When, why, and how does the Lord God discipline us when we sin?

Question: "When, why, and how does the Lord God discipline us when we sin?"

The Lord's discipline is an oft-ignored fact of life for believers. We often bemoan our circumstances without realizing that they are the consequences of our own sin, and are a part of the Lord's loving and gracious discipline for that sin. This self-centered ignorance can contribute to the formation of habitual sin in a believer's life, incurring even greater discipline.

Discipline is not to be confused with cold-hearted punishment. The Lord's discipline is a response of His love for us, and His desire for each of us to be holy. "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12). God will use testing, trials, and various predicaments to bring us back to Him in repentance. The result of this discipline is a stronger faith and renewed relationship with God (James 1:2-4), not to mention destroying the hold that particular sin had over you.

Continued unrepentant, habitual, or "severe" sin will often be dealt with more severely. You won't lose the rewards you earned while on earth, but you might not be on earth for very long! Read through 1 Corinthians 10:6-10; 1 Corinthians 11:28-30; 1 John 5:16-17; and the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. In each of these cases, sin resulted in death. This is extreme, but definitely something to consider before giving way to habitual sin.

The Lord's discipline works for our own good, that He might be glorified with our lives. He wants us to exhibit lives of holiness, lives that reflect the new nature that God has given us: "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’" (1 Peter 1:14-16). If we sin without repentance, we can expect to be disciplined. The hardship of discipline, however, is like the forming of a diamond in the rough, for we will be refined and strengthened. Ignoring the Lord's discipline and continuing in sin will lead to further discipline, greater hardship, and ultimately even death.

Recommended Resource: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.

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When, why, and how does the Lord God discipline us when we sin?