Verse 8—Part of God’s plan for a Christian’s life is to operate in mercy and grace, to save us from what we deserved (eternal separation from Him) and to give us what we didn’t deserve (eternal life with Him). His righteousness, His “right-doing” has covered us through Jesus, and He has saved His people from their sins. But as His children, we must realize that His complete plan for our lives also includes a measure of judgment, or discipline. Why? Because the work in our lives is not finished – God is still shaping us and growing us.
Furthermore, Romans 8 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This means that His discipline is not a desire to send us back into the separation from which He saved us. Rather, discipline in the Christian’s life is a means to enrich our lives for His glory, to help us reach our full potential in Him. So in a Christian’s life, discipline is not something we should fear, but welcome. We are still His children and He will not forsake us. But just as His love has provided mercy and grace to redeem us from what we were, so discipline is the means by which God changes us from what we were. In the lives of His children, even discipline is a form of love that seeks to motivate us, to bring us beyond ourselves and into His plan for our lives. In short, God’s discipline is for our benefit, so that we can take part in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
David asks God to judge his intentions and his heart. He realized that his life and his relationship with God couldn’t reach its full potential unless all those distractions and unnecessary desires in his life were set before God’s throne. Basically, he says, “God, search me and know me – You know the integrity of my heart, so render your discipline accordingly.” He sought to make every part of His life glorify God. I’ve learned – and continue to learn – that there is something powerful about daily laying my heart before God and asking Him to change what needs to be changed. He knows far better than I do the direction of my life. He knows what I need and what I don’t need. The point is that I need to keep my heart open to Him, to be aware that there are still things God may need to change. I need to be a person who is always open to be changed by His Word and His Holy Spirit, to be sensitive to His move in my life.
Verse 11 explains that God is just. He is holy and will not let the wicked go unpunished. But it also says that “God is angry with the wicked every day.” I never really thought about it in this context, but it makes absolute sense. Can you imagine the fury of a God whose people is under constant persecution worldwide? Can you imagine His anger burning against those whose hearts are turned from Him, who refuse to acknowledge His ways? “Every day” it says. Yet He withholds His wrath for just a little longer, for the sake of those who may yet come to know Him. His love for mankind is the overriding factor. The wicked will pay their dues anyway, and His love is such that He will wait just a little longer so that redemption may come to completion. One day, however, He will say, “Enough is enough!” That day is not yet. But let us, as His people, not forget that what pains His people pains Him. And every day His anger burns against the wicked. Their ways will be punished—they will pay for what they have done, and the evil that they sought to work will work against them.