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Learning God’s Way requires discipline on our part.  We are not in a position to be a disciplinarian until we have learned it ourselves.  Rebellion against discipline leads to punishment.  God’s purpose for discipline is to lead us into a closer relationship with Him; the alternative is banishment, punishment from which there is no recourse.  Choose discipline.

 While discipline and punishment are sometimes used interchangeable, the thoughts conveyed here refer to punishment as found in Leviticus 26  (verse 23-24) “And if ye will not be reformed by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven time for your sins.”  Seven denotes a completion in the Word.  (verse 37) “And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”  Strong and Hebrew dictionaries define punishment here as “strike, kill, smite.”  (See Isaiah 10:12 where punishment means the same thing.)

 Only those who repented would escape the punishment/judgment God spoke of to Israel in these verses.  Jesus spoke of punishment/judgment in Matthew 25:46 where the word means “torment.”

God's          Word

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment…” (Matthew 25:46).

 “…for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts; if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

 Discipline is different from punishment, though we sometimes use the terms interchangeably.  Discipline is for the purpose of training, while punishment is the end of the line, a dead end.  A loving parent disciplines his children so they will learn to have self-discipline when the parent is not present.  If children are “corrected” out of anger, it is the parent venting his own frustration upon the child, and then it becomes punishment and is ineffective, resulting in rebellion.  Discipline has a cool head and knows when to end to get the desired results.  Discipline knows in advance what results are desired and will work toward that end.

 God knows what He wants of us in His kingdom work and disciplines us toward that end.  “For whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges [disciplines], every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).  Wrong teaching has resulted in many thinking God is mad at them and causes or allows bad things to happen because of their weaknesses and failures.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  His discipline comes because He loves us and wants us to be totally successful and blessed.  “Now no chastening [discipline] seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained

by it” (Hebrews 12:11).  You see, God is “training” us with discipline to be the very best we are capable of. 

 The same wrong teaching that causes us to think God is mad at us when we fail also is responsible for our self-punishment.  If God is mad at us, then we should be mad at ourselves too.  This is a killer to self esteem!  We spend our time punishing ourselves and putting ourselves down, hoping to gain God’s favor; and there is no end to self-punishment.  It is endless because we will never be good enough to please God by our efforts no matter how hard or how long we try.  God isn’t mad.  He is bringing discipline to us because of His Divine Love.  He sees us as the finished product we will be “afterward…peaceable fruit of righteousness.” 

 The time will come when God will issue punishment and judgment on those who have refused to accept His remedy for sin—Jesus—and refused His discipline.  “And these will go away into everlasting punishment…” (Matthew 25:46).  “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:46).

 Let’s look at some of the differences between punishment and discipline and relate them to our lives as children of our Heavenly Father.

 Points to Ponder

Discipline sees repentance, hope for improvement and works toward that end. 

Punishment exiles, abandons as hopeless; it was missed by rejecting discipline.

God knows what we are capable of and guides our experiences to help us to develop into our highest potential.  Those who fail to follow Him will one day be told to “Depart” into everlasting punishment with no more opportunities to live in His presence.

    Discipline is mixed with mercy and administered in love.  Punishment metes out justice. 

God is patient and longsuffering with us as we learn to sit up, craw, walk and eventually run spiritually.  If we have rejected Christ, when life on earth has ended it is too late to receive God’s mercy and love.  Only justice awaits.  We will have to pay the terrible price for our sins.

 Discipline brings maturity.  Punishment has stopped the opportunity for growth.

Our Heavenly Father disciplines us so we will become more like Him.

After the day of mercy has ended, all progress will have stopped, dammed forever with no hope of anything better.

Discipline trims and cultivates the branches.  Punishment severs the branch.

Jesus taught that we, as branches of the Vine (Jesus), would be pruned and cared for in order to bear “much” fruit.  The branch has no life without the Vine and will die and be useless and burned.

Discipline is for a season.  Punishment is ongoing.  We are in “school” now in this life to learn God’s ways and walk in them, thus preparing us for life in the presence of Perfect Knowledge.  Those who reject Christ and His discipline now will enter into a place of never-ending torment, punishment continuing forever.

Discipline puts you in good company (others whom God is training).  Punishment puts you in the company of rebellious people who have rejected discipline.  The Body of Christ is united, each having a unique place to serve the Head, filled with His never-dying Spirit.  Hell will be filled with every conceivable kind of sinner, and they will be eternal neighbors sharing their eternal torments without pity or comfort.

 Discipline gives you choices; you can still reject it.  Punishment comes without any recourse.  As long as we are in this world, we can choose whom we will serve.  The punishment of hell removes any choices; it was predetermined in this life by those who at one time had a choice.

 Discipline prevents lawlessness.  Punishment is the result of breaking God’s laws and failure to repent of it.  Discipline teaches us to obey God’s laws and reap the benefits here and in eternity.  Rebellion against God’s laws in this life seals the crime and penalty for eternity.

 Discipline recognizes and acknowledges leadership, the Head.  Punishment comes because they tried to be the head and refused the Head’s leadership.  Jesus very clearly told us that He was the Head and we are His body.  He is the law-giver and law enforcer; we “live and move and have our being in Him.”  Satan’s downfall was trying to elevate himself to God’s position.  He failed to acknowledge the Head and his head was crushed (Genesis 3:15); now he is doomed to be the tail, and those who reject Jesus (Head) will be in Satan’s company forever.

 Discipline brings justification.  Punishment means you are “unjust still” (Revelation 22:11).  Because He loves us, God uses discipline to bring us into a right relationship with Him through Jesus and His sacrifice at Calvary.  Rejection of the only means God has ever given to be redeemed leaves the sinner still guilty at the end of his life with no hope.

 An overview reveals that a better choice is to accept discipline and avoid punishment.  Let us not misunderstand God’s intentions as we are disciplined.  It is out of His heart of Love that He disciplines us.  How many times will God forgive us for failing?  It seems that the number is infinite.  He said we should forgive daily seventy times seven—or don’t keep score—when others need our forgiveness.  How much greater is His forgiveness than ours?  His ways are “past finding out.”  His mercy is endless and is administered by incomprehensible Love.  We can always bring our failures back to the Cross.

 We need only fear if we continue to reject His merciful discipline.  Let’s not confuse God’s discipline with the punishment He will pour out on those who have rejected Christ.  That will result in exile, total abandonment.  Justice will be eternal banishment from God’s presence; the branch has been severed and treated as chaff.  All opportunities will be gone to receive mercy, and they will be in the company of others who are in the same condition.  There will be no one to bring comforting words.  Hope is gone.  Having rejected Divine Leadership while trying to be head of their own lives will only bring unending remorse, and they will be “unjust still” not worthy to be in the presence of Jesus and those who were justified by His Blood. 

 We can see this in our laws.  When someone has been condemned as a criminal, their punishment is imprisonment.  They are exiled from society and lose their freedom to choose what they will do, how and when.  It could even mean execution.  If the lawbreakers had not refused discipline they could have avoided incarceration and loss of liberty or life.  The same is true of us.  When we refuse to surrender our lives to Jesus and accept his plan of discipline for us, we will eternally suffer the consequences of Divine punishment.

Now the good news—I am disciplined because I am loved.  Surrender to discipline will produce self-discipline as I learn God’s ways and walk in them.  It will produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Christ’s, not mine) and make me profitable in the Master’s service.  And the Big Payoff comes when Jesus returns to collect the disciplined ones for His eternal Kingdom, bringing our rewards with Him.  Won’t that be worth it!!

of Love disciplines us.







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