There are many of us who are afraid of the Lord’s wrath to the point where they feel condemnation at everything. There are many of us who are not the least bit conscious of His discipline, who believe that the Lord does not ever punish or discipline, that He accepts everything we do without judgment.
Both views are in error, but I would like to address those who are so terrified of the Lord’s wrath that they cannot see the Lord’s love; they believe that His love is not for them.
Let me ask you this….how strict are you about obeying the Lord? I mean, I know we all sin, but I bet you are one who really tries to make sure they get things right. I bet you strive for perfection in at least some areas of your life. I would also bet that you are afraid of sinning to the point that you wonder if benign things are actually sin. You might put every thing you do in a context of “Does God want me to do this? What if He wanted me to eat off the blue plate instead of the red one? Am I sinning? I do not remember sinning, but I feel like I am in trouble for something….”. I bet if I asked you what the Lord has said is sinful in the Bible that you could rattle off a list of things that you know are “thou shalt not”’s. You may be deathly afraid of angering the Lord…or maybe it is just too horrible to think about.
But what if I ask you what verses talk about His love for you, specifically? You might be able to list John 3:16, but do you know what else the Lord says in there about His love for you?
It is important that we understand that we are disciplined as sons, not slain as enemies. We do need to understand the commandments because the Lord gives us these to make our lives better. If we commit adultery, rob a bank, hate our neighbor, then we will be hurting ourselves. We are like a toddler who needs to know not to touch a hot stove. We might be put in time out when we reach for that stove, but it is better than severe burns that we will get if we do touch the stove.
Proverbs 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. KJV
Do you truly understand that the commandments are there for your good, not for His whims? Do you understand that He gives those to you because He loves you? He is the perfect Father who knows what mischief a child can do, and warns us ahead of time of those things that will hurt us.
Even when He commands us not to fear, to think of only good things, it is because He loves us and wants us to be joyful…not because He is just seeing how many hoops we will jump through.
Now, many of us have a need to be perfect. Most of us are afraid of angering the Lord, of His wrath. His wrath *IS* powerful! But His wrath is not for His children, but for His enemies! It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God IF you are His enemy (Hebrews 10:31). It is a dreadful thing to reject His sovereignty! It is a horrible, terrible thing to set yourself up against Him in pride and arrogance, rejecting His mercy and salvation, rejecting His Son!
But you are not His enemy. You are His child if you accept His Son as your Savior. There is a very big difference in a father disciplining His child, and a man slaying his enemy. The same man may do both. However the child will not receive the same as the enemy. The child will be disciplined in love, the enemy will be slain in wrath.
Don’t you see? The Lord loves you! Yes, He will discipline you, but for your GOOD! He will show you where you have gone wrong because He wants you to do right! He wants the best for you, and that means that He will discipline you when you disobey Him. BUT that does not mean that He is wrathful towards you. That means that He loves you. He is not like an earthly father who sometimes makes mistakes, overreacts, or under-reacts. He is a perfect Father, the one perfect Father who knows exactly what you need to learn so that you have a joyful, powerful, wonderful, peaceful life.
He only disciplines you for your good, not out of His wrath, because His wrath is not for you if you have accepted His Son. His wrath is for His enemies, not for His babies. His chastening, His discipline might seem painful at the time, but as you will read, He does it for our profit, so that we can be healed.
Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. NKJV
Do not allow the enemy to convince you that His discipline is the same as His wrath. His discipline is to build you up. His wrath is to destroy His enemies who hurt His children and who deny Him as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.