Monday, November 9, 2009

Forgiven. Chastened.

How forgiven are born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? The Apostle Paul, quoting David, provides perhaps the most definitive answer in his epistle to the Romans.

"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Psalm 32:2; Romans 4:8).

Justification in the Lord Jesus Christ is so complete that our Heavenly Father will not place our sins on our account. They were placed on the account of our pristinely innocent Savior when He died on the cross of Calvary, and God is so satisfied with His Son's atoning work that in terms of our righteousness, He forevermore views the sin issue has having been more than adequately dealt with. "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).

Born again believers are still capable of sin, however, and it is still possible that we can experience the negative consequences of unbelief and disobedience. It was to and of Christians that Paul wrote, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). In our present life, God's Fatherhood necessarily involves not only kindly tenderness, but also firm correction when necessary. Indeed, it is because we are so righteous in His sight that He must chasten us if we become callously indifferent to the godliness that has become the very nature of our redeemed being. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:5-7). God views sin as an aberration in His trusting children, again, because the Lord Jesus so effectually dealt with the issue in His atoning work and resurrection. He is well aware that in a world of flesh and devils, we are still susceptible to acting fleshly and devilish. But nothing changes the fact of our standing with Him, and the amazing truth that in the sense of our relationship with Him, we are "perfected forever," and "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

God will not place our sins on our account. This is love. But He will put the board on our backside, as it were. This is also love. We need both truths to be true, and praise His wonderful name, both truths are true. Let us rejoice that our Father loves us so much that our sins were born by the Lamb of God on the tree. And let us rejoice that if we foolishly forget who and what we are as God's justified children, He loves us enough to firmly remind us through the pain of discipline. He is worthy of much praise for both blessed realities, and we do well to see both as the product of His heart's gracious and merciful devotion to us.

"When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
(I Corinthians 11:32)

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