Section 7: Salvation – Part 2
Week 1: Adoption
Day 3: God Disciplines His Children
When we put our faith in Christ, our relationship with God changes. We were created to be God’s children, but we lost that right through sin. When we put our faith in Christ, though, we are adopted back into the family, and we become God’s children once again. And, as God’s children, the Bible says we can expect to be disciplined (Heb. 12:4-13). Why is that?
God disciplines his children to conform them to Christ’s image
Well… why do human parents discipline their children? Because they want their children to grow up and reach their full potential, and they know that won’t happen without discipline. That’s not very different from why God disciplines us. God created us in his image. But that image has been marred by sin. Our natures have been corrupted and, as a result, we are now born with a tendency toward sin. God intends to change that. As a loving Father, he would never leave us in that condition because he doesn’t want us to fall short of our full potential. He intended us to reflect his image, and he will restore that image in us.
We’ve mentioned the already and not yet aspects of salvation. As part of the “not yet”, we look forward to the day when we will be perfectly conformed to Christ’s image and every trace of sin within us will be eradicated. That day is not yet here, but God is already at work conforming us to Christ’s image. And one of the ways he accomplishes that is discipline.
Discipline involves more than correction when do something wrong
When we think of discipline, some of us think primarily in terms of correction. Correction comes into play when someone does something they’re not supposed to do. When that happens, you step in and discipline them by ensuring there are consequences for the bad behavior. As part of his discipline, God does correct us when we sin. Often that takes the form of allowing us to experience the negative consequences of our sin.
But that’s not the only form of discipline. Discipline also involves training. Even when we haven’t done anything wrong that we need to be corrected for, God is still at work training us to become more like Christ. Think about a basketball coach. What happens when the team plays poorly? The coach makes them run. Is that the only thing coaches do though? No. Coaches want to instill certain characteristics in their players. So they don’t just wait until players make mistakes. Even before that, coaches are working to help their players become the best players they can be. That’s why coaches make players lift weights, run drills, and go through plays over and over.
It’s much the same when God disciplines us. He does step in to correct us when we do something we shouldn’t. But he does more than that. Because he wants to make us more like Christ, he is always working to build Christ-like traits into us.
God uses hardships to train us to be more like Christ
So, even when we don’t make a mistake, God is still training us. And he often trains us by leading us into difficult situations. That’s why the author of Hebrews tells us to look at hardships as God’s fatherly discipline. Although hardships can be painful to go through, they pay off in the long run because they help us to grow in holiness and to become more like Christ.
Jesus said much the same thing. Look at John 15. Jesus is talking to his disciples, and he uses the image of a vine to describe our relationship with him. We are the branches, and he is the vine. It is only through our relationship with him that we are able to grow. But notice he doesn’t say the growth will be automatic or that it will be painless. He says we will bear fruit in part because the Father prunes us. When you prune, you pull away the dead parts of a plant to make it healthier. When God prunes us, he removes the dead, sinful parts of us. That’s often a painful process, but it’s also a sign of God’s love. He doesn’t want to cause us pain. But to spare us that pain, God would have to allow us to continue in our sinful state. He loves us too much to do that.
Can you think of times when God corrected you because you were on the wrong path? What was the result? Can you think of a time when God pruned something from your life simply because it was unproductive?
Read John 15 and ask God to help you see the next challenge in your life as his plan for helping you grow!