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
This is confusing because how is God’s discipline different than just “bad things” that happen. Discipline would be constructive not just lead to the same situation over and over. I might know I’m wandering around in the wrong direction but finding the right direction is harder. What I mean is cause and effect isn’t clear to me. People are rejecting, but I don’t know how to fix it or if it is 90/10 my problem or 50/50 or just Satan or maybe I’m just crazy. I can see lots of things to work on, but doubtfully I will accomplish much change if history is any indication.
I don’t seem to make much progress despite asking God for help. Wouldn’t God want me to be less impulsive, kinder, love better, etc.? How can prayers for help to change your character be not in His will? Why does everyone say the Holy Spirit helps you when you don’t see any progress? The only progress I see is knowing more how messed up I am & understanding that heaven is about being free from our own sin. I guess I value that more, but I thought I might make some progress on earth…
Matt Pavlik says
You sound like you are right in the midst of an intense struggle. You are asking several different questions, but I sense some themes.
I’m wondering if you would be encouraged to know that realizing how “messed up” you are is real progress. I believe it is eternal security which provides us enough security to begin noticing our weaknesses.
You are right that God will always answer a prayer to improve your character. It just might play out in a different way or a different time-frame than you expect.
As far as people rejecting you, you don’t necessarily need to know the source of the problem (although it would help). I would focus more on what God says about you rather than what other people say about you. You might need to confront any lies you are believing about yourself. I’m going to write a post about lies today.
Finally, whatever God is doing (or isn’t doing), you can be confident it is the best strategy to accomplish His overall plans (even when it doesn’t seem to make sense).