God’s Judgment Starts with You
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 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, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
-Hebrews 12:4-12 (NIV)
This is an interesting line of text. I do not want to spend too much time on this as it pretty much is self explanatory, but when I read this I ask myself, “How does God do discipline?”
Verse seven is a key. It says through hardship. How is a diamond formed? Through pressure and hardship. This is how God forms us. We get into situations where God can use them to mold us into the diamond that we are supposed to be, not just some lump of coal.
However, we must be careful. What do you mean? What I mean is that if we don’t submit to His working in our lives then He will do one of two things with us. (1) He will “shelve” us or, (2) if we don’t submit and actually stay in sin, He may take us out of the world. Why? Because He has no more use for us here due to our stubborn and hard hearts.
Where do I get this understanding? This comes from Hebrews Chapter six itself (verses four through twelve specifically), which reads (NIV).
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened,who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
I previously wrote about this portion of scripture in my book “Hebrews and You: A beginner’s Guide to the Book of Hebrews.” The following is an excerpt:
Here we find Christians who have hardened their hearts against God. Yes, a born again saved individual can harden their heart toward God. This text speaks of reward not salvation. A Christian can harden so much they will not repent of their disobedience toward God and at the final judgment they will make it into heaven, but with little to no rewards. This hardness will be burned out of them at judgment, but they will be saved as by fire. The writer then says that he is convinced of better things for these believers, but leaves them with a warning to not become sluggish in their relationship and work toward Christ.
Something that should be noted about verse 6 is that many people have claimed this speaks of salvation, but many scholars (most notably M.R. DeHaan) believe that this particular verse is alluding to what has been dubbed “the sin that leads to death.” The writer of Hebrews will cover this in more depth [later]…
So the question is asked, “What do I do with this information?” Simple, we are human we make mistakes. Our job is to submit to God and judge ourselves so that there is no need for His judgment to come upon us. However, we are human and we don’t always follow that advice, so when God’s chastening does happen we must try to submit to it and let God make us into the individual that He would have us be in order that we may be of use to Him in the future. My prayer is that the talents that God has given us don’t take us, where our character is not ready to go. What will you do today? Will you submit to God? Or will you “buck” against Him? The Choice is yours.