First of all in my understanding the issue of chastisement is easy to understand, appreciate, and recognize, when we are in God’s program and dealings with Israel; especially in the “time past” portion of Israel’s program. As passages like Leviticus 26 set forth, God’s chastisement of them was a natural part of the contracted curses and punishments of the Law contract. Since Israel opted to be dealt with by God on the basis of their works, and hence receive from His Justice what their works merited, their failure to produce the righteousness of the Law merited the specific physical and circumstantial punishments of chastisement that are set forth and delineated in the Law. Therefore physical and circumstantial chastisement in God’s program with Israel was a natural thing in view of the Law contract, and in view of the fact that by means of the Law contract God dealt with Israel as “children” whom He had placed under “tutors and governors.”

However we, of course, in this present dispensation of God’s grace are not being dealt with by God on the basis of the Law. Nor, therefore, is God dealing with us as “children,” but rather as adult “sons.” Hence my understanding is that physical and circumstantial type chastisements commensurate with us being dealt with under the Law are not something that God employs with us, nor are we ever to think that we would receive them or have received them. Once again, that’s just not how God is dealing with us in this dispensation.


1Co 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

1Co 11:32  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.


Yet, though this is the case, we do not find the apostle Paul talking about being chastened; for example in I Corinthians 11:32. This may seem puzzling at first, but in my understanding the answer lies in understanding that there is more than one type of chastening. What I specifically mean by that is this: chastening is not restricted only to being something that a “child” receives; there is chastening for “sons,” but it is a different type. It is commensurate with the adult sonship status, and as such differs from the typically physical forms associated with being dealt with as “children.” Not only this, but terms like “punishment,” “condemnation,” and even “damnation,” can be used in connection with adult “sons”; (and we find Paul using them); however they are used in accordance with how adult “sons” are dealt with when their conduct is unrighteous.

Heb 12:5  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Heb 12:7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Heb 12:8  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Heb 12:9  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Heb 12:10  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.


Now even in God’s program with Israel this issue of a distinction between the chastening of a “child” and that of an adult “son” is set forth. For example, in Hebrews 12 the members of the remnant of Israel who are being written to are told about being chastened of the Lord. And they were being chastened. However they were not being chastened as per the chastisements and punishments of the Law associated with being dealt with as a “child.” Instead they were being chastened as per the sonship chastisement spoken about in Proverbs. Hence the quote from Proverbs in Hebrews 12, and not a quote from Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, etc. And once again these members of the remnant of Israel were being dealt with as “sons,” just as the passage declares. Yet, though they were “sons” they were being chastened. But again the issue is that the type of chastening they were receiving as “sons” was not the same as that prescribed for “children.”

My understanding is that the primary form of ‘sonship chastening,’ if I can coin that term, is that of the “rebuke” of the Lord spoken about in that passage, along with corrective doctrine and appropriate exhortation. And this, for example is just what the remnant of Israel was receiving in the epistle of Hebrews to them. God sternly rebuked them on a number of occasions throughout the epistle and in connection with a number of issues, manifesting to them the inconsistencies and incompatibility of what they were thinking and doing. And along with this He gave them corrective doctrine and exhorted them to bring themselves into line with it. This, once again, is the primary form of ‘sonship chastening.’ And as such it respects the adulthood status that the “son” has. It is commensurate with the issues of intelligent responsibility, knowledgeable accountability, and maturity, which are issues belonging to adulthood. It therefore has God, as “the Father of spirits,” dealing in particular with the inner man, the spirit of the “son”; rather than the outward man, or the circumstances of life, as when dealing with a “child.”

In addition to the issue of the rebuke, correction, and appropriate exhortation that characterizes ‘sonship chastening,’ there is one other aspect, or component, to it that needs to be understood. And that is the issue of how the Lord responds to a negative response from a “son.”

With a “child,” in essence the response was that of having the punishment increased. However with a “son” the response is once again commensurate with the issues of responsibility, knowledgeable accountability, and maturity. And as such the Lord’s response is to leave the “son” to reap the fruit of his negative response. Yet at the same time all the while waiting for the “son” to change his mind and respond positively to His rebuke, corrective doctrine, and exhortation. And the issue of God leaving the “son” to reap the fruit of his own negative response can result in various things for the “son.” For example, in a local church situation where his persistent unrighteousness can be detrimental to the church’s function, (as for example in I Corinthians 5 and II Thessalonians 3), reaping the fruit of his negative response can result in him being “put away” from the fellowship by the rest of the saints. Or, in accordance with the doctrine of Romans 13:1-7, if his unrighteousness involves him running afoul of the “higher powers,” then reaping the fruit of his actions can result in him experiencing the “wrath” of the power.

In accordance with being dealt with as “sons” in this dispensation, God has given to us specific doctrines, knowledge, and an understanding to operate upon that not only allows us to function as adult “sons,” but provides for God Himself to respond to us and to deal with us as adult “sons.” We have not been given (nor have we been restricted to) the elementary “schoolmaster” type teachings of the Law with its “first principles,” “rudiments,” and “elements of the world.” And as such God doesn’t deal with us in a “tutor and governor” type style, which is what is commensurate with only having such elementary teachings, knowledge, and understanding. Instead we have been given the maturity doctrines of “the faith of Jesus Christ” and of the riches of God’s grace to us regarding who He has made us to be “in Christ.” And with these maturity doctrines has come the provision for God to respond to us and to deal with us as mature thinking adult “sons.” He, therefore, has provided for the specific doctrines, knowledge and understanding that He has given to us to effectually work within us, and when necessary to rebuke us, judge us, and chasten us. Just as a father responds to his own adult sons and daughters differently than when they were children, so also is it with God and us in this dispensation. God’s response to us, even when it is judgmental, is commensurate with our adulthood status before Him. As respects adulthood treatment and responsibility, we are responsible for responding to His reproofs, corrective doctrines, and instructions and exhortations to righteousness and godliness. As respects adulthood accountability, we are accountable for our own decisions. And, hence, if we choose to use our liberty as an occasion to the flesh, and not respond to His reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, then sonship chastening takes the form of us being left to reap the fruit of that decision.


Keith Blades

Enjoy The Bible Ministries


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