Does God Punish Bad Behaviour & Mistakes Throughout Your Life?

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
I think 'punishment' is not the correct way to look at it, and in fact can be a dangerous way to understand it. What most people regard as punishment for their bad deeds is simply the consequences of sin itself, it is the natural result of separation from God.

Obviously God does not want us to be separate from Him, but he also does not want us to be close to Him through coercion (we are not islamists). Punishment is a form of coercion. God wants us to choose Him freely.

The reason it is dangerous is because one might, logically, conclude that if the sin is not punished then that means it wasn't a sin. You can live for a very long time sinning and not suffer any immediate consequences, or not caring about them because they are minute.

If you fornicate and get a nasty infection, is this God punishing you? Or is it simply the consequence of your sin? And if you don't get an infection (because you used 'protection' or simply by luck) does it mean you haven't sinned?

And what about all the sufferings (as someone was asking in another thread) that befall small babies? What is the sin they are being punished for? It doesn't make sense.

Therefore what we might perceive as punishment is either the natural consequence of our sin, or the natural consequences of other peoples' sins. Because we have free will, and we have free will because God truly loves us and wants us to love Him out of choice, not coercion. God DOES NOT cause suffering - He can be said to allow it (because preventing it would mean, in most cases, abolishing free will), but not cause suffering. All suffering is caused by people sinning - either here and now or in the past, and ultimately it is traced back to the primordial sin of Adam and Eve, which introduced death to the world.

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ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
I should add that the 'punishment' view is what is presented in the Old Testament, and that it is 'old' for a reason.

Christ established a New Covenant. In Christ, humanity can be said to have reached maturity - and understood in this way, we can see how in the OT God punishes as a reinforcement lesson that sin leads to suffering, in the same way parents punish a child to reinforce that whatever wrong they did is wrong. Sometimes the natural consequence is direct (eating too many candies and getting a stomach ache), sometimes indirect (playing games for too long instead of doing productive things and then going nowhere in life), but the punishment is a reinforcement of the message, it's not itself the message.

And when children grow, this kind of action decreases as the child should have learned by now the true message. It is the same in OT and NT. In the Gospels, you never see Jesus punishing, in fact you see quite the opposite, that ultimately no matter how much we sin, if we repent, we can be saved because God is ultimately Love itself - which is «patient and kind» and «not jealous or boastful or proud or rude». You can see it in the Prodigal Son (in the older view, he should punished, not rewarded) as in the story of the adulterous woman - in the latter case, Christ not only does not punish, but prevents the punishment. The Pharisees want to punish, and Christ wants to forgive and simply say 'Go and sin no more', no punishment, just a loving pointer towards the right direction.
 
I should add that the 'punishment' view is what is presented in the Old Testament, and that it is 'old' for a reason.

Christ established a New Covenant. In Christ, humanity can be said to have reached maturity - and understood in this way, we can see how in the OT God punishes as a reinforcement lesson that sin leads to suffering, in the same way parents punish a child to reinforce that whatever wrong they did is wrong. Sometimes the natural consequence is direct (eating too many candies and getting a stomach ache), sometimes indirect (playing games for too long instead of doing productive things and then going nowhere in life), but the punishment is a reinforcement of the message, it's not itself the message.

And when children grow, this kind of action decreases as the child should have learned by now the true message. It is the same in OT and NT. In the Gospels, you never see Jesus punishing, in fact you see quite the opposite, that ultimately no matter how much we sin, if we repent, we can be saved because God is ultimately Love itself - which is «patient and kind» and «not jealous or boastful or proud or rude». You can see it in the Prodigal Son (in the older view, he should punished, not rewarded) as in the story of the adulterous woman - in the latter case, Christ not only does not punish, but prevents the punishment. The Pharisees want to punish, and Christ wants to forgive and simply say 'Go and sin no more', no punishment, just a loving pointer towards the right direction.

Its discipline rather than punishment for those who are saved and put their trust in Jesus. But for those who don't believe. Punishment does come. Not for correction because they would harden their heart and would double down as the Book of Revelation shows. But destruction of the rebels against God.

Not every evil person gets their comeuppance in this life and some even manage to get away with their evil. Like Pol Pot who died a natural death with no regrets. But believers will always get the discipline in order to develop righteousness.
 

bucky

Ostrich
Not every evil person gets their comeuppance in this life and some even manage to get away with their evil. Like Pol Pot who died a natural death with no regrets. But believers will always get the discipline in order to develop righteousness.
I think it's important too to remember that we are all evil. That's one of the central, most important concepts in Christianity. You never become a good person, you just hope for salvation through Christ.

OP's question is complicated and I don't have anything close to a sure answer, but I'm inclined to say "not necessarily":

Ecclesiastes 7, 15-18:

15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?

17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.
 
I think it's important too to remember that we are all evil. That's one of the central, most important concepts in Christianity. You never become a good person, you just hope for salvation through Christ.

OP's question is complicated and I don't have anything close to a sure answer, but I'm inclined to say "not necessarily":

Hence my earlier sentences.
 

Cervantes

Woodpecker
Woman
Suffering on earth is not a punishment from God, nor are Earthly pleasures a reward. There are many stories in the Bible of the good suffering - with God's consent (Job), and of the evil flourishing (the rich man in the story of Lazarus). And we see from experience evil people flourishing, and wholly innocent people even children suffering.

I don't think God has a need to punish people as a form of vengeance or a desire to "even the score" or to be "compensated" for our sins.

Temporal suffering for the Godly is also an opportunity to live heroically. We wish for a life of peace and tranquility where we are challenged the least possible so we can cruise into heaven without having to work particularly hard. But then consider the lives of some of the people we know lived heroic lives (Read the life of Baldwin IV for example).

Punishment and reward are in the afterlife which is eternal. If someone ends up in hell, that they suffered also in life doesn't matter. That limited temporal suffering doesn't add anything measurable to infinite suffering in hell.

I think there are 4 sources of suffering:

1. God often subjects people to suffering as a corrective. Times of suffering often improve people spiritually. When God has punished whole nations many times - it was with a goal of raising up a remnant. The bible talks often of nations being "refined" with heat and pressure to extracting gold. When nations are under pressure like we are now, some people react by taking their spiritual lives more seriously.

2. Our separation from God creates and inherent suffering. We're designed to want to be close to God. When we start drifting away, we become anxious and depressed. Often people in this condition don't know why. Depression and anxiety are nearly universal among the ungodly.

3. Natural consequences of sin. If you fornicate you erode (and ultimately destroy) your ability to have the kind of intimacy with a spouse that God intended, and that creates loneliness. If you live for pleasure you debase yourself, becoming a slave to your animal drives ending in becoming a sexual degenerate, obese or very often addicted to drugs. Sloth tends to toward poverty. etc.

4. The Devil creates suffering, but he will cause suffering to the godly and ungodly alike. The Devil probably tries not to create additional suffering for those who are already cruising to an afterlife with him. He would prefer they sleepwalk through life and end up separated eternally from God. The Devil does humiliate them though - which is why they look the way they do.

Similarly he may create suffering in the Godly (or those around them) to try to shake their faith, as happened in Job. But there are limits to how much suffering he will rain down on the godly because when someone suffers greatly in this life and does not turn away from God it gives God tremendous glory.
 

Enea

Pigeon
Some questions regarding the conquering & pillaging of Israel by various pagan nations in the Old Testament being interpreted as God’s punishment sent to chastise Israel:

What was God’s will in regard to those conquering pagan nations?

Surely they being his creatures, it was his will that they repent and turn from sin.

If this is the case, then by ‘sending’ these nations as punishment to Israel isnt he willing them to sin in the process?

Such questions are relevant with regard to the modern West & the conquering of it by various third-world groups, I think.
 

N°6

Hummingbird
^that is the covenant that Israel signed up to in Deuteronomy.

The pagan nations’ gods knew the Seed of the Woman who’d bruise the Serpent’s head would come from Abraham’s line via Israel so they tried to cut off that line through war or more commonly by bringing Israel into the cults of Baal and Astoreth.
 

YoungColonial27

Robin
Orthodox
I was once an atheist. I was never devout christian before that, though my mother was, my father was always agnostic. However ever since the third wave of communism, I have slowly been pushed to god. First atheism+ which was a cult showed me that atheism doesn't mean you aren't religious. That introduced me to the evils of the sjw movement and feminism. Then MGTOW showed me that they were actually supported by the government and I was so frightened I decided to not to date (I hadn't had much interest in women at this point) and skip university.

After this I slowly underwent a spiritual journey as the evils of the world attempted to corrupt and break me, I was fooled by Bernie's lies in his election campaign (I'm from the UK but the youtubers I follow are mostly USA) and only began to notice when he cowed to feminism and BLM. After he lost and started advocating for Hillary I went into a spiral of depression that only God saved me from. The drugs addled my mind and affected my sanity, the therapy did little, but a miracle from God saved my life at the last moment.

It took a while for all this to sink in, but when it did, I started praying again, joined this forum and prepared to properly read the Bible. I read a few pages at the end of last year, but found myself distracted.

Today I decided to properly read it, and felt a weird inclination to skip to a page later on in the prayer book. I found myself reading Luke 4:38-41

The passage I found most compelling was this -
I practised evil with diligence and enthusiasm, with earnestness and keenness I committed each sin. For this I deserve suffering and condemnation.

I find that this passage in a way applies to me. As an atheist I had been controlled by anger, under the misconception I had been lied to, I myself spread lies of god and Christianity trying to convince other Christians to abandon God. I wasn't the only one doing this, and I spent a lot of time watching atheists and Christians debate on youtube in those days, but I think what may have truly saved me was the love and compassion I saw many of these Christians had for the people they were arguing with. I had a respect for them, and respect the communists could never attain.

I personally think that God did not punish me for abandoning him at that time, what punished me was the Devil. No longer protected by God, or able to defend myself, I was vulnerable to perhaps a plethora of evil. No I believe the only punishments and rewards God grants are those in the afterlife. But in life most find themselves punished for evil and rewarded for good. Most not all. Thank you.
 

DeFide

Robin
Does God do so in a similar regard to 'Bad Karma', in terms of cause & effect, and a rolling judgement throughout one's life?

Or is His judgement administered solely in the afterlife?
He punishes us in this life, to draw us to Him that we might use it toward our sanctification.

[4] For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: [5] And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.

[6] For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. [7] Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? [8] But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. [9] Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live? [10] And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification.

[11] Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice. [12] Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, [13] And make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed. [14] Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God. [15] Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled.


Here’s a great sermon:

 
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ben1

Sparrow
All sins will ultimately be punished either in Hell by the sinner or on the cross by Jesus Christ. For the Christian, God's wrath for sin has been propitiated, however, God still imposes consequences for sin for various reasons:
  • To vindicate his holy name (for example, Ananias and Sophira, or those who were sick and dying from profaning the Lord's Table in Corinth)
  • As chastening for sin to humble the sinner (for example, David in the census or with Bathsheeba)
  • The natural consequences of sin (for example a thief who goes to prison or a drunkard who gets liver disease)
  • Sometimes there are things that appear to be consequences for sin but are actually just afflictions of Satan which were permitted by God for a mysterious purpose (for example, the suffering of Job)
God does sometimes visit the wicked with punishments on earth as well, but God deals differently with his own children than with the world. We ought always to seek greater humility before God with respect to our sins. When approaching our brothers who are suffering we ought to be slow to accuse them of sin without proof and we are always safe in encouraging them to find their comfort in God.
 

ben1

Sparrow
Satan definitely capitalizes on them.
Have no fear when Satan accuses you based on your sins. The Righteous Branch will remove your filthy garments and cloth you with pure vestments.

Zechariah 3

1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
3Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
4Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
5And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”
So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.
The Coming Branch
6Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, 7“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘If you will walk in My ways,
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts;
I will give you places to walk
Among these who stand here.
8‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
9For behold, the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts,
‘Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ”
 

fortyfive

Woodpecker
Does God do so in a similar regard to 'Bad Karma', in terms of cause & effect, and a rolling judgement throughout one's life?

Or is His judgement administered solely in the afterlife?

In my personal experience when I began straying away from God and not returning, repenting, then always some bad random ,,coincidence,, are going to happen increasing later in severity.
Also opposite is true. When I am seeking God truly and consistently then a very good coincidence is going to happen. Always.

In this blessed state, other people are claiming you are just very lucky.
But you know it has nothing to do with luck.
 

Psalm27

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Does God do so in a similar regard to 'Bad Karma', in terms of cause & effect, and a rolling judgement throughout one's life?

Or is His judgement administered solely in the afterlife?
If you are a son of God then He will chastise you if you sin, but this is out of His love for you.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If you are an unbeliever however, He will not chastise you but you are then racking up sin debt to be paid in hell.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
If people are wronging you, or have done so, do you think a variant of "God will see their wickedness, and punish / correct them for it"?

I feel that God is just, and therefore will look to correct those that indulge in malign ways. But i do wonder if to think this way alone leads to a certain passivity, that is not always helpful, eg if you are being slandered or otherwise treated contemptuosly, surely its most necessary for you to stand up for yourself, rather than just 'leave it to God'.
 
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