Why do we Suffer? “Consequences of Sin”
Suffering has many causes.
1. We live in a fallen world filled with fallen people.
2. We live in a cursed world.
3. We suffer the consequences of our own sin.
There’s something irritating about suffering because of my own actions, yet it happens – all too often I’m afraid. I don’t watch where I’m going and I run into something. I don’t write down an appointment and I miss it. But sometimes it goes even deeper. Sometimes our suffering is discipline for sin.
Just as we discipline our children, God disciplines us. Hebrews 12 tells us about God’s discipline. It says,
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” (vv. 5-9)
We endure God’s discipline because we are His children. If you have never experienced the discipline of God, then you probably aren’t a child of His. How does God discipline us? Sometimes He allows us to experience the direct consequences of our sin. We get caught in a lie. Our marriage suffers because of an affair. We get a ticket for speeding. These are all directly related to the sin we committed. Sometimes it’s a pricking by the Holy Spirit, a conviction that we were in the wrong, and we need to do something about it. The Bible even says that sometimes illness can be a punishment for sin.
I want to be perfectly clear. Not ALL illness is a punishment for sin. Sometimes illness is because of living in a cursed world. In fact, I would say that most of the time it’s the result of the curse rather than a discipline of God. I believe that a person who is suffering an illness as a discipline knows exactly what it’s for. Why? Because when I discipline my children, I don’t make them guess if they’re being disciplined or why. I tell them exactly what they did that caused them to be in the situation they find themselves, because discipline is for teaching. They’re not going to learn how to correct their behavior if they are left guessing as to why they’re being disciplined or if they are even being disciplined. Also, I don’t discipline them for something they did five years ago or even a week ago. They are disciplined for something they did now. I believe God works the same way. He doesn’t dig deep into our past for something to discipline us for. If you’re being disciplined for something, I don’t think you have to dig very deep to discover why. If I’m a fallen, human parent who tries to fairly discipline my children, how much more fair is God who is by nature a just God?
So why does God discipline us? Does He enjoy causing us to suffer? Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us exactly why God disciplines. “For they [earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Our earthly parents disciplined us to train us, and that’s exactly what God does as well. He is training us for holiness, to be set apart for Him. Yes it’s painful, but we get to experience the fruit of righteousness later because of it. His discipline grows us to be more like Him, and as a Christian that is our ultimate goal – to be so Christ-like that He is seen through us.
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