Prov 3:11-12 (NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Prov 15:5 (NIV) A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
When Bad Things Happen
The Scriptures speak of three major categories of "trouble" for the believer: 1) discipline, judgment, or rebuke from the Lord; 2) tests, trials, and suffering; and 3) temptations or attacks from Satan. So when trouble comes, what type is it? Some kinds of trouble can be avoided and some cannot. Each requires a different response from Scripture! So how can the type of trouble be discerned? Is this God directly moving to correct me, or is this persecution for His Name, or is Satan behind the trouble? This is the first of three studies on the subject.
STUDY 1: Discipline, Judgment, or Rebuke of the Lord
Heb 12:5-8 (NIV) And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Heb 12:9-11 (NIV) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
God uses discipline as a last resort. If all God needed to justify mankind to himself was a bigger cattle-prod, then Christ died for nothing! No, God's plan for the earth is love first, discipline last. To get us to listen and repent, he will use deep conviction, the rebuke of friends, coincident sermons, the quickening of Scripture, and every other means before disciplining us. But if we resist God's Spirit of light and mercy, we are promised the rod of correction. When God disciplines, the punishment fits the crime. Time and again, we realize that we cannot get away with unrepentant sin. God is sculpting us into holy vessels, and the process can be painful.Job 5:17-18 (NIV) "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal."
1 Cor 11:32 (Phi) But when God does judge us, he disciplines us as his own sons, that we may not be involved in the general condemnation of the world.
Prov 20:30 (NIV) Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the innermost being.
Rev 3:19 (NIV) [Jesus] "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent."
Rom 11:22 (Jer) Do not forget that God can be severe as well as kind...
Heb 10:31 (NIV) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Does God Have A "Style" Of Judgment?
Rev 16:7 (NIV) ... "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments."
Rev 19:1-2 (NIV) ... "Hallelujah!... for true and righteous are his judgments."
Gal 6:7 (Jer) Don't delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated: where a man sows, there he reaps.
Num 32:23 (NIV) ... "Be sure your sin will find you out."
The Story Of Jacob As An Example Of God's Style Of Judgment
Gen 27:6-16 (NIV) Rebekah said to her son Jacob [his name means 'he deceives'], "Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 'Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.' Now, my son... Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it..." ... "But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin..." "... Just do what I say, go and get them for me." ... Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau... and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins.
Deception Using His Brother's Coat And A Dead Goat
Gen 27:19-36 (NIV) Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn..." Isaac asked his son, "How did you find it so quickly, my son?" "The Lord your God gave me success," he replied. Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau... Are you really my son Esau?" "I am," he replied... After Isaac... had scarcely left his father's presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting... Esau said, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: he took my birthright, and now he's taken my blessing!"
Jacob Learns A Lesson In The Rights Of The Firstborn
Gen 29:16-27 (NIV) Now Laban had two daughters, the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."... So Jacob served seven years... Laban... gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her... When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years work."
Later In Life, Jacob Is Deceived Via Goat/Clothes By His Own Sons
Gen 37:23,28,31-33 (NIV) So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe... and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites... Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornamented robe back to their father [Jacob] and said, "We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe." He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces."
1 Cor 10:6 (NIV) Now these things occurred as examples, to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
Lev 19:17 (NIV) "... Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt."
Prov 19:25 (NIV) ... rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.
God will often use people to offer a verbal rebuke through prophecy or admonishment before disciplining us. Instead of letting our pride get offended, we should be willing to accept and give such rebukes within the body of Christ so that we can avoid sterner discipline--the rod.Prov 17:10 (NIV) A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.
Prov 28:23 (NIV) He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.
Life Giving Rebuke
Prov 15:31 (NIV) He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.
For a rebuke to be life-giving it must be: 1) correct, and 2) acted on. First, we must admit that not all rebukes we get, or give, are of God. The Spirit will confirm the truth of the rebuke. Secondly, even if the rebuke is correct, it will only serve to condemn us if we do not repent.Ps 141:5 (NIV) Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness; let him rebuke me--it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it...
Prov 25:12,27:5 (NIV) Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear... Better is open rebuke than hidden love. (1 Tim 5:20)
Luke 17:3 (NIV) [Jesus] ... "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him."
God's Miracles... Of Rebuke!
Num 11:1 (NIV) Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
Num 26:10 (NIV) The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, and they served as a warning sign.
Acts 5:5,11 (NIV) When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died... Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
As Children, We Get The Punishment Now, Rather Than Later
1 Pet 4:17-19 (Phi) The time has evidently arrived for God's judgment to begin, and it is beginning at his own household. And if it starts with us, what is it going to mean for those who refuse to obey the gospel of God? If even the good man is only just saved, what will be the fate of the wicked and the sinner?... Therefore those who suffer according to God's will can safely commit their souls to their faithful Creator, and go on doing all the good they can.
Prov 22:15 (NIV) Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Ps 23:4 (NIV) ... your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
When Bad Things Happen, How Should We Respond?
Some Christian groups assume Satan is behind every kind of problem. This is a dangerous view, as it comes close to blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit when God rebukes us. Other groups focus on enduring trials. Yet other groups focus on God's discipline to the point of not recognizing mere tribulation or the active work of Satan. So the next time some "trouble" comes in life, is there a way of discerning the meaning? What instruction has God given us?
As an Acts 17:11 test, find the Scriptural basis for each of the DISCIPLINE table entries below from this Bible study. This table will be included in the next two studies as well for the same purpose. Especially note the difference in how (and how not) to respond. As you can see, since different responses are appropriate, discernment is key.
|FROM||The Lord||God, World, Satan||The Devil
|RESULT OF||Disobedience||Following God||Pride or Exposure
|HOW TO DISCERN||Fits Crime||Proves Faith||Leads Astray
|DO NOT||Make Light of||Shrink Back||Fall into
|GOD IS SAYING||We are Sons||His Name is in Us||The Flesh is Weak
|ENDS WITH||Fear and Holiness||Death and Glory||Sin or Victory
We should avoid and resist temptation, persevere tests, trials and suffering, and never resist what God is doing, or attribute it to Satan.Rom 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Getting Away With Sin?
Those who are able to consistently sin and not be rebuked by God are not His children. Those who have been born again are seized by deep conviction when they sin, and if they do not repent they are always "spanked" by God for it. Is this true in your life? Do you pass the family test?Ps 38:1-2,4-7 (NIV) O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me... My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. (Luke 12:27-28)
If we put our faith in some prayer, formula, or church, and are able to remain in sin without feeling the hand of God, this "faith" is a deception. The only "ticket to heaven" is in a fiery chariot (2 Ki 2:11), and it is a glorious destiny for the soul but an uncomfortable ride for the flesh.Prov 1:24-27 (NIV) "But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you--when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you."
Prov 1:28-31 (NIV) "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes."
Prov 29:1 (NIV) A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.
Next Study: Tests & Trials
When Bad Things Happen Series