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The Doctrine of Correction  [Jeremiah 10:23-24]  [Psalm 139:23-24]

This morning, we’re going to talk about the doctrine of correction.  How many of you have ever been corrected?  Parents spank, they tell you when you’ve done wrong, they warn you of dangers…  God does the same thing.  [story of car and moving]  That may seem kind of negative, but when you look in the Bible, we’re commanded to do a few things, but we’re commanded not to do a lot of things.  What are we commanded to do?  We’re commanded to pray, we’re commanded to search the Scriptures, Matthew 22:37, 39 tells us that, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”, and “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

But, these last two positives are defined by negatives:  Thou shalt have not other gods before me, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal…  Without the presence of good, there can be no evil.  In Isaiah 45:7, God says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”  The word evil here in the LXX is from a Greek word “kakos”, which does not mean moral evil; it’s more of an opposition to welfare or peace, and that’s the word that is used here.  An example of “adikos”, the Greek word for morally evil can be found in 70 places in the LXX, the first of which is in Genesis 16:5, which says, “And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.”  The Hebrew uses two different words as well.  When the Hebrew experts translated it into a language that would last, they chose two different words for the Greek, just as Hebrew had used two different words.

God did not create moral evil, but moral evil cannot be defined without moral good.  But, this good that is in opposition to welfare or peace, God says that he created, and you can see throughout Scripture, especially in relation to Israel that God often uses it for correction and reproof, but no matter what, he uses it for his glory.

Correction is the greatest virtue; it’s the virtue of receiving correction from God and from his Word.  The spirit says, “I’m wrong; messed up; I need guidance; search me; correct me.”  Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Submitting yourself to the doctrine of correction is saying, “I, like all men have turned unto my own way; I’ve gone astray.”  It’s asking the Lord to rebuke and warn and admonish me.  It’s the spirit of meekness.  Psalm 25:9 says, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way”.  The meek spirit of a Christian is the kind that submits to correction.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”.  People, by nature, don’t want to submit to correction from God.

It’s not whether we like it or not, but whether we submit to it.  No one likes correction.  How many people here liked getting corrected by their parents?  People don’t want to submit to the Scriptures, especially through the main means that God uses, which is the pulpit.  We came into this world born messed up and we need correction.

It’s the pulpit ministry that brings in the warnings, and exhortations that we need, in order  to live a pleasing Christian life.  [2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be instant [stand by it] in season [opportunely], out of season [inopportunely]; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”.]  The word “reprove” means to expose; it means to censor or disprove of material or actions that are harmful.  “Rebuke” means to check or stop a course of action; it means to restrain; it’s an expression of strong disapproval.  “Exhort,” means incite through words of encouragement; it means to entreat.

All of this comes about through the Scriptures and the preaching and teaching of the Word, whether in Sunday school, church service, or a Bible study; all of this comes about through doctrine.  “Preach” means to herald, and any teacher that isn’t preaching is falling short.  This preaching and teaching of the doctrine of correction is a beautiful provision that God has given us.  Isaiah 28:10 says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”, and that’s what Timothy is being instructed to do.

When it says that the preacher is to do this with all long-suffering, it means that if he gets weary or tired, he is to keep doing it, even if there is no effect in sight.  We are living in days that people don’t like this in their lives.  They like psychology; good words, fair speeches by which they deceive the hearts of the simple.  (Romans 16:18)  People want to hear something that says, “It’s all OK; it’s all good”.  But it isn’t all OK; it isn’t all good.  This is what Paul is talking about in 2 Timothy 4:2; he says reprove, rebuke, and exhort in season and out of season; when it’s convenient or inconvenient.

Churches are going to say it’s OK and it doesn’t matter how you live.  It doesn’t affect your everlasting salvation, but it does matter how you live, and Paul charged Timothy to bring in correction.  Why don’t people like this?  [2 Timothy 4:3:  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;]  People are going to receive correction in a defensive way.  They’re going to erect a barrier.  2 Timothy 4:2-3 does not appeal to us.

But, the beautiful thing about submitting to correction is that we become more like Christ.  That should be embraced.  Having that divine nature.  2 Peter 1:4 says, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  Being a partaker of the divine nature is something that comes through the hearing and preaching and teaching that brings in exhortation and rebuke and reproof.  That’s how we grow.  That’s why church attendance is importance.  Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

We should look at history at Israel.  Israel was a nation that did not receive the ministry of correction.  Jeremiah’s ministry was a ministry of correction and they didn’t receive it.  They didn’t like him.  They threw him in a ditch.  They wanted to hear the prophets what were saying:  “peace, peace, peace; everything is OK.”

But Jeremiah said, “It’s not all OK”.  He had a ministry of correction.  Jeremiah 7:28:  “But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.”  Truth is perished.  We can hate correction as children of God; we can hate instruction.  Proverbs 5:12 says, “And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;”

More than ever, we’re in a hypersensitive culture and we’re worried about offending people.  Everyone wears their feelings on their sleeves.  But, the ministry of the pulpit is one that is not to hold back the truth.  But, in the last days that’s going to happen; the pulpit will hold back the truth.  Why?  Because people are going to be offended by what they have to say.

Therefore, if they did speak the truth, their congregations would dwindle; they would be unsuccessful; they would be thrown in jail; etc.  Truth is always with a minority and it always has been.

Scorners hate the reprover.  Did you know that?  Proverbs 9:8 tells us, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”  Proverbs 15:12  says, “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”  Someone who is a scorner is someone who mocks.  A person who gets offended, gets offended from correction, reproof, rebuke, and has the spirit of a scorner.  Proverbs 13:1:  “A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.  God has ordained the ministry of the preaching of the word to be offensive to our flesh.  Have you had your flesh offended?  If the word is being preached line upon line, our flesh is going to get offended, and it’s that point that we have to make a decision:  To agree with our flesh or agree with what God says.  Which side should we take?  Correct me, search me, and reprove me.  Sometimes you can be selective, but you shouldn’t have that option!

[John 8]  Jesus Christ and Paul weren’t trying to win friends and influence people.  They were teaching some serious truth.  In [John 8:32], Jesus says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  There’s a lot of talk about truth in this chapter.  [John 8:32]  Then, down in verse 34, he says, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”  [John 8:37-40]  The truth is not popular.  Paul says in Galatians 4:16, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  So, truth is not popular, and people want it to be ambiguous and fuzz up the truth.  Make it unclear and make sure there’s no rightly dividing.  Make it all feel good.  It’s all good.

Jesus Christ was negative!  He was correcting all the time!  It seems as if the apostles could never get it right.  He was always correcting them in some issue or another.  But, the negativity of Christ always produces positive results.  Negative can be positive.

We have to be careful, because sometimes when we hear from someone who is preaching the Word something that to seems to be critical, or negative, or unedifying; that message might be right from the Holy Spirit!  A word of correction, reproof, rebuke, warning.  The most loving, compassionate, merciful thing the lord can do is to warn us.  That’s love!  You can’t separate the correction, from the love of God!  Love never rules out correction.

Ephesians 4:15:  “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”  1 Corinthians 13:6:  [Talking about agape love] “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”  In Rev 3:19, Jesus Christ rebukes out of love, when he says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  As many as I love, I rebuke.  Proverbs 27:5:  “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” True love does rebuke.  Secret love (concealed) isn’t going to do anyone any good.  If I’m going down the wrong path and I’m going to be unprofitable, I want someone to tell me clearly, “Hey!  That’s not the way to go!”  I don’t want them to keep it a secret.  That’s love.

Proverbs 3:11:  “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:”  If you’re going to receive correction, you know God loves you.  When you hear a nice exhortation, you can say, “That’s God’s love for me today!”  It’s the local church that God has ordained for exhortation and correction through the preaching and teaching of doctrine.

It doesn’t come through fancy illustrations, although they are good, but if a lesson is just one big illustration or story, these are what Paul calls fables in 2 Tim 4:4 [And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables].  So, the teacher’s job is “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers”, as we’re told in Titus 1:9.  Convince is rebuke.  Rebuke the gainsayer (those who oppose).  Titus 2:15 says, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”  There are 4 present, active, imperative verbs in that verse.  Present tense means you need to be doing it all the time; active means you need to be doing it; imperative means it’s a command.  There are four things in this verse that are commanded for us to be doing:  Speak, exhort, rebuke, and don’t let anyone despise you.  These are not options.  We’re commanded to do these things.  We are to be speaking, we are to be exhorting, we are to be rebuking, and we are not to be letting anyone despise us.  This word “despise” means to “think around” or “out think”.  Be prepared.  You might get mad when someone speaks, exhorts, rebukes, and doesn’t let you despise him, but he is obeying Titus 2:15.  (This doesn’t mean you need to get nasty with people; you can do these things in kindness and love.)  It’s not an option for him to do these things; he’s just doing what he’s told to do and he’s to do it continually.

The purpose of the rebuke is found in Titus 1:13:  “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith”.  That’s the purpose: “that we might be sound in the faith”.  We have to be sound in the faith if we want to please God in the way we walk after we’re saved.

Why?  We have to be sound in the faith that we might be pleasing to God that we might have grace in our lives.  Hebrews 12:28:  “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”  Not just serve God, but serve God acceptably.  That comes through being sound in the faith, and being sound in the faith comes through a sharp rebuke.

A rebuke puts us on the right track and not just in the way that seems right to us.  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  The rebuke puts us back on the right track.  Sometimes, if we’ve been out in the world all week, we might lose focus, and things get a little fuzzy, so we come back in to church, and we get an exhortation, reproof, warning, and it puts us back on track walking in faith.

Reproof warns us and keeps us prepared so we will be ready for that day.  Luke 21:34:  “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”  That day.  That day is the 2nd coming of the Lord and our appearance at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The preacher, whether in the pulpit, the Sunday school class, the Bible study, or wherever, if he doesn’t warn, admonish, exhort, etc., not only will the people be in trouble, but he will be in trouble.  Ezekiel 3:18-19 tells us, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”  The preacher can have bloody hands.

The warning is not to condemn us; that’s the teaching of psychology.  Psychology gets into this positive thinking realm and says that everything that is negative is bad for us.  But, the negativity of the Bible produces positive results, even if it sounds negative to us at the time.  The preacher delivers his own soul by warning people.  That’s a negative action with a positive reaction.

Reproof has different effects on different people.  Reproof makes one person more of a scorner and one wise.  Proverbs 9:8:  “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”  Proverbs 29:1:  “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  The neck is the symbol of the human will (picture of a kid, trying to direct him with your hand on the back of his neck) but it controls where we look.  God’s provision is found in correction; that’s the prescription for us to live.  This needs to be understood.  Proverbs 15:10:  “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”  (That can be related to James 5:19-20, but that’s not the issue of this lesson; but there is a death for the believer.  “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.)  “He that hateth reproof shall die.”  But we want to live; not only an abundant life here walking with the Lord in fellowship, but we also want to have life in the age to come, and we want to rule and reign and we want to reign with him 1000 years, as we’re told that we can in Revelation 20:6, if we are overcomers.

Did you know that God has a rod for correction?  Proverbs 23:13:  “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”  That’s great!  We can be delivered.  The rod is an instrument of correction.  That correction is for deliverance given in love and our soul needs constant deliverance.  Proverbs 10:17:  “He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”  Proverbs 12:1:  “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”  Stupid people hate reproof.  I admit it:  Sometimes I’m stupid.  “Brutish” means someone who doesn’t reason with God.  They live by their subjective desires and passions; they don’t care about objective reason with God.  Isaiah 1:18:  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The brute doesn’t want to reason with God. 2 Peter 2:10-12:  “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;”  The false teachers are called “brute-beasts”.  Also Jude 10 says, “But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves”.  The false teachers in the last day are described here, and they’re called “brute beasts”.

Fools hate instruction.  Proverbs 1:7:  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Ezekiel 3:21:  “Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.”  Warnings save us.  Why shall he live?  Because he is warned!

Paul’s hands when he was pastoring was clean.  Acts 20:26-27:  “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”  “Shunned” means avoided.  Paul had a ministry where he spoke about the goodness and severity of God.  Romans 11:22:  “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off”.  That was his ministry.  He wasn’t out to make friends.  He was commissioned by God directly, and he spoke a warning ministry.  Acts 20:31:  “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears”.  Watch and remember…  Paul warned his disciples in tears.  He wept.  Some people count the cost of following Christ.  Paul understood the cost of not following Christ.  That’s why he wept.  He wept in Warning.  1 Corinthians 4:14:  “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.”  Colossians 1:28:  “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:”

Warning every man; teaching every man in wisdom.  Know what it means to be presented perfect?  It means that we will stand approved at the Judgment Seat of Christ!  2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.  Being presented perfect means that we stand approved and we stand justified for rewards in the coming Kingdom.  It doesn’t simply mean that we have been saved.  It means we are the ones who are called, chosen (elect), and faithful in Revelation 17:14.  It means to have thrones of glory and rule with Jesus Christ in his coming Kingdom.

This is why we need to esteem those who are admonishing us.  We need to esteem the people who have the guts to warn us.  Many preachers aren’t going to do that because they’re afraid, and we’re told not to esteem those.  They’re deceiving others with good words and fair speeches.  It’s their own belly they’re serving, as we read in Romans 16:18.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13:  “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”  Why?  Because they care for you and love you.  We’re to submit to it.  Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”  It says they must give an account and that they must do it with joy and not with grief because that’s not profitable.

Thank you for that warning!  They that esteem reproof shall be honored.  Proverbs 13:18:  “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”  Proverbs 25:12:  As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

Psalm 18:44 says, “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.”  As soon as they heard, they obeyed.  That’s beautiful in the sight of God.  It’s like a beautiful earring.  It’s that meek spirit.  1 Peter 3:4:  “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Proverbs 15:5:  “A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”  Proverbs 15:31:  “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.”  Reproof gives wisdom.  Proverbs 29:15:  “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”  Wisdom is skillful application of knowledge.  You can have Bible knowledge, but wisdom is skillful application of that knowledge into your daily walk.  That’s what wisdom is.

Sometimes you might hear the same message, but that’s bringing it in remembrance.  That’s to stir us up and it brings up reproof and gives you wisdom to apply something that you might have forgotten.

The wise receive commandments.  Proverbs 3:35:  “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”  It is the wise who are going to inherit glory.  The wise will enter the Kingdom with Christ; they will be crowned; they sit on thrones.  Revelation 3:21:  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”  Revelation 2:26:  “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:”  This is the beautiful ministry that we all need in our lives; a ministry of admonition, correction, and reproof in our lives.  From Genesis to Revelation one of the major themes of the Bible is correction.

The measure I receive correction is the measure that I know I’m living in a meek spirit.  The ministry of correction is not for condemnation in order to just to make us feel guilty, but it is God’s love for us; it’s his mercy.  Happy people are corrected people.  Job 5:17:  “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:”

Have you ever seen a spoiled child?  It’s kind of embarrassing, when they throw a tantrum.  They’re miserable when they’re not given correction.  (Mickey Mouse Club example.)  You give him the boundary lines and correction, and he will thrive; if you get them while they’re young.  They’re looking for guidance.  A corrected child is a happy child.  They’re not whiny and complaining and miserable and griping.  But, someone who doesn’t receive correction is an unhappy person.

It would be dishonest for us to focus only on the positive aspects of Christ’s teachings and fail to take heed and apply to our lives the correction that the Lord brought.  It would be dishonest.  “Oh, if we would just focus on the good things and leave out that negative!”  It’s only the negative that modern psychology tells us is bad.  But, what about God?  God tells us that there is much positive in the negatives of the Word.