That is a good question and we believe the scriptures give us a clear answer on this subject. First of all, God will NOT punish His people on Judgment Day because the believer has already had their sins judged at the cross. The prophet Isaiah predicted that Jesus Christ would be punished in our place for our sins. Isaiah 53:5-6 declare: “But He [Jesus Christ] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (NKJV). The Apostle Peter refers to this passage in 1st Peter 2:24: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…by whose stripes you were healed.” By faith the believer applies these verses to himself and knows that his sins have been judged. The Lord Jesus assures the believer in John 5:24 that he will never come into judgment: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT, but has passed out of death into life” (NASB). The apostle Paul echoes this same truth in Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is no NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.”

We have seen that God’s people (those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior) will not be punished for their sins on Judgment Day, but does that mean a believer can sin without any consequences? The answer to that is a resounding NO, for if we sin as a child of God we will be “chastened” (disciplined) by our heavenly Father. We find an example of this in 1st Corinthians chapter 11 where some of God’s people were partaking of the Lord’s Supper in a sinful state. Listen to what Paul says to them in verses 27-32: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (NASB). It is solemn to think that true believers were coming to eat the Lord’s Supper with unjudged sin in their lives. Paul exhorts each believer to “examine himself”; that is, to judge any sin that they had committed before participating in the Lord’s Supper. If we don’t, we are guilty of partaking of the sacred supper “in an unworthy manner.” When that occurs God, as a faithful and loving Father, will discipline us. He will discipline us in some way to convict us of our sin and to bring us to confess it and forsake it. In the case of the Corinthians, He allowed some to become “weak and sick” to bring them to repentance; with others He actually put them to “sleep” (which means He allowed them to “die” because they were not responding to other forms of discipline). As serious as the Father’s discipline is, it is a comfort to read, “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord SO THAT WE WILL NOT BE CONDEMNED ALONG WITH THE WORLD.” The world (of unbelievers) is indeed on their way to Judgment Day where they will be punished for their sins for all eternity.

In closing this meditation I would encourage the reader to study Hebrews 12:5-11. That passage goes into more detail on the subject of the Father’s discipline of His children in this life. There you will learn what God wants to teach us when He does discipline us. Satan will try to “drive a wedge between us and our Father” when we are disciplined, causing us to think that God doesn’t love us anymore. But verses 5-6 assure us of the opposite, for they tell us, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (NASB).   (221.1)  (DO)