♣ The Healing Blows of God

Shaping through Affliction

 “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” – Proverbs 20:30

IT IS GOD’S great mercy that has not only chosen and effectually called us unto salvation, but that which also keeps us persevering in the faith. Sadly, for many believers, Hebrews 12:6-7 does not reach the top list of favourite Bible verses, but in actuality, it proves to be one of the most comforting truths in all of Scripture:  “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He loves. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.” For some who have suffered parental abuse, this may evoke memories of horror, but be assured that God’s reasons of disciplining are not out of rage or revenge, but out of deep care and love for our eternal welfare; He chastens us to keep us from evil; He reproves us to remove our harmful inward corruptions; He wounds us to heal our wayward hearts so that we are made sensible of His ways and to ultimately share in His holiness, without which no man or woman shall see the Lord.

Does not Christ, the Lamb of God, take away our sin; does not His blood cleanse us from all unrighteousness? Indeed, Christ has carried away our sin by taking it upon Himself and by bearing our full penalty of God’s wrath. The blood of Christ is effective that has reconciled rebellious sinners unto God. It avails to raise us with Himself, where He is now seated, to walk in newness of life, a way of living that is pleasing to God. It is efficacious in that sin shall no longer have dominion over us for we are now under the law of God’s liberating grace.

The law of God’s grace is a work that He has begun in our hearts and such is His perfect workmanship that He will never leave His new creation incomplete, for that would bring dishonour to His name. We were not perfect from the commencement of our conversion and we shall not reach that indescribable glory until we are fully conformed to Christ’s image, but that promise is guaranteed and sealed to present us blameless before Him Who has called us to be co-heirs with Christ.

We are justified because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, but we grow in holiness through Christ’s imparted righteousness. That impartation is the continuous sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and there are methods that God fashions to purify our hearts.

Peter speaks of Christians grieved by various trials that refines and tests our faith (our life in Christ) and what is true of our lives hidden in Christ becomes a brighter reality here in this life. Our conflict in this world opens up the unsearchable treasures we have in Christ as Arthur Neil stated, “God’s method of spiritual prosperity in our lives is through serious adversity.” This is so foreign to the infamous prosperity gospel, where God ‘supposedly’ promotes us rather than us promoting the glory of God. Because of the lack of victory over financial poverty and unfavourable circumstances, one must lack faith. If that’s the case then the apostle Paul must be the biggest Christian failure that has ever lived who was called to suffer for the cause of Christ! In the very situations, that these prosperity teachers today would rebuke ‘in the name of Jesus’, Paul triumphantly exclaimed, “…we are more than conquerors” – not despite them but through them. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” – and David encountered plenty of heart-wrenching hours, days and months, but through it, he knew the Shepherd’s tender and caring heart. And how can we know the God Who cares if we have never had reason to cast our cares upon Him?

In context of our sin, David said it is God Who heals us of all our diseases (Psalm 103:3). In order for God to heal us He will first wound us, as in order for us to receive the gospel first comes the stroke of God’s law that annuls our self righteousness. Affliction is a blow to our pride; it turns our confidence from off of ourselves to Christ. It brings us to the end of ourselves with an overwhelming need for God – as with Jacob and his dislocated self-confidence: “I will not let you go unless you touch my life with Yourself[ I am undone without You]”; as with Peter, “Lord, to whom else shall we turn, You alone have the words of eternal life?”

Affliction opens our eyes to the world’s pomp and emptiness, to the horror of inward corruptions; it enables us to see the deceitfulness of sin and therefore to loathe it; it makes us wiser against the wiles of Satan; it drives out spiritual complacency, dullness, laziness, hardness; it shows our weakness while revealing our strength only in Christ. It shakes all that can be shaken until all that remains is an unshakable trust in God, Whose kingdom is immovable and Whose reign is from everlasting to everlasting.

God’s methods of chastising may sometimes appear cruel and as the writer to the Hebrews said, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant…” – we may perceive Him as anything other than a loving Heavenly Father, but that is the reaction of self sulking that hates to die. Always remember that God’s discipline, no matter how severe, is never harmful to us; God works all things together for our good according to the counsel of His will. Even in our stubbornness, God is merciful in breaking us of what would cause our eternal destruction. Some shepherds have been known to break the legs of a lamb that perpetually wandered into dangerous and grave scenarios; it was the injury that saved their life and from thereon, after their healing, stayed close to the shepherd’s side. Is it not the same with us when God drives out our foolishness so that we come to really understand that apart from Him we are nothing in and of ourselves and can do nothing that is of eternal value? The essence of sin is independence of God and affliction will teach us that we do, indeed, draw our very breath from Him.

God’s discipline is one of the hallmarks of our sonship, which signifies we are under His reign of grace and the evidence of our sealing by the Holy Spirit unto eternal life. That should greatly encourage and comfort us and bring greater revelation of our eternal security in Him.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

(hymn by George Matheson 1842-1906)

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Posted on April 12, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Well done Brother ! This is the kind of message that needs to be heard from the pulpits of most churches today. Ever to often what is preached is a message of God’s Love without reference to repentance nor obedience. Is it any wonder that when chastening comes to a child of God that it is not recognized as coming from God Himself ? Hebrews 12:8 clearly states that,” all are partakers,” of His chastisement. Brother, I am so happy that I am included in that short powerful phrase, ” all are partakers !” It’s a daily reminder to me to whom I belong and an evidence of His Tender Mercies toward me as His child. PRAISE GOD, FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW.

    GOD BLESS YOU MY BROTHER.

    • It does need to be heard more in our pulpits today. The way in which God’s love is preached today by the majority makes it look cheap and shallow. How can we appreciate and be overwhelmed by the depths of God’s love if we fail to understand, first and foremost, the depths of our sin? I was watching a video the other night of one of the few interviews with Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and he said that it’s not so much that we, as a fallen human race, are sick with sin, it’s more than that – we are rebels towards God.

      If more leaders preached the whole counsel of God, churches wouldn’t need entertainment; God would be central and exceedingly and abundantly sufficient.

      I thank God for the likes of Paul Washer that preach a sound gospel. He is reformed but he is also alive; he breathes what he believes. You can hear it when he preaches; you sense he has been with God. For more men like him. There are other obscure leaders here in America that are faithful to God and they too will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” God raise more of them.

      God bless you too Brother.

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