There is never a chastising or discipline of God with those in Christ that results in punishment (Heb 12:5-9, chiefly 10, 11), difficulty usually but never from being in trouble with Him or losing His favor with you who are in Christ. The Spirit’s opposition to our “sinful nature” (Gal 5:17) may at times feel to us that God is against us personally but we are to remember that this address is always against the “old man,” to keep us from doing that which we would otherwise be doing in accordance to our old man.
In my assessment, the believer’s doing of God’s “pleasure” (Phil 2:13) is contained in the desire He “works” in us, which to put His desires first. Even though there will always be times of doing “the evil that I desire not” (Rom 7), the issue is that the believer in the new nature does not desire it, thus any wrongfulness done is unintentional because it’s being done against the will and desire of the believer, e.g. as a “captive” (vs 23) or unwilling subject, unlike that of a willing subject, who does not act as a captive to it because it’s his desire and thus not against his will.
Since He ensures that our ultimate motives are always “His good pleasure,” there leaves only that which is of our Father’s loving-training school, and since He already knows what all will do in every situation it is always for others to learn from concerning every trialing situation. In Job’s case (and all who are in Christ) He knew he would manifest an overall acceptable representation of Him (33:10), thus discrediting Satan’s claims against Job, which also demonstrates God’s antecedent preparation of Job’s life to learn from it.
This is the same care and outcome God maintains for all who are His in Christ. One evidence manifesting our learning here is that we will find ourselves wishing we would learn to take each difficulty (general hardness) with less surprise and hardness, so that we might strengthen and manifest our faith more in remembering to take them lighter via by the forethought of knowing God has already “worked” it out for our “good” (Rom 8:28). Being mindful, that antecedent to every trial small or great, God has beforehand prepared us not only to “endure” it (1 Cor 10:13), but more importantly to learn from it unto the strengthening of our faith (1 Pet 1:7) in our Father and our Lord Jesus.
“We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy” (Jam 5:11 NLT).
It should be borne in mind that, while it is God’s purpose in His dealings with Job to vindicate His own estimate of His servant, it is at the same time, shown us how He educates or disciplines that servant so as to render him worthy of this estimate.
“That which I feared greatly has come upon me.” This must ever be the case when the soul has no better security for the love than the evidence and presence of its gifts. The gifts are thus a snare to us, and Satan’s imputation against us is often in a measure true; our ground of rest and quietness of spirit before our Father being His kindness and mercies to us, and not simply the knowledge of His love to us in His Son. This is very evident from the grief and despair many of His people fall into when they are deprived of any particular mercy. They had rested in the gift more than in the Father, and the gift was to them an evidence of His love; the love itself was not the rest of their heart.
Job’s discipline is administered in order to set aside self, and introduce the heart into its true relation, with self apart from God. Hence the effect of the discipline is to expose the secret workings and feelings of the old man, which otherwise would not have been detected or known, and, if not known, not renounced. Job felt himself now a hapless one, with misery all around him, having outlived every enjoyment on earth, and he cursed his day. What had he lived for, and what should he live for?
Little he knew the place he was occupying before God, or how God was preparing him, through terrible sufferings, to vindicate His own estimate of him to Satan—and ultimately, to ourselves. We have now to examine how God effects this, His blessed purpose, noting the course which a soul under discipline from the Father necessarily takes in order to arrive at simple dependence and rest in Him.
The first thought, and the bitterest one, after awakening to a full sense of one’s misery, is to curse one’s day; a terrible impression, and one that can lead to suicide when God is not known. But when the Father is known, as in Job’s case, it is the beginning of healthy action, not in the discontent and wretchedness which it discloses, but because the sense of death, utter exclusion from everything is known and felt. I may give way to rebellion and discontent in learning the utter wretchedness of man on earth, but the sense of this is necessary to full self-renunciation.
I ought not to blame my Father for it, but I need to realize it as man’s true place (actual condition without God—NC). Death, because of such present misery, is preferred. To live in it has no attraction for the heart. This Job feels. He knows that God seeks to make him a witness of dependence upon Himself against Satan, yes, and himself (e.g. old self or sinful nature—NC). But this is the Father’s way. Discipline may have the effect of making us feel that death is preferable to life, but it is working out the Father’s purposes on our behalf.
Job knew that he had done nothing to deserve his trial; but what he had to learn was that he was entitled to nothing. We are not aware often of the severe process of soul which we must pass through before we are prepared to hear of the Father from His own side. We may have to weary ourselves in very darkness before we are ready to hear the word of light; for light come from the Father only: He (the Lord Jesus) is the “light which lights everyone which comes into the world.”
- J B Stoney
MJS devotional for Feb. 7: http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/
Devotional excerpt: “It is only natural to feel that our need requires immediate victory, but the truth is that we cannot come to maturity apart from the Holy Spirit’s processing and development of our life, day by day. A quick and easy victory would cripple our usefulness in these two ways: we would not understand the all-important principle of processing; we would not appreciate the needs of others. If we are unable to share, we abide alone like the grain of wheat that does not die.”