This is Part 4 of 5 parts answering the question, “Why does God allow suffering for new creations?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 5 will be posted tomorrow.
Suffering May Be Divine Discipline to Restore to Holiness
The writer of Hebrews explained that Divine discipline is given to restore and develop holiness when he recorded,
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (Heb. 12:5-7 NKJ)
Just as human fathers practice discipline to restore their children, the Father of all those who have trusted Christ practices discipline to restore to a holy fellowship with His children,
9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.(Heb. 12:9-11 NKJ)
In order to avoid Divine discipline a Christian must humbly evaluate himself, and Paul addressed this responsibility when he wrote,
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:31-32 NKJ)
A Christian must confess his sins in order to restore fellowship intimacy with God. However, this may not remove the consequences that contribute to suffering, as when David confessed his sin of adultery and murder, but the sword never left his family. He is first required to agree with God regarding his sin, which will restore fellowship with Him IF it is a genuine, heart-motivated confession. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJ) That concept is further clarified in the admonition Paul wrote to the troubled church in Corinth who was having difficulty understanding what it “looked like” when a Christian confessed his sin,
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Cor. 7:9-11 NKJ)
There is a godly sorrow that moves in the soul of the believer that causes him to seek God’s presence, and verse eleven above describes seven characteristics that will be true. Its purpose is always to restore holiness in the believer’s life. This promise of forgiveness not a license to sin, but God’s grace to restore the believer to the holy presence of God’s fellowship and empowerment of His Spirit.