Sin doesn’t count anymore…but it has its own punishment

Sin_punishmentHow’s that for a provocative title! I don’t mean to be controversial just to be so, but we do need to work through this important but confused subject.

Unfortunately, most Christians seem to be more sin-conscious than God-conscious. 

And what I’m about to say will probably stretch you, maybe even offend your mind because we’re so steeped in this sin paradigm. But be at peace. What the heart believes usually offends the mind at first. 🙂

But just imagine what it would be like not having to think about or expend energy on sin management–where your thoughts would be free to commune with God.

The sad fact is, many sincere believers only “feel” God when they’re convicted of their sins (which they call revival), which is not how God intended for us to encounter Him on a regular basis.

But the more amazing truth is, sin doesn’t separate Him from us anymore; it separates us from Him. What do I mean by this? First, what I don’t mean…

– I don’t mean that we now have license to sin; we’re empowered by grace to live in the newness of God’s life (Rom.6:1-7; Titus 2:11-12).

– I don’t mean that our behavior doesn’t matter; it’s a question of Who or what is managing my behavior–sin-management or the Holy Spirit? Am I trying to obey commandments or believe promises? For the former was the Old Covenant and the latter is the New Covenant.

– I don’t mean that we don’t sin anymore. I’m talking about its relationship to us and to God.

But I DO mean that the separating issue of sin for God has been completely taken out of the picture by Jesus’ blood on the Cross 2,000 years ago. And I DO agree with Jesus and the Father that His Blood was enough and it is finished.

And that, my friend, is GOOD news!

I want to show a short video clip by theologian and New Testament professor, Dr. Andrew Farley, to help us out here. And, by the way, you and I don’t have to agree with everything Dr. Farley ever says (or anyone else) in order to benefit from what he has to say here. I believe he DOES have a crystal clear revelation on grace and this short clip is worth watching. Shall we?

As Dr. Farley points out, Jesus dealt with all sins–past, present, and future–on the cross. Which means…He can’t be dealing with them now. That would be to insult God’s grace and call Him a liar, which He isn’t. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews says (emphasis added)…

“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.
And where these have been forgiven,
sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Heb.10:17-18 NIV)

Paul said it this way…

“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Cor.5:19 NIV)

Do we actually believe this? Or should we make something else up? The truth is, the only thing we can do is agree and say the same thing as God (definition of confession) that Jesus’ sacrifice took away all our sins–past, present and future. And all means all! They are forgiven and forgotten forever. Our only part is to believe this glorious fact and say, thank You!

So I can just go do whatever I want
and sin to my heart’s content with no consequences?
Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!

Uh…no…

That is, if you don’t want to live a toxic life full of defeat, bondage, fear, confusion, brokenness, regret, disappointment, addiction and lots of other garbage piled up in your life that God never intended you to have.

Again, here’s what Paul said about it…

“We are allowed to do anything,”
so they say. That is true,
but not everything is good.
“We are allowed to do anything”
–but not everything is helpful.” (1 Cor.10:23 GNT)

So, yes, under the New Covenant, we can do anything we want. We are saved by grace through faith alone and not by our behavior. Which also means our behavior cannot send us to hell. But it doesn’t mean what we’re doing is good for us or helpful.

The conclusion?

Jesus already took sin away from God’s side of the equation. Everyone is already forgiven, but it’s a free gift that must be received by faith alone.

Once I do receive Christ’s scandalous grace, it does matter what I do on my end. For sin has its own punishment by the toll it takes on my life.

In other words, we can be as stupid as we want, live in a cesspool if we want. God will never love us any more or any less.

Nothing will ever change on His end. It cannot change because the covenant was already fulfilled between Jesus and the Father (Gal.3:15-17). We didn’t make it so we can’t break it. We can only believe it and agree.

But we can miss the life of wholeness–freedom, peace and joy–promised to us. That part’s up to us.

Nonetheless, His mercies are new every morning! Beloved, God owns your past; it doesn’t belong to you anymore. Just let go of that and walk in the newness of life that Jesus paid for from this moment forward.

And that’s always good news.

Original photo used in title graphic found here
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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25 Responses to Sin doesn’t count anymore…but it has its own punishment

  1. dcummuta says:

    Haha! love the title! Love how you laid it out! So good! God has just been leading me into a more full understanding of this lately, prefect timing to solidify the concept for me. After His grace, forgiveness, and Love are received the question God asks is ” Do you want my promises of fullness?” and “How hard do you want your life to be?” Thanks Mel, what an awesome and beautiful God He is! 😀

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks. 🙂 And, yes, it’s like God is asking us, would you like the Super Deluxe package? It’s absolutely free, no strings attached. Why would we want to settle for less? It makes me wonder how many of His awesome gifts have we left unopened for our lives. We’ve got to get past making the good news the bad news and realize that if it sounds too good to be true it’s probably God!
      And I agree, He gets more awesome and beautiful (in my understanding) the more I know Him. Blessings.

  2. Kylie says:

    I still have no idea where I stand spiritually, but I always enjoy reading what you have to say. It’s very helpful. Thanks, Mel! 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Well, Kylie. I’m glad you’re reading my posts (referring to your recent post/rant on your blog. LOL!). Seriously, know that you are loved more than you could possibly know. I actually think you make God smile. 🙂 You have a wonderful way of looking at things and I have a sense that He really likes that about you. Stay on the journey and know that God is much bigger than our doubts. He never gives up on us, even if we might give up on Him, or when it just gets a bit spiritually foggy at times. His love never fails! Blessings.

    • Kylie says:

      Hahaha, of course I read them! Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot. 🙂 Blessings to you as well!

  3. Mel, this post just reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Don’t know if you’ve ever read it or saw the motion picture, but it’s the story of a man who was strikingly handsome and quite prideful. An artist is captured by his beauty and paints his portrait. Dorian makes a deal with the devil to have his portrait age instead of him. Not only does the portrait age, but it captures every sin Dorian commits in his hedonistic life, while Dorian stays young and handsome.

    It’s a wonderful analogy of what we become if we turn away from the gift of grace. We might look like any ordinary Christian on the outside, but our inside will turn into that portrait, capturing every choice of sin, every step away from God’s grace we take.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, I’m familiar with the story. Good analogy. The painting is our wounded soul. What grace does is empowers us to make our soul (painting) as pure and handsome as who we really are in Christ! This is also why we need to stop using all our cognitive resources on sin-management. Not only does it actually fortify our unbelief (we habitually deny the finished work) but we miss devoting that same time and energy to finding out who we actually already ARE in Christ. Letting HIS perception of us shape our thoughts and affections. I mean, why wouldn’t we want to walk in total peace, freedom and fullness of joy? It’s crazy when you think about it. Just shows much the enemy has twisted it and turned into mean religion and drudgery instead of the absolute freedom and wholeness that Christ paid for.
      Thanks for your wonderful insights, Susan, as always. 🙂 Blessings.

    • “we miss devoting that same time and energy to finding out who we actually already ARE in Christ.” AMEN! We definitely don’t expend enough brain or heart resources on this, Mel. Have a peaceful rest of weekend.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, you too. 🙂

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    Amen. Your last couple of sentences sum it up beautifully. And, by the way, one of the main reasons I love your blog is because I never feel like you are being provocative just to be controversial or divisive. The clear heartbeat I see behind your posts is simple–to take the junk out of the way so hearts can be drawn into the Father’s embrace. Sadly I’ve known a great many folks I agree with “positionally” but I don’t agree with their approach. Over and over again I’ve seen people who want to shake the status quo (not a bad thing by any means) but they DO often end up becoming controversial for the sake of being controversial. It almost becomes part of their identity–their “anti-religion” becomes their religion and they end up partnering with the very same spirit they claim to hate. Sigh. Seen a lot of that lately–can you tell? It’s about love people, just love. EVEN loving those you think “don’t get it.” That’s where I think you exemplify exceptional grace–not shaming those who have been brought up to think/believe differently–just challenging them with some REALLY good news 🙂 And that’s a really good thing!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Cindy. What you said here…”The clear heartbeat I see behind your posts is simple–to take the junk out of the way so hearts can be drawn into the Father’s embrace.” This Is EXACTLY why I write these kinds of posts. I’m not afraid to be controversial if it will bring the orphans home to Papa. 🙂 Too many beloved of God hide from Him, or ignore His presence in their lives, partly because of bad theology and partly because of this obsession with sin over adoption. And, YES!! IT’S ABOUT THE LOVE! Period. Ha! End of story. And you are spot-on about loving people who don’t get it. Even those who annoy us the most. Yikes. Need His love there! 🙂
      Thank you so much for “getting it.” I really appreciate your encouraging and confirming input here. Blessings.

  5. TK says:

    I read this, and I again agree 100% and I again have questions.

    So this is basically how I see the world. I reminds me how the world worked in a book I read. Long story short, people only went to hell if they knew something was wrong and choose to do it anyway, but what is and isn’t wrong is up to the person. Let’s say person A thinks is a huge sin to wear the color yellow, but person B has no problem wearing yellow. When person B wears yellow, they’re golden. Person A, on the other hand, says to themselves, “It’s wrong to wear yellow but I’m going to do that wrong anyway.” That is the taint that send them to hell.

    But with what you say, the repercussions of wrongdoing are all Earthly. This is making me think on the existence of Hell. To be honest, I’m on the fence about it existing as an eternal punishment for human kind. Would a merciful, loving, forgiving God make someone pay for all eternity like that? Is it even possible? Say you’re being burned alive but never die. Wouldn’t you get used to that pain and just be bored after a while.

    Sorry, I’m being very depressing here, but I don’t mean to be. What I really want to ask is, if we have already been saved and our wrong actions only have worldly consequences, what is Hell? Does everyone go to Heaven now? What about people who died before Jesus walked the Earth?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ha ha…You always bring up those probing questions that require LONG answers, TK. LOL! Okay, here’s the deal. Jesus paid for ALL sin, regardless of what person A or B thinks is sin. No one is sent to hell for their behavior, their lifestyle or their sins. They are sent there for unbelief. They simply refuse to accept this free gift of grace.

      My point is, everyone is already forgiven on God’s end. That’s the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice! On our end, whether we think our choices are good or bad, they DO affect our lives here on earth–earthly consequences. But they don’t affect our standing with God. Only our faith does. But the Bible helps us define what’s toxic for us and what’s not. The best life is one filled with joy, love, peace, fulfillment, and those things are all found in God’s presence. And God wants us to enjoy our life with Him and be a blessing to others. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians don’t even seem to know this. 🙂

      On hell, I can’t give you a comprehensive answer. I just know that God is just and fair, and whatever He does will not violate His goodness or character. Remember, God’s will is that no one goes there at all (2 Pet.3:9). But He won’t violate our free will to choose. I believe, like heaven, we don’t have a mental grid to completely understand it. I think that’s why Jesus was the only one in the New Testament who taught on hell. It’s that hard to grasp or explain without God’s perspective and heart. I like what C.S. Lewis said about it. People just continue in the next life on the same trajectory they were on in this life. His book “The Great Divorce” is a masterpiece. I’m not going to say any more about hell other than this. Everything good about this life comes from the Father (James 1:17), whether we believe in God or not. Even the most God-hating atheists are recipients of His goodness every moment they are still breathing. Hell, whatever it is, would include the absence of that goodness and separation from love forever. And the incredible irony is, everyone who decides to go in that direction will go completely forgiven. Again, they just won’t accept the free gift.

      But here’s the good news…Jesus became one of us, paid for ALL our sin forever, so that we could be included with Him forever. It’s not what we have to do but what He has done! No strings attached. When we receive Him we receive His life in God–now in this world and the next. That issue is solved. How well our life goes in this world will mostly depend on our choices. But He gives us His Spirit to help us there too.

    • TK says:

      So people in he’ll get there by not believing. So is disbelief unforgivable? Is Christian the only acceptable way to believe? If you die and go to hell due to disbelief, can you come to believe and escape hell for heaven?

      I’m not trying to stir anything. I’m just trying to understand.

    • Mel Wild says:

      It’s not a matter of forgiving or not forgiving anything. If I gave you a gift (called “forgiveness” in this case) and you didn’t receive it, or refused to receive it, you won’t benefit from it, even though it was yours. The door is open on God’s end but we aren’t seeing it because we won’t believe.

      About the question of Christ being the only way, you have to look at this from God’s perspective, not ours. We have to consider that if there are other ways, then Jesus died in vain. Paul made this very point (Gal.2:21). The cross would be totally unnecessary, even cruel. Why would this loving Father send His Son to die a horrible death for us on the Cross if that wasn’t the only possible solution to our alienation from Him? Jesus Himself said He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), to eternal life, so we would no longer be religious or rebellious orphans but be His beloved son/daughter. Again, man’s religion is all about behavior, trying to be good or not being bad. But God will have none of that. Will we believe that He “behaved” for us or not?

      And, again, I don’t know how the “hell thing” all works out with people who never knew. I know that God judges based on what we do know. And I would rather have Him decide my case than any human judge! And I’m certain about one thing. God’s way of working that all out is the best possible way. I know this because I know the character and nature of God. The sad thing is, most people’s rejection of Christ is not actually rejecting Christ Himself. Their rejection comes from how Christians have treated them out of their own woundedness rather than Christ’s love. Gandhi himself said something to the effect, I like your Christ but not your Christians! This is a tragic commentary on Christianity. This is why we need a reformation, and all the “Ebenezer Scrooge Christians” need to get haunted by God’s Spirit and encounter His love! 🙂

      Anyway, I’m not trying to be evasive with my answers. There’s just lots of factors we really don’t understand.

      The more I come to know God’s heart, the less I want to bully people into my way of thinking. And I certainly don’t need the threat of hell to do it! I have found that His love is more than enough to compel anyone to live for Him if we will just get out of the way and let Him love them through us. 🙂

    • TK says:

      Well, for what it’s worth, that answer makes just the right amount of sense to me. You could probably lump me in the group of people who have walked away from organized religion because of the way most Christians are these days. I’ve come to accept that other religions aren’t necessarily wrong in the sense their believers are guaranteed to face some sort of eternal punishment, but I still find myself pulled toward Christian ideas. Maybe being away from all the distracting jargon and tradition has stripped my understanding down to the main ideas I’m meant to focus on.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I totally understand. I think most believers who’ve walked away from organized religion are doing so because of their bad experience, not with Jesus, but with His church! As I said before, the irony is that the people who think they understand what Christianity is, and have rejected it, really haven’t encountered Jesus at all! They’ve encountered something else that’s man-made and not life giving. But when we, as His church, finally allow people to directly connect with His love at a deep heart level, and share the really, really good news of His amazing grace, they will want Him too. Who wouldn’t! Jesus promises life and fullness of joy, not mean religion.
      So, yes, sometimes it actually brings you closer to God by getting away from the organized church, stripping away all the religious trappings, and make it about relationship with Him. Then, go find a group of believers want the same and who will help you grow.
      Good conversation! Blessings.

  6. Lots of truth there, and it reminded me of a course I attended where I learned that the cross effectively dealt with our old self. Now the gospel helps us to live as our new self – one that is no longer slave to sin. It is a daily effort compare with the once-off atonement of the cross. But God has given us all we need to live godly lives. (2 Peter 1:3)

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen. That’s it. The New Covenant is about walking in the new life, not sin-management. Our old self died with Christ, our new life is in Christ. So, there’s no reason we should have to live in the gutter. Freedom lives in us. 🙂

  7. jodiwoody says:

    Amen, Good word, Mel. I shared.
    “All thing may be lawful, but all things are not beneficial.”

  8. gailmanizak says:

    Good word brother, I re-posted this on Social Media, TY for this post. God Bless.

  9. Pingback: Keeping short accounts with God? | In My Father's House

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  11. I’ve had this article book marked on my home screen for some time now. I often go back to it and let it remind me of this truth. It has helped me to solve another piece of the puzzle. To the person who had questions about hell and others who might read this, I’ve found two books that make sense to me and many others. One is entitled “Hope Beyond Hell”. It can be found here http://www.hopebeyondhell.net

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