Does the Lord Chasten Us?
This is Part 3 of a blog series based on Barry Bennett’s book, Did God Do This to Me? It gives straightforward, biblical answers to many important and frequently-asked questions about God and His Word.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. —Hebrews 12:6
One of the questions we hear frequently concerns the idea of chastisement or discipline.
Should we understand sickness, tragedy and the loss of jobs or loved ones as the work of God for our good?
The words chastise, chasten and chastisement mean to train, instruct, educate, teach and discipline.
Here are some examples:
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:4
Nurture is the same Greek word used for chasten and chastisement in Hebrews 12.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. —2 Timothy 3:16
Instruction is the same word. Therefore, the biblical concept of chastening refers to the instruction, nurture and admonition of the Lord by means of His Word.
While God’s correction included physical punishment (curses) under the Old Covenant, His correction under the New Covenant is by means of the Word “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17).
Chastisement is often misunderstood because of our wrong concepts of God. When we study Hebrews Chapter 12 in its context, we see that the author of Hebrews is not talking about God sending bad things our way, but rather exhorting, correcting and instructing the readers to resist temptation and not fail the grace of God (Heb. 12:4, 14).
The chastening of the Lord is the exhortation to resist temptation and is similar to a child being disciplined by his father. When we resist temptation, it is often a struggle. The un-renewed mind wants one thing; the spirit wants another. Resisting temptation is not pleasant but will yield fruit.
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. —Hebrews 12:8
Again, the word chastisement refers to the instruction, correction, discipline and nurturing of the Word of God. Those who do not heed the Word and do not resist temptation are not like sons. Sons endure a father’s chastening; bastards do not, since they don’t have a relationship with their father.