"So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.' Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife." Thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun." ' So David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' And Nathan said to David, 'The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die' " (2 Samuel 12:5-14).
God is forgiving. He promises to forgive our sins as we repent and turn from them. But in times of temptation, we might think, "God will forgive me."
But while God forgives sin, He also punishes for sin. At time of temptation, our carnal nature (and Satan) might say, "Maybe God will not punish me if I sin."
But that is a vain hope, a useless way of thinking.
God must punish us for our sins.
God is teaching us lessons. This physical, temporary life is a training ground for eternity. God teaches us the consequences of our choices. We need to understand consequences of right and wrong choices to prepare us for making right choices for eternity.
God is using consequences of sin to bring suffering to mankind for 6,000 years to teach mankind a painful lesson, and we must learn the same lesson.
God will not lie to us. He is a true witness. And God will be a true witness to us of the consequences of our choices in this life.
Righteousness brings life, peace, and joy. Sin brings destruction, suffering, and death. That is a big, overall lesson we need to learn in this life, and God will teach us that lesson faithfully, accurately, and consistently. So God must punish us for our sins.
Under the leadership of Herbert W. Armstrong, Worldwide Church of God taught that if you break God's law, it will break you. Mr. Armstrong said, "You cannot cheat God out of the penalty [of sin]".
We recently observed Passover, which reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ. That very sacrifice shows that God cannot overlook sin and just brush the penalty aside. Instead, God sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sins. Nevertheless, that penalty had to be paid. There is always a penalty.
And the sacrifice of Christ does not pay the penalty of all the suffering and consequences of our sins. Christ paid the penalty that we are not able to pay ourselves and still be in His Father's kingdom - death. His sacrifice also enables our character to be cleaned up so we do not go on sinning and suffering for eternity. Nevertheless, God permits us to suffer in this life because of our sins so we learn our lessons.
God forgave David of his sin, so David would not die. Nevertheless, because David sinned, God punished him to teach him a lesson. David's son died, and God raised up adversity in David's house as He said.
There are other times when God says He will punish, yet postpones the punishment for the sake of those to whom He shows mercy. But the punishment is not totally removed. When Israel in the wilderness sinned in the matter of the golden calf, God was ready to destroy them, but Moses prayed and God heard his prayer and spared Israel. Nevertheless, God said He would punish them later. "Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin" (Exodus 32:34).
Also, "See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house" (1 Kings 21:29).
God may sometimes moderate or postpone a punishment out of mercy, and in the case of eternal death and the corruption of our character that comes from sin, God applies the sacrifice of Christ to pay the penalty of our sin in our place so that our corrupted character can be healed and we can be given eternal life. Yet, God lets us suffer some of the consequences of our sins to teach us lessons, because God is a true witness of the results of our way of life, and we must never think we can "get away" with not being punished for our sins.
God would be a false witness of life itself and His spiritual law if He totally removed all the consequences of our bad choices.
"And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed" (Hebrews 12:5-13).
Not only is punishment for sins necessary, it is actually part of God's forgiveness of our sins. It is because God has forgiven us that He cleans up our character, for evil, corrupted character is one of the penalties of sin. So to remove that penalty so He can give us eternal life and we will enjoy that life forever, God must clean us up. But part of the process of cleaning us up is punishing us so we do not continue to sin and so the lesson that sin causes suffering will be so impressed on our minds that we stop sinning.
Christ paid the ultimate penalty so we can be cleansed of our sinful nature and be given eternal life. But God must inflict some kind of penalty, even suffering in this life and some loss of reward in His kingdom, to be a true witness and to teach us lessons for eternity. So we will NEVER "get away" with sin. That is as sure as the rising of the sun. God will make sure we learn that lesson before He gives us eternal life. And He will never be a false witness to us, violating His own integrity and nature to be a true witness, by letting us get away with sin.
Here are links to posts related to this subject:
"Our Own Faults Correct Us", dated December 1, 2010, link: