Interesting question, isn’t it? Does God spank? This is not a question of would God spank his son or daughter, but does God spank his children?
The real question is, Does God discipline His Children?
Does God Discipline His Children
The answer, I believe, is both yes and no. Hear me out. Most people are quick to quote Hebrews 12:6 and instantly think it refers to discipline like a parent disciplining a child. There is a difference. Let me explain…
When a child does something wrong (sin), it is the parent’s responsibility to discipline the child. It is the consequence for their actions and the parents are fulfilling their duties as a parent to raise a child up in the way he (she) should go (Proverbs 22:6). I am not denying this. Think about this though, the child sins and the parent(s) discipline. A parent uses discipline to essentially “rescue” the child from future path to hell.
Hebrews 12:6 does indeed talk about God disciplining his children. Does that mean God spanks me? Or does God put me in time out? What does that really mean?
What is the purpose of discipline? When it comes to parenting, a parent disciplines to make his/her child like something else. If the child is a liar, the parent disciplines the child in hopes that the child is no longer a liar but a truth teller. Hopefully their end goal is to lovingly correct so the child will love Jesus (this could be a whole different post).
So, God’s discipline is to point us to something else. Or, to make us like something else. What could that be? Jesus! The point of discipline is to make us like Jesus.
Does God Spank Me
No! God does not spank you. Spanking (or discipline) is a result of some wrong doing. Some may ask, “Well, I sin, so therefore God disciplines me because he loves me.” That sounds great, but I do not think that is correct.
Others may say, “Well, when I did such and such a thing at work…I got fired.” I would respond with, “Sure, a natural consequence for your sinful choice.” Just because someone got fired from their job does not mean that he/she is deserving of it (like standing up for your faith).
It Is Finished
“It is finished,” was Jesus’ cry (John 19:30)! What was finished? Let me ask you, what was the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross? The purpose was to save sinners (Romans 5:8). Yet, when Jesus died he confessed, “It is finished.”
So what does this mean? Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. So, why would I be spanked for my sin when Jesus has already paid for it? Jesus’ mission was to come to earth, live a perfect life, and die so he could save sinners. So, why would Jesus have to take my punishment and I also be disciplined? Jesus paid it all!
What does Hebrews 12:6 mean then? We must read the context! Context context context! While studying for this blog post, I wrote Sweating Blood as a prequel to this post. Ironically, only two verses prior to verse 6 the author is exhorting the Hebrews to fight their sin.
Once we get to verse 5-6, it is an encouragement that we are God’s son (daughter). It is an encouragement. This is not a fearful verse to cause us to be afraid of being spanked by God.
Verse 7 says, “It is for discipline that you have to endure.” Endure what? Endure a spanking? No! What was the context talking about? Endure the temptation of sin? Perhaps. Endure suffering caused by others? Perhaps. See verse 3-4.
Let me be blunt and tell you what it seems to me. God’s discipline is not me bending over his knee to be disciplined. The discipline of the Lord or from the Lord is becoming like Jesus. When I fight temptations, I am enduring a fight and through it God is disciplining me by making me like Him (Jesus, see verse 3). In essence, it is sanctification. Jesus has paid for all my sins and therefore no spanking is needed from God. However, I am not perfectly like Jesus (yet). I will be once I die and the discipline will be finished. This long process of enduring the fight against sin will come to an end. I will have reached the prize. I will have finished the race that was set before me. Oh boy, I cannot wait for this day!
I am sure there are many out there who will get their undies in a bundle over this post. I am fully aware (I think!) that this will be highly controversial. That is okay. This post has been in the works for a while. God’s discipline (as it relates to punishing me for my sin) does not make sense from the logical standpoint in light of Jesus and in light of the context of Hebrews 12.
I am sure I will not persuade everyone to my position on this verse. I do hope that it will cause you to look more closely at Hebrews 12 in light of the whole Bible.
I love Jesus and am constantly being disciplined to be more like Jesus day in and day out!