Does God Give Consequences to His Childern?

Christian Life & Theology, Podcast Episodes

After receiving multiple questions about consequences in parenting (and asking them herself) Phylicia dove into Scripture to see what it said about consequences, condemnation and punishment. Are they the same? Different? If different, how?

 This episode looks at the Old and New Testaments for guidance on how God disciplines His own kids, which can in turn guide how we discipline ours.


Listen Now



Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer. I’m here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey because every woman is a theologian.

Welcome back to Verity podcast. Today, we’re talking about consequences versus condemnation. What’s the difference? Is there a difference? This topic has been something I’ve studied for my own personal benefit for the last few months, because I’ve noticed specifically in parenting accounts whether secular or Christian, there has become a trend where consequences are considered punitive. Now, what do I mean by punitive? I mean that consequences in parenting are seen as punishments. Those punishments, these accounts, these books or teaching are not in accordance with God’s character. And this got me thinking, what’s the difference between a consequence and a punishment? Is there a difference? Is it really wrong, biblically, to give your child a consequence? Are you being “punitive” and is this against God’s character? What does the Bible say about consequences versus the idea of condemnation or punishment? And what’s the difference, if any? 

So, I did a deep dive into this for my own benefit, because as a parent of three young children who is learning and growing myself, I want to know that how I’m directing, how I’m parenting my children is in accordance with what scripture teaches but also that what I’m doing isn’t just something I’m adopting from my culture, whether that’s Christian church culture or the culture of the world. I want to know am I operating in wisdom and am I actually checking the things I believe about my parenting against scripture? But even if you’re not a parent, this is a really relevant episode for you, because the theology of condemnation versus consequences, etc., is something that applies to all of us. If we don’t understand how sanctification works becoming like Jesus, if we don’t understand the implications of sin and how God deals with it, our identity in Christ, that will have an impact on how we live day to day. It will impact how we view our own sin and how we view the sins of others, how we deal with sin in our lives, our understanding of repentance, and then, of course, our understanding of the sin in others’ lives and how it affects the community of faith. 

There are a lot of implications when it comes to this topic and I think it’s worth exploring. So that’s what we’re going to do. Before we get started, I want to give you basically a rundown on the difference between condemnation and consequences. Condemnation, biblical condemnation, as it’s described in scripture, has to do with identity. Condemnation has to do with identity, but consequences have to do with behavior. The reason this is so important to understand right out of the gate is because there are two different theological concepts or terms that actually address both condemnation and consequences. The first is justification. So, justification, if you’ve read my book, Every Woman a Theologian, if you’ve listened to episode 99, where I talk about this, justification is the change of identity from sinner to saint. It’s what Christ did for you on the cross. So, if you’re listening to this and you are a Christian, you’re a follower of Jesus, what Christ did on the cross was applied to your account, and you became seen as righteous no matter what you had done before that’s justification, it’s a complete change of identity. 

There’s another word we use to describe the ongoing change and transformation into the Christian life, into the image of Christ, and that is sanctification. Sanctification makes us into someone who reflects God’s character. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us and it begins at our conversion at the application of justification. When we are justified in God’s eyes, we are made righteous. At that moment, you receive the Holy Spirit, you walk in the power and strength of Jesus Christ to become more like Jesus Christ, and that’s sanctification. Justification actually removes our condemnation, and we’re going to get into this in a second. Sanctification deals with and sometimes even gives us consequences. Justification removes condemnation, but sanctification will sometimes involve consequences for sin. That’s what we’re going to explore in this episode. So, we’re going to start by going a little bit deeper into what condemnation is and what it means for the Christian.

Remember, the thing that got me started on this exploration was something that I saw on a really popular Christian gentle parenting account. And we parent pretty respectfully, I think most people would call us somewhere between respectful, gentle, authoritative parenting. I don’t know, there’s probably no word for what we do. But I was following this account because it had been recommended to me a lot by a lot of my followers, and I was reading through multiple posts. I followed them for about six months, watched highlights that they had, and something just was off. Something was just off in the way they talked about the atonement, the way they talked about discipline and punishment. So, this word punishment was used a lot that Christian parents don’t punish because Christ took our punishment on the cross. So, everything we do is grace towards our children. Everything we do is grace and love. I searched and searched through their feed to find something talking about the difference between punishment and consequences. I did find a few different posts that talked about it, but it still used that same language of it’s all grace now because Jesus took our punishment.

And that’s what got me going. Okay, “What’s the difference between punishment and consequences? Is there a difference?” Because at first glance, if I’m new to parenting, if I’m a new Christian, it sounds like you’re saying it’s the same thing, that consequences and punishment are the same. Therefore, in parenting, in discipleship, which parenting is discipleship, we should not be giving consequences to people, we should just be giving grace. That’s what I was taking away from it. Now, not everybody may have read it that way, but I read enough of it and I was getting enough questions sent to me on this topic that I thought, let me do a deep dive into this for myself. So, condemnation, what does the Bible say? Well, the verse that probably pops into your head right away is Romans 8:1. It says, “There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is actually the verse that was cited on this parenting account. It said, “There’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus and therefore we don’t condemn or penalize our children.” Okay, well, seems consistent, Romans 8, “There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” 1 John 3:20, “When our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart and He knows everything.” So, this is speaking to the believer in Christ again just like Romans is, “Where when our hearts condemn us, we can remember the truth of God in His removing of our condemnation. Because He knows everything, we don’t need to be afraid.” 

John 3:17, remember John 3:16, which many of for God so loved the world. This is the second verse. It says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” So, what this is referring to is the fact that the world, when Jesus came into it, was already condemned, was already under wrath because it was in sin and it needed a savior. But when Jesus came in, He didn’t come in to add to that, He came in to rescue us out of it. Again, it’s consistent with the first two verses, 1 John 1:9, one of my favorite verses says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Love this verse, so there’s a way out. There’s always a way out of sin. There’s a couple of others I’m going to read in a minute, but let’s pause there for a second. Clearly, the New Testament is making a really great case for a lack of condemnation in the life of the believer. So, this made me go, “Well, what exactly is this condemnation referring to?” I took out one of my favorite books, Theology of the New Testament by George Ladd. I thought this was a helpful quote for understanding this. I’ve actually got a couple of quotes here, but I’m going to kind of build on them for you. 

Condemnation is a word in scripture that’s used to describe our state of being before Christ. It’s used to describe who we would be without salvation. George Ladd says this in Theology of the New Testament, “The Law is of divine origin and is therefore good, but because of human weakness and sinfulness, it becomes an instrument of condemnation, wrath, and death.”. So, in the Old Testament, we see the giving of God’s law. The law is given to Israel and it is for their good, and the law is good. And the law never became bad. Okay. Jesus didn’t say, “The law is bad and we’re done with it.” That is not what he was doing. He said, “I fulfilled it. I’ve brought it to fulfillment through myself in everything I’m teaching you is the spirit of that law.” It’s the same law, what Jesus is teaching, but with a new dispensation or new manifestation, however you want to say it. He ushers in the new covenant in His blood and the ability to walk out the law without wrath in death and condemnation. Because what happened was God gave this law for Israel’s good, but the sin of humanity caused them to continually walk away from God’s law.

Now, people could still be saved in the Old Testament by putting faith in God’s coming promise, in the coming Messiah. They were still saved. But following the law, even though it was for their good, felt completely impossible because as they followed it, they didn’t have that indwelling power of God to fulfill it. Under the new covenant, we do have that power to fulfill it and to walk in strength. If you want to know more about that, go back to the How to Walk by the Spirit episode. So, what George Ladd is saying here is, “Condemnation happened because of sin.” Anyone who was not in Christ is not following the Lord is under wrath, is already condemned. Now, he goes on to say this, “Justification so that change of identity from sinner to saint is the opposite of condemnation. Condemnation is not sinfulness of character or life. It is the decree of condemnation pronounced against the guilty person. Justification is the decree of acquittal from all guilt and issues and freedom from all condemnation and punishment. ” I’m going to read part of that again. He says, “Justification, the change of identity that happens when you accept Christ’s sacrifice is a decree of acquittal from all guilt. So, it takes away your guilt. Christ took away your guilt on the cross, and it issues in freedom from all condemnation and punishment.” So here he’s equating condemnation and punishment. Those two things are the same. 

This was important because I thought, “Okay, we’re making progress here.” There’s a difference between a consequence for sinful behavior and punishment. There’s a difference between a consequence and condemnation and here what George Ladd is doing is he’s saying, “Condemnation and punishment are a reflection of God’s wrath?” God’s wrath is towards those who have not accepted His free offer of grace to receive a new identity, to become His beloved children. Of course, that’s open to all people who will call upon the name of the Lord. It’s their choice whether they stay under wrath or not of course, depending on your perspective, my reformed listeners might disagree with that. But if you are Provisionist or classical Armenian, then you will agree it is our choice whether we remain under wrath or whether we respond to God’s initiation. So, we are offered reconciliation with God. We are offered reconciliation. We’re offered a way out of that condemnation. It’s offered to all of us and then we can embrace God’s offer. Through that justification there is a restoration of fellowship. We are accepted, adopted, we’re safely within God’s grasp. There’s no threat of wrath or condemnation. George Ladd put it this way, “We are no longer enemies, but objects of God’s favor.” This is your baseline identity. You are an object of God’s favor if you are in Christ.

There is nothing that can happen to that identity. You can’t have that identity stripped from you. You can’t fall out of it, you can’t trip and “Oops, I fell into sin and now my identity is gone.” That’s not how this works. Your identity is secure in Christ and if you want to learn more about that, you can go back to the Assurance of Salvation episode, where I get more into the details of what scripture says on the security of your salvation. So, this is an overview of condemnation, a couple of things we’ve learned. We know that justification removes condemnation. We know that condemnation and punishment are equated in scripture. We know that for those who are in Christ, there is no wrath upon us. We are the objects of God’s favor. So, condemnation no longer applies to someone who is a believer. So now, let’s talk about consequences. My question still as a parent was, is this argument then saying that, “If you are no longer under condemnation, you’re under grace, that there are no consequences for your sinful actions?” Because we still sin after salvation, we are saints by identity, but we sometimes sin. 

Now when we do 1 John 1:9 says, “He is faithful and just to forgive us if we confess and we repent.” It’s that simple. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we have that kind of access, we have that kind of grace to catch us. We can repent and be forgiven. But does repentance remove the consequences of sin? God just up there like, “Let me give you more grace every single time you sin?” Is that grace removing consequences and therefore when I’m parenting my kids, should I not be giving them consequences because it’s unloving or ungracious to do so. These were my questions. Let’s look at a few scriptures on this. Romans 6:1-2, same book that addresses the idea of condemnation two chapters before says this, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin, so that grace may increase? May it never be? How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Okay, if you have died to sin through justification, it follows that your new identity should have nothing to do with sin. Why would you live in it? Why would you stay there? That makes no sense and that’s what he’s saying. He’s saying, “Why would you keep sinning?” We’re not trying to get extra grace to cover sin, you want to run away from sin, that’s not who you are anymore.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died, and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Okay, two things here. First of all, Christ’s love compels us, not fear of punishment, not fear of wrath and condemnation, that’s been removed. So, our motivation is not fear, not of others’ opinions, not of wrath. Our motivation to holiness is love. Secondly, he says, “Those who have met that love should no longer live for themselves, but for Christ.” So, there’s a fundamental change of allegiance here. The allegiance is no longer to self. I became a Christian. I’m no longer giving my primary allegiance to self. My allegiance shifted to Christ. That’s what it means to put my faith in Him. So, Christ’s love should compel us to live for God and not for ourselves. But we have to learn how to do this and that is sanctification, going back to the beginning. Justification removes the condemnation. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ. And when we sin, which we will, the sanctifying power of the Spirit convicts us of that sin, draws us to repentance and leads us to make changes and set up boundaries.

Now, this then leads us to the question, if I sin after salvation and my condemnation has been removed, my eternal condemnation that’s removed, I am safe, I am with Christ forever experiencing His abundance. On this earth will I still experience the consequences of my actions? And I think scripture gives us a really clear case, “That, yes, we will.” God will give you the consequences of your sinful choices whether you are a Christian or not, even while keeping you secure in your identity. And why? Because he’s a loving father. Here’s what Hebrews 12 says, “It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom His Father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly Fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time, as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness.”

In this passage we see the word discipline. Now, discipline comes from a Latin root, discipula and that word literally means student. So, is God just teaching? Just teaching with words and with love and with grace? Or is there more to this word than meets the eye? So, I actually looked up this specific Greek word. If you want to look it up in Strongs, it’s G3816. The term for discipline here is in the KJV, translated chasten or chastise. It means to train children to be instructed or taught or learn, which is consistent with that discipula terminology but it also means to castigate with words, to correct or rebuke molding the character of others by reproof and admonition. It can also mean to chasten by affliction, so giving someone affliction of evils or calamities to draw them to repentance. In some cases, this word is actually translated to flog or to scourge. So, there’s a wide range of meaning here. When I looked up all the different verses that use this specific word that’s being translated as I’m reading it here in Hebrews 12:6, this same word was used in Luke 23:16, talking about Jesus being flogged. So, this kind of discipline is definitely not pleasant. It’s not just instruction. The way it’s being used is, yes, for discipline and teaching, but also for something as extreme as flogging. 

In Jesus’ case, he’s being flogged and is innocent. So, what is going on here? If this word for discipline in Hebrews 12 is referring to the instruction of God. He’s saying here, “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, to correct us, and we respected them. Shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they earthly fathers disciplined us, for a short time, as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness.” I think this is a very interesting distinction in this passage because it’s almost a contrast between the earthly fathers and their limited knowledge and understanding, maybe even their extreme discipline and the loving correction of a holy and kind God. So, God here is the one who is correcting and admonishing and disciplining and yes, meeting out the consequence to someone for their sin. Why? To bring them back around into His embrace, into His love.

Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh from the flesh will reap destruction. Whoever sows to please the Spirit from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Obviously, referring to the Holy Spirit here, what Paul is saying is that first of all, “God won’t be mocked. He will not be mocked by your living with 1 foot in sin and 1 foot in holiness. He will not be mocked by your assumption that you can live however you want and not reap what you sow.” He says here, “If you sow to your flesh, that’s what you’ll reap. God will give you the natural consequence of your actions. But if you sow to the Spirit, He will also give you the natural fruit of your choice and that is the fruit of the Spirit.” Fruit is going to grow, but you get a choice in what you submit to. This goes back again to Hebrews 12 where it says, “Would we much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live, be submitted to God and live, His discipline, His consequences, those will give us eternal life, we will see goodness come from them and will be brought into His love.” The consequences of the earth don’t accomplish that, but the consequences of God do. When we see these accounts and books that say, “I’m parenting the way Jesus parents, and He doesn’t give consequences, He doesn’t punish equating punishment and consequences, they’re equating two things that are different in scripture. No, God doesn’t condemn, there’s no condemnation. God absolutely will give you consequences for your sin, especially when you are using your body, your words to wound and hurt other people. 

We should be grateful that we have a God who gives consequences for abuse, who gives consequences for drunkenness, who gives consequences for sexual immorality. Because all of those consequences are meant to, one, guide that person back into God’s love, and two, protect the people who could be hurt by their actions. If we take what’s up here in the Ethereal theology world and bring it down practically into my home, which is the first faith community your home, whether you’re single or married with kids, your home. that’s your home base. Your first faith community the people who you bring in there. In that home that faith community must also operate by God’s standards. And God’s standards say, “Guess what? You don’t get to treat other people abusively, you don’t get to misuse them, you don’t get to disrespect them, you don’t get to stir up dissension, you don’t get to gossip, you don’t get to be sexually immoral, all of these things.” Why? To protect His own, to honor the image bearer. So, when people do that, God as a loving Father will discipline them and will give them consequences even if they are Christians, even if they are followers of Christ and He does that out of His love. Sometimes that consequence may be just the reproof of scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart, sometimes He will give you the natural consequence of your actions.

So, what do I mean by a natural consequence? I mean that God will actively allow, permit and even hand us over to the consequences of our actions that we have chosen. He holds us accountable for our behavioral choices. He holds us accountable for our behavioral choices both towards other people and towards Him. Something that we often miss in scripture, because we’re so scared of works of salvation, is that the way Jesus talks in the gospel about heaven and about the Final Judgment. Is a theology that says, “You are saved by grace through faith. Put your faith in me, believe also in me.” He talks a whole lot about being rewarded for your works. The difference is that you’re not saved by your works, but your works still count for something. There’s still something that God is taking into account. You are the servant of God, doing your works out of love for Him, not to earn anything, but simply out of relationship. And those works will result in a reward when we meet Him one day. We like to avoid that reward language because we think that it rings of that earning salvation. But this isn’t about salvation, this is about walking in your salvation, it’s not about earning anything, it’s about expressing the salvation that you have. What does this have to do as consequences?

Well, it should make us pretty serious about how we talk about them, especially when it comes to parenting. Because if we’re saying, “Oh, God doesn’t give consequences.” When the Bible says, “No, God doesn’t punish and God doesn’t condemn His own.” Two different things, then we’re misconstruing scripture and we’re doing our children a disservice and when we’re parenting them, if we do not give them the natural consequences, the natural and logical consequences of their actions, we’re teaching them that their actions don’t have consequences, that they will not answer for what they have done to others, that they do not need to learn how to respect or put others before themselves, even as they grow in an understanding of God’s affection for them personally. This theology is far reaching. It affects our theology of atonement, justification, sanctification and even the Christian life and the walking out of our faith.

Hey friends, I am so excited to let you know about the new summer Every Woman a Theologian collection. This shop collection is dropping May 25th and we have some amazing products to share with you. We have the new spiral bound Revelation Bible Study, which is a totally new format that has been much requested. We also have my first children’s book, My Family Loves to Eat Together and lots of new hospitality items in Verity home for doing more of life together. An all-new candle, a restock of our favorite lavender brownie mix, measuring spoons, olive wood rolling pins, and so much more. If you are new to the Every Woman a Theologian shop, this is the primary way that our ministry and this podcast is supported. So, thank you so much for shopping with us. We can’t wait to release these items to you May 25th and you can join the email list at to stay up to date on all of our launches. That’s
You might be wondering, well, where in scripture do we see examples of God giving consequences? Well, number one, Garden of Eden. I think that one’s kind of self-explanatory. God gives a boundary. He says, “Don’t cross it.” They cross it, they lie about it, and God in His love gives them a consequence. Now, He gives a consequence and then He also observes something. He observes as not specifically curse, Adam and Eve. He observes what the impact of sin will be on them. The impact of sin is that childbirth will become more difficult, growing plants, farming, making a living will become more difficult and there will now be disunity between the husband and wife unless they walk in the light of God, in the light of Christ, and redeem that disunity into unity. All the passages about marriage in the New Testament are a great reversal of what happened in Genesis 3, where it says, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you. That’s the effects of sin on marriage and in Christ that can be reversed.” Now, that’s a whole other episode there, but we’ll stay on track here.

So, Garden of Eden, first example. Second example is an unbeliever, but I want to talk about it. It’s the story of Pharaoh in the Exodus. A lot of times we’ll look at this account where God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and people will say, “Well, this is an example of God determining Pharaoh’s actions.” But the two words that are used for hardened are different. They’re two different Hebrew words for hardened. The first three or four times that God, it says that “Pharaoh hardened his heart.” The word for hardened is to exalt oneself, two exalt oneself in pride. When it switches about halfway through the account to it saying, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” That word for hardened means to give over to what Pharaoh had already chosen. This is an example of a consequence. Pharaoh set himself on a path. God gave him so many chances to repent and he didn’t do it and then God handed him over to what he’d already chosen. 

Now, Pharaoh is obviously an unbeliever similar to what we see in Romans 1 where God handed them over to the lusts of their hearts. But even in the faithful, among the faithful, the believers, Old and New Testament saints, we see God giving people what they choose. Samson and Delilah, Samson is this amazing judge. He’s strong, he’s dedicated to God by his parents. What does he do? Screws it up. He goes and blows every single vow that he made as a Nazarite. He messes them all up, gets involved with this Philistine woman. At the end of his life, he’s had his eyes gouged out and he’s trampling grain like a donkey. But right before he dies, he cries out to God. He repents. He puts his faith in God and he asks to be part of God’s plan to judge the Philistines and bring justice to Israel. At the end of Samson’s life, Samson is honored by God. He’s listed in the Bible as an example of faith for us to look to at the end of his life. But did Samson still incur consequences for his sin? Absolutely and God did not rescue him from that. 

The next one is very well known, David and Bathsheba. This was not David’s first offense, and it would not be his last. But obviously we know the story, King David lusts after Bathsheba, whether he raped her or manipulated her, or just demanded that she come, and then she was willing to participate whichever interpretation you hold, David screwed it up and it was a major, major fall. Not only does he commit adultery or rape, he murders his new wife’s husband, and then through this, invites absolute chaos into his family. God tells him through Nathan, the prophet, “Hey, guess what? Now your family will be in complete disarray because of the choices you’ve made.” Number one being you have 12 wives or more. Number two, what you did here with Uriah and Bathsheba, and yet we see all through scripture that David is said to be a man after God’s own heart and that God loved David and God used him. And that Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne. What is going on here? If David is truly a man after God’s own heart, would God not give him consequences for his sin? If David is not condemned, should he have consequences? This is a great example of that tension. David always came back to God. He always came back and repented. He tried to make it right even when he didn’t do it well, even when he basically destroyed his family, he still sought God’s face and he repented for what he’d done. That’s why he can be called a man after God’s own heart. Even while being in the center of God’s affection, David still received the consequences of his actions. God gave him the consequences and they were devastating.

Now, let’s move to the New Testament. Some of you who are listening might think, “Okay, well, that’s all, Old Testament. That doesn’t apply to us today.” I would argue all of the Old Testament applies to us today. The principles are principles about God and this is the same God who sent Jesus and Jesus is this God and so the Old Testament very much applies but to make a stronger case, let’s look at what the New Testament says about consequences. Matthew 18, in Matthew 18, we see an outline given by Jesus of how to deal with sin and offense in the Church. I’ll read it to you. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to, you have gained your brother but if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:15-20. 

This passage is dealing with sin in the life of a brother, and Jesus outlines the way that you’re to go about confronting that sin. First you go individually, then you bring witnesses, and then you bring this person to the whole assembly. Now, note that he’s speaking to Jews. Jesus came to deliver the gospel first to the Jews, then to the gentiles through the apostles. He’s speaking to Jewish assembly, people who would be in the synagogue together. That you go to your brother, you confront him and if he does not listen after he’s been addressed personally by witnesses and brought to the assembly and he refuses to repent of his sin, then you treat him as a gentile and a tax collector. What does that mean? Well, Josh and I have done a lot of study on this recently due to some personal experiences that we’ve been walking through. What we learned from studying this passage is that reference to gentile and tax collector because of who Jesus was speaking to, meant that you do not have close fellowship with this person. You don’t take spiritual advice from this person. You do not invite this person into your intimate spaces. So, like having them to dinner, having them care for or advise your children, basically, the person who was once a brother is now in sin and unrepentant. You treat them as an unbeliever. You give them space. You are still gracious and loving to them, just as Jesus was to the gentiles and tax collectors, but you do not take authoritative advice from them. They’re no longer in your innermost circle. 

This is Jesus talking. This is kind, loving, gracious Jesus. When it comes to sin, He’s saying, “Not only that there is a consequence for it, but that His people are to meet out consequences to an individual who is walking in sin, but this is one of the roles of the church, to discipline that person in order to draw them to repentance.” That’s the goal of Matthew 18. If we need another account to deal with this, we can look at 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you. And such sexual immorality as is not even named among the gentiles that a man has his father’s wife and you are puffed up and have not mourned that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body, but present in spirit have already judged as though I were present Him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ when you are gathered together along with my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Wow. What Paul is saying to do here is exactly what Jesus said to do in Matthew 18, “Remove this person from among you because a little leaven leaven’s the whole lump.”

In other words, a little sin endorsed and accepted in the community is going to affect the community it needs to be dealt with and that means that you lovingly remove this person from among you, tell them they are not welcome until they are willing to repent of their actions and their behaviors. This is a consequence, again, the church being called by Christ to meet out a consequence for sin. Why? To draw them back to repentance. This is the difference between condemnation and a consequence. The goal of a consequence is to invite someone back to the holy and loving arms of God because sin destroys and kills. Consequences and discipline, whether in a church context, in a parenting context should drive us back to God’s unchanging salvation. We are not under wrath; we are not condemned, but we are when we sin, by God we are being chastised and that chastisement should lead us to grace. So, knowing that this is how God parents, looking at the Old Testament and the New, not just taking out, there is no condemnation in Christ and then building a theology out of one out of context verse. But looking at the whole of scripture, now we know how God sees condemnation and punishment. That’s one issue and then consequences, a separate issue. Condemnation and punishment are removed by Christ. They’re no longer a part of our identity. We’re not under wrath but if we choose sin, God will use the natural and logical consequences of that sin to draw us back into repentance and into fellowship with Him. 

Now, for those of you who are listening from a parenting perspective, I want to read a little bit about natural and logical consequences from Sally Clarkson. I love Sally Clarkson. She is one of my favorite parenting experts. She’d not call herself an expert, I’m sure, but she has raised four children. She’s so gracious, she’s so devoted to scripture, and this is from Educating the Wholehearted Child. So, I’m going to read the portion that outlines the difference between natural and logical consequences. “Natural consequences follow general foolishness and wrongdoing when there has been no prior agreement concerning a behavior. A simple example would be a child dropping an ice cream cone because he was behaving in a way, he knew was foolish. The natural consequence would be the loss of the ice cream. Or if two children are fussing, they must sit quietly without speaking to one another for 30 minutes. You might also use timeouts, loss of privileges, or other natural responses. An objectively applied natural consequence teaches your children that they are responsible for their own behavioral choices. Logical consequences follow specific areas of wrongdoing when there has been a prior agreement concerning certain behaviors. An example would be a child saying unkind words to a sibling. The logical consequence might be a previously agreed upon assignment of writing 10 times a verse that talks about speaking with kindness or if chores are not performed on time, additional chores are added. Whatever the logical consequence, the effect is to help your children become personally accountable for their own actions. It is not you, the parent, imposing discipline. It is they, the children, choosing that consequence by choosing to disobey. It is teaching them to think if this, then that.” 

This is based on the concepts we see in Hebrews 12 and Galatians 6. This is not abstract, it’s not violent, it’s not punishing, it’s not punitive, it’s not condemning. It’s loving and affectionate, and it’s also boundaried just the way God teaches. This is how God teaches us. He gives us the consequences for our actions that are natural and logical. Sometimes it’s as natural as, “Hmm, you drank too much and you looked foolish.” Just like the Book of Proverbs outlines. Book of Proverbs tells you that, “If you drink too much, you’ll probably have a problem with your words and your behavior, and it won’t go well with you and then, look, that’s what happened.” That’s an example of a natural consequence on the adult level. God will give that to us. God is not so deterministic that he’s going to go in and stop every consequence of your action because you are now in Christ and you’re no longer condemned. But neither is God actively looking to punish every single behavior that you choose to do. He is gracious and he gives His Holy Spirit to draw us into repentance, to guide us into His love and to His affection. And His affection through Christ or justified status does not change.

The fear of God Michael Reeves says, “Is to be in awe of His affection for us.” I love that interpretation because that’s the way you can see yourself. You can say, “As you walk in the fear of God, I’m in awe of your affection for me and let that drive you to holiness.” Now, if you choose sin, yes, God may give you consequences to draw you back into His arms to teach you how to walk with Him. He disciplines those He loves. As Hebrews 12 says, “His chastisement leads us to grace.” So, is there a difference between condemnation and consequences? Yes, absolutely. We are no longer condemned in Christ. We are not under punishment or under wrath. Yet, because we are not under wrath, because God loves us so much, he will give us the natural and logical consequences of our behavior in order to draw us back into holiness and teach us to listen to the voice of the Spirit the first time. So, when we’re thinking about parenting or thinking about our relationships with people who are walking in sin, this can guide us that we need to allow people to experience the consequences of their actions so that they learn that the grace that we offer, the love that we offer, is there to catch them when they come back around. God doesn’t parent us permissively. He doesn’t let us beat on Him and abuse His people without incurring a consequence for our actions. Even while giving us consequences for the things that we do out of His love, we are never condemned or separated. We are never without His affection or His open arms. Like a prodigal son running back to the father, He runs out to meet us every time. But also, the prodigal didn’t go to the pigpen and pull his son out of it. He let his son go. He let his son realize when he was up to his ears in mud and eating the scraps that the pigs were eating, that this is not where he wanted to be. It was a lot better to come home to his father. That’s the difference between condemnation and consequences. 

Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity and about Every Woman a Theologian, as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s word and the heart of Jesus Christ.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop