Verses 18, 19, 20, and 21 all come together to form
a picture of the spiritual life. Verse
18 shows the vast blessings that are available.
Verse 19 requires you to change your attitude. Verse 20 calls for you to confess and live in
a state of fellowship. And verse 21, calls for believers to overcome, or
advance to spiritual maturity.
These calls are addressed to believers, and
therefore are not calls for salvation.
This passage is referring to discipline. In fact all of these messages to the seven
churches have warning messages, but this one in particular addresses the
believer who is negative and warns of pending discipline.
Discipline for unbelievers is a call for them to
believe in Christ. Discipline for
believers is a call for them to get with a program of spiritual growth.
Christ reproves and disciplines His own. You are in the family of God when you
believed in Christ. By means of the
regenerated human spirit, you were re-born, or as some put it, born again, but
not into this world of flesh.
You were born into the spiritual world and into the
family of God. Once born into a family,
no matter what family that is, that birth cannot be undone. It is permanent. Birth cannot be reversed. Ask any woman who has had children. Do you think she would like to reverse the
process? Actually if you value your
life, you wouldn’t ask that question.
Any mother would be well within her right to smack you up’ side’ the
head for such a stupid question.
So now that you are in Gods family. Now that you have believed in Christ, there
are several issues to understand. First
the issue of sin. Some have the
misconception that once you believe in Christ, you won’t sin again. Or if you do, you are forgiven because Christ
died on the Cross for your sins and they have been punished, therefore
forgiven. That is nearly correct, except
for the forgiven part.
Christ went to the Cross and paid the price for our
sins certainly. They were judged and the
penalty for sin was taken on by Christ in our place. You cannot be judged for something that has
already been judged. Law of double
There will be no further judgment for sin since it
has already been judged on the Cross.
This does not give you the right to go out and do as you please, however. You are still responsible and held
accountable for your actions. Therefore
forgiveness is an issue after salvation.
As a part of salvation, during that single moment
in time when you believed in Christ, many things happened to you. See the blessings list in the special study
library. One of those things is that
your sins, from the moment of your birth until the moment of your faith in
Christ, were forgiven. You are
immediately in fellowship with God, though you probably did not know it at the
When you committed you next sin, then of course,
you are out of fellowship until you confess your sin or sins to God, which
confession, gets you back into fellowship.
If you remain out of fellowship, then Bible
doctrine cannot influence your life.
Your sin nature does influence your life, and God issues discipline to
you in whatever manner is appropriate, for the purpose of getting your attention
first, and then next getting you to confess your sins and get back into
fellowship, and then getting you to get back with a Bible study program to
advance you in your spiritual life.
If you remain out of fellowship because of
unconfessed sin in your life, then you are subject to warning discipline.
Notice that not much is happening to you in this
instance. Which leads
us to the concept of discipline and its degree of intensity. God has lots of arrows with which to
administer discipline. To the believer
who is out of fellowship occasionally there is always warning discipline. Actually there is warning discipline for all
who fall away from Bible doctrine.
But then when a person remains out of fellowship,
the discipline begins to intensify more and more in degrees. Think of it as a slap on the wrist, a spank
on the behind, a lashing with the whip, a heavy board bashed between the
eyes, and then sooner or later dying
discipline where if you do not come around, you will die. That of course is the maximum discipline
anyone can suffer through in this life.
Once you have died, then your part in human history
is over. You go on to heaven, absent
from the body, face to face with the Lord.
No more sorrow, no more tears and so forth. Your punishment here on earth is over and
there is no continuation of punishment in heaven. It is all over for you.
But you do not have much to show for your
life. Your soul is furnished with the
production of the sin nature – wood, hay and stubble.
If you ignore it (discipline), then the discipline
will intensify to your disadvantage.
The objective of discipline is to get you to
repent, change your mind, change your attitude, and get back on track in your