There are two forces that regularly occur in the Christian’s life that are often misunderstood and can even be confused with one another: testing and correction.
- Testing—is something God allows to strengthen our faith and build our spiritual character.
- Correction—comes from God to bring repentance and change to our life for righteousness.
It is vitally important that we learn to distinguish between God’s testing and God’s correction, which the Bible calls chastening. Testing requires us to endure the test with faith. Correction requires humility and repentance to bring about needed change.
An example might be… that testing requires faith to bring your life into agreement with God’s word. A test may take the form of sickness, lack, broken relationship, etc. All of these have a spiritual answer in God’s Word. In other words, the enemy is applying stress and pressure—even temptation—for you to accept something in your life that you know is not in agreement with God’s Word. This requires a fight of faith in what God has said, it requires enduring to the end of the battle until victory is accomplished. Spiritual warfare will be needed, and faith and endurance will most definitely be needed. At the end of this battle, you will be stronger, more faith-filled, you will have developed more spiritual character, and have a testimony to share.
Correction is more intimate and personal. If there is something in your life that is displeasing to God and harmful to you the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your heart to address this unrighteousness. It could be an attitude, thought process that is ungodly. It could be insensitivity to God or someone else. Possibly it is unforgiveness, or a false doctrine. Maybe it’s a habit that you’ve excused but God is not excusing it. There are any number of things that can need to be cleaned out of our lives because they rob us of peace and joy, and create a hinderance between us and God. We each have the ability to humble ourselves and repent, and gain freedom through Jesus Christ.
Job 7:17-18 tells us that God visits us every morning and tests us every moment. Our life is in a constant state of evaluation and testing. Why does God test us? To determine our value and reveal our worth. We discussed this in more detail in last week’s message called: When You Are Tested.
It certainly is important to understand the difference between testing and chastisement. Because if God is trying to correct, and you think it is Satan attacking, you may fight against the correction and not benefit from what God’s intends for you.
Many Christians assume that once they are born again, they are exempt from God’s chastisement (correction). Hebrews tells us a different story. Too often Christians have a misconception of what being a child of God is all about.
“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; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” Hebrews 12:5-7.
In this Scripture we learn that being corrected is an ongoing part of our relationship with our Father God. Much like a parent who lovingly corrects their young child when they see them doing something that is dangerous or damaging. Likewise, we are being corrected by a loving heavenly Father who wants the best for us.
When we commit our life to Jesus, we are no longer running the show. We have been bought with the high price of Jesus’ death. We willingly give Him ownership of our life and allow Him to use our life for His purpose.
It is an exchange. Our life for His life in us. We inherit salvation and eternal life in exchange for recognizing Jesus as our Lord and Savior and submitting to His Lordship.
According to Romans 9:10 there are two essential conditions for salvation: 1) to believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead; and 2) to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.
When we confess Jesus as our Lord, we are giving Him unrestricted control over our entire life—our time, our money, our relationships, our talents, and our actions. We can’t simply believe and not confess. And the deeper meaning of confession in this Scripture is to take outward action in agreement with what we believe in our heart. Not to simply use empty words but to commit to live in agreement with what we believe.
I see people who profess to be Christian but still maintain control over their own life, giving God little or no control. They talk about being saved, but, are denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We need to understand that redemption means we have been purchased from the fallen kingdom of Satan, and the price has been paid by Jesus for us to be reinstated into God’s kingdom.
Once we accept the gracious gift of salvation, we must submit ourselves every minute of every day to God’s will for our life. We belong to Him—not in name only but we are fully His. Now God takes over to guide us, correct us (to keep us on a path of righteousness); and to test us (to grow our faith and develop in us spiritual endurance), so that we are useful for His purposes. He molds us through His love and management of our life, to produce kingdom fruit and grow in righteousness.
Consider the following example… of how we are to live in submission to the Lord, as David did when he prayed the following words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:24-25. David is submitting himself to God and asking God to test him… to correct anything that is displeasing… and to lead him in God’s eternal ways.
What God reveals to us when we spend time in submission to Him, asking for His direction, will determine how we respond. But we must give Him permission to correct.
Our response to chastening should be to repent. Our response to testing should be to endure.
If we take the time to inquire of the Lord when faced with a trial, and listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, He will make clear to us if we are facing the need to repent and correct or a to endure the test of our faith.
If we persist in trying to endure when we should repent, we are guilty of insensitivity and stubbornness. We are in fact adopting a position of resisting the devil when we should be submitting to God. The root character problem that is exposed when we do this is: pride.
If we are unwilling to submit to Christ’s ownership, we must ask ourselves… are we truly redeemed?
In Psalm 19:12-13, God reveals that we do not understand ourselves accurately and we need the Holy Spirit to help us. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.”
Secret faults are not secrets we necessarily keep from other people, but most often… are secrets we keep from ourselves—faults in our own character that we resist seeing. Usually, we excuse them away or are so comfortable with them that we don’t want to let them go. Too often we assume that our conduct is acceptable to God, when in reality, He is offended by it.
Grace certainly covers sin when we transgress unwillingly, but grace is a gift of God toward those who are motivated to walk in agreement with Him and His Word. It is not something to be used to hide behind. God is continually desiring to grow us into the person He created us to be. We were each created for an eternal destiny which we can only fulfill if we allow God to train us.
If we do not submit ourselves before the Lord with a willingness to have unrighteousness exposed, then there is no way to repent of what we don’t acknowledge. That lack of repentance keeps us in bondage and limits what God can do in and through our life.
Take the time daily to submit yourself before the Lord—the One who purchased you with His blood—and ask Him to search your heart. Then be willing to listen to what He has to say. What a wonderful thing it is to be in conversation with the God who created all things and who has a wonderful plan for YOUR life.
With God nothing is impossible!
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