II. THE PURPOSE OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The purpose of the discipline of the Holy Spirit toward us can be divided into three aspects: chastisement, education, and breaking.
Hebrews 12:10 tells us that the Father of spirits chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.” The chastisement mentioned here is the first intention or the first category of the discipline of the Holy Spirit.
Chastisement means punishment which is necessary because of our rebellion, stubbornness, and disobedience. Many times in our experience the Holy Spirit has already spoken within us and has anointed us to make known the will of God, but due to our stubbornness, rebellion, or some other reason we have disregarded the voice of God and paid no attention to the feeling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore God has arranged environmental situations through the Holy Spirit to cause us to feel afflicted, painful, suppressed, and miserable, that we may be punished and chastised.
For example, consider a brother who has gained his income in a dishonest manner and has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to deal with the situation; yet, due to his pride and his concern for financial loss, he refuses to obey the will of God in this matter. Though the Holy Spirit repeatedly moves and urges him, he will not obey. At this time God has no other alternative but to use an outward environment to chastise him. It may be that he will be hit by an automobile. Though he does not die, nor is he critically injured, yet he suffers great pain. While he lies in the hospital, groaning in anguish, the Holy Spirit speaks to him again, reminding him of the former demand. He becomes humble and subdued and is willing now to deal with his behavior according to the will of God. Shortly after obeying and accepting the dealing, his wound is gradually healed. This is the environmental discipline arranged by the Holy Spirit according to the will of God and our need for chastisement. This is His dealing especially with our stubbornness and disobedience that we may be disciplined.
The purpose of chastisement can be subdivided into two kinds. One kind deals with rebellion and consists purely of punishment for our rebellion. The other kind corrects our mistakes. This means that when we have gone astray and refuse to turn back at the teaching of the Holy Spirit, or when we are about to err, though the Holy Spirit has given us a certain sense, we proceed headlong into the error, then the Holy Spirit is forced to raise up an environment as a blow to us that we might be warned and corrected from the mistake or kept from falling into the mistake. All these activities are counted as discipline.
The second purpose or category of the discipline of the Holy Spirit is education. Strictly speaking, the chastisement we have previously mentioned is also a form of education. However, the chastening education is a punishment due to our fault, while pure educational discipline has nothing to do with punishment or our fault, for though we may be faultless, we still must be educated. Therefore, in this aspect, the discipline of the Holy Spirit is necessary for every one of us.
The education given through the discipline of the Holy Spirit coordinates with the anointing work of the Holy Spirit within us in order to fulfill the goal of God’s mingling with man. We have often said that the purpose of the anointing of the Holy Spirit within us is to anoint God’s element into us. Nevertheless there are many elements of self within us which replace the elements of God and are contrary to them; thus, this presents a great difficulty to God. Hence, the discipline of the Holy Spirit for education is given to purge us of the contrary elements through raising up the environment, in order that God’s element may be anointed into us. The chastening discipline deals only with our fault and is concerned with the problem of our outward behavior, whereas the educational discipline deals with our human element and is concerned with the problem of our inward nature. Regardless of whether our outward behavior is good or bad, our inward nature is always in opposition to God.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)