“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’ ” (Luke 9:23-25)
Jesus gave us this command, which is actually a prescription for our souls. With it came the opportunity to obey Him and to live fruitfully. Then when we don’t, and all of us end up here at one point or another, Psalm 39:11 (ESV) comes into play: “When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him.” Whatever we put on a higher level than God is in serious danger. As it says repeatedly in scripture, He is a jealous God and will allow no other gods into our lives. Anything we put before God becomes an object of worship, therefore a god, and will be taken from us so that we will refocus on Him, turning us from death to life. He may wait for years to do that, as He did in my case, but when He brings the hammer down, it’s rough.
He loves us and doesn’t want us to die in the second death, so when we step out of line, turning to things that will lead us away from Him, He disciplines us: Revelation 3:19 (NIV), “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent…”
Hebrews 12:10 (NIV), “…but God disciplines us for our good…that we may share in his holiness.” This is crucial to our soul’s survival, because, in verse 14, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” In His great love, He refuses to let us go, but disciplines us as a loving Father, filtering out of us everything that allows dirt into our carburetor, so to speak.
This is a good thing, not a bad thing. In verse 11 it says, “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.”
Unfortunately, most people ignore God’s discipline to their own detriment. The children of Israel were prime examples for this. Many were slaughtered and the survivors ended up being slaves to their conquerors. But it didn’t have to be that way. God had sent them many messengers over the years to warn them away from their sin, but they chose instead to believe the false prophets who told them they could do anything they wanted, and everything would be fine. “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” (Lamentations 2:14 NIV)
The discipline of the Lord is hard, but leads to eternal life. Paul, speaking of a rebellious man in the church of Corinth, prescribes the soul medicine for him in 1 Corinthians 5:5, “…hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” My first thought in reading that was, “Wow, I’d hate to be that man!” Then I realized I was that man. In my rebellion against God, I brought discipline upon myself. In my case, it took the form of a serious back injury when I was thirty seven. Fear of getting surgery made me hold off until it was too late and permanent damage was done. Since coming back to Jesus in September of 2000, one of my favorite Bible verses has been Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”
Thankfully, now my life can be summed up by another verse, Psalm 130:7, “…with the Lord is unfailing love, and with him is full redemption.”
©2017 by Darvis McCoy.
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