We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Discipline and Instruction of the Lord

Too many Christians abuse the Scripture about using the “rod” to discipline, either claiming that the culture of the Bible was different and we don’t use the “rod” now, or else they determine that the use of the rod must be severe.  Proper discernment should lead one to see that both extremes are wrong.  

I’ve put together some Bible passages to contemplate, as well as some supplemental thoughts.  

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Prov. 1:7 NIV

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.  Prov. 22:6 NIV

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Eph. 6:4 NAS

There is a distinction between training (discipline) and teaching.  Many teach their children the way they should go, but are neglecting to train them in the way they should go.  A child can be trained to respond to his parents in willing obedience and trust.

The dictionary gives the meaning of the word train: "to mold the character, instruct by exercise, drill, to make obedient to orders, to put or point in an exact direction, to prepare for a contest."  This is what God wants us to do with our children.

How can we train our children to obey us?  God has given us directions.  The passages below give a more contemporary translation of traditional verses about the use of the “rod,” but I think they are good for helping our understanding of the intent. (GWN is God’s Word to the Nations [or just God’s Word], while CEV is Contemporary English Version.)

Foolishness is firmly attached to a child's heart.  Spanking will remove it far from him.  Prov. 22:15 GWN.

Whoever refuses to spank his son hates him, but whoever loves his son disciplines him from early on.  Prov. 13:24 GWN.

Do not hesitate to discipline a child.  If you spank him, he will not die.  Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell.  Prov. 23:13,14 GWN

A spanking and a warning produce wisdom, but an undisciplined child disgraces his mother.  Prov. 29:15 GWN

Correct your children before it's too late; if you don't punish them, you are destroying them.  Prov. 19:18 CEV

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.  Prov. 29:17 NIV

Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.  Prov. 20:30 NIV

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Heb. 12:11 NIV

The use of the “rod” (spanking, paddle, etc) is not to be in anger or abusively, rather it is loving discipline for correcting errors.  While some people/cults (e.g. Mike and Debi Pearl) teach the physical “rod” for just about any infraction, our family used other disciplinary measures unless the infraction was very serious — and then the “rod” (we spanked with open hand) was to help them thoroughly understand the serious nature of what they did!

Finally, God disciplines us as His children.  As he tells us in Hebrews 12:5-11, children who are not disciplined are illegitimate and not true sons.


Marshall Art said...

It is my understanding that the "rod" refers to that which was used by the the shepherd. He didn't use it to beat his sheep, but to guide them in the direction he meant for them to go. Thus, to "spare the rod" is to neglect guidance. I don't think that matters to the translations of the other verses highlighted in your post, but I don't have the time to dig into them now. Personally, I'm not opposed to corporal punishment, as some kids need something a bit more tangible with regard to their guidance protocols. I hope to revisit this topic later.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I agree with you for the most part, but in this context I think the rod was what we would currently call a "switch," something was was indeed used for child discipline.

Mountain Girl said...

This is just wisdom, pure and simple. We as parents, raising our kids to love and fear the Lord, must use the rod to discipline if we want them to respect us and God. Sadly, it just doesn't seem like Christians see the importance of that in this day and age. Thank you for sharing the scriptures to support that.