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Reflecting on your life experiences, do you feel more neglected, disciplined, or condemned?
Neglect results from a lack of loving concern. Condemnation results from a lack of loving redemption. Both abandon people into the hopelessness of a world filled with evil. Neglect is a passive condemnation. You might not immediately be aware of the danger you are in, unlike condemnation which is much more obvious. But discipline includes the best of both and discards the worst. It not only points the way out of destruction but also provides the means to get to safety.
Neglect and Condemnation Eliminate All Hope
To be condemned is to be hopelessly abandoned. Punishment doesn’t include redemption. Punishment destroys. There is no provision for any kind of desirable future.
The one who punishes is evil and selfish. The one being punished only becomes more afraid.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.1 John 4:18 NIV
While you are being punished, you might not believe your situation is permanently hopeless, but in day-to-day living, you will likely feel overwhelmed with despair.
People who fail to develop faith in Jesus will face condemnation. They will finally reap what they have sowed. They won’t be able to escape God’s wrath.
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”Matthew 25:46 NIV
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.2 Thessalonians 1:9 NIV
Discipline Creates Confidence
The one who disciplines invests in a positive outcome. As God corrects you (not punish or condemn you), you will experience a curious mixture of sorrow and hope (Hebrews 12:11). The hand of correction stings for a time, but awareness of its gift soon follows.
God always guides those who are His children into righteous living. Such training requires an investment. As God corrects you, He accepts the responsibility to see you become something more and better. God is on your side. God will never abandon you.
You can have eternal security and endure strong discipline from God at the same time. In fact, you can’t have one without the other.
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.Hebrews 12:5-8 NIV
Isn’t being able to claim yourself to be a true son or daughter such a great reward? God’s discipline is for your eternal benefit, not eternal condemnation. When you can feel the difficulty of life weighing on you, you can simultaneously recognize God is working to help you become better. God’s correction leads to hope. God cares about your life; He wants you to swim not sink.
God won’t simultaneously condemn you to hell and invest in your future. Sensing God’s sincere effort to remodel your life is yet another way to validate your eternal security. You can confidently say, “I’m a child of God. God cares about me enough to correct me and keep me on the right path. He wants me to make it safely across the finish line and to be at home with Him forever” (Psalm 23).
This post is part of a series on eternal security. You can read the introductory post: eternal security means full assurance of salvation.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.