“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Further, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:7-10.
“Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:22-24.
Marriage is the first thing instituted by God and it was perhaps given within days or weeks of the creation of Adam.
It is an institution recognized by God whether the marriage is done by a Buddhist monk, a voodoo witch doctor, or an atheist clerk in the town hall.
Marriage is limited to a man and a woman, and it is a vow before God, God takes vows seriously.
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.
Things like divorce, adultery, abandonment, and contempt towards the spouse break those vows and take peace away from the ones who do them.
When either spouse breaks their vows of marriage, expect chastening!
“… the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:14b-16.
Notice also that, “they shall become one flesh” Genesis 2-24. One flesh is a more literal relationship than one would think.
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Ephesians 5:28-29.
Married couples are considered one flesh, this means they should be able to trust each other, physically care for one another, and share the burdens as well as the hopes.
This is serious stuff; it is not up for experimentation, or interpretation by arrogant social engineers.
You will notice that the words “if you want to” are not in the passage quoted from Genesis 2:22-24. This means that these verses are not open to loose interpretation.
Scripture tells us that God’s chastening is, “…for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Oddly enough, it is mainly through trials that we become holy.
Holiness is not something that we can gain by being good, for when man sinned he lost all vestiges of holiness and there is no way of getting the toothpaste back into the tube.
Holiness can only be imputed to us by God through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; it is this holiness that we gain.
Outward holiness, which is seen by others through our actions and heart’s intents and responses, is something that occurs upon the change of the heart through trials and a determination to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit within us.
Outside of Christ there is no such thing as a holy man; whether Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other false religion, they are all in rebellion against God and reject His Son.
So while they have an outward appearance of holiness, and many are very good by man’s standards, but they are still no better than the Pharisees the Lord was speaking to when He said the following.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28.
Christians too, fall into this trap when they try to act holy in their own strength while continuing to behave like the unsaved people around them, accomplishing nothing more than appearing holier than thou to others.
Until their heart is changed by the reading of and meditation on Scripture and through trials, it will remain what it is, acting, hypocrisy.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.
The word mammon is Aramaic for riches.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-16.
Chastening is so we may “be partakers”, which is to take part in or to share in His holiness.
Now this cannot be a bad thing, for holiness has many advantages; holiness draws people to it and opens them up to listen to you when you speak of Jesus.
A holy life is a more peaceful life.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs16:7.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6.
A holy life also prepares us to come before God.
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.
God tells us it is for our profit that we are chastened to partake of His holiness. Focus on that thought, “…for our profit”. The following verse admits that chastening is no fun, yet we must not blame God for something we will have brought upon ourselves. Even as our own children benefit from chastening, so it is, “…for our profit” Hebrews 12:10b.
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11.
In the same manner as an oyster which has a grain of sand or some other irritant find a way into its shell, a process begins to rid itself of the aggravation by coating the foreign particle with nacre.
Coat after coat of this substance soon turns the irritant into a pearl, something of great value throughout the world. If the oyster were a person there is little doubt that it would complain loudly to anyone who will listen, as we so often do.
For the human the pearl is the “peaceable fruit of righteousness”, something of far greater value than pearls in a violent and unrighteous world.
Notice the last phrase in Hebrews 12:11, “…to those who have been trained by it”, is it possible to go through a difficult trial and learn nothing? The answer is yes, I have met some pretty dense people (myself included) who do not get it the first few times, if ever.
Jesus would often call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15. Surely Jesus healed everyone who came to Him; there were no deaf persons in His audience, so He must have meant something else.
He did mean something else, His listeners had no problem hearing Him, however, were they listening?
Anyone who has endured a long boring speech can tell you that they heard, but not really listened.
Jesus was definitely not boring, but many were there for the food, healing, or out of curiosity, but not to hear. Many though had ears to hear and gained eternal life.
The same goes for trials, too often Christians go on about how men are persecuting them, God is angry with them, or they say, these things just happen; they are a part of life.
They are not listening; as a result it is a long time or many trials before they start asking why this person keeps hitting them alongside the head with a rolled up newspaper.
The book of Lamentations was written to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians, along with the majority of the Jews having been carried off to a foreign land.
In that book both Jew and Christian are given words that we must take to heart.
“Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord; let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned.” Lamentations 3:40-42.
“…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
This is a truth we need to grasp onto and remember when we are tempted to blaspheme God for our troubles.
Quite often when you are examining yourself before God you will find that the trial is not due to some unseen sin, but rather the result of the normal Christian witness.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” 1 Peter 4:12-16.
The cross of Christ is an offense to men and very often they will respond in anger; you can see today how antagonistic men are toward God in this country, so this should be no surprise.
“An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.” Proverbs 29:27.
Some Christians though say that they are being persecuted for Christ, when it is really because they are obnoxious; beware of this attitude.
Having prayed and perhaps fasted to identify the source of your chastening/trial, you may come up with an answer. As an aside, I have found that often I already have an idea of why I am going through something unpleasant.
The solution is the same in any case, confess your sin and forsake it, and remember this, sometimes the trial will last a little longer; at this point you must commit yourself to a faithful God and continue to pray for deliverance. The reason some trials are prolonged will be covered in the next study.
“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13.
Sounds a little like something you would hear in an A.A. meeting does it not? If you are an alcoholic, they tell you to stay out of bars, is this not so?
Your hands do evil and your feet take you there, soon the feeble knees collapse under the weight of sin and those trapped by it cannot rise again. It is important to realize ones weaknesses and stay away from the rough path of sin.
“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” Hebrews 12:14-15.
It has been stated elsewhere that the word pursue here has the idea of a single-minded pursuit, the same Greek word is also translated persecute, giving the idea of intense effort.
I owe this piece of information to the book “Practice of Godliness” by Jerry Bridges, published by Navpress, a good read.
We are also to intensely pursue holiness, which has great reward as we have seen; still it does cramp our style, as a result we endure chastening before we realize that holiness is a better way of life, and pleasing to God.
The phrase, “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”, does not mean you will lose your salvation if your life is not holy enough, but rather that if a person has not accepted Christ as their savior and receive the imputed holiness given by God, they will not see the Lord.
Those then who are not holy through Christ are unsaved and may cause trouble among the brethren in Christ.
Diligent watch must kept to ensure that we do not just assume that all in our social circle are saved, but to seek some outward sign of Christian life. If there is none, then Christians should seek to help the one to understand the gospel.
The error that we see in the church today has been caused by unsaved persons being given positions of authority, though their piousness was nothing more than show.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5.
“Lord, I see it now! Not only what I have done is wrong; I am wrong!” Watchman Nee
Chastening, Part 2 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 10-14-15, updated on 1-12-20.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.