Like any good father, God only disciplines His children when they are disobedient. Any time we disobey Him, we are in danger of suffering His discipline. The Lord is very merciful, however, and He normally gives us ample time to repent. His discipline usually comes after our repeated acts of disobedience and His repeated warnings.
How does God discipline us? As we learned in a previous chapter, God’s discipline may come in the form of weakness, sickness or even premature death:
For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:30-32).
We shouldn’t automatically conclude that all sickness is a result of God’s discipline (the case of Job comes to mind). If sickness does strike, however, it is wise to do a spiritual checkup to see if we may have opened the door to God’s discipline through disobedience.
We can avoid God’s judgment if we judge ourselves—that is, acknowledge our sin and repent. It would be logical to conclude that we would candidates for healing once we have repented if our sickness is a result of God’s discipline.
By means of God’s judgment, Paul said that we actually avoid being condemned along with the world. What did he mean? He could only have meant that God’s discipline leads us to repent so that we ultimately aren’t sent to hell with the world. This is difficult to accept by those who think holiness is optional for those on the way to heaven. But for those who have read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, they know that only those who obey God will enter His kingdom (see Matt. 7:21). Thus, if we persist in sin and don’t repent, we risk forfeiting eternal life. Praise God for His discipline that leads us to repent and saves us from hell!