BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’ Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’ And Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden” (Gen 4:6-16 NKJV).
Many people are like students who failed to do corrections after their teachers have marked their scripts and given them back for corrections. Such people would make the same mistake next time. None of us is perfect, but God has made provisions for our continuous improvement. He doesn’t kill us when we make mistakes, but He wants us to take to corrections. God wants us to get better; He wants us to mature. 2 Tim 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (NLT).
Cain is an example of a man who failed to take to correction. Cain’s jealousy for his brother degenerated to hatred, and finally murder because he failed to respond to God’s correction. God had corrected him that his gift was not accepted because he didn’t do what was right. The most sensible thing to do was to correct himself, do the right thing and his sacrifice would be accepted like Abel’s. But Cain failed to respond to correction. He failed to heed God’s warning that sin was already at the door to take control of him, and he should master it. Cain preferred to plot to kill his brother. He eventually executed the plot, and when God enquired from him where his brother was, his answer to God was rude. “‘I don’t know!’ Cain retorted. ‘Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?’” (Gen 4:9 NLT).
Job 5:2 says, “Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple” (NLT). Resentment towards his brother destroyed Cain; jealousy killed him.
If Cain had responded correctly to God’s correction, he would have been saved. “Correction is the high road to life; neglect reproof and you miss the way” (Prov. 10:17 New English Bible.) A similar truth is stated in Prov 6:23: “…The correction of discipline is the way to life” (NLT). Cain rejected correction and missed the way to life. He followed not the way of God but the way that seemed right to him, and this way led to his destruction (Prov 14:12, 16:25).
Job 5:17 says, “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening of the Almighty when you sin” (NLT). Psalm 94:12 says, a similar thing; “Happy are those whom you discipline, LORD, and those whom you teach from your law” (NLT). Respond correctly to God’s correction; don’t react against it. God’s correction is for your own good. “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” (Prov 12:1 NLT). God’s discipline involves on one hand instruction, teaching and training, and on the other hand correction, punishment, and rebuke for those who fail to heed the first side of discipline.
Two kings corrected
There were two kings in Israel God sent His prophets to at different times during their reign. Each prophet delivered the message to the particular king he was sent to. One admitted he was wrong but the other started passing the buck.
Prophet Samuel confronted Saul with his disobedience of God’s instruction to destroy the Amalekites but he started by lying that he obeyed God but when he was confronted with the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen, he replied, “‘It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle,’ Saul admitted. ‘But they are going to sacrifice them to the LORD your God. We have destroyed everything else’” (1 Sam 15:15 NLT). That was an unnecessary excuse. He should have gone down on his face to admit his error and make amends. But Saul never admitted that he was wrong. Unfortunately, he eventually lost the throne.
David committed murder yet when he was confronted with his sin by Nathan, he admitted. He made no excuse. “Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sam. 12:13 NLT). And what was God’s response to his admission and confession of sin? “Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin” (2 Sam 12:13 NLT). God forgave him his sin. Though he still suffered the consequences of his sin, God didn’t take the throne from him like he did concerning Saul, and didn’t kill him. The Bible says God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
When God corrects, it’s because he wants us to make amends. His discipline is not meant to destroy but to call us to order. God told David concerning Solomon who would reign after him, “I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will use other nations to punish him. But my unfailing love will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed before you” (2 Sam 7:14-15 NLT). God is our Father, and He corrects His children.
Deut. 8:5 says, “So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you to help you” (NLT). Every good parent corrects his child because they want them to turn out well; not because they hate them. A child will therefore do well to respond favourably to such discipline and not rebel. Prov 3:11-12 says, “My child, don’t ignore it when the LORD disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (NLT). Heb 12:5-6 also refers to this truth. “And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, ‘My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children’” (Heb 12:5-6 NLT).
Any child who rejects correction will regret later in life. Discipline is usually unpalatable to children but those who respond to discipline, though painful to them, will thank their parents in future. They’ll realize later that the discipline meted out to them by their parents was not borne out of hatred but rather out of love. Similarly, God’s discipline is because of His love hence every child of God should respond to God’s discipline and not ignore or rebel against it. God says, “I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Rev 3:19 NLT).
How God corrects us
God does not come down physically to correct His children but He executes discipline through different channels. Whichever way God chooses at any point in time, either one or a combination of some of these channels or agencies, it is your responsibility to respond to correction by amending your ways.
1. Through His Word. The Word of God is a major agency of God’s correction. The Bible is the Word of God, and when you read it or it is preached God can correct you depending on what junction you are in life. 2 Tim 3:16-17 says that the Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable, among others, for correction that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
God can also speak His Word of correction to us through revelations such as in dream.
2. By His Spirit. God corrects by His Spirit. Every child of God who has the Holy Spirit will be corrected by the Holy Spirit in Him whenever he does what is wrong. The correction of the Holy Spirit is not the same as condemnation, feelings of guilt or unworthiness. The Holy Spirit does not convict Christians; He only convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
The correction of the Holy Spirit is to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (NKJV). When a child of God does what is wrong, the Holy Spirit reminds him of what the Word of God says. Whenever the Holy Spirit corrects you, it is wise to stop and do the right thing.
3. Through your conscience. Everybody does not have the Holy Spirit, but everybody has a conscience whether he is a Christian or non-Christian. The conscience is the voice of the spirit of man (not the Holy Spirit). Your conscience corrects you when you are wrong. Since God created your conscience, we can say that God corrects you through your conscience. Whether you listen to the voice of your conscience or not is a different thing.
If you keep silencing the voice of your conscience, it will become seared and you may lose the safety that your conscience can provide you at the most crucial point in your life. 1 Tim 4:1-2 says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron – their conscience will be dead.
In 2 Sam 24:10, we read how David’s conscience condemned him after he had conducted the census. But he was determined to do it despite Joab’s counsel against it. Immediately after the census, his conscience condemned him even before Prophet Gad came to deliver the Word of God to him on God’s punishment for his action. “But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly and shouldn’t have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing’” (2 Sam 24:10 NLT).
John writes on the need to maintain a clear conscience. “Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence” (1 John 3:21 NLT). God corrects you through your conscience, but if you keep silencing the voice of your conscience over a period of time, your conscience will not convict you again over a sin. Such a fellow has become hardened, and hardness of heart leads to destruction as was the case with Pharaoh.
4. Through godly authority figures. Such authority figures include parents, guardians, teachers, spiritual leaders, employers, superiors at work, etc. It is the main responsibility of parents to train their children and correction is part of training. And the Bible always alludes to parental discipline when talking about God disciplining His children (Prov 3:12; Deut 8:5). Heb 12:9 says, “Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever?” (NLT).
Parents, especially Christian parents, are instruments of God’s correction in their children’s lives. It is a bad parent who doesn’t correct his children, and such children become spoilt. David was guilty of this, especially with regard to his son, Adonijah. The Bible says he never disciplined this young man at any time. “Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, ‘What are you doing?’ Adonijah was a very handsome man and had been born next after Absalom” (1 Kings 1:6 NLT). No wonder, while he was still alive, he enthroned himself king. Adonijah, his elder brother had also overthrown his father. David didn’t discipline his children so they caused him much pain. Prov. 13:24 says, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (NKJV).
Parents are God’s servants in the training of their children but they must follow God’s instructions in training their children. They themselves must first be submitted to God so that they don’t abuse their children. “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it” (Prov 22:6 NLT). But there is a warning for parents in Eph 6:4. “And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord” (NLT).
Spiritual leaders, to some degree, also have corrective roles to play in the lives of those under them. The Bible enjoins followers to obey them. “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (Heb 13:17 NLT). Those who obey genuine spiritual leaders and respond to their corrections always reap the benefits; those who rebel usually regret in future.
In the work place, employers and superiors correct those under their authority which impact positively on their lives especially where such authority figures subscribe to the principles of the Bible. Generally, the Bible enjoins those under authority to obey their masters. “Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col 3:22-25 ASV). But the Bible balances this obligation when it says, “Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Col 4:1 ASV).
5. Through mature Christians and Christian friends. It is true that walk with God is a personal thing but we live in a community of believers who can help us in our walk. Mature friends and Christian friends can become a voice of God in one’s life whenever one is going wrong. But the Bible expects them to tell the truth in love. (Eph 4:15). The goal should be to restore the erring Christian to do the right thing not to humiliate him or destroy him. Gal 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (NLT).
6. Through circumstances, situations or events. God sometimes uses circumstances, situations or events to correct us although this means is not the most common or most reliable. God may use this means to secure the attention of a Christian when he has failed to respond to other means. A child of God should therefore not wait for circumstances, situations or events to talk to him before he orders his steps aright.
After Balaam negotiated his way to go to honour Balak’s invitation to curse the children of Israel, God had to use his donkey to talk to him (Num 22:21-30). Unfortunately, Balaam did not even see that as a miracle because he was blinded by greed.
David adopted the wrong method to bring the ark from the house of Abinadab putting it on a new cart like the Philistines did the last time the ark was carried by them (1 Sam 6:8, 10-11). It took the unfortunate sudden death of Uzziah to correct David that he had violated the Word of God on how the ark should be carried. God corrected David through this negative incident (2 Sam. 6:1-11). But God had already caused to be written down by Moses how the ark should be carried (Exo 25:14; Deut 10:8; 1 Chron 15:15). David didn’t consult God about the proper order of carrying the ark (1 Chron 15:13). However, during the second attempt to bring the ark from the house of Obed-edom, the ark was carried the proper way by the Levites (1 Chron 15:25-28).
It is not everybody that God uses circumstances, situations or events to correct like He did with Balaam and David. Neither is it everybody who experiences the kind of correction that Jonah had – he spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish before he repented and finally agreed to obey God to go to preach to the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1, 2, 3).
However, sometimes circumstances, situations or events may continue to be right yet a child of God is wrong and needs to correct himself; the opposite may also be true. Therefore circumstances, situations or events are not reliable means of receiving correction from God. A child of God should stay open to other means of correction which has been discussed earlier and respond to God’s correction.
Conclusion: God loves you and wants you to become all He has destined you for. His corrections are to achieve this goal. Therefore don’t react against His correction; don’t persist in error. Cooperate with God’s shaping hands, and it shall be will with you in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, kindly take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. Please. Forgive me my sins. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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