The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
–Psalm 14:1

What causes people to disobey God or to ignore God and experience His curses as a result? Let’s look at the pathway to God’s discipline illustrated by the Israelites’ experience.

The pathway to God’s discipline in your life always begins with an improper view of God. Psalm 14 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” You have to be an imbecile to look around this universe and think it just happened. The truth is, not many people really believe that. The problem is not that we believe in no God; it is that we believe in the wrong god. Instead of believing in the God of the Bible, most people believe in a god of their own imagination. They refuse to believe the God of the Bible–the God who is intolerant of sin, who is holy, and who is totally impartial. Instead, they have created in their minds a god who is just as arbitrary and tolerant of sin as everyone else around them. And that is the mistake the Israelites made. Yes, they thought God would destroy the pagan inhabitants of Canaan for their idolatry, but the Israelites also thought they were the exception to God’s judgment. They thought because of their special relationship with God, God’s rules did not apply to them.

We make the same mistake today. We have created a god in our own image. We have created this idea of a god who is a cosmic Santa Claus or benevolent old grandfather. We think of God as somebody who hopes we do not sin and wishes we did not sin, but in the end, He will overlook our sin because, after all, He has forgiven us of all our sins past, present, and future. If you are a Christian, then God has wiped away the eternal consequences of your sin. God’s forgiveness means you are not going to Hell. But being a Christian does not exempt you from God’s very real and painful punishment when you disobey Him. In fact, it guarantees God’s discipline. As the writer of Hebrews said, “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (12:6). It is the parent who does not care about his child who lets his child behave any way the child wants to behave. It is only the child truly loved by his parent who receives discipline from his parent. A true, loving parent says, “I love you too much to allow you to continue in this action.” That is the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Some of you reading these words right now are rebelling against God. You are disobeying God in some specific areas, or you are simply neglecting God in your life. You may be thinking, “Nothing bad has happened to me yet. There has not been any discipline.” The operative word is “yet.” If God has held back His hand of discipline from you, then it is only for a season. God is giving you one last chance to turn away from that sin or that neglect. Mark it down: “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “New Year . . . New Choices” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.