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.
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.)
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.”
“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”
will go away into everlasting punishment…”
“…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).
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.
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
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?”
Let’s look at
some of the differences between punishment and
discipline and relate them to our lives as
children of our Heavenly Father.
repentance, hope for improvement and works toward
exiles, abandons as hopeless; it was missed by
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.
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.
brings maturity. Punishment has stopped the
opportunity for growth.
Father disciplines us so we will become more like
After the day
of mercy has ended, all progress will have
stopped, dammed forever with no hope of anything
trims and cultivates the branches. Punishment
severs the branch.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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in the Word
Music by Bruce
There's Good News 2006