by Leigh Ann Dilley on December 14, 2022
When you think of God’s discipline, what comes to mind? Many people have trouble rationalizing the discipline and judgment of God from the Old Testament with the loving Jesus we experience in the New Testament.
Some people think we can write off the Old Testament since Jesus fulfilled God’s prophecies for a Savior. After all, Jesus is the full revelation of God! Jesus forgives sin, heals us, makes us new, and creates a wonderful pathway to the Father so we can have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus demonstrates the loving characters of God in the Gospels. All in all, Jesus’ forgiveness of sin feels much better than the discipline of God; especially the discipline over the disobedience of the Old Testament.
There is no denying sin was serious in the Old Testament. After all, blood sacrifices were required to reconcile for it, but sin is still serious in the New Testament. Jesus forgave sin, but never justified it. Jesus sacrificed his own life to reconcile us with God, because of sin. Forgiveness does not permit us to keep on sinning, nor does it allow us to write off God’s disciple. This lack of accountability invites an “anything goes” kind of faith. If “anything goes”, then sin is justified, and we don’t need a savior. An ”anything goes” kind of faith is irrelevant and useless.
Let’s take a fresh look at the consequences of sin and the discipline of God. God’s promise in Deuteronomy 4:40 says, "If you keep all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children." Exodus 6:7, "I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God." God gave his people rules and commands, and He claimed ownership of His people way back in the Old Testament. He promises life will go well for them if they obey the commands. Sounds simple, right? But the Bible states that there will be consequences for disobedience in both the Old and the New Testaments.
God’s request for His people to be obedient carried over into the New Testament. Hebrews 12: 4-11 explains God’s discipline of his people very well. Paraphrased, Paul tells the Hebrews they have forgotten the encouraging words God gives to his children concerning discipline. Paul informs the Hebrews the Lord disciplines the ones he loves, like any good parent would do. Discipline should not be taken lightly, nor should people get discouraged by it because God’s discipline is a sign that we are truly God’s sons and daughters. If God did not discipline us, we would be illegitimate children and not true sons and daughters.
Like every good parent, there is a method to the madness of bringing up children and training them well. Hebrews 12:11 says, "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." Therefore, for obedient people, life should get easier and go well for them, just as God promised back in Deuteronomy and Exodus.
The next time you feel “disciplined” or “convicted” by God the Father, thank Him for loving you so much that He sees you as part of His family, worthy of correction, and an heir to His Kingdom.