Does God Punish His Children?

“Does God punish?” is not a simple question to answer. There is some thinking that needs to happen before we can get to an answer.
Children Of God  third day

Does God Punish His Children?

“As a Christian, when you experience a painful event like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed?”

Today we are going to seek an answer to the question: “Does God Punish His Children?”

“Does God punish?” is not a simple question to answer. There is some thinking that needs to happen before we can get to an answer.

First, let's define punishment: Punishment comes in the form of pain and suffering. It can be a loss, a confinement, or even death.  In the 1970’s you might have heard: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

We are all familiar with the legal system. Break the law, and there is some sort of punishment.

Second, we must make a distinction between God’s dealings with His children and with those who reject His overtures of entering into a right relationship with Him. Billy Joel sang “I’d rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints,” that represents a moral choice to hang with the sinners. Now we are all sinners, but some of us have heeded God’s call, and we will explore the change of status in a moment.

Does God punish sinners? We’ll attempt an answer to that question when we ask the question How Can a Loving God Condemn People to Hell?

Third, we must understand that Christ offered us a new covenant. In your Bible, there are five great covenants or contracts that God made with His children through human representatives, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.

The deals made with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David fall under the category of the OLD Covenant, apologies to any Jewish believers, which we can find in the first 39 books of your Protestant Bibles, what Christians call the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament, we see God punishing individuals and nations because of sin. In the Kingdom sin is a crime. Sin is judged and if found guilty punished. 
Punishment is payback for sin done the past.

Leviticus 26:14-17 & 21 (MSG)
“If you refuse to obey me and won't observe my commandments, despising my decrees and holding my laws in contempt by your disobedience, making a shambles of my covenant, I'll step in and pour on the trouble: debilitating disease, high fevers, blindness, your life leaking out bit by bit. You'll plant seed but your enemies will eat the crops. I'll turn my back on you and stand by while your enemies defeat you.” “If you defy me and refuse to listen, your punishment will be seven times more than your sins …”

For clarity sake let me remind you that “Sin is anything that deters, damages or destroys right relationships, sin cause estrangement eventually resulting in death.  Throughout the scripture, certain behaviors are labeled as sinful, but the end result is the same, fractured relationships with God, Others, Self and the Earth.

From the perspective of the Old Testament, the former contract the answer to the question “Does God punish his children?” the answer is YES. Most often the punishment is intended to turn people off a path of destruction and back onto a path of righteousness, but that’s not always the case.

Now we can consider what God accomplished in and through the incarnation as Jesus. In our faith community once a month we observe the Lord’s Supper and are reminded that those who believe in Christ have a new covenant.
We have previously established the revelation that when we acknowledge that we are sinners, estranged from righteousness; believe that Jesus died for our sins, to make reconciliation possible; commit ourselves to be a disciple of Jesus, and ask God to redeem us; we become the children of God.

John 1:11-12 (NIV)
[Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-

What we believe about Jesus sacrificial death on the cross is that his obedience made atonement for our sin. Atonement is an action that allows parties that are at odds to come together in harmony. The sin of rebellion separated humanity from God. Jesus atonement brings us back.

1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)  & Hebrews 9:26 (MSG)
“That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.” [Jesus] “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

 When we become Children of God through faith in Christ all our sins are forgiven. God no longer holds us accountable for the things we have done that have prevented or destroyed righteousness. Righteousness means something is as it was intended to be. No matter what we have done or what we have failed the scripture says we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the Righteous One (1 John 2:1) in whom we find acquittal by the forgiveness of our sins.

1 John 2:12 (NIV)
I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

Your sins are forgiven, God no longer holds you accountable for the deeds done before you reached out in faith and asked to be made right, therefore there is nothing to punish. At the moment of your new birth (John 3:1-21), your record of sins belongs to your former life, not your present life in Christ.

It is not God punishing you when there are physical consequences for previous actions. Many painful things in a believer’s life are the consequences of previous sin tainted behaviors. God forgives, but doesn’t always get your out of your circumstances; instead, he walks you through them. That road can be very difficult. This is not punishment, God does not punish His children for their previous sins, Jesus took care of those.

Concerning sins committed after becoming a child of God, the scripture makes it clear that through confession, repentance, restitution, asking the offended party for forgiveness and finally asking God to expunge your record, God does.

Psalms 103:10 & 1 John 1:9 (MSG)
“He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.” “If we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”

There are consequences for sinful behavior, if we persist, those consequences become more severe. But severe consequences are not the same as punishment.

Because God does not punish his children under the new covenant, doesn’t mean that God does not hold each of his children accountable for their behavior (Romans 14:12). The Apostle Paul alludes to this when he asks that rhetorical question—“Should we keep on sinning so grace can abound?” (Romans 6:1). The answer, of course, is no. When God first accepted your faith in Jesus He declared you to be righteous, He put His stamp of approval upon you, His Holy Spirit within you. When God does this for us, He also does something in us, He empowers us to become what He has declared us to be. His desire is for you to be like Jesus.

Romans 8:29-30 (MSG)
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

God is light, love and a good Father. God is the good parent. When we stray from the path of becoming like His son, God in love disciplines us. I truly believe when God has to do this, what mom and dad said to a previous generation “This is going to hurt me, more than it is going to hurt you” is absolutely true.

Hebrews 12:5-8 (MSG)
“…have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children.”

With this serving as the background we can answer the question, Does God punish His Children? The answer is no. God does impose corrective discipline upon His children. There is a difference between punishment and corrective discipline. Corrective discipline is forward-looking, it seeks to change behavior for a better outcome. The outcome is becoming more like Jesus.

Discipline is not pleasant. Discipline’s purpose is to change our thinking and behaviors. The more ingrained our unrighteousness, the more difficult it is to be trained out of it. God is persistent in His training His children.

Hebrews 12:11 (MSG)
At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

We have enough information to make our case that God does not punish His Children. As I was pondering this another question came to mind. How do you tell the difference between the God’s discipline and the Troubles Jesus warned us of?

The quick answer is when faced with difficulty you must contemplate. You need to engage in that 7th habit of a disciple. You must go to God and ask for the searchlight to be aimed at your soul, to help you discover if there is some sin you are harboring in your life that is keeping you from becoming more like Jesus, keeping you from effective ministry in the Kingdom. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, well then you’re under discipline. That discipline is to encourage you to change your ways. We don’t change when we see the light, we change when we feel the heat. After contemplation, if you find your conscience is clear, most likely you are in a Trouble.

If you’ll bear with me, I have one more observation. This observation involves lethal discipline. Yes, you heard me right, a Godly discipline that removes you from this life. We see it occur in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira who lie lead to their immediate death and we get another glimpse in 1 Corinthians with Paul trying to correct how this particular faith community was celebrating the Lord’s supper.

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (MSG)
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of "remembrance" you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.  If you give no thought (or worse, don't care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you're running the risk of serious consequences.  That's why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.

Weak, sick, dead, that also can be a form of God’s discipline. How can having one’s life ended be a discipline? We have previously suggested that God’s number one priority is redeeming His creation, bringing people into a right relationship with Him. It may well be that if certain behaviors are persisted in you can forfeit your right relationship with God and be lost from His redemptive purposes for your life. That answer leads to yet another question Can I Lose My Salvation? A question we’ll deal with in another teaching.

For now, we have been able to answer our original question. Under the New Covenant God does not punish His Children. God does not punish His children for sins, Jesus made atonement for the sins of the world. God does hold us accountable and God does discipline to get us back on track.

O Sacred King (Matt Redman)

God is and remains loving and kind, full of mercy and compassion. Punishment deals with censure, “you did something bad so now we must extract a pound of flesh.” Discipline deals with correction, “it’s the difficulty in life that encourages you to change.” Consequences are the result of our choices, not God punishing.

Everyone runs into trouble. The difference between being subject to God discipline and caught up in a trouble must be discerned through contemplation, let the Holy Spirit reveal to you if you engage in some behavior that hinders your life in the Kingdom.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (MSG)

But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this.


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