Habakkuk set a great example of seeking God’s correction. How well do you measure up to that attitude? The answer is critical to your salvation!
Be honest with yourself! Do you actually like to be corrected by the God of judgment?
“People in this world don’t like to think about a God of judgment. They like a God of peace and joy. … They refuse to face reality. After all, God is not only a God of mercy and kindness. He is a God of judgment—a God of correction” (The God Family Vision ; emphasis added throughout).
Hardly anyone relishes correction. But receiving godly correction in the right attitude is one of a true Christian’s most important responsibilities. A truly converted person should welcome correction. It helps him grow.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). Correction in our lives is one of the greatest blessings we can receive. It is an act of love designed to educate us for life in God’s Family.
God’s ultimate purpose is to reproduce Himself by creating righteous divine character ultimately in millions of spiritually begotten children who shall be born as God beings—members of the God Family. Thus, the whole purpose of life is spiritual growth and change! (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1).
It is impossible to grow and change and to develop perfect, holy, righteous character without plenty of reproof and correction. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
What is reproof? What is correction? These words should have clear, specific meanings to us. If they don’t, it behooves us to check the dictionary and learn their definitions, because both are necessary for our “instruction in righteousness.”
God says, “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth [goes astray]” (Proverbs 10:17). Are we in the Philadelphia Church of God, individually and collectively, on the path that leads to eternal life—or are we going astray because we reject instruction and reproof?
Conversion Requires Change
The more converted we are, the more we will welcome correction—no matter how it comes to us.
Jesus Christ said that unless we become like little children, we will not enter God’s Kingdom. Why? What childlike qualities does Christ desire in adults?
Children are generally more teachable and adapt better to change. They put their trust in those who care for them, and they usually do what they are told, even though they may not always agree with it.
Christians must be this way. The degree of our conversion can be determined by how well we respond to correction.
As children of God, we must beware talking back or “answering again” when we are corrected (Titus 2:9). God wants people who won’t talk back to Him, but rather who will go to Him for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
Sometimes our children (and even we adults, at times!) tend to sass back when they are corrected. And so, spanking is often necessary in such situations—so long as the spanking is done in love, with the utmost care and concern, always being careful not to injure the child.
Carnal people think that godly correction is unfair. Many child psychologists believe spanking is wrong. But the Bible is replete with scriptures that prove spanking and chastening is a necessary part of godly child rearing (e.g., Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13).
Hebrews 12:11 shows the benefits of receiving disciplinary correction: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Many other verses affirm the value of reproof and correction (e.g., Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 15:5; 17:10; 25:12; 27:5; 29:15; Ecclesiastes 7:5; Hebrews 12:5).
The Prophet Habakkuk understood the importance of seeking correction. He actually went to God in a humble attitude and patiently waited to be reproved (Habakkuk 2:1). God is no respecter of persons, but He does respect the attitude of those who obey Him and yield to Him in a contrite manner as Habakkuk did (Romans 2:11; Isaiah 66:2).
Ancient Israel didn’t like correction. The Israelites wanted change, of course, but only in their own way—not God’s. They didn’t like His authority and laws. They wanted to be like other nations that were cut off from God, free to do as they pleased, even though it meant suffering and death. Because they frequently rejected correction, sassed back and refused to acknowledge that there truly is no freedom without law, God repeatedly had to punish them!
Likewise, the Laodiceans are refusing God’s judgment and correction today—only the situation is far more tragic because their eternal lives are at stake!
God Speaks, God Corrects
Today God the Father speaks to His Philadelphia remnant through His Son, Jesus Christ, via the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27), and teaches us from the Bible, through His specially chosen servant. If we truly want to hear what God’s Spirit is saying to His Church (Revelation 3:13), we must increase the influence of God’s Spirit in our lives.
The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to “stir up the gift of God” so that he could boldly and confidently partake of the “afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:6, 8). Stirring up the Holy Spirit in our lives involves, first of all, being receptive to correction!
The Holy Spirit only flows freely and abundantly through a correctable, teachable mind. Acts 2:38 tells us that repentance (i.e., admitting that we’re wrong, and then changing) is a prerequisite for the initial receipt of the Holy Spirit into our mind at baptism. But daily repentance is also necessary for the continual, daily renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, in order to increase the influence of the Spirit of God in our life, and to allow Christ to “come in the flesh” through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us (Philippians 2:5; 1 John 3:24; 4:2), we must become, and remain, sensitive to sin and the weaknesses of our carnal nature.
In other words, in order to facilitate the free movement of God’s Spirit into our minds, we must continually be willing to admit error. When we refuse to admit that we’re wrong—when we refuse to be reproved and corrected by God—we lose our sensitivity to sin and subsequently block the Spirit of God from coming into our minds.
Paul admonishes us to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30). Similarly, Paul warns that we “[q]uench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). To quench means to stifle or suppress. When we’re not repentant and correctable, the invisible flow of God’s Spirit into our mind is restricted. It ceases from having a dynamic, powerful impact in our life.
Though the Laodicean members of God’s Church have His Spirit, they do not allow it to powerfully impact them as it should. Why? Because they refuse to worship the true God of judgment! Instead of yielding to correction and hearing what God is speaking unto His Church, they are essentially putting their trust in a “teacher of lies” who is leading them to serve “dumb idols,” which are mute and cannot speak (Habakkuk 2:18-20).
Christ is correcting and measuring the Laodiceans through the Philadelphia Church of God (Revelation 3:20; 11:1). If the Laodiceans would respond to Christ’s correction and repent, they could turn their lives around! They are free moral agents, even as the Philadelphians are.
God grants His people the ability to repent and subsequently grow in character. Conversely, He also allows us to quench the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is not static; it is either increasing or decreasing in terms of its effect on us. And our actions and attitude regulate the flow of God’s Spirit.
“God’s Holy Spirit of revelation should flow in our lives. We must learn to fear God … or the Holy Spirit won’t flow. There may be a trickle or a drip, but there must be a flow. … Our level of understanding will depend on how much we fear God and humble ourselves before Him like a little child. … It’s up to you. Can you let the Holy Spirit flow in your life like a raging river? The controls are in your hands! … You must do your part” (ibid).
Pray for Correction
Some of us think we get too much correction, but God gives us exactly what we need. To receive correction in the right spirit, we must be willing to admit we are wrong—and that’s hard for the carnal mind to do. We must get down on our knees and ask God to help us see our personal shortcomings. We must ask Him to change us, and then be willing to change!
Before looking in the spiritual “mirror” of God’s Word and searching the Scriptures for correction, it is advisable to kneel down and beseech God to correct us in measure and in mercy. God will not deliberately test us beyond what He knows we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13), but it is still a good idea to pray, “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:24).
We should regularly ask God to enlighten and correct us in this manner and show us, through His Word, what we are doing wrong. It takes humility and courage to pray this way, but a begotten child of God must have humility and courage in abundance.
Notice how David prayed in Psalm 51. He first asked for God’s mercy and acknowledged his own guilt. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (verses 1-2). But how did he expect to be washed and cleansed by God? By correction and reproof—and chastisement if necessary.
“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. … Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (verses 6, 10-11).
David wanted to be corrected, even though it meant making a concerted effort and undergoing personal suffering. He was ready and willing to accept God’s correction, no matter how it came and however unpleasant. He was indeed a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
Christians Must Love Correction
When God corrects us, do we expect it to come only from Him directly and never from a human being? If so, we are wrong.
The dangers of not hearing correction—even if from another, faulty human being—are strong. Proverbs 29:1 warns, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” It is much better to keep quiet and listen.
It is easy to see another person’s faults, but it’s not as easy to recognize our own mistakes (Matthew 7:3-5). We often resent having our shortcomings pointed out, particularly if we see that the person who corrects us has his own problems to overcome. How difficult it is to resist voicing our objections when someone tells us we did something wrong! But when we ask God for correction, we must be willing to accept it, no matter how it comes to us. (Remember, David had to swallow his pride and accept Samuel’s correction!)
“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5). Though it may not be what we want to hear, it will benefit us more than dishonest praise.
Even if the correction we receive is unjustified, and even if we are falsely accused, we should take it patiently and accept it (1 Peter 2:20). Notice Jesus Christ’s example when He was standing trial: “And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly” (Matthew 27:14).
Whether or not we’ve asked for it, when we are corrected we should be grateful. We should accept reproof with humility and make the necessary changes. Afterward, we should not dwell on the mistakes God has forgiven. We shouldn’t burden ourselves with a guilt complex, which will only impede our spiritual growth. God is always willing to forgive us if we accept correction and change.
Rewards of Correction
For some time now, Mr. Flurry has been telling us that the Church needs to get ready for Christ’s return. Do we fully grasp the seriousness of this directive? It means we Philadelphian firstfruits must accept the correction which comes to us, whether directly or indirectly, from the God of judgment.
Preparing for the return of Christ means we must diligently do our part to change and overcome (Revelation 3:12, 21; 21:7). It means we must “stir up” the Holy Spirit and become “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37), being careful not to get stuck in a rut, stagnate or become lukewarm. If we don’t grow, we backslide—and miss out on the most glorious opportunity God has ever given any group of human beings!
“God is giving us everything. We are the Bride of Christ. Nobody in the World Tomorrow will have what He is giving us—rule with Jesus Christ forever. Of course you have to qualify to receive that! Is that bad? No! We NEED to be corrected. If we don’t deal with the God of judgment today, we’re going into the Great Tribulation” (ibid).
“[H]e that hateth reproof shall die,” God says, but He adds, “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise” (Proverbs 15:10, 31). Those who heed reproof will live with the wise. The wise are those who listen to God’s counsel, submit themselves to His authority, accept correction and live by His every word.
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). They will be members of God’s immortal spiritual Family.
These are God’s words, and they cannot be broken. If we hate being corrected by the God of judgment, we will die. But if we love correction, we will live forever!
The choice is up to us!
From the Archives: Royal Vision, September-October 2002