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God’s Correction

Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. Job 5.17-18.

It is a fact that God disciplines his children. I might (misguidedly) wish it were otherwise, but it is not. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews has a long passage dealing with God’s discipline in chapter 12 (verses 5-11) where he actually advances the fact of God’s discipline as a proof of God’s fatherhood: “God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” But I need to be clear on this; that only the first half of what Eliphaz says is actually true. He is one of Job’s “comforters”, and Job’s comforters do, of course, tend to get it wrong.

Scripture is consistent in claiming that there is a blessing in God’s discipline and that I will do well to embrace it when it happens and to allow it to bring me back to where I should be with God; but, contrary to what Eliphaz implies in the second part of this word he addresses to Job in this morning’s text, Scripture nowhere suggests that God’s discipline ever includes the infliction of injury or sickness on those he loves.

Nothing makes me sadder than to hear a person who is suffering from some dreadful illness say that God must have “sent it” either as a punishment for sin or to teach a lesson in holiness. No! In Scripture, the discipline of God is always “just” (Jeremiah 30.11; 46.28) and it is always through what is called “hardship” (Hebrews 12.7) — the deprivation of material comforts (“You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth” — Psalm 39.11) or “exile”, that is to say, God’s temporary separation of his people from something they love until they turn from what is wrong in their lives and get back in a right relationship with him. It is never through disease or sickness.

In short, God’s discipline is much like that of a parent who, until the child has seen the error of his ways, will take away the child’s toys for a while, or send the child up to his room … but not, of course, infect the child with with measles or break the youngster’s arm!

That’s lesson number one for me this morning. But lesson number two is perhaps this — that I should be careful how I talk to others about what is going on in their lives. For even though the first part of what Eliphaz said to Job was correct, the fact was that it simply did not apply to Job and Eliphaz should never have been saying such things to him. God does discipline his people when they have gone off the rails and are deaf to his voice, yes; but Job was not being disciplined — that is perfectly clear from chapter 1. Eliphaz could have done with the gift of discernment when talking to Job; and in my ministry to others I can do with it too!

Lord, help me to discern when and where and how you are at work in the things that happen to me and to others, and to respond in a right and appropriate way. Amen.

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4 comments on “God’s Correction

  1. Deborah says:

    It is good to hear that there are those who recognize that God does discipline His children.

    However, when you speak of the issue of sickness and infirmity, you have forgotten that Job was also stricken with boils, as part of the same lesson and issue.

    Sickness and disease are also part of God’s judgment against all that abides in the flesh, as per the curses of Deuteronomy 28, and for the same reasons.

    God will judge the world. Those who cleave to the world, even though they call upon the name of Christ will still reap the judgments that come upon the world. See 1 Corinthians 11:28-30.

    We get sick, because we still cling to the Egypt that is our old man, our old nature. Sickness and disease belong to that nature. Light, health, vitality and joy belong to that which is of the new man. Cleave to your old man, and you will reap the fruits of a judged and condemned Egypt. Cleave fast to the Lord, in Spirit AND IN TRUTH, and your old man will be conformed, and you will escape the judgments of Egypt.

    Play with the gods of Egypt, and you will be shown how powerless they are to save you. That is what we need to learn about sickness and disease. As the Lord has said:
    I AM the God that healeth thee, no one and nothing else. He is the Great Physician, that casts our devils and heals BY HIS WORD. If we do no hear and receive His words, if we do not thereby receive His judgments concerning our ways and understandings, we will reap according to that which we have sown.

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  2. Neil says:

    Thank you for your comment, Deborah, but are you not missing the point when you say that Job was stricken with boils? Job 1.12 makes it clear that Job’s boils, like the rest of his ordeals, were not the work of God but the work of Satan. What I was trying to say is that sickness and disease are never an instrument of discipline and correction in God’s hand. He hates sickness and disease. As you rightly say (and as Jesus amply demonstrated) he is the great healer. Sickness and disease were no part of God’s original creation and they will have no part in his new creation (Revelation 21 and 22).

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  3. Deborah says:

    Satan was given permission by God to afflict Job as he did. He was used for God’s purposes. Peter was afflicted by Satan, through God’s permission. We all fall into Satan’s hand, by God’s permission. It is our humility and willingness to receive the truth, as did Job, that brings us out of it and preserves us from it. [2 Tim. 2:26]

    Likewise, I agree : sickness and disease were no part of God’s original creation, and they have no part of His new creation. Therefore if you are suffering sickness or disease, you are in neither one. You are still biding in your old creation.

    For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. [1 Cor. 11:30-32]

    That was the point that I was making.

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  4. Neil says:

    I’ll go along with much of what you say, Deborah, but I must part company with you if you asserting in your second paragraph that no Christian who is living a faith-filled life will ever remain in sickness or ill-health. Yes, God still heals today – I have experienced his miraculous healing in my own life on more than one occasion – but he doesn’t heal everyone who seeks healing, no matter how great their faith or the faith of those praying for them, and no matter how much they “name it and claim it”. My own wife, who is one of the most saintly and faith-filled Christians I have ever met, has had MS for the last 30 years, despite her receiving healing ministry on numerous occasions over the years from gifted servants of God. And to fail to acknowledge that God’s healing now is in part rather than universal, even among Christians, is to fail to recognise that God’s kingdom is both now but also not yet. The healings that do take place are signposts to a sick-free future that has not yet arrived and will not arrive until Jesus comes again.

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