Your Question # 36
[#36] If God forgives our sins, does that mean we won't receive punishment/bear the consequences of the sin?
Thank you for your question.
Let me begin by saying, when a person receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, ALL our sins, past, present, and future are wiped clean. This is due to the position we have in Christ as a child of God. The Bible says that His righteousness has been 'imputed' or put on our account. Note this it is not by any work or effort on our part, but totally the saving work He did for us on Calvary. Read Romans 4:22-25.
Further in Romans 5:1 "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." I highlighted 'having been', so show this is a work of God in the past tense. It is also granted to us that we will have 'peace' with God. In this term, peace means there is no more enmity between God and us, like two countries who sign a peace agreement to end war. The other type of 'peace', comes from our fellowship with the Lord who provides: joy, comfort, and serenity.
To your question, does this mean we won't receive punishment? In the eternal sense, no. Christ has taken our punishment for sin. There is a great word in the New Testament called 'propitiation' (1 John 2:2). It means sacrifice, but more than that. It means Christ is not only the 'required payment (death)' for sinners, but He also bore upon Himself the wrath and anger of God towards sinners. For instance, someone could harm you greatly. In Christ you know you should forgive them for this harm. You agree with God to do this, but you could still hold anger in your heart for the offense. Jesus not only provided our forgiveness, but He took all the wrath and anger of God towards us upon Himself.
One way to say it, God can never be angry, nor disapprove of us again. Ephesians 1:6 "...to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved." Notice again, the past tense of 'accepted'. You and I are accepted before the Father NOW, not later. Praise the Lord. This keeps one from trying to continually 'prove' oneself to God in order to stay on His 'good side'.
Let me now add this. Some believe that by saying a little prayer to ask God to save them is their ticket to heaven, and a free pass to continue to live in sin without repentance. As a pastor, I have dealt with this many times. I explain to believers that one knows they are saved because there are certain things that have transpired in their life:
1. They desire to fellowship and abide in the Lord - John 15:1-8 (we know we are His because we abide in Him.)
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
2. They understand their nature has been transformed - 2 Cor 5:17 "Therefore, IF anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things (lifestyle) have passed away; behold, all things (new life in Christ) have become new."
3. There is a desire to fellowship with other believers - Acts 2:41-47
"Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
Hebrews 10:25 "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
4. They understand the need to abide in His commandments (not to KEEP saved, but because they ARE saved.)
1 John 2:3 "Now by this we KNOW that we KNOW Him, if we keep His commandments." John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love."
Lastly, you asked if we can bear the consequences of sin. Not eternally speaking, but in the here and now yes! When David sinned, God forgave him, but he suffered the division of His kingdom and the loss of respect from his family and fellow countrymen. In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira lied to God and to the church, God took them home that very day. They were Christians, saved, but there were consequences to their sin.
Someone could truly be saved, but backslide into alcohol or drugs. they go out partying for just one night, but due to inebriation, are killed in a car accident. In other words, God may NOT save us from some of the 'stupid' things we do in life. Also we may choose NOT to do some things we should in order to keep our spiritual walk and fellowship with God fresh every day....for instance, neglect prayer and bible study, forego attending church to keep our discipleship strong and growing. Over time, we will reap the consequences of a wasted and neglected life.
Keep in mind this last and most important point, a Christian is motivated NOT by the law, (keeping commandments and traditions in order to please God), but we follow our Lord out of a deep and longing LOVE for Him. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, (you will) keep My commandments.” You and I obey the laws of the land because we fear the consequences if we don’t. We should obey the commandments of the Lord NOT because we fear the possibility of hell, but as a child of God we want to please our heavenly Father because we love Him. This is a huge difference in how we serve the Lord.
I pray none of this will describe you. Make sure of your salvation in Christ is my first encouragement, then IF you love Jesus, seek to honor Him in all you do in this life for His glory. In His kingdom in the day He shall return, you will not regret it.
May God richly bless, hope this answered your question.