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    THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN(Questions 10-11)


    The Catechism is divided into three sections-guilt, grace and gratitude. The first section is meant to make us aware of our sinful condition before God. The second section describes the great lengths God went to in sending Jesus to die for our sins. And finally the third section shows us how to live our lives as Christians, with thankful hearts to God for what He has done.

    As we come to Questions 10-11, we end the section on sin. But before we can move on to the good news, or the "grace" section, it is important we understand clearly the consequences of sin and how seriously God takes it.


    10. Will God allow disobedience to go unpunished?
    No. God is very angry with our sins and will punish them now and after we die.

    11. Won't God show mercy?
    Yes, but He must also be fair. This means He has to punish the sinner's body and soul forever.

    The first thing we learn about sin is that God is very angry when we disobey Him. Because of His anger He will punish our sins-now and after we die. Now represents the consequences we will face for our sin in our present lives here on earth. After we die shows the punishment we will face when God sends not only our body but our souls to hell.

    This might sound harsh or maybe even unreal. We aren't used to being punished so severely. But one thing we must understand right away is that God is not like our parents when it comes to punishing us. You see, many things you do your parents may not see. And even some of the things they see you do they may not punish you for, even though it is wrong. But with God it is different. God sees everything. There is nothing we can hide from Him. There is no place we can go to get away from His gaze. He even knows our thoughts and desires. Look at this verse:

    The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.

    (Psalm 11:4-6, NKJV)

    This verse shows that God sees and knows everything. He looks down upon man from His throne in heaven to see who is doing good and who is doing bad. Those who disobey Him and practice evil will be punished with "fire and brimstone", with coals raining down from heaven. So you can see how impossible it is to get away with sinning in the eyes of God and how seriously God will punish those who sin.

    Now that we understand God's justice, how He must punish sin when He sees it, we come to the next part of the puzzle that tells us how God will punish our sins. There are two ways-the first is to allow sin to have it's natural consequence. For instance, if you rob a bank, the natural consequence is that you will probably go to jail. If you do drugs then the consequence may not only be jail but also your body will be harmed. In these ways, God allows the natural consequences of our sin to punish us in this life.

    The second way God punishes sin is after we die. This is where God punishes not only our bodies, but our souls. This is the most dangerous of all punishments. This punishment isn't like being on restriction for a week or even a whole year. It's not like being spanked or having your toys taken away. This second punishment of God is eternal damnation. Those might be strange words to you so let me explain them. "Eternal" means the punishment will last forever. How long does forever last? For millions and jillions of years? No, even longer! The other word, "damnation", means that during your punishment you will be in pain or distress. It won't be like you're just sitting there bored, twiddling your thumbs. Since you actively disobeyed God and rebelled against Him, He will actively punish you with His wrath and anger. This will all take place in the worst of all places, hell.

    Instead of writing a verse out for you, take the time to look up these verses about God's judgment and hell yourself:

    Matthew 25:41-46
    1 Thessalonians 5:3
    2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
    2 Peter 3:7

    This part of the Catechism has not been very nice. But sin is never nice and when we take our time to really think about what sin earns us we can see how dangerous it is. But after the "bad news" comes the "good news". Just as God made a promise to always see our sin and to always punish it, He made another special promise as well. He promised that if we trust in Jesus and ask forgiveness for our sins, He would put all our punishment upon Christ. So if you are scared or worried about your sin before God, good! Then the Law of God has done it's job. The next step is to trust in Jesus and allow Him to take the punishment you deserve. Don't expect God to break His promise of judging sin by looking the other way or letting you "off the hook". If He did that, how could you be sure He would ever keep any of His other promises? Instead, trust in God to be fair and punish your sin as it deserves to be punished-by death. Only realize that it is by the death of Jesus and not your own death that you will be forgiven. We will learn more about that in the next part of the Catechism.


    QUESTIONS

    1. What are the two ways God punishes sin?
    2. How long does "eternal damnation" last?
    3. Why can't God just let us off the hook and not punish us?


    1998 Pomona Youth Chapel/Pastor Tim Shultz