Grace and Father’s Discipline, Part II

Angi, your comments broke my heart with your comments to my last post. You wrote, “I’ve been obsessing that his medical issues are somehow God’s judgment and/or discipline for my sins. I keep thinking if I were more committed or more spiritual that these things would not be happening.”

No! No! No! No! That’s the voice of religion talking. There is no end to that kind of thinking. We can never be good enough, never be committed enough, and never be spiritual enough to earn anything from God’s hand. The new covenant reversed all of that. We do not change ourselves for God so that he will bless us. He blesses us by walking alongside us and changing us from the inside out. Please ask the Abba Father to set you free from this way of thinking so that you can know his love in the midst of the struggles you are having with your husband’s health. That’s what he wants.

I also heard back from the person who asked the original question:

One thing that I’m still wondering about is whether God disciplines us whether were disobedient or obedient, or if He disciplines us in response to our disobedience. It seems right to think He does it whether we obey or disobey but earthly fathers normally discipline their children in response to something they’ve done wrong. And since scripture uses that analogy to describe the Father’s discipline I didn’t know what to make of that. Also, in 1 Corinthians 11 when it says Jesus had to kill some of the people in the fellowship because they were infecting the rest the people so badly that makes me think that His discipline is in response to our disobedience. I agreed with everything you wrote but these are sort of the main issues that bother me about the Father’s discipline.

As I said, this could take thousands of words to cover all the possibilities here….

We think of discipline as punishment for disobedience, when Father sees it as training for righteousness. There is a big difference there. Remember Hebrews saying that our fathers disciplined as seemed good to them, but God does it truly for good. So there is a bit of distinction there between how man disciplines and how God does. I do not think God punishes every act of disobedience. I don’t think he needs to. The consequences of living life without him or in opposition to his desires leads, us to pain enough. His desire is to rescue us out of our disobedience and teach us how to trust him. Thus his discipline is to teach us how to obey, not to whack us for not doing so. That’s a huge religious overlay that has been passed on for centuries among God’s people and I think it empowers leaders to keep people in fear of God, but doesn’t serve God’s desire to relate to us.

And I think you’re mistaking the consequences of I Cor 11 for Jesus ‘killing’ people. I think what he is saying is that by partaking in a way that does not discern the Lord’s body we actually take in a condemnation that devours us from the inside. Again, this is more consequence than an overt act on his part as retribution. Only a religious overlay sees God with the giant flyswatter ready to whack someone when they step out of line. The problem is we step out of line all the time. There would be no end of the whacking we’d receive. But God does warn us of consequences that result from living out of synch with his desires for us and that’s just the way he made the world work so that we would be drawn back to him.

Perhaps more problematic is Ananias and Sapphira’s demise. They lied before the body and it is clear that God strikes them dead at Peter’s feet. Again, a religious overlay would see God with the divine flyswatter smacking them dead for lying. But if God did that every time there would be no one left in the Body of Christ today. I know people who have lied about far worse things and live on. Rather than see this as retribution, this was God’s way of training the body to honesty. It was a unique moment, no doubt about that, and admittedly it is a graphic demonstration. As I read the story it is not clear that God rejects them only deals with their failure in a way that would stop others for jockeying for position by their deceit over money. That worked. And we don’t know that Ananias and Sapphira were condemned to hell for their actions. It might prove that their faith was a fraud, but it could also be that God had a greater purpose in bringing them home to himself rather than let them live on the way they were headed. We just don’t know.

What’s very important here is watching how Jesus treated sinners in his ministry. Remember he is the exact representation of the Father’s nature. Jesus lived the reality of leading people to God’s grace while not condoning their sin or failures. At the same time he knew we needed help getting free and wasn’t going to use God’s power to scare us into righteousness, which is how many people see the discipline of Hebrews 12. I don’t.

If that makes sense…

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4 Comments
  1. Steve September 1, 2004 at 9:38 am

    Wow, what a revelation, seeing the difference between how we perceive stuff as punishment for disobedience rather than training for righteousness. It makes me better sense of how Father causes all things to work for our good. He doesn’t cause those things but uses even the unpleasant things in a positive way….even the consequences of our own wrong actions.

    You really bring some intersting ideas to the table concerning the Ananias and Sapphira incident. That story has always scared me to death.

  2. eddie September 1, 2004 at 10:29 am

    The religious mindset is a hard task master. As you say, it’s never enough, but thank God that Jesus WAS enough for the Father to deal with sin and the old man.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    😉

  3. Steve September 1, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    Wow, what a revelation, seeing the difference between how we perceive stuff as punishment for disobedience rather than training for righteousness. It makes me better sense of how Father causes all things to work for our good. He doesn’t cause those things but uses even the unpleasant things in a positive way….even the consequences of our own wrong actions.

    You really bring some intersting ideas to the table concerning the Ananias and Sapphira incident. That story has always scared me to death.

  4. eddie September 1, 2004 at 1:29 pm

    The religious mindset is a hard task master. As you say, it’s never enough, but thank God that Jesus WAS enough for the Father to deal with sin and the old man.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    😉

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