Back in May I published a post, Discipline Versus Punishment. In it I said that God uses discipline and not punishment with His children. I know that some think that discipline is punishment and it doesn’t make any difference which word that you use. However if you take a closer look at the two words I think that you’ll find a big difference in them.
Here’s what I said in my post;
“Think about it, if on the one hand we say that God is love, merciful, faithful, compassionate, and forgiving, and on the other hand say that God took a loved one, or caused a natural disaster just to punish, or teach us a lesson what kind of message are we sending? I have long believed that the Bible teaches that God’s punishment comes at the time of His judgement, and what we call punishment is really discipline.
This does not mean that accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is license to do whatever you want to do, without consequences. Especially if your actions are in direct contradiction or disobedience to the will of God. Just as children are disciplined by their parents for disobedience, because they love them and want them to learn from their mistakes, God disciplines His children (those saved by grace) because He loves us and wants us to learn from our mistakes.”
Still not convinced? How about this from Rick Warren;
The goal of discipline is to bring about change, punishment merely metes out justice.
The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty.
The purpose of discipline is to promote growth.
The focus of punishment is on the past — what you've done wrong.
The focus of discipline is on the future — what you can be.
The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love.
Now we can take the fact that God loves us to the extreme to the point that we God
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I’ll get to the point of this post. We know that there are consequences (punishment) for sin, which is a transgression or an offense of a command from God. The first sin was Adam and Eve’s eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. The consequence of that sin was spiritual and eventual physical death. The consequence of that sin was also passed down from Adam to all of mankind. However God because of His love for mankind, provided a substitute (Jesus Christ) to suffer the consequence of that sin for those who acknowledge Jesus as that substitute.
Later God provided a written code of conduct (Law of Moses) to codify the internal ability to discern between good as evil. As with the first sin there are consequences for violating the written code of conduct. When those who have accepted Jesus sin the consequence for them is discipline not punishment.
When discipline doesn't come immediately after the violation it may seem that God has either forgotten that there should be consequences or that maybe He even approves of the violation. Let me be the first to tell you that is not the case.
Psalm 50:16-21 (NLT)16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.20 You sit around and slander your brother— your own mother’s son.21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
As the title of this post says God is not slow, He’s patient. He’s patient because He loves you.
2 Peter 3:8-10 (NLT)8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
Dr. Charles Stanley says that we often abuse God’s patience. He reminds us that discipline will come and when it comes it will not be pleasant.
Abusing God's Patience - In Touch - August 22, 2017
Romans 2:4-6 (NLT)4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done.
Have you ever ignored the press of conviction upon your heart? Maybe you rationalized your wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He'd put a stop to things by disciplining you. Psalm 50:21 (Psalm 50:21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes.) reminds us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval. Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord's patience.
When God seems slow to react, we might hope He's overlooking our transgressions--we'd like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience. But thankfully, the Father knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response. Motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His children to righteousness, God refrains from doling out immediate punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Spirit's proddings to impact the believer's heart. The weight of conviction is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to godliness.
However, we're a stubborn people. There are times when we persist in sin because the sentence against an evil deed isn't executed quickly (Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.). In this dangerous situation, it's possible to immerse ourselves in sin and harden our hearts against the Lord. Then the Holy Spirit's call to repentance falls on spiritual ears rapidly going deaf.
As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. The Lord is not slow; He's patient. Do not abuse His patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
God is not slow He’s patient. Repent, God will forgive and restore.
1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.