Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
— Psalm 62 v.12

Many there are who do not care for a love that will insist upon the uttermost farthing. They cannot care for it until they begin to know it. But the eternal love will not be moved to yield a man to the selfishness that is killing him. What lover would yield his lady to her passion for morphia? Some may sneer at such love, but the Son of God who took the weight of that love, and bore it through the world, is content with it, and so is everyone who knows it. The love of the Father is a radiant perfection. Love and not self-love is lord of the universe. Justice demands your punishment, because justice demands, and will have, the destruction of sin.  It demands that your father should do his best for you. God, being the God of justice, that is, of fair play, and having made us what we are, apt to fall and capable of being raised again, is in himself bound to punish in order to deliver us—else is his relation to us poor beside that of an earthly father. “To thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, for thou renderest to every man according to his work.” A man’s work is his character; and God in his mercy is not indifferent, but treats him according to his work.


by Diane Adams

How does God punish sin? This is such a delicate issue, takes so much restraint to engage the idea, that I hesitate to do it. But I talk to so many people who who are convinced that God is punishing them for this or that by causing bad things to happen in life. The fact is, I think his punishment does not mean losing income, losing loved ones or physical suffering. Bad things happen to all of us. Bad things are not God beating us up for sinning. Bad things happened to Jesus. 

There is a moral law in the universe, the same as there are natural laws. If you break the moral law, trouble will come your way. Most every civilization and culture in history has noticed this about existence. There are certain things you cannot do without paying a price. But the breaking of the moral law is a lot like breaking the law of gravity. Do it, and you will fall. Interestingly, I don’t see this as God punishing anyone any more than it would be true to think God punished you for jumping out the window. You sprained your ankle, but you did that, not God. 

The moral law has its own consequences built into it. It is there to teach us that right and wrong matter. Wrong hurts. But it easy for people to think then that if you do what is right, things will go well for you. You’ll have money, health, love and security. I don’t think that is true, at least not in the physical world. 

God is a spirit. He dwells in the spiritual realm. He works inside of our own spirits to bring truth, joy, compassion and peace to us, from the inside. When we withdraw from his Spirit, turn away and refuse what he offers, the result of that is that inside we become darker. We lose the fullness of his presence, the ability to see what is right and what is wrong, and sometimes the ability to care about it. This is how God punishes, but even here he never withdraws himself from us. We are the ones who do that. 

I say all this because so often people are frightened of God, feel that he is out to get them for all the things they’ve done and not done. God allows the moral law to work, but he does not ride into our lives like an avenging angel to extract a price. We do this to ourselves when we turn away from truth in our own inner beings. The rest is just a natural outworking of this process. 

Everything that God does is done in love. What we see as ‘bad’ things, are not bad in his eyes. They are there to teach, to bring the soul to the surface of our consciousness so we can be healed. From this perspective, disasters in life can be blessings, and a blessing can become a disaster if we respond to it wrongly. But the inner work of the Spirit of God is always according to his nature. He brings patience, kindness, peace, joy. We embrace or refuse it. That is the blessing of God and the punishment of God as well.