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Consequences of Sin
Paying for it Now?   

Q. I saw your article about the Holy Spirit using sinners to carry out God's will. But, aren't there consequences for sin?


Thank you for asking this very important question. To paraphrase your question: Even though we are Christians will we suffer the penalty for our sins that we commit against others and ourselves?

Looking Forward to a Glorious Future

As we answer your question we advise all of our readers to understand that we are not trying to be "bossy" and tell believers how they should live. We just want to help you live a life that will bring you ultimate joy and happiness beyond what you could ever imagine!

Cheap Grace Misnomer

It's important that the church recognize there are consequences for our actions while we are here on earth and when we stand before the Lord in judgment. Just saying we accept Christ's death for our sins and occasionally attending church simply does not fulfill all that God has in mind for us.

Yes, all true believers who are called by Him will be in heaven if we have received the Gospel of Christ's payment for our sins and believe that he rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:1-4).

But, no, it does not guarantee that we will receive our full "inheritance" in that same Kingdom of Heaven. Nor will we escape all consequences for our actions.

The Apostle Paul warns, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap…" (Gal 6:7, ESV).

Cheap Grace in Church?

There is no room for "cheap grace" in our lives as Christians or in our churches, either. The Bible tells us,

1. We will be judged for the good and bad things we do (2 Cor 5:10).

2. We can "shrink in shame" before Christ when we stand before Him in judgment (1 Jn 2:28).

3. We can lose out on a full reward when we stand before Him (2 Jn 1:8).

4. We can be "turned over to Satan" and die early because we have disobeyed the Lord! (1 Cor 5:5).

Let's look at some biblical examples:

David's Sins

When King David had an affair with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to die, his own child died in infancy as a consequence of his actions. Later, his own family turned against him and became one of the most dysfunctional families described in the Bible.


When Moses struck the rock in the wilderness to obtain water for the whining Israelites rather than "speak" to the rock as the Lord commanded, God forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:11-12).

This is a good example that while we are forgiven of our sins we are not always prevented from experiencing the consequences for sin in our lives (Sproul 2005, 118).


By today's standards Ananias and Sapphira were reasonably generous people. They sold some property and gave a good portion of the proceeds to the apostles. The problem was they lied. They claimed to give everything they made from the sale.

As a consequence of their lying God struck them dead (Acts 5:1-11). It is interesting that because of the consequences of Ananias' and Sapphira's lies, great fear gripped the entire church.

Terror of the Lord

Where is that fear today? Why do we not fear the consequences when we cheat on others, bring illicit drugs home in front of our kids, or when we emotionally abuse a spouse? Have we forgotten knowing the "terror" or the "fear" of the Lord? (2 Cor 5:11).

Illness or Death

How many things go wrong in our lives due to the consequences of our own sins? The apostle Paul lists four sins in 1 Corinthians 10:6-10 which result in disqualification of a believer, either now on earth or later at the judgment seat of Christ.


Benware and MacArthur explain, in the extreme being "disqualified" from useful Christian work can mean that a severe illness or situation "flattens" a Christian from productive work that he or she might have achieved.

Being "disqualified could even result in premature death! Benware states, "In the ultimate sense, the believer could be denied participation by premature death. The Lord is essentially saying to that believer, 'Come on home since there is nothing I can entrust to you anymore."' (Benware 2002, 155).

The apostle Paul warns, "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep" (1 Cor 11:31).

In 1 Corinthians 5:5 Paul declares, "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

These two verses shockingly expose that some Christians may die due to their own disregard for their sins and their failure to perceive God's holiness. Jeremiah clarifies this notion:

"Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?

Why should any living man complain
when punished for his sins?"

(Lamentations 3:38-39, NIV).

The List

Check this out - it will "make your hair curl:" The "sins" that Paul lists as worthy of severe judgment are "trying the Lord" which includes bad attitudes about God's sovereignty over our lives!

This might include something as simple as resenting another Christian's clothes or wanting a nicer house. Another is the sin of "grumbling" or "murmuring." These are sins of irritation and whining about our circumstances.

The sin of "idolatry" is another failure worthy of judgment. Placing anyone or anything above trusting the Lord is a sin of idolatry - like something as simple as trusting our pension plan to take care of us in old age. "Sexual immorality" is a "biggie." These are all listed in 1 Corinthians 10:6-10.

Another list is found in Galatians 5:19-23. Before we feel too comfortable, a number of great scholars including Benware and Dillow state that this passage is a warning to Christians about what they must not do if they expect to receive their full inheritance in God's kingdom.

Are you guilty of any of these?

envy, jealousy
outbursts of anger
drunkenness (& drugs)
divisiveness and argumentative
selfish ambition

These traits are listed among others in a passage where Paul concludes, "Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-23, NLT).


If you recognize yourself in these lists and feel alarmed, just remember, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn 1:9).

But, of course that assumes full, genuine repentance - not just mouthing a cold confession!

Stop it Now

Therefore, for yourself and your family and for the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ, do these now: If you abuse drugs, cut it out. If you gamble, knock it off. If you drink or overeat, stop it.

Discontinue any known immoral behaviors now - today. Get control over that bad temper or poor character and be kind to others. Don't cause others to stumble in their walk because of your failures. Instead, set a good example for your children and friends.

We say this not to be demanding or unforgiving, but to encourage you to live a life pleasing to the Lord which will work for your own good.

Hindrance of Disease Models

Sadly, I need to warn you that we live in a world where 12 step programs and psychological treatments call sin a "sickness." The disease model becomes the focus - not the need for repentance from sin.

No longer are we allowed to call alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse or homosexuality "sin." Rather, society tells us it is an unfortunate "addiction" or a behavior caused by "disease" - not sin.

God's discipline and anger towards sin is replaced by a god who understands and accepts sin unconditionally. His name is Lucifer (Tyler 2006, 116).

In the Old Testament the children of Israel were told to destroy everything when they moved into new territories - animals, people, buildings, temples. But, too often they sinned and just kept the things they were told to destroy. This led to their judgment.

Stop the Nonsense

In our own lives today we must stop this nonsense now and reclaim "sin" and knowing the "fear of the Lord" and the meaning of the Cross. If we do not there may be many shocked Christians at the judgment seat of Christ.

We will suffer severe loss of rewards and reflect over many wasted opportunities while we lived on earth. Some will recognize that they even lost their lives as a result of obvious sins and will grieve over this horrendous loss.

Submitting to the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit will assist us in our sanctification process if we submit to Him. With His power, we can overcome most of these listed problems quickly. But, the point is to try to "get it together" while we are still alive. We need to start putting our faith into practice.

New Behaviors

Begin to study your Bible and pray every day. Go to church weekly. Attend a small, home Bible Study midweek where you will be held accountable to others. Try to do good. And remember to confess and repent of your sins each new day. Take the time to renew your mind!

After all, we are just a "vapor" that appears for a little while upon the earth. So we must make the most of our days while we still can (James 4:14; Eph 5:15).


Only one life
Twill soon be past.
Only what's done
for Christ will last.


Benware, Paul. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

Dillow, Joseph. 2006. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle.

MacArthur, John. Delivered to satan. (Tapes 54-9&54-10, Part 1 and Part 2). Grace to You Ministries. Available from: www.gty.org.

Sproul, R.C. 2005. The Reformation Study Bible, ESV. Orlando, FL: Ligonier.

Tyler, David and Kurt Grady. 2006. Deceptive diagnosis: When sin is called sickness. Bemidji, MN: Focus.

Authors Ken Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Valorie received her MA in History from UCLA having specialized in Christian origins.

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