Him.

He doesn’t discipline us in an evil or mean spirited way.  But for our own good.  To protect our joy and lead us down the narrow path.  God’s corrective suffering removes the impurities in us.  Puts us through the Refiner’s fire to produce Godly living in us.

Sometimes, even, chastening is preventative.  Remember Psalm 139.  God has searched and known us.  He is intimately familiar with all our ways.  He knows what sins we are prone to stumble into.  That was the case with Paul.
2 Corinthians 12:7 - Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

This thorn was intended to hold Paul where he needed to be.  Kept him humble where the tendency of the flesh was to boast.  God does this purifying work in us to make us more holy.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 - For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

When we suffer at all, we need to see if it is corrective suffering… chastening… however, we are not God and do not know His mind fully and so we cannot nor should we ever point at suffering in someone else’s life and accuse them of some sin because of afflictions in their life.  We can go to someone who claims Christ, but is living in sin and, in love, confront them about it.  However, we cannot then look at their life and say that God is judging or chastening them because of the presence of some suffering.  That determination is God’s to reveal to that person, not ours.

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