Summary: Why do we sometimes wait for God to "punish" us if we mess up as Christians? We are not under the law any longer, but under grace. And sometimes it’s hard to remember that.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
(Romans 6:14-16 NKJV)
You know, sometimes I wonder about the people of the old testament and how they lived godly lives, because Jesus had not been born yet and the Holy Spirit had not been given. I personally believe the godly people (which were few or specifically chosen) lived in complete fear of Him, rather than the desire to please Him or from guilt. Because if they didn’t, God Himself would punish them one way or the other, either with a flood, a disease or just flat out destroying their entire city with fire from heaven. I sometimes wonder if the people back then even had a conscience to deal with without the Holy Spirit and simply lived in complete fear of God and His wrath.
But now, thank God, that we have been given Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, which helps us to have the desire to please Him. But some of us still live as if God is going to punish us in some way if we don’t live like some sort of perfect robot that doesn’t have any feelings or make mistakes. And too many of us are consumed of that to the point where there is no longer any joy, peace or happiness in our lives. And believe it or not, God does want us to be happy and content. We have to keep in mind that we are indeed under grace and not the law anymore. But as the scripture above suggests, that’s not an excuse to sin. When Christians walk out from under the protection of grace, bad things happen to them and many of them believe its God’s punishment for their sin or disobedience. When in reality, it’s simply because they chose to walk away from grace itself and fling the door open wide for the prince of the power of the air to have his will with their lives. And the Holy Spirit chastens them for it with guilt and shame, but they take it as punishment and prepare themselves for the worst.
God does not punish us, He mourns for us because we sometimes walk out from under the covering of the blood of Christ. One day God will again punish those who have been blatantly disobedient. But for now, each person on this planet has a chance because God doesn’t see the sin any longer, He sees the blood of Christ where He didn’t in the old testament. So what’s my point here? We need to stop feeling so unworthy and punishable when we mess up and make mistakes. Basically, we ask God to punish us through our own expectancy because we know when we have made a mistake by the chastening of the Holy Spirit. And we almost act as if we need to look toward the heavens while telling God, “Okay, I did it, go ahead and slap me, punish me, kick me, kill me.” When this is not what God wants to do, He simply wants you to turn around, walk away from the sin and come back to Him. After all, this is what He gave us His own Son for.
I heard a pastor from the pulpit say once that God will make you sick if you are disobedient. And I just don’t necessarily agree with this. Because that, would be like an old testament punishment. But on the other hand, I believe God will use different means to rescue us and may let different things happen to us simply because we are out from under the grace that has been given to us. This is not a punishment, this is chastening, a call for return, and there is a huge difference. If God were to literally punish us, more than likely we probably wouldn’t be alive any longer, at least not on this planet. Because when God punishes, with all the examples in the old testament, we can see that He doesn’t do a wimpy job of it. So when we make a mistake, mess up, or wander out from under the grace of Jesus Christ, we need to stop asking God to punish us through our own expectancies!
We are indeed sons and daughters of the living God, but we’re just not perfected yet. So we need to throw away our “kick me” signs we wear on our backs whenever we mess up, and know that Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven loves us, no matter how much we mess up at times. And in truth, as long as we don’t walk completely away and let our conscience be “seared with a hot iron” (1st Tim. 4:2), we’re okay. But remember, being under grace is not an excuse to sin. We still must keep fighting the good fight and let the Holy Spirit reign in our lives. But we also need to remember that, even though we may mess up at times, sin does not and cannot hold us in bondage, simply because we are indeed under grace. That is our true freedom from sin and the grave and being “kicked” by God. Being born again and saved by grace as Christians, the only way to be a slave to sin, is to remain serving it. We are free, but the choice is still ours to remain that way.