HEBREWS 12:6-11 -- For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 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? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. 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.
PROVERBS 3:11-12 -- 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.
What I want to look into today is - How far does God go in the punishment of those who are saved?
I think it commonly accepted by Baptist or otherwise that God does chastise His people when they commit, or continue living in an unacceptable manner. That is hard to dispute for we have scripture that bears this truth out such as our scripture reading we just read.
But just how far does God go in this chastisement? By the way - chastize means "corrective punishment". Any sort of punishment that is meant to correct a person with the hope of teaching them not to repeat what they had done wrong.
1 Corinthians 11:30 -- For this cause many are WEAK and SICKLY among you, and many SLEEP.
Three methods of God's punishment are before us here. Many are weak and sickly - or sleep - or dead, which this means - as in most cases of sleep in the Bible means physical death. Sickness, death and general bad health is a normal part of our cursed life on earth brought in by our first father and mother - Adam and Eve so is not an absolute sign one has committed a serious sin - we should not judge a person on that. But the person who is sick and weak should judge themselves to see if a serious sin in their life is the reason for their sickness.
Many do not want to believe that God actually takes the physical life of a person who commits a serious sin. Yet here we have a clear statement of the apostle Paul that God does just that. Who are we to believe - God's written instructions to us - or man in His rebellion to God's ways?
There are also examples - both in the Old Testament and New Testament where God takes the life of people who have committed a serious sin. Let's look at an Old Testament example first:
1 KINGS 13:26 -- And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, it is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake unto him.
I don't know if you know the background story or not - but, you don't have to - suffice to know just what we read. This prophet died at the hands of God, using a lion as His tool - for some disobedience the prophet had just committed.
One well known New Testament example is Ananias and Sapphiria - Let's go to -
Acts 5:1-10 -- But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles's feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, how is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
So we see God does bring sin into even His own, and some of us stoops pretty low - far enough that God takes their physical lives.
But we must remember - taking our physical life has no bearing on our spiritual life.
Taking our physical life does not mean we have lost our salvation - just our physical life here on this earth.
There are many other examples of God dealing with sin committed by His sheep. Another is found in -
1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5 -- There 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 togther, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, do 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
Yes - God's people can commit some very serious sins. Some times a single sin can be enough to bring that element of God's wrath down upon them - death. Other times it could be a lifestyle that may bring it upon a person. That may take years before God will act.
On occasions God will bring a person who has fallen from fellowship due to some sin, back under His Grace, in full repentance of what they had done.
We know the story of Jonah, how he rebelled against the plain commands of God, at first.
We don't have time to read the whole book of Jonah - but I am sure you all know the story - how in the end Jonah did as God wanted in the first place.
Then there is the story of King David who greatly sinned by committing adultery, then murder in an attempt to cover up that sin. Do you remember how David was punished for that sin? Let's check out -
2 Samuel 12:13-14 -- And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 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.
We see here a case where God could have taken David's life for His sin, but instead God used a lesser form of chastisement instead. Instead of taking King David's life, God took his new born baby's life.
Note that this can happen - it is something we as Christians have to be aware of. Our sins can affect those about us. Like rebellious Jonah brought God's wrath on him while in the ship which threatened the lives of all aboard that ship. It was not until the crew members threw Jonah out of the ship did that threat disappear. They didn't want to at first - that is understandable since Jonah was a human and they were not in the habit of throwings humans overboard and to their obvious fate. But when Johah insisted it was the only way of saving their own lives they did what they had to do - throw Jonah overboard to save their own life.
Conversely - A child of God in good fellowship can bring blessings to those about them. As did it bring blessings upon the crew and passengers in company with Paul in the shipwreck with him. They were not in danger as long as they did what Paul told them. All their lives were saved as a result of Paul's obedience and goodstanding with God.
Other cases where King David sinned God chastised him by causing King David to have no peace in His family the rest of his life. There was always some kind of turmoil in his family. Death of family for one, and one of his own sons tried to take over as king before King David had died for another example.
Another case is Peter when he denied Jesus after Jesus had been arrested. Later, after His rising from the grave, Jesus gently chastised Peter verbally, but there was no lasting punishment.
Of course The question will arise - Where does all this come in if everything is ordained to happen the way they do anyway. Well - remember last week we read that same question from the greatest of men - the apostle Paul. According to his answer - it is.
I will answer that question with another question. I'll use this as an example. - what if God had a life of 70 years planned out for some individual - then at 30 years old this person sinned a sin worthy of death. Did that person catch God by surprise and is God going to cut this man's life short by 40 years, who God still has plans laid out for him for another 40 years? What is God going to do with those other 40 years of that man's life which he won't be fulfilling now.
Pretty foolish isn't it? Of course we can take away our belief in the sovereignty of God and just say God has to take things as they happen and contend with things on that basis. That is putting God on the same level as man. We cannot see what is in the future so we have to take things as they happen. But does God?
Of course God ordained what happened. This was just the way God chose to end that persons life just the same as other lives are ordained to end by some sort of accident, or decease, or health problem, or by war action. It is all in the hands of a sovereign God, and written by God at His determinate counsel.