Dazed and Confused
by James Bonney
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9.
“Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” John 15:2b.
“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...” Hebrews 12:5-6.
If you are a parent you know that discipline, and persistent teaching, can be hard and often times misunderstood by our kids. A recent swimming lesson with my daughter made this concept very clear for me. That particular lesson was on ‘how to put your whole face under the water.’ Not long into the lesson, we were asked to leave the pool...you can imagine how that went. This situation reflects a true reality of how we often feel towards God. Let me elaborate.
It is easy to mistake the emotions and feelings of God’s work in us as coming from a God who is disappointed or even punishing us. Even worse, we allow our hearts to equate the sanctifying work of God with a lack of finished work, believing we must not be saved. We often associate the convictions of the Holy Spirit – which are meant to lead us to Jesus – with a lack of having Jesus. The Father’s discipline is not because He is displeased, but rather it is a loving work of God drawing us closer to Him.
Our struggle with sin or depression is not due to a deficiency of righteousness. In his book, What Jesus Demands From the World, John Piper brings light to this by saying,
Consider carefully that the love the Father has for the Son is not a merciful, forgiving love. The Son has no sin and no flaw. He needs no mercy. The love the Father has for the Son is nothing but infinitely joyful admiration and fellowship. This is what Jesus says will be in us.
This is the truth – we are in Jesus. When God looks at us He sees His own son reflecting back to him and is well pleased.
When God is at work it will hurt sometimes, and often shows us how sinful we truly are. But don’t be dazed and confused at the wonderful work of God. Don’t confuse God’s discipline and pruning in your life with that of an unloving father or associate it with a lack of salvation. Hebrews 12:11 says, “ 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.”
As we struggle with sin, it will feel hard, but remember “It is Christ’s work that saves not ours...Be careful, then, not to attribute your continuing sinfulness or moments of depression to a lack of salvation…You are no less justified [right with God] the moment of your salvation than you are ten minutes or ten years later...” (Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness).