Elijah recently asked me this question on Facebook. “I know there is a difference between chastisement (discipline) and punishment, but could you explain, through the lens of grace, what the chastisement (discipline) of the Lord is according to Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12:5?”
This is a great question that begs a clear answer. The Scriptures he referenced are below.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke. Proverbs 3:11
And you have forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.” Hebrews 12:5
Because God is righteous, His justice had to be satisfied by the full punishment needed to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus’s death on the cross was the only one that could accomplish this. 1 John 2:2 tells us this, He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Propitiation means the wrath of God that demanded justice for our sins was completely satisfied in Christ on the cross. As a result, God the Father is never going to punish us when we sin. That does not mean there may not be natural consequences but even those are not His punishment. If we still think God punishes us when we sin, we are living with a legalistic mentality.
God’s discipline is for correction, so we can increasingly live like who we are in Christ as His sons and daughters. Notice the difference. Punishment is a result of God’s justice. Discipline is a result of His love. The first is from a righteous Judge. The latter is from a loving Father.
How then does God discipline us? Hebrews 12:7 tells us, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? When we go through hardship in life, and everyone does, we can turn to our Father to pour out our feelings, struggles, and requests. We can also turn to Scripture for God’s comfort and wisdom. We can seek counsel from believers who are friends or counselors like our staff at GLI. In so doing, we can get to know God better and learn to trust Him more. Why? He is not an angry Father but one who loves us and cares for us. We also lean to live more from Christ in us and our identity in Him. All of this is the end game for our Father’s discipline of us. This is a grace mentality.
If you are experiencing hardships right now, let the Holy Spirit change your thinking from a legalistic mentality about God’s punishment to a grace mentality about His loving discipline. Choose to believe the truth. He loves you!