Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Does God Punish?

Meditation for the week of August 21, 2011


Most of us would like to think that salvation solves all of our problems.  A Christian’s path is supposed to be downhill (even though we are traveling up to heaven), the wind is supposed to be at our back, the bank account is supposed to be always sufficiently full, our friends are supposed to treat us like we are really their friends, we aren’t supposed to get sick and our marriages are always supposed to be stress free.  We may have those conditions in our lives for a little while, but then reality sets in and we find out that life can be hard, hard, hard!

When the problems come (and they will), many of us have been taught to believe that we have done something wrong and that God is “punishing” us.   We may have done something wrong, but I am glad that God is not “punishing” us if we are saved.  He may be correcting, instructing, or chastising us, but the punishment that we deserved because of our sins was taken care of at the cross.  Christ was punished in our place.  God does not demand payment twice.

We tend to use punishment and chastisement in the same way in our normal every day speech.  They are not terms that mean the same thing in the Bible.  The only time in the new testament that punishment is linked with a believer is in Corinthians 2:6 which says, “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man.”  This “punishment” really would be better translated censure, penalty or rebuke.  This man had been excommunicated for persisting in sin but had apparently repented and was now living a Godly life.  He didn’t pay for his sin, but as long as he was persisting in that gross sin, he was removed from the assembly since their internal discipline had not corrected him.  Now, it turns out, God had corrected Him while he was excommunicated and he needed to be restored to the assembly.

Punishment is the legal penalty required by the law when the law has been broken.  It looks backward and makes people “pay” for their sins.  God’s punishment involves vengeance, wrath and condemnation and is going to inflicted on those who reject Christ. Chastisement is always a means of correction, instruction or discipline and is always looking forward.  Many of us punish our children because of their disobedience when in fact we should be chastising them or disciplining them in such a way so that they don’t do what they did again. I would call this correction.  But chastisement and discipline can also occur when no correction is needed.  Job was chastised because God knew he could be trusted with the trial.  He had done nothing wrong.  God makes that clear.  Job was used to show Satan that there are people who worship God because He is worth worshiping.  They don’t worship Him so that He can be a genie in a bottle, giving them their every wish.  Sometimes the best are chastised the most so that they can be better.

When we become followers of the Lord, we become disciples.  Disciples are learning a discipline.  Some of us put in a lot of effort and paid a lot of money to learn a discipline.  We took tests to prove we had learned the lessons.  So it is with our profession of faith.  We may need to be tested as we make progress as disciples. From time to time we may need to be corrected as well.  But as believers, we are never punished.  That was taken care of on an old rugged cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago.  God will not punish His Son and those of us who trust His Son as well.

If today, there are things happening in your life that you don’t understand and that are causing you pain, you may have done something that needs to be corrected.  If that is true, you will know what it is.  We don’t correct our children without telling them why they are being corrected.  Neither will our heavenly Father.  On the other hand, your problems may be simply because the Lord is trying to make you stronger and better.  Either way, the chastening is the evidence of God’s love, because whom the Lord loves, He chastens.

Bruce Collins


Comment by Caleb

August 22, 2011 @ 1:03 pm


Comment by Tom Cooper

August 23, 2011 @ 6:16 am

Dear Bruce:

This is one of your better articles. Maybe the reason it is considered so is because it comes close to my heart Discipline is sometimes administered in a cruel way but the Lord can use it for our good. Truly Nancy and I are thankful for what God has brought into our lives. We look back over the years and just thank God that He has preserved us and blessed us. We have a deeper appreciation for the Lord’s people and their love that has been so richly showered on us. Those who administer discipline do not always has spiritual decernment with the restoration of the offender in mind. It can be envy. Enjoyed the Job thought also. Patience is not my highest virture.

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