Chastening Keeps Overcomers Spiritually Healthy
The Lord also goes to each church with words of challenge and chastening (repent or else). There is a focused desire the Lord has for us that we stay on track and live out what He designed us to do and to be. This final word for Christ to His Church is so consistent with the constant message His apostles had already taught and written about in all the other books on the New Testament.
God Only Chastens His Own Children
Hebrews 12 has one of the clearest explanations of the methodology God uses in chastening. Note with me His three levels of dealing with us to encourage and produce repentance in us.
God’s Chastening Has Three Levels
What exactly do the surgery and radiation treatments on the cells that make up the Body of Christ actually look like from a Biblical perspective? Does God ever give us an insight into how He does this type of work?
Stage 1: Rebuke – “My son, do not…be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him” (v.5). We hear God’s rebuke, even though we don’t always choose to respond.
God can make Himself heard in many ways: a prick of our conscience, a timely word from another person, a Scripture, the preaching of God’s Word, or conviction by the Holy Spirit. (Do you see how wonderful and kind it is of God to use so many methods to get our attention and steer us away from peril?)
What are His rebukes for? To remind us we are slaves of God: no identity outside of our Master, no plans other than His, no possessions of our own-everything we have, including ourselves, belongs to our Master.
To remind us we are to read/listen to God and keep what His Word says to His servants.
Stage 2: Chasten – “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (v. 6). In other places in the Bible, the word chastening is used interchangeably with discipline. But in our text, we find a specific use that shows a more serious degree of discipline.
Chastening is something you feel as emotional anxiety, frustration, or distress. What used to bring you joy now doesn’t. Pressures increase at work, at home, in your health or in finance. Many Christians bump along in this level of discipline, yet fail to read the signs. They feel unfulfilled at church, critical of their Christian friends, and “on the outs” with God. When they pick up their Bible, it feels like a lead weight instead of a welcome relief. Their relationship with the Lord seems blighted by sadness or lethargy they can’t quite trace.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you don’t need to go to church more or try to read your Bible with a better attitude. You need to look for ongoing sin in your life, the dirt crusting over your
leaves and cutting you off from God’s best. If you don’t respond, love will compel your Father to take more drastic measures.
Stage 3: Scourge- “And scourges every son whom He receives” (v. 6). To scourge is to whip, to inflict punishment. It’s the same word the Gospels use to describe what the Romans did to Jesus just before they crucified Him. Not a pretty picture!
In fact, for the word scourge, you could substitute “cause–excruciating pain.” What percentage of Christians do you think have experienced scourging? It may shock you to read that God scourges “every son.” That means you have most likely already been scourged in your life.
Today, are you seeking to magnify Him as His temple that when gather, we collectively become ( I Peter 2)?
Today, are you measuring how much of your life is tied to what is Christ’s priority. Do you share His focus upon believers being encouraged, trained, strengthened and challenged?
Today, are you getting rid of anything in your life that displeases Him, and giving up anything that hinders you from even more responding to His desires?
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