One of the things I really enjoy doing with the ministry the Lord has blessed me with is answering questions of believers and unbelievers alike. The questions people have never cease to amaze me; most I have never even considered myself.
This QFTBOC (Questions From the Body of Christ) series are articles from these questions I have received and will be in a question and response format.
If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
If I end up using your question, and you would like to have your name and/or place of residence listed on the question in the article, please specify with your submitted question; otherwise, if I use your question, it will be listed as “Anonymous.”
Regardless, I will make every attempt to answer every person’s questions in a response to the emails I receive. Depending on volume, it may be a little while until you hear back from me, but my intention is to respond to all inquiries.
I have studied The Bible for more than 30 years, but I do have questions, and [I] have asked one of those to my pastor, and he totally avoided by just saying that it was written to the Hebrews.
It’s from the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:8 – “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
My question is: What kind of discipline [is] the writer of Hebrews (Paul?) talking [about], and how can we relate ourselves to others in which they are also partakers/participated in the same discipline?
Is it talking about our conscience, that we have sinned against the Lord, or is it something else/physically disciplined?
Stanley – India
Excellent question and really important for the believer to fully understand.
The first thing I’d like to point out is that all of Scripture is for God’s people. One should never pass off a question by declaring the idea that portions of Scripture are for one group of people and not for another.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). (Emphasis mine)
In Scripture we do have two predominant groups of people in view – Israel and the church – and both groups are intrinsically linked to each other.
Yes, the book of Hebrews was written to the Jewish believers in Yeshua, but to say that the believing Gentile is not bound by it, or doesn’t need to study and/or obey it, is just foolishness in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, I’ve heard this from many people, and, honestly, I just don’t get it.
The book of Hebrews is an awesome book, and we can learn so much about Christ and His ministry, the Old Testament, the sacrificial system of Israel and the connection to the church and salvation, and so much more. It most certainly is relevant – as is all of the Word of God – to the people of God.
Therefore, your question isn’t limited to the people of Israel because it is found in the book of Hebrews. The truth is, the book of Hebrews is extremely important to all believers in Messiah Jesus.
Let’s look at the verse in question.
“But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).
First things first: Some tend to relate “chastisement” with “persecution,” and we must all agree that God does not persecute anyone – saved or unsaved. He judges people and will ultimately pour out His wrath on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting world, but He doesn’t persecute anyone. Persecution is solely the modus operandi of Satan and his followers against the righteous.
The Greek word for “chastisement” is 3809 “paideia” and means the rearing of a child, training, discipline. Cognate: 3809 paideía (from 3811/paideúō, see there) – properly, instruction that trains someone to reach full development (maturity). [Definition Biblehub.com]
So, obviously, this is speaking of a loving, yet stern, admonition and, if necessary, harsh discipline to train-up the child of God by the Lord Himself.
Just like faithful earthly parents who raise up their children using discipline when needed, our Lord disciplines His children when needed.
“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
And because – even after our salvation – we still struggle with our sin natures, this discipline is absolutely warranted and necessary.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).
“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
If someone is not being chastened by God when they fall into sin, then they show themselves not to be children of God and are, therefore, “bastards” being deceived by their self-profession of faith and salvation.
Christ Our Example
As always, Christ is our example as He was chastised for our sins:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
What Chastisement is Not
Unfortunately, many today that teach the prosperity gospel have erred greatly concerning the Scriptures on this matter. This unbiblical doctrine teaches that all sickness, illness, disease, poverty, tragedy, and every other negative human experience, including death, is a form of chastisement from God as a result of the believer lacking in “faith.”
The fact is that we all live in a fallen world and, whether a believer or not, are fallen creatures subject to the curse. Many bad things happen in this life, and no one is exempt. Not one situation, of course, catches our Creator and Savior by surprise. He saw it all before He ever created.
We make a huge mistake if we assume that a believer’s trials, tribulations, and tragedies are always a result of God’s chastisement. Just as salvation is individual in nature, so too is God’s chastening Hand on a believer. Only the believer themself is the one to whom the knowledge of true chastening from God should be made known.
All Sin – But the Believer Should Never Live in Sin
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
The believer should never live in sin:
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” (1 John 3:5-6).
The believer on this side of heaven, although saved from God’s judgment, is never free from sin. For our battle is waged between the flesh and the spirit.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17).
Thereby, we must rely on the Spirit of God to direct our spirit in our walk with the Lord to have power over the sin that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1).
Chastisement in the Believer’s Life
Examples of chastisement in the believer’s life can be as varied as the people themselves. Each is unique to another, just as God’s chastening is unique in light of the individual, situation, motives, and maturity. So, to try and sum-up this idea with a “one-size-fits-all” answer is virtually impossible.
The truth is that not only does God chastise His children, but when it comes to sin:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
In other words, our sins left to their own devices will incur natural repercussions in this world. I think we’d do well to understand that there is a difference between the two. And, because of this reality, it can get a little tricky to try and discern which can be which at any given time. In fact, they both may be playing-out in concert with each other in some circumstances.
So, with that in mind – that there may be overlaps in regard to natural consequences of sin and God’s chastening – here are a few examples of possible chastisements from God in King David’s life that we find in the Scriptures.
David and Bathsheba’s loss of their newborn son through the sins of adultery and the murder of Uriah.
God, through Nathan the prophet, told David, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:14).
Among Nathan’s Words of God to David was the promise that because of his sins regarding Bathsheba and Uriah, God would, “… raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun” (2 Samuel 12:11).
This would be fulfilled in his son Absalom’s attempt to usurp his father’s throne, mentioned below.
This situation in David’s life seems to be a chastening of God and a penalty, or punishment, for his sins.
Let’s consider some other situations in David’s life.
Amnon’s rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-21), Absalom’s murder of Amnon (2 Samuel 13:22-39), and Absalom’s attempt to dethrone his father David (2 Samuel chapters 15-18) could all have been a result of taking many wives which God had forbade the kings to do (Deuteronomy 17:17).
But let’s be honest here. Do we really know why these things happened in David’s family life? Could it have been as simple as sin within the hearts of his sons?
Two other Scriptural considerations come to mind.
Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land for not representing God faithfully at the waters of Meribah (Numbers 27:14). This seems to be one of the clearest examples of God’s chastisement of a godly man that is found in the Old Testament; but notice that this chastening, or discipline, didn’t happen until the end of his life and doesn’t seem to fit the normal criteria of the chastening formula that one might expect.
Solomon had the northern kingdom of Israel taken away from his family’s dynasty rule for his worshiping of false gods (1 Kings 11:10-11). Yet, this situation didn’t really even affect Solomon himself, so what exactly was this other than a prophecy for his rebellion and not actually a personal chastisement from God?
Are you seeing where I’m going here?
Also, consider many other problems the people of God had faced throughout the Old Testament Scriptures when they had rebelled, turned to idols, and/or lapsed into other forms of sins – individual and corporate alike. Which punishments were chastisement from God; which were natural results of their sinful choices; which were just the repercussions of living in a fallen world; and which were ultimately judgments from God for the nation’s collective sins?
I’m trying to make a very important point here: That in most – if not all – of these examples and the examples we can cite in our own life experiences, we are in no position to judge others when it comes to a perceived chastening of the Lord. We just don’t know if what another person is going through is a test, chastisement, natural repercussions of sin, or just a result of a fallen creature living in a fallen world.
Job, along with Abraham (both are believed to have lived at the same time), was considered the most righteous man of his time.
Although Job’s friends were “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2), at times they did speak truth. Eliphaz noted:
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole” (Job 5:17-18).
If anyone had a right to question the chastening of God – although his seemed to be more of a test – it would certainly have been Job. But be encouraged, Saint, by the words of this great servant of the Lord found in this profound book of the Bible, and take note of his response to God’s testing and/or correction within his life.
His earthly end was certainly more blessed than his beginning – not to mention his eternal destiny – because of his endurance and faith in what God was accomplishing in him through his trial of affliction. Even though at that time, he didn’t understand it, he knew of God’s sovereignty and trusted the Lord implicitly in the good and the bad. So should we.
“Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law” (Psalm 94:12).
We may not even know ourselves whether we are being chastised by the Lord or are suffering as a result of living in a fallen world. As a result of the curse, again, consider Job’s own confusion of the matter. It’s wholly up to the believer in Christ to determine whether one is being chastised by the Lord or not. So we each need to earnestly examine ourselves to see if there be any sin in us that would warrant such chastisement.
The Believer’s Responsibilities When Another Believer Experiences God’s Chastisement
We should always be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even more so when they have fallen into sin and are, very possibly, being chastised by God as a result. They may even come to us in a request for prayer.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
When one sins against another brother or sister in Christ, he or she should go to that offended brother or sister and “confess [their] faults.”
When a brother or sister is enduring physical infirmities or mental anguish, we need to “pray one for another, that [they] may be healed” of their trial or tribulation.
When a brother or sister is struggling with sin, we should “pray one for another, that [they] may be healed” because “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
We don’t even have to know what our brother or sister in Christ is struggling with — God knows. If they say they are struggling with something, it’s not imperative that we know what that something is. It is just important that they are asking for prayer in their fight against whatever it is that has a hold on them.
Them knowing and acknowledging their sin is the first step a believer needs to take in order to bring it to God.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
The more seasoned and experienced believer in Christ should always make themselves available to stand in the gap for other believers who may be struggling with sin and that have a desire to break free from their bondage. We shouldn’t make excuses for them being chastised by the Lord, for what the Lord is doing with them has eternal consequences and is for their own good. But we should be there to encourage them with love and prayer.
Chastisement in the Body of Christ
In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul, as a leader in the church, is chastising not only the perpetrator of sexual sin within the church, but chastising the church itself for allowing and even celebrating this sin.
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
“I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
“For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
Once this man was delivered unto Satan – that is, excommunicated from the church – he understood his corrupt ways after this chastisement, came to his senses, and had remorse and repented of his sins.
He no longer stayed in the sins that had resulted in his chastisement and loss of fellowship from the Body of Christ; and his turning from sin, because of this chastisement, resulted in full restoration. The chastisement had accomplished its objective.
We see his restoration in 2 Corinthians.
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
“Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
“For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:4-11).
In the above situation, God used the Apostle Paul, the church leadership, and the church membership to chastise this individual concerning his incestuous sin.
The lesson here is that God may use you, Saint, as the instrument of someone else’s chastisement. But one needs to be certain that this is, in fact, what the Lord desires from us before taking on such an immense responsibility.
Should the Holy Spirit guide us into such a ministry for the Lord – as difficult as it may be – we must be willing to be that vessel the Lord seeks to use to carry out His will concerning our brother or sister.
The Ultimate Chastisement: A Sin Unto Death
But there is a sin unto death. A sin that is perpetually committed by a believer – one that the Lord has exhausted all attempts of chastisement for him or her to turn from that sin – in some cases, has left the Lord with no choice but to take that believer’s life.
Saved still, this man or woman truly believed in Christ and accepted His free gift of salvation, but willingly continued in sin. But the loss of rewards will be immensely devastating for that brother or sister at the Judgment Seat of Christ:
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Thankfully, this situation in the body of Christ is extremely rare. Most true believers will always show their love for their Lord, who gave His life for them with fruit fit for the kingdom, and flee their sin when found in them.
This highly uncommon condition is addressed in 1 John:
“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:16).
Once a brother or sister willingly chooses to live in a sin – and has been chastised by God because of that sin – and yet still refuses to repent of said sin, then there is no prayer that can be offered for that unrepentant sin, which ultimately ends up being a “sin unto [physical] death.”
There is debate in some circles on the interpretation of this verse, with some claiming that John is referring to the unpardonable sin of ‘blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,’ which is the rejection of Jesus Christ after receiving the convicting power of the Holy Ghost to come to Him for salvation.
In context, though, John is clearly speaking to believers in this epistle. Henry M. Morris, in the Henry Morris Study Bible, also agrees with the interpretation that this “sin unto death” is for a believer who flagrantly chooses to live in sin. He notes:
5:16 – sin unto death. The “sin unto death” does not refer to the unforgivable sin, which yields eternal spiritual death. That sin is refusal to accept Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:36). No other sin precludes the possibility of repentance, faith and forgiveness. Therefore, the “sin unto death” can only refer to such flagrant sin on the part of a “brother” that God’s chastisement finally becomes physical death (1 Corinthians 11:27-33; 5:5).
Sins of Omission and Sins of Commission
Paul’s excellent exposé on his own struggle with sins of omission and sins of commission highlight our own battle to do what is right and to flee that which is wrong in Romans 7:15-25.
In regards to sins omission, Paul put it like this:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15).
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).
When we omit or refuse that which we know we should do, we show ourselves unfaithful to our Savior and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We shouldn’t “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19), but sometimes, unfortunately, we omit those things we know we should do.
Just a few examples would be missing an opportunity to share the gospel, hand out a tract or a book, give alms, or help a neighbor or stranger in need. Sins of omission can be summed up in Christ’s command to “… love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).
Concerning sins of commission, Paul noted:
“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:20).
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:12).
When we do those things that we know we shouldn’t, we are grieving the Holy Spirit:
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
The Spirit guides our walk and warns us of evil and the consequences of our sins. Christ has given us a way out, but because of the battle with our flesh, we sometimes fail and fall into sin.
Examples are too numerous to cite just a few, but suffice it to say, we are all quite aware of what these are. Sins of commission have their foundation in the 10 Commandments.
Thank the Lord that Paul ends his honest assessment of the conflicting condition of the saint of God with these poignant words:
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a).
While our overall victory won’t be realized until the rapture/resurrection, we still have the ability through the Holy Spirit and the promises of God that we can indeed have power over sin if we faithfully and fully submit ourselves to the Lord.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Thank you so much for your question, Stanley.
I pray we all have a better understanding of why God chastises His sons and daughters with His merciful love in this life and our responsibilities in regard to God’s Chastisement of His Children.
God’s Chastisement of His Children is powerful, loving, and necessary. Without it, how does the child of God grow and draw closer to the Lord when one errs? He or she can’t. We desperately need His discipline when it is so warranted.
We would do well to consider a few more verses as we close out.
As Hebrews goes on to say:
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!