What a contrast between bastards and sons.
A bastard is an illegitimate child. From the point of view of those who are responsible for his existence, he shouldn’t have been born, his existence testifies of sin. From his own point of view he is a misfit, he doesn’t belong in the home. There are such spiritual bastards. Jesus spoke of the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,” John 8:44.
A son is quite different. He is born to parents who not only have a right to receive him, but also want to receive him. “Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them,” Ps. 127:5. God has received us into His family as sons. We are born into this family by the Holy Spirit. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father,”Heb. 4:6. This birth follows the marvelous act of adoption, whereby God deals with spiritual bastards, and makes us legally His own sons. “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. 4:4, 5.
The burning question is, how can we know whether we are sons or bastards?
The answer is given in Heb. 12:6-8: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
We must be careful that we do not draw the wrong conclusions from this passage. There are bastards who have plenty of afflictions in their lives. There are some sons who do not know sickness and troubles. The mere fact that a person has or does not have physical troubles does not establish sonship.
The important question here is this: what is the chastisement which all sons receive and bastards do not receive?
Chastisement involves four things. First, it deals with sin and evil (verse 5 speaks of rebuke, which assumes wrong committed). Second, in dealing with this wrong, pain is inflicted (verse 6 speaks of scourging, which for the present is not joyous but grievous, verse 11). Third, it corrects the evil that was present, (verse 10 speaks of profit, and verse 11 says that it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness). Finally, it is an act of love, (verse 6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth”).
God never places this chastisement upon bastards. Those who continue to walk as their spiritual father the devil receive only judgment and wrath from the God who destroys them.
Chastisement is proof of being a son of God. No son is without it.
How is this so?
The answer is that chastisement comes in a twofold way. First, it comes as a divine scolding and warning. Words forcefully but lovingly spoken to a wayward child constitute chastisement. For many a child this is more meaningful than a spanking. With God this is also true. There is more: God also in the second place adds correction by afflicting the body and troubling one’s life. Many indeed are the afflictions of the righteous. The groans, cries, and complaints of God’s people speak directly to this. It is obvious then, “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,” verse 8.
The fact that God comes to you with His Word and deals with you in your life correctively, is proof that you are a son of God.
There is more, however; we must yet address ourselves to our response to this chastisement.
A bastard sometimes hears God’s Word of correction and rebels against it by refusing to repent of sin and follow God’s pathway. Likewise when the Lord sends affliction, he tries to escape from them and will not be humbled low, but despises them, verse 5. A son responds differently, he knows the importance of being admonished; he knows that he needs correction, and that all God’s dealings are for his good. He endures chastening, verse 7. By the indwelling Spirit of sonship, we continually cry, Abba, Father.
There is one more gem that we must see here. “For whom the. Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” verse 6. Children of God who seem to receive more chastisement than other children of God may conclude from this that God wants such children to be very close to Him, that He may receive them in a greater measure. Generally this is true; the sons with the greatest measure of chastisement are closer to God than the others.
What a blessing!
Chastisement is not penal, it is loving correction that yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet,” verses 12, 13.
Chastisement is proof of sonship.