Sunday, August 27, 2006


I keep a journal of sorts, thoughts that I have that I write down. It's not really a diary or a spiritual journal. It's just thoughts. :) Looking back on it, here's something I wrote in October of 1997:

"The punishment for my sin was put on Jesus. God dealt with my sin 2,000 years ago, once and for all. Why should He bring it up again to be punished again?"

If you have trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ, if you have believed that He is the Savior, then you should never fear that God is punishing you for your sins. (And you should never think that God is punishing anyone else for their sins). The Bible even says that God made Christ to be sin for us (one version says "on our behalf"), so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. God dealt with sin one time, and that was all that was needed. Jesus was the perfect, acceptable sacrifice. His blood was shed for the remission of sin. Our sins have been taken away from us. They are in remission (eternally). We have been completely released from the debt we owed and from the penalty for our sins. We have been forgiven completely. God doesn't take them out and show them to us or hang them over our heads. Our sins have been removed from us "as far as the east is from the west." God made sinless Jesus to be sin, so that guilty us could be righteousness. Jesus then died, and rose again in glory, having finished the necessary work for the redemption of mankind.

I don't want to confuse or equate punishment with discipline. God does not punish us, because the punishment is done and over with. Again, it was put on Christ. But as He loves His children dearly, and as He indwells us and lives in us and through us, He has such a wonderful way of teaching us and helping us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. This "discipline" comes in many ways and forms, and sometimes it may seem hard for us, but it is never punishment.

He loves us so much that He will work methodically and purposefully and lovingly - and patiently to help us get rid of any and all self-dependence and sin that easily besets us. I used to think of God's discipline as simply a matter of God getting rid of sin in my life. But His life in me and through me is so much more than getting rid of sin! It's learning and growing in what LIFE really is. My "flesh" thinks of life in certain terms. Sometimes my flesh leads me to sin, and sometimes my flesh leads me to do "good" things. But my flesh will never lead me to Life. Only Jesus Christ can give me life. So as God disciplines, He is leading me out of the flesh patterns that I've established, whether good or bad, and is leading me to experience the Life that He has given me. This can hurt sometimes... but it's only because the wonderful life that God has for me goes against the grain of so-called life that I've already established (again, whether good or bad). Even though God is leading me into something much better, it can be hard for the flesh to accept that it no longer has control over what life is and isn't. :) But thank God for always leading us to Life rather than complacent self-dependence!

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