Recently I heard a good preacher say that God disciplines the Christian. This is certainly true but then he said that God can punish us as well. This is the part I have a problem with. As a Christian our salvation is guaranteed. Nevertheless we are to confess our sins and being a just God he will forgive us. I believe this will keep us in fellowship with Him. But if God forgives our sins and then punishes us for them, we would be justified in forgiving our enemies and then still punishing them for what they did to us.
I think a case can be made that the Lord disciplines us, if you view discipline in its purest sense, which is training. But to say He punishes us, as we understand the word, would be a case of double jeopardy.
I say that because He already punished His Son in our place (1 Peter 3:18). Having declared the Son’s death to be sufficient for all our sins, how could He then turn around and punish us for the same offense?
And consider this if you will. Because of the cross, the Lord already sees us as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) with a righteousness equal to His (2 Cor. 5:21) perfect forever (Hebrews 10:12-14). At the Rapture, He is going to remove all our imperfections (1 Cor. 15:51-53) so by the time we arrive in His presence we’ll be like He is (1 John 3:2). You can’t get any better than that.
All that said, I believe most of what we call punishment or even discipline from the Lord is really the predictable consequences of our own behavior, which means we bring it upon ourselves without the Lord having to do anything. Some people don’t like to admit that, so they say He is punishing them.
Father, please forgive us when we blame You for things we bring on ourselves. Amen.