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Thursday: Loving the Truth — 26 Comments

  1. There are different ways to deny truth and sidestep obedience. One may say all we need is Jesus (the truth) or prayer (the avenue to truth). Some may rely on ‘prayer superstars,’ who supposedly know how to send up a prayer, to handle their case just to make sure they give themselves the best advantage of heavenly approval or favor.

    As a fact that matters the salvation or plea of none hinges on the prayer of another fallen mortal being. The prayer (pleading) which is indispensable is that of the One Mediator, Christ (1 Timothy 2:5), and this the Savior is willing to do for any who would sincerely call on Him.

    Still, the prayer of one who does not love the truth and engages in willing disobedience should not expect to be heard (Isaiah 1:15). Prayer is no substitute for obedience or cover for disobedience. When believers pray they might first ask for a submissive spirit, which will produce a love for the truth and a desire to do all that the Lord says (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Jesus cannot plead for any who stubbornly wishes to retain control of their own life and do as they please.

    By continued resistance to truth and obedience a barrier is erected between the sinner and the Savior. In this way obedience is linked to salvation. Willing disobedience eventually leaves one without a mediator, and therefore without salvation. In any case Jesus did not die to usher people into Heaven who are disposed to repeating the rebellion, having little regard for authority. The redeemed do not need to go through that again.

    It is best then to teach children and those to whom we witness to love the truth (Jesus and God’s Word) early and often, and encourage them in the way of obedience.

  2. The lesson author states: "Children, in fact, not only need discipline — they want it. They need to know that boundaries exist, and that they need to stay within them."

    I agree, but the questions I ponder are:
    1) what type of discipline and which boundaries?
    2) do these change depending on the age of the child?
    3) do we teach children that violence is the solution by spanking?
    4) why do some teenagers rebel when they leave home and others don't?

    • I believe that the aim of parents should be character development not only behaviour modification.
      The how will change depending on the developmental age but the why will be constant.
      It will be evident whether the parent has influenced the character or only the behaviour on the choices made by the young adult once he/she has ventured out on their own.

      • Shirley, I couldn't agree more. I have two sons, age 26 and 28, and they make me so very proud to call myself their mother. People are constantly telling me I did a good job with them, and I always say, with the help of the Lord, praise God! They are gentlemen in every sense of the word, and they both have a tangible relationship with our Father and Big Brother. I look forward to spending eternity with them and all my loved ones.

    • I'm always troubled by the various uses of the term "Discipline."

      When one attends an Equine or Canine show and watches the horse or dog go through his paces, does he sit on his bleacher exclaiming, "Wow! What a well punished animal?"

      Of course not, yet when we see a misbehaved child, we "think discipline" as punishment rather than what it actually is.

      When Jesus had 12 "Disciples" he had 12 students, followers of His "discipline" rather that "12 well punished men" attached to Him. Although, granted, there were times when they probably could have used a little coaxing from "the Rod!" The Rod, still, was a tool used in guidance rather than beating in general.

      I like the idea of "character development not only behavior modification." It was always our goal to teach our children to think for themselves, considering all the ramifications of their choices.

      Did it always work? It didn't with me, and it didn't with them. But with that "discipline" they learned from their mistakes more easily that they would have otherwise.

  3. Genuine worshipers of God should worship Him in truth and spirit through obedience to His Word that is Loving Truth. It is the submission to self and exalting the Creator of human kind. Loving God is keeping His commandments that is where our obedience to Him is manifested.

  4. Who did Jesus ever punish? That is, who did Jesus ever administer a noxious or painful stimulus to? Where are there examples in the Bible where hurting someone resulted in a durable behavior change?

    Israel never "learned" from its repeated punishments. I can think of no Biblical examples where hurting someone physically, caused them to change their behavior permanently.

    Think what you will of modern Psychology but it validates empirically that punishment (administering painful/noxious stimuli) does not lead to lasting behavior change. If it did, then criminals released from prison would be reformed and, sadly, the opposite is true.

    You cannot train a dog by beating it any more than you can train a child by hurting him/her.

    We should keep God's commandments out of love, not out of fear of punishment. Likewise, we should obey our parents out of love and respect, not out of fear of being hurt by them.

    The two great commandments (i.e., love God, love God's other children) in no way suggest that we should ever hurt people intentionally ("for their own good").

    • The author did not mention anything "physical" connected to punishment, and even though 'Punishment' seems like a harsh word, it is nevertheless an appropriate term for correction or wrong doing. Even though you mention that the children of Israel did not learn...I disagree. They did in some context... But it took them along time and many died on the way to the promised land. Although we have their history and example as 'Modern Israel' we ourselves are still learning and still making mistakes. There are rules and boundaries wherever you go...even in your own home. 'Correction in love' is always the best method, but a repeated and determined action from any parental point of view requires harsh words especially when their very lives are at stake. The devil is subtle in his devices to 'get' us and our children and tough words and other forms of punishment besides the physical method are sometimes necessary.

      • Seig, Are you suggesting that the various disciplines of Israel by God in the multiple captivities were exercises in futility? If not, for whom were they meted out? Are these included in those things that "were written for our admonition?"

        I'm reminded of Paul's counsel in Hebrews 12:5-8 (etc) where he tells us not to be concerned about the chastisement we receive from God because he "Chastens those He loves." and if we are not being chastened "we are bastards and not sons!"

        I will grant that we may be discussing Greek semantics in defining "chastening" but the "rod" text in Proverbs, with due consideration of the semantics, still stands as good counsel seeing it as a goad rather than a whip or cane!

        • HI Dan. I support discipline fully. Indeed, nonviolent discipline does work. It must be administered in love as God's discipline is.

          I detest violence. Using violence against our defenseless children is the worst form of barbarism. Can you imagine for a moment that Jesus would have ever physically harmed a child? Did He admonish? Yes. Did He chastise? Yes. Did he hit a child with a stick? Never!

          Did Israel learn anything from their punishments? I would suggest they became even more rebellious, hard-hearted and unteachable. Modern Israel has never been further from God and we should be earnestly praying for this fallen nation.

          Christians should be careful not to confuse "discipline" with acts of violence against others. This is the distinction I'm making. If we advocate violence as a means of influencing others, how are we different from radical Muslims who believe they are doing God's work by torturing/killing those who disagree with their ideology (even their own wives and children)?

      • He "made a whip of cords" but the record does not tell us that he hit anyone with it while he was swing it about, driving the money-changers from the temple grounds.

    • Our bodies are built to "punish" us if we do something wrong. Hit your finger with a hammer and most likely you wouldn't want to do that again. God designed our bodies to respond to pain messages that tell us that something is wrong. If it wasn't for pain then you'll leave your hand on the stove until it was cremated.

      Tell a child not to touch the stove because it is hot means nothing until they experience what "hot" means.

      We have to be careful that we do not try to fit the Bible into modern psychology instead of the other way around.

      Hebrews 12:7
      Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

      Deuteronomy 8:5
      Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

      Proverbs 3:12
      because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

      Proverbs 19:18
      Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

      Proverbs 22:15
      Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

      Proverbs 23:13
      Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.

      Proverbs 23:14
      Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

      Proverbs 29:15
      A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

      Proverbs 29:17
      Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.

      What about spanking?

      "Whipping may be necessary when other resorts fail, yet she should not use the rod if it is possible to avoid doing so. But if milder measures prove insufficient, punishment that will bring the child to its senses should in love be administered. Frequently one such correction will be enough for a lifetime, to show the child that he does not hold the lines of control." Child Guidance, p. 250.

      • Thanks for your comment Ray. There is a big difference between allowing a child to learn from their self-inflicted pain (e.g., burning their hand on the stove) and inflicting that pain intentionally. Would you really place your child's hands on a hot stove to teach him something?

        Veronica. Beating someone with a rod qualifies as physical punishment in my book. Indeed, if a parent decides to discipline their child in this manner and leaves a mark, they will be investigated for child abuse, face imprisonment (if severe harm is inflicted) and will find themselves on the child abuse registry which is hardly being a good witness for Jesus.

        Incidentally, King Solomon's parenting style didn't exactly work out too well for his son Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-24; 2 Chronicles 10 - 11).

        I think it is worth mentioning that some of the old testament laws resulting in the barbaric treatment of others (e.g., having one's children killed for defiant/oppositional behavior; stoning adulterers to death) are no longer practiced in modern culture. Beating our children with rods should be among these abandoned practices.

        Praise the Lord that He chooses mercy over justice.

        • Sieg,
          Can you clarify the reference to Solomon so as not to leave a wrong impression on the readership? Is it to say we should not take seriously what Solomon wrote about parenting in Proverbs and the rest of the Bible? Or was something else intended? This might be worth a little clarification.

          • Hi Hugh,

            My reference to Solomon was meant only to demonstrate that violence is not an effective tool for teaching (e.g., “my father {Solomon} chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” 1 Kings 12:11). After all, isn’t teaching the ultimate goal for our children? I am not even totally opposed to physical punishment if it is carried out in love and is used only after all other means of teaching have failed.

            A young child who is ready to run into traffic would benefit from an immediate and memorable "lesson" on the dangers of their behavior. That lesson may be physical in nature but shouldn't be violent.

            Discipline is critical in teaching our children right from wrong and in helping them develop righteous characters. Indeed, the lack of limits and discipline has lead to great harm in modern society as well as in ancient times. However, once we endorse the infliction of pain as a teaching tool, we cross a dangerous line. Our best example, Jesus, should be used as our Model for how to discipline others... in love.

            Many of the readers of this forum have, as children, been recipients of the violence I am opposed to and can testify that what they learned was to be afraid of their parents, that “might makes right” and that the infliction of pain is an acceptable way to influence others. Pain rarely draws us closer to the source of that pain. Instead, it repels us from and makes us fear and avoid that source.

            I think that Dan Kelly put it well (below). If we can interpret the "rod" as a form of loving discipline intended to teach a child rather than to induce pain, then I endorse it fully and I believe this was Solomon’s counsel, inspired by God.

            Finally, punishment and discipline are not necessarily the same thing. Discipline is meant to teach, punishment is the "wage" (consequence) of sin. Those who drowned in the flood, burned in Sodom and Gomorrah and died in the desert were not being disciplined but were being punished. The lost who will experience "the second death" will be punished, not disciplined. Semantics matter and Christians (followers of Christ) would be best served looking to Him as their Example. And that Example is one of love (mercy) over justice, love over punishment, love over pain… love over everything.

            While we may debate the effectiveness of Israel’s multiple punishments (they murdered their Savior after all), Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).

      • Ray,
        Good call! In this generation there is modern psychology, popular public opinion, private views, personal preference, 'clever spin,' civil laws, etc.; and then there is what scripture and spirit of prophecy actually say. Fortunately the believer's position need not be determined by a poll. Each may decide what he/she makes the reference point.

      • Often the disapproval of, or disappointment caused to, the parent is punishment enough in and of itself. I say this from the perspective both of a parent and a child. Neither discipline nor punishment need be corporal to be effective.

    • Please be clear.Do you want to mean that physical punishment is not necessary?
      Look around,Governments use these methods and sins continue to be done,but how would be the World if those punishments are removed?
      If a President of a Country,gat up and declare that all laws are removed during two weeks,who mess will be the country???Like wise the God's Commandments, The result is the curse and worse things we have today

  5. I have learned from a very early age to live within my needs. Yes we can strive for better and more but, we can also be content with what we have. As an adult, I am never envious of others. I taught those same lessons to my son.

  6. …17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him… (1John 3:17-19).

    The Love that is expected of us to express is not influenced by emotion, but it is the one which makes our Lord the centre of what we want to do to our fellow men. It is also the response to what God has done to us. God doesn't want to force us to love Him, instead He calls us to obey His Word by our freewill.

  7. What are some of the lessons you learned as a child that have stuck with you as an adult? How has that knowledge helped make your life better now?

    To not interrupt others who in conversation even tho others do not extend the same courtesies to myself. Because of this i have noticed when i get a chance to say something it is of the utmost importance and not just idol conversation.

  8. I have two young sons . In most cases i punish them by sending them off to do some work or sending them to bed. But when they do silly things intentionally, a good spanking once in a while brings dem back to their senses. At times i just sit them down and talk to them for i noticed too much punishment makes them rebellious. But am glad that with time they finally remember my good consel. I also give them biblical examples that show that God corrects or punishes those He loves. As a parent i think the degree of correction depends on the severity of the child's behaviour.

  9. Reviewing the comments it seems that the general discussion interprets "the Rod" as ONLY a tool for punishment. However the Hebrew word used in 29:15 is SHE-VET, (7626) with multiple meanings. It is a branch, a stick, a scion (for punishing, for ruling, for fighting for walking) a thrashing stick, a ruler's staff, a shepherd's staff, a scepter to name just a few.

    What if we were to interpret Solomon's use of the word as "a ruler's staff" rather than a punishing stick? Would that color our thinking in the least?

    While I agree that it is always best to "disciple" a child through a developed respect and love as opposed to a developed fear, I would agree that in extreme cases severe discipline - punishment - may be appropriate. Does this mean, as Seig Hoppe suggests, and is opposed to, striking a child to induce pain? Not at all. It means teaching via corporal means that leave a lasting impression - not scars!

    And, Israel DID learn from their captivity - discipline! It was after multiple excursions into captivity and their ultimate return after the Babylonian episode that, in the ensuing years, they caused the pendulum to awing far to the right through he writings of the Rabbis in the Mishna, expounding and expanding on the Torah until it made no sense at all when Jesus finally arrived on the scene. By that time, Seig, they had become so convoluted in their own "Discipline" "thinking they were doing God's service" that they were unable to recognize their own Messiah when he came to them.

    • Many of the comments and points of view do not consider the varieties of child sensibilities and behavioral patterns plus environmental and culture environments that exist. The appropriate method to deal with children that have radical behavioral problems is certainly different from a child that misbehaves occasionally. One method does not apply to all. An example is a relative of mine when he was a young teenager was an invincible child. When his mother would hit him for misbehaving he would say "hit me again". His siblings were girls with just the opposite disposition. Our hindsight is 20/20. We do the best we can and pray for God's guidance.

  10. I am in a love relationship with my Heavenly Father. As an ex-Sadventist I am currently experiencing life abundant. It wasn't always that way, in fact, there was a time when my religious life was the center of everything I did or thought. In this way I was worshipping another god, the god of fear. Today I understand that my Heavenly Father is with me always, He never leaves me nor forsakes me, I cannot flee from His presence and because of Jesus I don't ever want to. God is the same, He never changed, but now I also know that I can trust Him with my life and let go of self imposed religious ritual. Liberty would be the term that describes my Christian experience today. Christ has set me free to be mindful of Him and the love He has for all of His creation.


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