I'm reading Elyse Fitzpatrick's wonderful book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus (co-authored with her daughter Jessica Thompson) and she writes: "Although your sin does grieve him (Eph. 4:30), he doesn't want you to keep your distance, sitting in a corner wearing a dunce cap until you learn your lessons." (page 132)
That used to be the story of my life. When I was a little girl, I felt like I was always being ushered into the corner to learn my lesson. When I wasn't in the corner, I felt like there was an axe over my head, with God waiting for me to do something wrong.
Although we went to church, I somehow got the impression and message that God was waiting for me to become perfect so that He could take me out of the corner and lower the axe on my spiritual neck.
Only after I became a Christian and depended upon Christ's saving work, did I know I never had to return to the corner and that the axe had been destroyed at the foot of the cross, covered by the blood of Jesus. Instead of a dunce cap, I could wear a crown as a part of my inheritance in Christ gained only by Jesus' justifying work for me.
And yes, He does discipline me as His child, but not to cause me to earn my place back into the family. No, He disciplines me to draw me closer to His loving heart because sin separates me from Him. My guilt of sin makes me want to shy away from Him. But repentance and cleansing frees me of sin and guilt so that I can joyfully run into His presence and trust again His unconditional love. Thus I'm motivated to obey Him because I'm assured He knows best for me.
Hear also these words from Elyse's book:
He doesn't treat his dear children as "disappointments" whose disobedience and failures take him by surprise or shock him. He does not suspend his love until they get their acts back together. He already knows the worst about you (in yourself) and loves and approves you nonetheless (in Christ). (pg 131-132).
Are you wearing a dunce cap sitting in the corner? You don't need to. Your Father God offers complete freedom to run to Him to be instantly forgiven if you've sinned so that you can enjoy His delight of you.