The Lord's Chastening - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 11. I would like for us to read this chapter, beginning with verse 17.

I Corinthians 11:

17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

Suffer this word of review so that we will all be starting off on the same footing as we think about this particular passage of Scripture. Some weeks ago, we began a discussion of the security of the believer, and we attempted to show to you from the Word of God that those verses of Scripture which seemed to contradict the security of the believer, when rightly interpreted, do not contradict the security of the believer, but rather strengthen that position from the Word of God.

Then we began to answer some questions that very naturally arise in our minds about this matter. If a person cannot lose his salvation, what can happen to him? We all recognize that rarely does our state of Christian living measure up to the standing that God has set for us. And we recognize that God, Who is a holy God and a just God and a righteous God, cannot ignore things that are not as they ought to be. He cannot smile at them. He cannot condone them. He cannot pass over them lightly. So what happens to a Christian if he cannot lose his salvation?

We began to notice several things that can happen to the child of God who does not lose his salvation. One of them, we said, was that the child of God could lose his fellowship, and a Christian out of fellowship with the Lord is in a sad and serious state indeed.

Then we noticed also that a Christian, who cannot lose his salvation, can lose his reward; that someday he can stand at the judgment seat of Christ, ashamed before God. He would give everything in his power if he could relive his life and undo what he has done, for to stand ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ is a serious thing indeed.

Then we began to think about the subject that gave rise to our noticing this passage of Scripture which we have just read—namely, that if a Christian cannot lose his salvation, a Christian can be, and will be, and must be chastened of the Lord, for God does not ignore that which displeases Him.

Problems In The Corinthian Church

We said there were a number of passages of Scripture that deal with the chastening of believers. We read chapter 11 of I Corinthians because in it there is a very good illustration of the need for chastening in the life of the believer and of what that chastening actually is.

In order that we might understand what was before us, we did look at the background of those verses that we wish to consider at this time. We pointed out to you the problem with which Paul dealt when he was writing this particular letter.

The Corinthian believers, we learned, as all believers of the early New Testament church, met for the purpose of remembering the Lord, as we do here each Lord's Day morning. That was always included in their period of worship. Their services were at night because most of them were slaves, and they brought their supper to church. This matter of kitchens in the church and eating in the churches isn't something new. It is as old as the New Testament church. I personally believe that the Spirit of God permitted a great number of problems to arise in the early church so that He might deal with them, and so that some teaching related to them might be written down, so that we who are living in the end of the age would have some definite writing to guide us.

So these folk gathered together to eat, and brought their wine with them, and some of them were gluttonous. They ate so much that they fell asleep. Others of them drank so much wine that they got drunk. Many of them were so selfish that they spread their food on their little table, and if anyone even looked like they wanted to share it, they became very indignant. And so there were heresies and divisions among them. The Apostle Paul said, “In this attitude—in this spirit— you've come to the Lord's table.” And he said, “I've praised you in a number of things, but I'm not going to praise you in this.” And he said another startling thing. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “it would be better if you didn't even meet. It would be better if you didn't have a service.”

Is there ever a time when you ought not to have a service in the name of the Lord? Well, Paul says if you are not going to do it to honor the Lord, you'd just as well not have it. If you're going to do it where it's a detriment to your spiritual experience, you had just as well not do it. He said, “It would be better for you not to come together if you're going to do this sort of thing.”

Then he emphasized, as we tried to lay before you in our last lesson, the importance of our gathering together around the Lord's table, as far as its significance is concerned, reminding us that if we drink of the fruit of the vine and eat of the bread unworthily, we are drinking condemnation to ourselves.

We pointed out to you that the word unworthily does not have anything to do with your worthiness. The very fact that we come to the Lord's table indicates that we are unworthy. We are saying that we are sinners, and Christ had to die for us. The phrase should be, “in an unworthy manner.” If you approach the Lord's table in an unworthy manner, then that is wrong. You are not properly discerning the Body and the Blood of the Lord, according to the Scripture. “That is wrong,” he said, “and if you continue in this practice, God is going to find it necessary to chasten you. If you do something about it, the chastening of God's hand will not fall.”

I would like for us to look at this matter of chastening as it deals with the subject at hand, and then I would like for us to broaden our thinking to the general subject of chastening, not primarily related to the Lord's Body.

Discerning The Lord's Body

The first thing that I would call to your attention is the use of the word judgment in this one paragraph. It is used several times over, translated in different ways in our English language. The original word, the basic word, that we are going to find used over and over again is the word krima in Greek. That word krima is going to be presented sometimes by itself. Sometimes it is going to be preceded by a preposition which will indicate the thoroughness or the kind of judgment in question.

As we look again at this paragraph, I would like to point out the English words which are the translations of this word with its various prepositions. Notice verse 29:

I Corinthians 11:

29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, [or, in an unworthy manner] eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Will you notice the word damnation . It is the translation of the noun krino . The verb form of this noun is krino . And if you will look at the word discerning , “not discerning the Lord's body,” you have the word krino preceded by the preposition dia . The word diakrino simply means “judging through.” And so the translators have used our word discerning , “judging thoroughly.”

What is he saying here? He is saying that if you approach the Lord's table in a manner that is unworthy, then you are causing God to judge you because you have not judged thoroughly the matter of approaching the Lord's table. In verse 30:

I Corinthians 11:

30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Here these two words, judge and judged , are the translation of the Greek word krima , without any preposition at all, which simply means that if we condemn ourselves, then we will not be condemned. In verse 32 we find the translation of this same word krima . “But when we are condemned, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Notice that word condemned . It is our same word krima , but it is preceded by the preposition katakatakrima , which means “to be judged again,” and it always involves the idea of a sentence being passed.

Judging Our Relationship With The Lord

With those thoughts in mind, let us notice what this paragraph actually says. It says that you and I are supposed to be judged, not of other people, but judged of ourselves. First, we are to judge thoroughly every relationship that we have with God. We are to examine very closely to see what our position is with the Lord.

For example, the Apostle Paul is going to say in this same letter sometime later to these same people, “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.” They were saying about Paul, “Why, he is not a real apostle. He is not true to God.” And he said, “Just give yourselves a little self-examination, not with the idea that one day you are saved, and the next day you are not. But,” he said, “examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. Know ye not that if Jesus Christ be not in you, ye are reprobates. You are disapproved, and God is not going to approve you.”

What does he mean by all that? Simply this: If you go around wondering if you are a Christian, if today you think you are and tomorrow you are not sure, if you go wondering if you are a Christian, examine yourself concerning your relationship to Jesus Christ. If the Lord Jesus Christ is living in your heart, then you are a child of God, so judge yourself a child of God accordingly.

Judging Our Prayer Life

We should be judging ourselves repeatedly in connection with our relationship to God. For example, we should be judging our prayer life consistently. We shouldn't just take it for granted. How many times Christians wake up suddenly to the fact that their prayer life is an empty thing, that it is not any more than a lot of words. And it is amazing. I never cease to be amazed at the way children can call your attention to this. This is but an illustration, but it is true.

I remember sometime back when the Lord used it to speak to my own heart. I don't even recall at the moment what I say when we say grace, but I do remember we had some guests, and I evidently added an extra line or two, perhaps led of the Spirit. I won't be dogmatic about that. Maybe I did say it for the benefit of the company that was there. But I do remember one of our children said, “Daddy, how come you prayed different today?” Out of the clear blue sky, “How come you prayed different today?” It had become such a form that they knew the exact words, and now Daddy was saying an extra line, and they wanted to know why. The Holy Spirit used that to convict my own heart of how easy it is for us to fall into a form in our praying. We need to be judging our prayer life to see to it that it is actually communion with the Lord, and not just some empty, repetitious words.

Judged Of The Lord

Remember, according to verse 31 of this chapter, if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. If we do it, the Lord won't have to do it. But if we don't do it, the Lord will.

Notice this next verse:

I Corinthians 11:

32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord…

Let me give you an illustration of what I mean. We can become very perfunctory in our praying, as I have suggested to you, and go right along, not concerned that our words are just “empty words.” And then some sudden tragedy is permitted in our lives, and we wake up to the fact that if we had been really in communion with the Lord, that would not have happened. The Lord had to permit that thing, as we say, to drive us to our knees. Well, when it happens, we might as well accept it as the chastening of the Lord.

Let me utter a word of caution here. It is necessary for us always to do this when we talk about the chastening of the Lord. Not everything that happens to you is God's chastening. Remember that. Don't jump to conclusions. As we will see before we are through, chastening is not always related to judgment. The word chastening itself means “child training.” Sometimes the Lord lets things happen to you, not because He is judging you, but because He is training you. He is training you for certain other things that need to be done.

We do that with our children, don't we? We train them about table manners. They may look on it as punishment sometimes, but we are not punishing them. We are training them. We are training them, perhaps in methods of study, and they may feel like it's punishment and wonder what you've got against them because you make them do it. But you don't have anything against them. You are not punishing them. You are training them. And just so, God treats us. We need to be constantly reminded that everything that happens is not judgment.

But by the same precept, we must be very careful not to dismiss things that happen. They might be the judgment of the Lord.

And since we are talking about chastening and talking about judgment today, that is all we are going to say about these other things. We just wanted you to keep that in mind so you wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Judging Our Testimony

We could go on and talk to you about other areas in which you should examine yourselves. What about your testimony? How long has it been since you have examined your life—judged thoroughly your life in the area of your testimony? Is your life a glory to God? Is it? Have you thought about it in some time? Is there something within your life, and within your experience, and within your practice that detracts from the glory of God? We should be consistently judging our lives, alert to anything in our lives that would detract from the glory of God and hinder the sphere of our testimony because if we do not judge it, God will. That's what He says here in this passage of Scripture. He will judge it, and when He judges, His judgment takes the form of chastening. That's what this passage of Scripture says.

A Christian may not lose his salvation, but a Christian very definitely will be chastened of the Lord in relation to judgment.

Not Condemned With The World

I want us to notice verse 32 for a moment:

I Corinthians 11:

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

The implication of that last statement is that it is impossible for God to judge against His children as He's going to judge the unsaved sometime. The word is katakrima , meaning “judge against.” It's impossible for God to pass sentence upon His children as He's going to have to pass sentence upon the world sometime. The Word of God very plainly says, “There is therefore now no condemnation [our same word here, no judgment] to those who are in Christ Jesus.” There is no judgment for them as far as the world is concerned, but if God can't judge us in relation to the world, He has to judge us as His children. And that is the reason for chastening in the life of the believer.

Chastening By Spiritual Weakness

Notice in verse 30 the kind of chastening, the kind of judgment, that God brings into the life of the believer. I'm not going to say to you that this is the only kind of judgment that God brings, but these three are mentioned in this particular portion of the Word.

I Corinthians 11:

30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

There are three things God does if He's going to judge the believer for something the believer himself refuses to judge. First, He brings weakness into his life. This word weak is not a word that refers to physical weakness. It is a word that literally means “impotency,” and it is related to spiritual things. God judges the Christian by permitting spiritual impotency to take charge of his life if there are things which the Christian himself will not judge.

This same idea is presented to us in the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. You'll remember that the Lord Jesus Christ in those letters would commend the church for the good things He could. Then He would call attention to the things that were wrong. Then He would say, “Repent, and do the first works. Repent, and do what you ought to do, or else I will come unto thee quickly and will take the candlestick, or the lampstick, out of its place.” The churches were presented as being a lampstand and scattered light everywhere. And He said, “If you don't make the things right that are wrong, I am going to take away your opportunity of witness. I am going to take away your chance of shedding the light. I'm going to take away your opportunity of being a blessing.”

The Apostle Paul had this same thought in mind when he said, “I keep my body under. I keep it under control, lest after having preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”—literally, “I myself should be laid on the shelf.” That is the judgment of God. It is a sad thing to recognize this day, but it is true. There are any number of God's dear children who have been laid on the shelf because there were things in their lives that they refused to judge, and God judged it by laying them on the shelf.

There is a concrete illustration in the life of the nation of Israel that is oft repeated in the historical section of the Old Testament and repeated in the Psalms as a lasting illustration—the rebellious heart of the children of Israel in not being satisfied in what God had planned for them—wanting their way instead of God's way. God was feeding them with manna, you will remember, and that manna was the “one-a-day vitamin” of the Old Testament. It had everything in it that they needed. They didn't need anything else. And God rained down that manna freely for them. They got tired of it. They said, “What we wouldn't give for some meat.” And God ignored it at first. He knew they had to do some adjusting. But they kept on and on and on, and finally their request became such that it was determined rebellion against the Word of God. And so God said, “All right, you can have meat.” And they went to sleep that night saying, “Oh, isn't it wonderful? God answered our prayer.” But they didn't stay long enough to hear the second sentence. God said, “You will have meat, but you will have so much of it, it will come out of your ears before you are through with it. You will be so sick of it before it's over.” And then He added that He gave them what their hearts desired, but He sent leanness into their souls. That was the judgment of God against them.

Don't always be sure because you get what you are praying for, particularly if you have to wart God about it. Don't be too sure that that's what God wants you to have. He may give it to you, but the leanness of soul is this weakness and impotency that we are talking about. There are many people today who are impotent, spiritually speaking, who will never be otherwise until they judge the thing that has brought on the impotency, and God is able to lift His chastening hand.

Chastening By Physical Illness

Another thing that is suggested to us in this verse of Scripture is that such people who are judged are sickly. That refers to physical sickness. Some physical sickness—notice what I am saying—some physical sickness is the judgment of God. Don't become despondent. Don't become one of those sad souls who believe that any time any kind of sickness occurs in his life, it is an indication that God is mad at him, and that God is punishing him. I think we should always consider it. When I broke my foot, someone said, “Well, what is God judging you for?” And I said, “Well, I've already asked myself that.” Seriously, for I always do this when anything unforeseen—anything unscheduled—happens in my life. I always get away with the Lord and say, “Lord, what is it? What is it?” I search my heart to see if there is anything in my life of which I am aware that is wrong. I don't mean to leave the impression with you that I'm perfect. I'm not. I'm full of faults, but I'm not talking about faults today. I'm talking about deliberate rebellion against God. If I search my heart and find there is no deliberate rebellion against God, then I dismiss the accident (if we may call it that for want of a better term) as the judgment of God. I accept it as the chastening of God. I accept it as the chastening of God in the sense that chastening is child training. I tell the Lord that He must have something for me to learn because of it, and I ask Him to make me alert for whatever lesson He wants to teach me in relation to it.

If you take that attitude concerning anything, it is profitable. The first few days after the accident in which I broke my foot, the pain was terrible, but the most irritating thing I think I have ever had to endure, humanly speaking, was that cast on my leg. The reason I am mentioning that is that I am not going to say to you that once you ask the Lord to profit by these things, that there is no more pain—there is no more suffering, there is no more irritation. I don't mean that. But it is amazing how it puts you in a learning position, and the Lord teaches you many things.

This is a minor thing. Some of you know much, much more about suffering than I will ever know, but I'm using this as an illustration. So don't think when we use the word sickly here that it is always God's judgment, but remember this: Sometimes God puts people flat on their backs because there are sins in their lives that they will not acknowledge, and the only way for them to get up is to acknowledge them.


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