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Question #368

Does God punish Christians when they sin?

Does God punish Christians when they sin? For example, a teenage Christian girl participates in sexual activity which leads to a STD which causes cancer. She has asked if God is punishing her for her sin. I would appreciate any scriptural based answer.

The Answer:

The Bible clearly teaches that God punishes for sin. There are so many passages and examples that particular passages need not be cited. However, in this case the question relates to a particular act with a particular result. The answer in this particular case is “no.” First, God did not require the young lady to commit fornication. In fact, he forbade it. 1 Cor. 6:18. Second, Not only does God forbid fornication, but in temptation provides a way of escape which she did not take. 1 Cor. 10:13. Third, not every person, young or old, who ignores the way of escape and succumbs to the temptation contracts an STD, and, if contracted, does not contract one that leads to cancer. If God is punishing one who engages in that conduct with cancer then all who engage in that conduct should contract cancer since God is no respecter of persons. Acts 10:34. This does not happen. Fourth, this leaves but one conclusion. The young lady is not dealing with a situation that God inflicted upon her but one that she inflicted upon herself. If she truly repents of her conduct God will forgive her sin, but the fault for the results of her own chosen conduct will remain. It is the same as if one becomes inebriated and has a car wreck that leaves him quadriplegic. God can forgive the sin, but the days of miracles are past. He will remain a forgiven quadriplegic unless medical knowledge can restore his body. The young lady cannot blame God. She needs to look within.

This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that even those who are innocent suffer many physical problems that are not the result of sin. Such debilitation has never been the will of God. It is the result of man’s living in a fallen world that resulted from man’s Fall. That which has happened in the young lady’s life is sad. Should her illnesses not be cured it may even become more sad by an early death. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if she repents and returns to God (or comes to God if she is not yet a Christian) and is faithful until death whenever it comes, she will receive a crown of life. Rev. 2:10.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)