By Mike Ratliff
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4 ESV)
When I was a new Christian I heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll in which he stated that before God can use a man for His purposes He must hurt him and sometimes rather severely. That was a quite startling to me at that time since that was so alien to the ‘doctrine’ I was exposed to in the church I belonged to. The focus there was that God was love and that He loved each of just the way we were. If that was so then what Swindoll was teaching wrong. However, as I studied my Bible I found that he was right and what I was hearing in church was wrong.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:3-11 ESV)
I pray that you carefully read the passage above. The writer of Hebrews compares our struggle against sin as tough, but not as tough as what our Lord had to endure to purchase the Body of Christ with His blood. He then made the following quote from Proverbs 3:11,12, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Never forget my brethren, earthly trials actually testify to God’s fatherly discipline. This scourging by God is for discipline that we have to endure. It is a call to respond in endurance. God is actually treating us as His sons in this discipline. The writer of Hebrews goes on to boldly state that a lack of discipline like this is a marker that we are illegitimate children. In other words, all who are truly His will be scourged and disciplined.
What is the purpose of this scourging? It is for our good, that we may share His holiness. Yes, the discipline seems painful and not pleasant at all, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. This is how God grows us up from being fleshly and self-focused with little or no self-control to humble, self-denying, God-focused believers who walk before Him controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is through this discipline that God matures us. This, combined with immersion into God’s Word to undergo its scalpel-like surgery in exposing what is inside us, we repent and fight the good fight in mortifying our sin. Do not listen to any supposed Christian preacher, teacher, or prophet who does not stress our utter and desperate need to walk in repentance. We are called to be holy, to literally partake in the divine nature my brethren.
I used to believe that judgment was coming upon the world because of those who reject Christ and live evil and depraved lives. However, over the last several years it has become clear that the greatest need of revival is within the visible Church. The Gospel is watered down and made seeker sensitive. The veracity of the Bible is called into question. Youth pastors teach our young people that sin is okay because, after all, all you have to do is repent later. If we are not far from the judgment of God on what passes for the Church in our time then I will be greatly surprised.
Let us examine ourselves my brethren asking God to reveal to us where we are resisting His discipline. Let us pray for revival and holiness within the Body of Christ. Let us pray for wisdom and discernment in these last dark and evil days.
Soli Deo Gloria!