30 ¶ The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
Christians often need chastisement and correction to overcome their stubbornness. I know that to get me to the point where I was able to receive anything God had for me I had to be dragged down the street and slammed off both curbs, fighting and shouting all the way.
You’ve heard of being beaten black and blue, well, here’s what it’s talking about. God does have to chastise us at times because we are so naturally rebellious. Physical discipline can change a man’s mind about the evil he constantly plots and it can drive it not only from his flesh but his mind, as well.
Proverbs 15:10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
God pointed this out to His people long before Christ’s first advent. Even though Eliphaz wrongly stated that Job was being punished for something in his suffering and God later called him on that error, the statement below is itself true;
Job 5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
And earlier in Proverbs it was stated;
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
To the Hebrews it is said;
Hebrews 12:4 ¶ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 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: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 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? 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. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
The Hebrews were told when the Law was given;
Deuteronomy 8:5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
But what about Christians, you say? How does this apply to us? In reference to the early Christians during the time of the apostles misusing the Lord’s Supper Paul says;
1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
But don’t make the mistake of Job’s friends and assign every trouble and tribulation to the cause of chastisement. We will have trouble in this world. I believe you’ll know when you’re being corrected and disciplined by the Lord. Christians who have a close walk with Christ tend to get caught rather quickly when they deliberately mess up, when they sin willingly. God takes the lid off their error quicker rather than later. In fact, from reading the Bible I get the impression that the longer God takes to correct you that two reasons can be concluded; one, that He is giving you plenty of time to repent and turn back or, two, you aren’t saved and your sin will find you out in time.
The most amazing way he corrects the Christian, though, is through His words in the Bible.
2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Remembering the power of the Bible has, the Holy Spirit tells us and the Hebrews as history nears its end;
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
I have pointed out many times that simple Bible reading can change you. This is the best way of correction. It is certainly less painful than the “blueness of a wound” and “stripes”. As the Reformers pointed out, simply by reading the Bible each day in as large a dose as you can take will permit God to remove specific sins from your heart like a surgeon with a scalpel removes a tumor.
This is a lesson that has been forgotten by many Christians today as Bible literacy and reading have gone down. Even Fundamentalists who say they believe the Bible literally is true don’t really believe its power. There are those who will say to you, well, you have to obey it. That’s not even what I’m talking about. That’s a totally separate issue, say, reading the Ten Commandments and seeking to obey them. In fact, whenever we try to comply with God apart from the power of His word on our lives that obedience is usually just superficial, based on your will and good intentions.
One of our country’s most esteemed founders put it like this, as he tried to do right;
Ben Franklin says in his autobiography as reported starting on page 43 in the book about the American Revolution Angel in the Whirlwind by Benson Bobrick that he had conceived the;
“arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time, and to conquer all that either natural inclinations, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found that I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my attention was taken up, and employed on guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, and that contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct.”
So, he drew up a list of 13 standards he was going to go by with accompanying instructions, the last of which was humility where he would imitate Jesus and Socrates. (Notice modern Bible versions have Paul wanting you to imitate him, not follow him in 1 Corinthians 4:16.) However, among those standards Chastity had no instructions after it. So, Dr. Franklin was never chaste and spent much of his free time in brothels, fathered an illegitimate child in his many scandalous affairs even in old age, and told his son that he was fortunate not to have caught a disease. So much for your own attempts to do right, huh? Of course, Ben Franklin wasn’t a saved man and you say, but I have the power of God in me. Yes you do.
So, let me just take one step further. Many of you were good people by the world’s standards before you were saved. You were kind, decent, and wanted to do right, within certain limits, but you had done wrong and you did come to realize, with the Holy Spirit’s help, that you were sinners in need of the Saviour. But, some of us weren’t ever good people. Let me throw this out to you. Some people have no capacity within their own flesh to obey God. I know that’s a shocker to you. How can a person be saved and not have the ability to obey, say, the Ten Commandments or The Golden Rule if they have the Holy Spirit? Some even say that if you don’t turn from sin as soon as you’re saved you aren’t saved. I didn’t even know what a third of my sins were when I first believed and trusted Christ. I had sins thrown at me after I got saved that I had never even heard of before I got saved. I didn’t even know that some of the sins lying deep and dormant within me even existed. My surgery was a long operation and we are still in the operating theater and the surgeon is still cutting.
Some Christians are completely dependent upon God changing them through His word and the Holy Spirit within them working together and cannot change themselves. You see, we give really lame advice to new Christians. We tell them to do right. Stop drinking. Stop doing drugs. Stop looking at porno. Stop smoking. They go, how? I’ve tried every AA group and self help session I could get into and I can’t. I don’t have it within my capacity to stop. If I could stop doing what I know is wrong I probably wouldn’t be here. We say, pray. Okay, I pray all the time. Nothing’s happening. God wants to speak to you. God delivered me from alcohol, a lust for horror movies, and a number of other things I dare not say in public, by simply reading His word, and, of course, believing it was His word.
This isn’t magic or rocket science. It’s not preceded by trumpets and choirs of angels. You likely won’t hear thunder or fall on your face weeping hysterically so it doesn’t appeal to many people who are looking for an emotional high. It’s not a new thing but was well known by the men and women of the era of the Reformation. In fact, a profane philosopher of the 1600’s, Thomas Hobbes, says in his book Behemoth due to the widespread Bible reading of his time and his disdain for God dealing personally through individuals, “…every man, every boy and wench, that could read English, thought they spoke with God Almighty, and understood what he said…”. How about that for a Christian testimony for a nation?
True, you must desire to obey God. True, you must study the Bible. True, you must pray; praising God, confessing your sins and faults, thanking Him for His mercy, and pleading with Him for the things that concern you. True, you need to hear good preaching, lest you start wondering off course, and fall into wild heresies, and good preaching will convict you of sin and bring you to the front wanting to do right. You need to physically serve in some way; perhaps you have a function in the church whether it is cleaning the toilet or helping seat visitors, knocking on doors, leading a Bible Study, or preaching when asked, or all of the above. But, you are missing out on the healing power that comes from God’s word when you don’t come to it expecting and desiring that God will change you through it AS YOU READ IT.
Bishop Becke, writing in the foreword of a 1551 reprint of the Matthews Bible, a precursor of the King James;
“If people would spare an hour a day for reading it, they would soon abandon blasphemy, swearing, carding, and dicing! They would put away all pride, prodigality, riot, licentiousness, and dissolute living.”
I’m not a good person. I’m not perfect, as in complete, which Paul talks about, yet. I have faults and sins many. You might not even like me. You might be thinking right now that you know what I think at times and that it’s not good. You might disapprove of me. But, I’m telling you that God has done things to me through His word that can’t be explained in any other way than that Thomas Cranmer, William Tyndale, and their ilk were 100% correct. If you want to keep God from having to spiritually and physically “beat you black and blue” to drive evil from your outside and inside then I strongly suggest you follow their prescription. And, by the way, they weren’t perfect either.
Here are the seven keys that Gail Riplinger has laid out in her book In Awe of Thy Word to experience the power of God’s word in your DAILY LIFE. It’s going to include, not just reading, but study as well as memorization. But, its important to have these things in your head when you read.
Key 1. Fear God; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Thomas Cranmer said, “Flesh is a cloud before the soul’s eye…” In a book about one of the early English versions of the Bible called The Great Bible, about Cranmer’s forward it is written, “Therefore, says he, the fear of God must be the first beginning and, as it were, an …introduction to all them that shall enter to the very true and most faithful knowledge of the scripture.”
Key 2. Believe the Bible is the very word of God; “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89). Hold up your Bible. Do you believe you have the words of God in your hand? Jesus said that every word was important for life in Luke 4:4 and Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. Do you believe that He was telling you the truth? Translator and martyr, William Tyndale compared the Bible to a “precious jewel,” whose “value” must be recognized and whose words must be believed to benefit the reader; doubts cast upon the words of God are as firebrands, melting men of straw, said he. William Thorpe, when questioned during his imprisonment, said, “Men and women here in the earth, touched Christ, and saw him, and knew his bodily person, which neither touched, nor saw, nor knew his Godhead, right thus, Sir, many men now touch, and see, and write, and read the Scriptures of God’s law, which neither see, touch, nor read effectually, the gospel. For, as the Godhead of Christ (that is, the virtue of God) is known by the virtue of belief, so (is) Christ’s word..”
Key 3. Be Humble; “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” (Psalm 25:9) What does it mean to be meek? Do a word search. Meekness toward God’s will and toward God is the meekness spoken of in the Bible.
Read Matthew 11:25. Tyndale reminded us that, “remembering that as lowliness of heart shall make you high with God, even so meekness of words shall make you sink into the hearts of men. Nature giveth age authority, but meekness is the glory of youth, and giveth them honour.”
In one edition of the Great Bible we are advised to have the Holy Spirit as our instructor.
“I think it necessary that thou play not the sluggard following the example of the unprofitable drone bee, who liveth only by the honey that the diligent bees gather. But contrary wise, be thou a good bee, search for the sweet honey of the most wholesome flowers of God’s holy word. And in all this give over thy self to the teaching of God’s holy spirit, who instructeth none but the humble spirited and such as seek reformation of their own mis-living and all such he instructeth to the full, making their hearts a meet (worthy) temple for him to dwell in..”
Key 4. Pray; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
When was the last time you prayed for wisdom? For God to give you light from His word? What did Jesus promise about the Holy Spirit in John 14:26?
In 1538 the Bishop of London felt that study without prayer was like lungs without air-no life. “By devout prayer he shall attain, percase, as much or more, as by study or learning, for without prayer the words will little prevail. Look in Christ’s life, and thou shalt find in every thing he went about, he prayed..”
Martyr Hugh Latimer said that worldly wise men are the least likely sources of wisdom and knowledge. Prayer and a willing heart will prevail;
“You shall prevail more with praying, than with studying, though mixture be best…For in the first we must stand only to the Scriptures, which are able to make us all perfect and instructed unto salvation, if they be well understood. And they offer themselves to be well understood only to them, which have good wills, and give themselves to study and prayer: neither are there any men less apt to understand them, than the prudent and wise men of the world.”
Key 5. Desire to Obey: “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.” (Psalm 119:100)
Tyndale said Christians are to “submit themselves unto the word of God, to be corrected.”
“It is not enough therefore to read and talk of it only, but we must also desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel wherefore [for what reason] the scripture was given, that we may apply the medicine of the scripture, every man to his own sores…This comfort shalt thou evermore find in the plain text and literal sense. As thou readest therefore think that every syllable pertaineth to thine own self.” Give example of Canaanites and Hebrews.
Key 6: Meditate on Memorized Scripture: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.” Psalm 119:99
Thomas Cromwell, martyr and Henry VIII’s secretary of state, had memorized the entire New Testament.
Adam Wallace, the night before he was burnt at the stake sang the entire book of Psalms by heart to his jailers as they had taken away his Bible.
Joan Waste, a blind girl, purchased a New Testament with money she earned from knitting. She would pay people a penny or two to read the Bible to her so she could memorize it. They burnt her at the stake at the age of 22.
Nicholas Ridley, before he was burned, had his family memorize a large part of the Bible.
Rather than television or your rap and rock CD’s Tyndale would admonish parents;
“Thou shalt buy them wholesome books, as the holy gospel, the epistles of the holy apostles, yea both the New Testament and Old Testament, that they may understand and drink of the sweet fountain and waters of life. Bring thy children to the church, to hear the sermon; and when thou shalt come home, thou shalt ask them what they have kept in memory of the sermon.”
Key 7: Read the Bible again and again: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Ephesians 3:4
Cranmer’s Prologue to the Great Bible says;
“Peradventure, they will say unto me” how and if we understand not that we read, that is contained in the books. What then? Suppose, thou understand not the deep and profound mysteries of scripture, yet can it not be, but that much fruit and holiness must come and grow unto thee by the reading: for it cannot be that thou shouldest be ignorant in all things alike. For the Holy Ghost hath so ordered and tempered the scriptures, that in them as well publicans, fishers, and shepherds may find their edification. Who is there of so simple wit and capacity, but he may be able to perceive and understand them? These be but excuses and cloaks for the raiment, and coverings of their own idle slothfulness, I cannot understand it. What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read, nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest keep it well in memory; that thou understandest not, read it again and again. And I doubt not, but God seeing thy diligence and readiness will himself vouchsafe with his Holy Spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee….Every man should read by himself at home in the mean days and time, between sermon and sermon. Take the book in hand, read, weigh, and perceive. When ye be at home in your houses, ye apply yourselves from time to time to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. Let no man make excuse and say: ‘I am busy. It is not for me to read the scriptures.”
Read the Book.