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  Christian Punishment

Divine punishment of Christians for their sins

*Only a fraction of the scriptures dealing with the subject is presented here.  The material below then serves to bring home the points.  Unless otherwise stated, the Bible translation is Webster's.

The fact is that many Christians think no such thing exists.  The belief that Christ's ransom covers all sin is quite common.  For this reason, the primary material used shall come from the NT.  Nonetheless, it must be emphasized now and here that all of the Bible is needed to understand the issue.  To disregard God's interaction with many faithful of the OT when they fell into serious sin would be a grave mistake and lead to an erroneous, an improper, understanding of God's interaction with us.

Christian are judged by their deeds

Whom do the scriptures address here?  Non-Christians or Christians?  Look at the scriptures and think about that.
 Heb 13:4, WEB,  Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.

Jude (1:)4, For certain men have crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
We see that the ones addressed are Christians who are committing willful sin.  Are these ones forgiven? or, shall they receive the proper judgment for this?  The scripture is clear; there is no avoiding their negative judgment.  These ones actually become disapproved because of their willful practice of sin, disapproved as in damned forever.
Hebrews 10:26, 27, For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful apprehension of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Each Christian will receive an impartial judgment based on their deeds.  Some will balk at this because of their concept of Grace.  Please, read on, or look at this page explaining how Grace works:  Grace - what is it?
I Peter 1:17, And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear.

II Corinthians 5:10, For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to what he hath done, whether good or bad.

Hebrews 9:27,  And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
It then becomes apparent that while we cannot earn our salvation by works but only through grace, assuredly we can earn our damnation through them.  Still, this damnation only occurs when the sin committed is willful, a practice of sin - which Jesus spoke about being committed by 'workers of lawlessness' or 'you that work iniquity' depending upon the translation. (Matt 7:23)

In this way Paul's admonition must be remembered:  Hebrews 12:14, Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

How does a person attain to holiness in the eyes of the Lord?  For sure, abstaining from sin, best-effort style, is a must.  But, there is more to it; there is also the punishment, the discipline of the Lord so that we have been paid back for our sins.  In this way the Lord must judge all impartially.  But, this must be verified by scriptures.

Divine Punishment / Discipline / Chastened

Mercy is the prime factor of course.  We are told that God doesn't pay us back according to all our sins.  If he did, all of us would have to die as the unrepentant sinners must. (PS 103:10)

Then of course the question as to why we should be punished becomes important.  As in all things discipline is given out for the sake of teaching us not to sin, be it done by our heavenly Father through his son, Christ, or by our human parents. (I Pet 4:1) Let's examine a few scriptures about discipline:
Hebrews 12:4, Ye have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh to you as to children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked by him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons

II Corinthians 6:9, As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

 I Timothy 1:20,  Rotherham, Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may be taught by discipline not to be defaming.

Revelation of John 3:19, Darby, (Comment I = Jesus), I rebuke and discipline as many as I love; be zealous therefore and repent

Discipline equals judgment and the paying back for impartiality and salvation

The teaching we have received tells us that we are suffering, being disciplined / chastened, because of the righteous judgment of God.
1 Peter 4:15-19, But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters. 16 Yet if [any man suffereth] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [beginneth] at us, what will [be] the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.
II Thessalonians 1:4, 5,  So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer

I Corinthians 11:32,  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Romans 3:5, DRC, But if our injustice commend the justice of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust, who executeth wrath? 6 (I speak according to man.) God forbid: otherwise how shall God judge this world?
As demonstrated above, which unfortunately leaves the OT vivid examples out of the picture, we can see that the Christian sufferings and hardships must be viewed as discipline from the Lord. 

When we suffer  we are admonished to pray for help, and the righteous Christian in accordance with 1 Peter 4:1, learns through suffering to desist from sin since he comes to understand that there is no avoidance of discipline resulting from sin. 

This follows the principle of Numbers 14:18, Rotherham,   Yahweh—slow to anger and great in lovingkindness, Forgiving iniquity and transgression: Though he will not leave, wholly unpunished . . .

James 5:13, WEB,  Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises.
So, in accordance with the will of God and his Christ, let us pray when we suffer both for help and forgiveness, and let us repent of our sins and turn around so as to live in all holiness.

Examples of God's discipline or punishment

We should not forget the bad example of Ananias and his wife who lied to the Holy Spirit and were executed on the spot.  Thus surely was to serve as a warning to us all. (Acts 5:1-10)

The next deadly warning is found in Corinthians:
1 Cor 11:28, ASV, But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. 31 But if we discerned ourselves, we should not be judged

The sleep mentioned in here refers to sleeping in death.  If these were disapproved or simply received the ultimate discipline is a matter of speculation.  Similar warnings are found for Christians in Revelation, the first few chapters where Christ speaks to the churches.

Other warning examples that come to mind are of course Moses' disobedience and his being refused entry into the promised land.  Miriam's leprosy, and Korah and his family that was swallowed by an earthquake.  (Numbers chapter 16)

Then there are David's sins.  His wedding the wife of the person whom he got killed cost him years of suffering and much family trouble as God's blessing was removed from him though he was forgiven because of his true repentance.  He also committed a sin as the king of Israel.  This costs Israel 70,000 dead if memory serves.  We shouldn't forget Balaam who forfeited his life for the sake of mammon.

Elisha's servant should not be forgotten.  Gehazi got greedy and he and his subsequent children were forever cursed with leprosy.  Why his children should be included in this punishment is a mystery that needs to be resolved by someone else.  Nonetheless, we see that sins are punished.
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