Have you seen a kid ever completely disobeying her parents? Mark recently took a family class from Southern Seminary and came back with a story about blatant disobedience. It all began when a mom told her small daughter not to touch a coffee table. After hearing this, the little girl walked over to the coffee table, reached out her small hand and touched it. Disobedience #1. Not only did she touch it, she proceeded to climb on top of the coffee table. Disobedience #2. About that time the parent said, “Honey, don’t stand on the coffee table!” The little girl continued to stand on the table, and soon began to jump up and down on top of it. Disobedience #3 and #4.
As I think about disobedience, I often find that I am like that little girl jumping on the coffee table. When God asks me to do something, I often times willingly separate myself from Him, and choose to sit “in darkness and in the shadow of death”? I choose to be a prisoner in affliction and in irons. I don’t listen to my wise Father, I rebel against the words of God and spurn the counsel of the Most High (Ps. 107:10-11).
Because I come against the revelation of God, and disobeyed Him, I face the shadow of death which literally means “deep darkness.” As I say “no” to God, it is like chains of sin begin to bind my hands and feet. It is as if I have put on a cloak of darkness, for I conceal sin in my heart. Ignorantly walking my own path, I stroll in blindness and chaos because I have forsaken the path of righteousness (Pr. 2:13). In my state of disobedience, I find that “the way of the wicked is like deep darkness” (Pr. 4:19a).
When that little girl started jumping on the coffee table after being told not to even touch it, I would expect her parents to discipline her. It is the same with the Lord: if I choose to sin and find myself walking in darkness, I should expect the Lord to begin to discipline me. I can’t keep living in disobedience on the coffee table.
God’s Right To Discipline:
First, I must know that God has the right to discipline me because He is my Father. Hebrews 12:5b-6 says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved my him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives.” As a child of God, I must accept the discipline from my Father.
Second, the Lord has the right to discipline me because “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is perfect, and that means His discipline will be perfect.
It is God’s kindness that “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Mt. 4:16). God is not content to leave me in my darkness! Because Jesus is the light of the world, “Whoever follows [Him] will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).
Third, the Lord has the right to discipline me because He has unfailing love for me. The Lord is good, and “His steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1b). I will find myself in darkness when I disobey God’s word, but the Lord will not leave me there because of His steadfast love. Psalm 89:30-33 says, “If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness.” I thank the Lord for His steadfast love, “for his wondrous works to the children of man!” (Ps. 107: 15).
Why God Disciplines Me:
God has the right to discipline me, yet I may ask myself, why does He discipline me? I have found that the Lord disciplines me for at least 5 reasons.
First, He disciplines me for His glory. Psalm 23:3 says, “He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Second, God allows me to be miserable in my sin so that I will bear fruit. Although discipline is unpleasant it “later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12: 11b).
Third, He not only wants me to bear fruit, but He wants me to share in His holiness. Like the parents of the little girl jumping on the coffee table, God knows what is good for me, and He wants me to be more like Jesus. Hebrews 12:10b says, “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.”
Fourth, God disciplines me because He wants it to go well with for me (Jer.7:23). God has a plan for my life, and He wants me to have a promising future. The Lord wants me to obey Him, because His words have a plan of hope for me (Jer. 29:11). When God makes a plan it will not be thwarted (Job 42:2), therefore I will be disciplined.
Fifth, God disciplines me because He wants to satisfy my deepest longing. Psalm 107:9a says, “He satisfies the longing soul.” When I rebel against the Word of the Lord, I am trying to satisfy myself. Yet it is when my soul is satisfied in God that I will be able to say “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34). I believe each soul truly longs for that.
When I hear the Word of the Lord, I always have a decision to make. I can willingly separate myself from God and rebel against Him, and therefore choose to sit “in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Ps. 107:10-11). Or I can choose to obey the Lord.
The Lord is faithful to “hem me in” even if I walk in disobedience (Psalm 139:5). He “devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast” (2 Samuel 14:14). This is God’s kindness toward me—to lead me to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Therefore I should heed the words of Jesus, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17b).
So how do I obey the Lord? How do I respond with desperation for the Lord? How do I stop jumping on the coffee table?
First, I must cry out. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart” (Ps. 107: 13-14).When I cry out to the Lord He hears me. He delivers me. He brings me out of darkness. Even though I am in trouble, He breaks away my chains. Even if I feel like my present circumstances are impossible, Jesus is right when he said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26b). I must cry out to God!
Second, God does not want me to continue down a destructive path; therefore, I must heed the word of the Lord. “As it is said, Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:15). God wants me to listen to His voice for at least two reasons: 1) to heal me, and 2) to deliver me. Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” God’s word has the power to heal and to deliver me; therefore, I should obey His Word so “that it may be well with [me]” (Jer. 7: 23b).
Let’s quit living life in disobedience on the coffee table! Let’s start obeying God.
“Whoever is wise let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord” (Ps. 107:43).