It is simply a fact that Christians still commit sins. Some may believe they can reach a point where they will never sin again, but this would contradict the teaching of the Apostle John in 1st John 1:8 & 10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (NKJV).

Will God punish us when we sin? Before we answer that, it is important to see that His desire for us is that we judge our sin and then confess it to Him. The Apostle John spoke to this between the two verses cited above, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (verse 9). A believer is a child of God and when we sin, we go to our heavenly Father to seek “paternal forgiveness.” Paternal means “fatherly” and thus the forgiveness we receive is from God as our Father, not as our Judge. He loves us and wants to see to us restored back into fellowship with Himself. So when we come to Him with a full, clear confession of whatever we have done wrong, He gladly forgives us and cleanses us (by His Word…see Ephesians 5:25-26) from the sin we committed.

What happens if we don’t judge and confess our sin? We have a perfect example in Scripture to illustrate what happens. In the church at Corinth believers were coming together to partake of the Lord’s Supper in a shameful manner. There was division among them and some were actually getting drunk right before they sat down to eat the Lord’s Supper (see 1st Corinthians 11:17-22). The Lord had the Apostle Paul address this sinful behavior in verses 27-32:

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks JUDGMENT TO HIMSELF, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For IF WE WOULD JUDGE OURSELVES, WE WOULD NOT BE JUDGED. But when we are judged, WE ARE CHASTENED BY THE LORD, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

As we stated in the beginning, if we sin we should JUDGE OUR SIN. This is what the Apostle Paul was encouraging the saints at Corinth to do, for the words “let a man examine himself” mean “let a man judge himself.” This is the ideal and if the Corinthians would judge their sin, they would be free to eat the Lord’s Supper with a good conscience and they “would not be judged.” Yet there were those who refused to judge their shameful behavior and thus God the Father judged it by chastening them with sickness and even death. The word “chastening” has the thought of “discipline.” Remember, we are God’s children and He is our Father. Just as an earthly father disciplines his wayward children because he loves them, our heavenly Father will discipline us when we go on in unjudged sin. He loves us too much to let us continue in our sin. But let us take to heart the words of verse 32, “We are chastened by the Lord, THAT WE MAY NOT BE CONDEMNED WITH THE WORLD.” We will NOT be “condemned with the world” in the coming Day of Judgment! The believer’s sins are dealt with IN THIS LIFE; the sins of unbelievers will judged IN THE NEXT LIFE, for they will be condemned to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:11-15). (254.1) (DO)