The Meaning and Purpose of God’s Chastening

A Series on the Tough Love of God Towards His people

Hebrews 12


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

May 8, 2016 AM


I.        Introduction (Hebrews 12:5-11)


A.     There is a word that repeats itself over and over in Hebrews 12. It is the word chastening, chastising, and chastisement.


1.       You see Chastening in verse 5

2.       You see Chastening again in verse 6

3.       Chasteneth in verse 6

4.       Chastening in verse 7

5.       Chastisement in verse 8

6.       Chastened in verse 10

7.       Chastening in verse 11

8.       If you get the idea that's an important word, you're right.


B.      Not a very popular word


1.       Psychologists and the media define chastening as “abuse” and extreme, and detrimental

2.       Almost no one on TV or radio talk shows use the word chastening in a good sense


C.     Chastening Doesn’t Make Sense to People Today


1.       The very thought of a God of love chastening His children is not acceptable to most people.

2.       As children, we all had the idea in our minds that our parents showed love to us when they gave us those things we wanted and enjoyed.

3.       But when they placed restrictions upon us we quickly jumped to the conclusion that they didn't love us.

4.       We only understood love that coddled and comforted us, but we could not reconcile a kind of love that had chastening and correction mixed in.

5.       Well, we were WRONG.


D.     The Bible has much to say about Chastening, and says it actually is VERY, very good for His children! AND, that if you are not experiencing it, you are not even in the family of God!


II.     Message


A.     The Simple Fact Is… God’s Chastens His Children (Hebrews 12:5)


1.       God is active in the life of a believer


a.       We always want Him to be active blessing and helping and honouring us…

b.       But His biggest activity is chastening us

c.       Deut 8:5  Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

d.       God spoke to king David about young Solomon… 2Sa 7:13,14  He (Solomon) shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:

e.       Psalm 118:18  The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

f.        Psa 119:67  Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

g.       Psa 119:71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

h.       Psa 119:75  I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

i.        Now, none of that may sound great to you, but it is vital for us as believers!


2.       God is a Father (Isaiah 64:8) of His Creation, but especially of Believers!


a.       All Believers are adopted into His family and become sons and daughters of God (2Cor 6:18)

b.       And we enter into a relationship with God as our Father

c.       Not just Almighty, not just Creator, Sovereign, Lord

d.       But He is our Abba, our Father, our Dada! The Being that we depend upon for guidance, direction, provision, and our very lives!


3.       God doesn’t leave us alone –doesn’t leave us to ourselves


a.       And as our Father, He will not leave us alone, and just let us go our own way, and do as we please

b.       He is at work ON us and IN us (Philp 1:6; 2:12,13) to conform (forge) us on the inside to be like Jesus

c.       Think about it


1)      When God DOES leave a person alone, it is the worst thing to happen to someone – slowly fall apart

2)      Hey! If you are NOT sensing His pull, His drawing, His correction in your life… it shows that you have gone too far, and God has been pushed away enough that he is leaving you alone!


4.       God WILL leave people to THEIR father, the devil


B.      God Chastens ONLY His Children (Hebrews 12:5-8)


1.       Not the children of another father (see John 8:44)

2.       God will be responsible for HIS children, and it shows…

3.       Real, true blue Christians CAN’T get away with sin anymore – we do sin, but we always get caught, and we always regret it

4.       Think about it. ONLY born again Christians feel that way!


C.     The Fact Is, He Chastens Because He Loves! (Hebrews 12:6)


1.       We are told over and over, Chastening is an act of love, not hatred or punishment


a.       Pro 3:12  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

b.       Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

c.       Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

d.       This is a great confusion in almost everyone’s mind


2.       God chastens, NOT because He is an angry God, but because He is a faithful Father, a LOVING Father, who DELIGHTS in us (Prov 3:12), and is determined to transform us – make us better people

3.       Modern culture believes in a different “loving God” than the one in the Bible


a.       A god who would just let people find their own way, not live with guilt, not have to experience the results of their sin, and other people’s sins…

b.       But that kind of a god is a negligent god – irresponsible, careless, remiss, slack, uninvolved

c.       Parents who do not correct their children are classified as NEGLIGENT and can LOSE their children

d.       Teachers who do not correct their class, and just let their students do as they please, often lose their jobs! Or at least they SHOULD!


4.       Simply put… If God didn’t love you, He would leave you alone! Please don’t ever ask God to do that!


D.     The Meaning Chastening (Hebrews 12:9) – Now we finally get to understanding the meaning!


1.       What does the word chastening mean? Is it good?


a.       Well, most people think chastening means God beating us up, or punishing us for some sin. But that’s not what it means at all.


2.       To Teach


a.       The word chastening has to do with teaching and training children. It is the word that means to train and educate your children in the right way.

b.       We get the word discipline from this concept...

c.       Teaching, training, having clear expectations, and carrying out corrective measures when a child is not doing something right

d.       EXAMPLES


1)      How can a piano student get to the place where he or she can play in an orchestra if no one will correct them when they play wrong, or below their ability?

2)      The fact that their teacher corrects them, and often scolds them, does not mean they don’t love them

3)      And the fact that for much of our lives, our parents scolded us and corrected us when we did wrong did not mean they did not love us

4)      It meant they wanted us to do right, to do better, to succeed


e.       God’s Chastening means to CORRECT Believers (Hebrews 12:9). That’s it! (Prov 3:12)


1)      It means God doing whatever it takes to get us to do things right, by telling us what we are doing wrong, then instructing us on how to do it right, and troubling us when we won’t do things right!


a)       Not many people mind the Teaching part – people will come and listen to instruction

b)      But when we hear Correction, rebukes, and being told we are wrong, or are doing things wrong and need to change… oh, well, that crosses a line with most people!

c)       And to then discover that troubles in our lives are from the hands of a LOVING God, all because we are being stubborn, or wilful, or hard-hearted… well, THAT is when everyone leaves the room!


2)      If we don’t change, God increases the pain, the pressure, the trouble


a)       Not to punish or judge us – Jesus was judged and punished for us, for ALL our sins

b)      Just to correct us when we don’t do things the right way – God’s designed way

c)       And often, painfully so

d)      God does NOT just tap us on the shoulder, but is in direct kind to our attitude


(1)    Yes, He is patient. Yes He is gentle

(2)    But don’t imagine for a second that He will let you get away with your sin, and your rebellion, and your attitudes!

(3)    You will always reap what you have sown – planted, done (Gal 6:7; Eccl 12:13,14)

(4)    And you will reap MORE than you sowed – one seed, produces a lot of corn

(5)    And you will reap LATER than you sow – sometimes right away, but mostly months and even years later


f.        And boy don’t we ALL need correction?


1)      Your manager, your teacher, your parents SHOULD correct you – and you should THANK them when they do! I KNOW, I KNOW, I JUST LOST MOST OF YOU!

2)      It would be SO WRONG to just let us do things the wrong way, our own way, wouldn’t it?


a)       Imagine an automotive factory, with managers that just let the employees make cars any way they felt like – and being told, THAT’S A GOOD BOY! WOULD you drive a car made that way?

b)      Imagine a house builder, just allowing all the contractors to stack the bricks and mortar any way they felt like, and putting the windows anywhere, anyway they felt would work, and then telling everyone, WHAT GOOD JOBS YOU ALL DID! Would YOU live in that kind of a house?

c)       Imagine a teacher having a child answer 6 times 6, and saying 30, and then saying WELL, I GUESS TODAY IT EQUALS 30! GOOD BOY! Would you send YOUR children to be taught by that kind of a teacher?

d)      ALL of those employers, managers, teachers should be fired for allowing people to do things WRONG! All because they didn’t want to offend or hurt the feelings of people!

e)       The best manager sees someone do something wrong, and they stop them, and then show them the right way to do it, and then they expect them to change and do it the right way! And the boss expects that if the employee will not change and do things the right way, that the manager has the backbone to FIRE them and make them wake up to doing things right!

f)       The best teacher evaluates their children and when someone answers wrongly, they instruct on the right answer and how to arrive at the right answer, and then they expect their student to know the right answer from then on!


3)      So God is constantly at work, correcting the way we handle fears

4)      Teaching us to handle stress right

5)      Teaching us to train our children right

6)      To pray more effectively and simply

7)      To think clearly

8)      To deal with temptation right


g.       Now, HOW God chastens us is the real question!


E.      God Uses Many Different Ways To Correct Us (Hebrews 12:6,7)


1.       Sometimes just by words on a page in the Bible as we read it, or from a preacher


a.       God is very gracious to allow you to hear quiet words from His Bible (Heb 4:12)


1)      A quiet rebuke (Heb 12:5)

2)      Piercing the heart

3)      Examining and exposing our wrong intentions


b.       And sometimes God is VERY kind to raise His voice a bit and get your attention by a Bible believing, passionate preacher who cares about your soul (Heb 13:17)


1)      Pointing out your sin, and your wrong attitudes

2)      Exposing your hard heart

3)      Trying to get you guilty under God!

4)      You may not like it, but THAT is love!


c.       The prophet Nathan was God’s chastening scolding voice to David! “Thou art the man!”

d.       Isn’t it funny that people so easily ignore the words of the Bible, and the preachings of a preacher?

e.       But when people ignore or reject God’s WORDS, He takes it to the next level!

f.        Remember, God is determined to bring His children into line!


2.       Sometimes by gentle pressure - changing circumstances – small amount of pain


a.       Bad weather to change your wrong plans

b.       Maybe a girlfriend dropping you

c.       Unexplained sorrows – not always bad, sometimes it is God trying to humble you and teach you HIS joy and goodness

d.       Remember Paul’s thorn in his flesh – because of his pride, and tendency to be proud


3.       Sometimes by a heavy hand – chastening – whipping – scourging – very painful


a.       Losing your job

b.       Getting in a car accident

c.       Having a heart attack

d.       Constant Sickness (the Corinthians experienced this)

e.       God caused David to lose a lot after his sin with Bathsheba – it was very painful, and heavy handed of God!

f.        Samson lost his eyesight

g.       Saul lost his kingdom


4.       It all comes FROM God’s hand. Part of HIS training of your personal character and integrity

5.       WARNING! That is, until you prove to God that you are completely stubborn and unwilling to change – THEN God has to move it up to the highest level and give you an early death – earlier than it should have been


F.      What is the Difference Between Chastening and Punishing?


1.       I will explain this more next Sunday, but let me just introduce some thoughts to you


a.       Chastening is usually pain and trouble in your life that God uses to show you that you are doing wrong and headed for trouble. It is intended to redirect your attention, and help you grow and change for the better

b.       Punishment is God no longer being able to correct you, so He has to now cause you to start losing things. It is intended to only hurt you, and break you.

c.       Punishment flows from justice - chastening flows from love.

d.       Punishment is inflicted by a judge, and usually is fatal and final - Chastening is administered by the parent, and is measured, and helpful.

e.       Believers are often chastened - but they are never condemned.

f.        Why? Because we are not under the law - but under God’s grace now. God no longer treats us as criminals - but deals with us as sons.

g.       So, out of infinite wisdom, out of tender love, and from perfect faithfulness, all of God’s corrections come to us.


2.       Aren’t you glad to not have to fear God’s righteous wrath and punishment that WILL fall upon every sin and sinner who rejects the forgiveness in Jesus Christ?


G.     The Purpose of God’s Chastening – Why Does God Do It? (Hebrews 12:10,11)


1.       To Prove He Loves Us (Heb 12:7,9)


a.       He takes His responsibility VERY seriously

b.       HIS reputation and character is at stake

c.       But more than that, His love is being shown

d.       Only a father who HATES his child would neglect to chasten them (Prov 13:24)


2.       To Awaken Our Sorrow for Sin (Heb 12:11)


a.       What a wonderful goal

b.       THIS one thing is so gone from the western society’s heart!

c.       Psalm 32:1-5

d.       Psalm 51:2-4


3.       To Give Wisdom – to teach us (Heb 12:11)


a.       Pro 13:1  A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.

b.       Ecc 7:5  It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

c.       Our society is so full of information, but so little wisdom – can’t decide which bathroom to use!


4.       To Produce Holiness in us – biggest goal!


a.       How does our modern society handle problems?


1)      If a child has behaviour problems they say, "Here is a drug" and cope with it

2)      If a person is discouraged, they say, "Here is a drug." and cope with it

3)      If a person is depressed they say, "Take this drug." and cope with it

4)      Amazingly there are thousands of drugs out there for any number of things.

5)      Marriage problems? Take Viagra.

6)      People believe problems are bad and must just be coped with.


b.       But the truth is, God uses all of our troubles as ways to produce holiness in us

c.       His great purpose for us is our sanctification, and “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Eph 1:4; 1Thess 4:3,4)

d.       As has been said by so many great old time preachers, God's great primary concern for us is not our happiness, but our holiness.

e.       In His great love, He is fully determined to bring us to holiness and godliness, and He uses many differing means to that end.


H.     Next Week… the Work of God’s Chastening


1.       How God chastens us

2.       I’ll show you when trouble is God’s chastening, and when is it not. How to tell?

3.       And I will show you how to respond to God’s chastening

4.       It is vital we all learn this series of truths this month

5.       Will you be here for EVERY service? Every one?


III.  Conclusion


A.     Chastening Doesn’t Make Sense to People Today


1.       The very thought of a God of love chastening His children is not acceptable to most people. As children, we all had the idea in our minds that our parents showed love to us when they gave us those things we wanted and enjoyed.

2.       But when they placed restrictions upon us we quickly jumped to the conclusion that they didn't love us.

3.       We only understand love that coddled and comforted us, but we could not reconcile a kind of love that had chastening and correction mixed in.


B.      But the Fact Is… God’s Chastens His Children

C.     He ONLY Chastens His Children

D.     He Chastens Because He Loves!

E.      What does the word chastening mean?


1.       Teaching, training, having clear expectations, and carrying out corrective measures when a child is not doing something right

2.       To get us to do things right, by telling us what we are doing wrong, then instructing us on how to do it right, and troubling us when we won’t do things right!

3.       If we don’t change, God increases the pain, the pressure, the trouble


F.      HOW Does God Correct Us?


1.       By the words of rebuke in this Bible – that’s where He starts

2.       By the words from a soul-winner, or a preacher

3.       By small problems and pressures

4.       Sometimes by a heavy hand

5.       Just remember, every time of chastening comes FROM God’s gentle hand.


G.     Why Does God Chasten His People?


1.       To PUNISH us? No.

2.       To Prove that He Loves Us

3.       To Awaken Our Sorrow for Sin

4.       To Give Wisdom – to teach us

5.       To Produce Holiness in us – biggest goal!


H.     How is it Going?