Does God chasten His children with sicknesses, accidents, and calamities?

[This answer has been adapted from Destined to Reign, chapter 6, The Evil Conspiracy.]

One of the most evil teachings that I have heard is that God will chastise His own with sicknesses, diseases, accidents, and tragedies. But did you know that this erroneous teaching is actually based on the old covenant and not the new covenant? In the book of Leviticus, God says to those who fail to obey His commandments, “I will chastise you seven times for your sins.” Today, we are no longer under the covenant of law. We are under the covenant of GRACE! Jesus has already borne all our chastisement and punishment for sin on the cross. Read it for yourself in Isaiah 53:

Isaiah 53:4–5

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

The prophet Isaiah saw a prophetic vision of our Lord Jesus on the cross, bearing the punishment for our transgressions. He declared that the “chastisement for our peace was upon Him.” Jesus has already been chastised on our behalf! When Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released, people complained that the movie was too graphic and violent. The truth is that what the movie portrayed is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what our Lord really suffered on our behalf.

During the time of the Roman Empire, the soldiers had various instruments of cruelty and torture at their disposal. The infamous cat-o’-nine-tails was a whip with nine chains. To each chain was attached many metal shards and hooks, so that when a prisoner was beaten with it, the metal shards and hooks would latch onto his flesh and rip it apart when the whip was jerked back. That is why the prophet Isaiah described Jesus as having “no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2).

Jesus’ flesh was torn apart and He was violently scourged beyond human recognition. The chastisement that we deserved came upon Jesus, so that you and I will never have to go through what He endured on our behalf. And by His stripes, we are healed!

So how can anyone have the audacity to say that God will still chastise us with sicknesses, diseases, and accidents today? To say this is to negate the finished work of Jesus Christ! Under the new covenant, God will never again chastise the believer for his sins! By His stripes you are healed! Whatever condition you have today, it is not from the Lord! Look to Jesus on the cross. See Him beaten and scourged, and receive healing and wholeness from Him. He has paid the price for your total healing. Today, He redeems your life from destruction!

“But Pastor Prince, how can you say that there is no chastisement and punishment in the new covenant? Hebrews 12:5­–6 states it very clearly:

“‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’

“See, Pastor Prince, here is clear evidence that God chastens believers in the new covenant!”

My friend, there is confusion in the church because the original Greek word here for “chastens” is poorly translated. The Greek word here comes from paideuo, which means “child training.”1 It does not mean “to punish.” Pai is where you get the word “pediatrician” (a doctor who specializes in treating children), while deuo means “to teach a child.” You will find that the translation of the word paideuo as “child training” is more consistent with the context of the passage. Read on.

The next verse says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” Even if you do not know that the Greek word for “chastens” here actually means “child training,” you would be able to deduce it from this verse, which tells us that because God deals with us as sons, He disciplines us just as earthly fathers would their sons.

Now, think about this for a moment: Would you give your son a terminal disease to teach him a lesson?

No way!

Then, why do you think that your Father in heaven would do that?

I’ve never understood how people could see a terminal illness as a lesson from God. They say things like, “God gave that person a terminal illness to teach him patience.” My friend, what lesson is there to learn after the person dies from that terminal illness?

You need to be alive for the lesson to be useful. There is no use for patience when one is dead!

Let me say this again to make it very clear: Sicknesses, diseases, and accidents are not lessons from God! When you train a child, you give lessons that teach the child things that will benefit him in the future. There is no future if the child is dead. God would never use sicknesses and accidents to teach you and me—His children—lessons! (See Is there correction under grace? And if yes, how does God discipline believers under the new covenant?)

God’s righteous anger against sin has been satisfied and today, we can expect only love from Him, not judgment. We can expect grace, not punishment. We will never be punished in the old covenant way ever again! In the new covenant, while there is no longer any punishment, there is child training, but God does not train His children with sicknesses, diseases, and accidents any more than you and I do!

Footnote:
1.  NT: 3811, James Strong, Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.