Sin Is Its Own Punishment (#589)

It is perhaps one of the most controversial lines in THE SHACK even for those who love the book and the movie. We so associate God with anger, sin, and punishment, that people are asking Wayne and Brad what they meant by that phrase, "Sin is its own punishment." Is that even Biblical since Scripture talks about the punishment of sin? So they guys spend some time unpacking that phrase and its meaning in their own journey and why its important that we see the devastation sin itself causes. Sin's own effects are all the punishment we need either to turn us back to God or to consume us in our self-indulgence. Seeing God as the rescuer in the world rather than the purveyor of punishment will help you understand his nature better. There is nothing God can do to punish our sin that sin itself doesn't already accomplish or that can make the repentant heart more free in his presence?

Podcast Notes:
Wayne's Upcoming Trip to South Africa
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  1. Wayne and Brad,

    From my own circle of friends, I’ve had several who cohabitated before marriage and are still married to this day. Another friend was in a similar situation you described Brad, and his marriage ended in divorce. Not saying this proves that sex outside of marriage is the factor in future marriage breakups, but there must be something to it. And I thought of the saying you guys danced around, ‘Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free.’ The times we are in I’m afraid.

    For example, there is a prominent athlete who has recently had a second child with his ‘fiancee’, and he is celebrated for it. I just wonder the kids’ reaction years later, how it affects them. Just the same, there are ‘accidents’ among married couples, but as you say Brad, the important thing is to concentrate on what is being brought about, despite our failings. I still have work to do there.

  2. Wayne, I think you’re right about marriage being a reason to “legalize sex”, and I see that in some church circles, in which two very young people get engaged and married. And many of them are not living together, but you get the sense it’s about staying away from sexual sin. But I really wonder about this. Two young people getting married so young before they’ve had a chance to really experience life. Some in college or fresh out of college.

    • Sara and I got married fresh out of college at 21 and 22 and learned to explore life together without really experiencing life except for our college years. I have no regrets about that. Old time marriages often happened around 14-16 remember. Life spans were shorter and kids reach adulthood at 12. Yeah, that seems crazy to us, but late teens, early 20s are supposed to be our prime sexual years and may be a lot of reason why immorality is so easily justified by those that don’t get married until much later in life. The temptation is not easy to resist. No, I’m not suggesting people marry young to avoid sexual sin. That would be silly. But I do wonder if delaying marriage until late 20s doesn’t add to the pain here of sexual activity with many partners, instead of celebrating sex as God intended…

      • Yes, I didn’t mean that marriages can’t last that start off early (although I do wonder about some that end in divorce years later whether or not it’s in part due to getting married so early, having a family, and doing all the other socially expected things of so-called good Christians), but in the circles I’ve been in, it’s almost like early marriage to avoid sexual temptation becomes an idol of sorts. I would hope that isn’t the only reason people marry young. I just don’t know that sin avoidance is a good reason. In fact, I know of some Dones who are now paying the price of living a life based on the expectations of the faith communities of which they were a part and the teachings they were steeped in. I personally grew up Christian and went off to college resolute that I would not engage in pre-marital sex. That didn’t last, and I did eventually have a couple of monogamous sexual relationships, but I remain single to this day by choice, so I may be biased. 😀

  3. Hi, Wayne. I want to clarify something: is not from the Shack, is from He loves me – the place where I first read and start to wonder what does that mean ” sin is it’s own punishement” and then I heard Brad using it in conversation with you ( in the podcast) and I thought ” oh, so he also understand it”. I pondered the phrase hopeful to find grace, because I felt pushed away by God whenever I was focusing on the sin in me and I thought this feeling comes from Him. I felt He is exasperated with me for not doing better, is disappointed, has no more patience with me and He won’t speak to me or come near me until I improve. In theory I know this is not true, but how it feels to me it’s a different reality. I’m not always at peace with Him, although I’m beginning to be, I’m glad that I start to understand He’s not punishing me by being silent, distant. Is just my perception, this is my guilt. Sometimes. So this is where I come from, I looked at this phrase with the hope that is going to reassure me – it’s ok between me and God.

    • Doina, it is ok between you and Father!
      Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death, which is guilt and shame and fear! The only way this is possible, is if sin no longer is the issue!

      It doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t do anything to make Father love you more or less! He loves you deeply and fully,

    • Yes the “feeling pushed away” by God, is really coming from our own shame. We feel as if God moves away because shame distances us from him. That’s why the cross removes shame so that we can recognize God with us while we’re still struggling with sin and temptation. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” is the best Scriptural affirmation I know that God does not expect us to improve so we can have his presence, but rather that his presence is healing for us, so we can let him in at our most broken and know we are loved. It’s the loving that helps us find our way out of sin.

      I’m blessed by what you’re learning Doina. It is just your perception. The phrase may help you be open to the possibility, but what will really win it in time is when you see God with you in great affection before you have improved anything. I’m praying he will make that known to you…

  4. seems that discipline from god’s perspective as perfect love would be a process of transforming by the positive power of love as opposed to using negative pressure to change behavior. obviously there are natural consequences to all actions, good and bad, but don’t think it’s healthy believing (as i used to believe) that god is behind the consequences…as we all agree, hard to trust someone who has just cause you pain.

  5. I have a friend from work who lives with a women (some dozen years now) they treat each better than some in marriage. Wasn’t the old law where the father literally gave the daughter away, after a dowry? Having daughters, I suppose, was just good business, lol. My one sister lives with a great fellow, and the law of marriage looms over their heads in conversation; they know they are living in “sin”. State sanctioned marriage stems from statutory law, and provides protection of assets (where the house sells and both get their portion) but has no guarantee of mutual love. Wayne’s comment may wrinkle a few feathers, but keep in mind what God describes about a married women’s desires – home, kids etc. As much as we tend to think we understand, few folk get the gist of the natural drives of both sexes. Which, when yielded to in love offer a true relationship, outside of love though, not so much, even in “marriage”. The law excites one to sin, and yet their is no law against love? Law excites one to control, driven from self, where as love causes one to seek the benefit of another, in a mutually inclusive controlling relationship? Is it a bit hilarious to think that the state has become the assumed keeper of Godly matrimony?
    One can fulfill a state’s requirements or law by love, a much higher law. At some point doesn’t it all become about semantics rather than love? When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well the old law was still active, though she had no idea what she was worshiping. Two loving each other, one of each, seems to be the most stable foundation in this world for a family, right? Except, remember: two, one of each. lived in a perfect environment under the loving eye of God and they still sought to fulfill self by their own means. Another illusion I suppose would be that of the control of consequences by prior action, “If I don’t then I won’t have too…”; Yes, some mistakes are totally avoidable: all three of my sisters were pregnant before the M word, my brain observed this and steered clear of those consequences even as a teen.(read virgin) not by learned religious conviction either. It would have also meant not being true to myself. In the end, Love has brought each of us around alright. Either way, there’s driving around potholes and then there’s driving around potholes you’ve created – but these are still just potholes. Alternately and ultimately, it comes down to the option of a growing trust or faith in God through a loving relationship, driving through the same potholes, not around – and enjoying the journey.

  6. “God is a jealous God”. While I can appreciate how a Bedowin shepherd might express the concept that way, I am more inclined to simply say, God wants my full attention. Many years ago I was given the understanding of a principle. Roughly stated, if I desire to grow from a spiritual seed to a fully spiritual fruit bearing plant, focusing on the dirt that seems to keep me from growing can’t effect the same value as searching for the light of the sun (Son). Since that realization I have used my sense of guilt as a sign post that points to my lack of focus on God. Truly, sin is only called sin so we can identify the difference between self and God. The sins we do are not the issue, it is the revelation of our lack of real deep, personal, fully committed intent to know and follow God, (read again, Matthew chapter 7) that is the real sin. Taken this way, the ever present option for each of us is to increase our commitment to God as our only method of righteous living. We can’t succeed in stopping sinning. We can allow God to become such a living presence in our lives that sin has no place to function. That’s God’s plan for us.

  7. Sin is its own punshiment. It is true this affirmation. But why would you chose something who hurts you? And still we do. Punishment is guilt, fear of eternal damnation, that sense of emptiness. After commiting a sin we realise that we have been deceived because the pleasure which sin promisses it is not going to happen. I think it is a circle and only the love of God can take us out of there. The big question is HOW God will do that. What do i have to do in order to recieve His grace. Or maybe how am i going to recieve power to get out of there? Maybe because we arr different God doesen t have a single method which applies to all. Maybe my journey is different than others and God will use a different approach regarding my situation. I will never know. All what i know is that i need someoane to connect with so i can be free from bondage….

    • Except that the pleasure sin offers is short term. Our propensity in our pain is to seek the short-term pleasure even at the expense of long-term pain. You see it everywhere in our brokenness. What I love about God’s affection is that by setting us at rest in him we no longer have to fight of our own pleasure, but instead find ourselves blessed by the things God gives, rather than what we need to get. Your last sentence says it all. God knows our only hope to be free of sin is to connect with him and let his love transform us so we no longer need what sin seeks to offer.

  8. Very well said Jim!

    I went through a period of ‘de-religiousification’ a while back, and one of the things which, to me, was too religious to fully understand, was the term sin.

    2000 years of religion has made the term sin into something which I don’t believe it actually is.

    Brad now and again says deep and profound things like, ‘I have to look at the scriptures through a relational lens, for it to really make sense’

    Without looking at sin through our relationship with Father, it becomes some stand alone ‘thing’ which has power and is yucky! Looking through the lens that Fathers deepest desire is for a deep relationship with us, and that he really wants to enjoy each day with us, changes the nature of sin profoundly.

    Sin then becomes something we might call ‘un- relational’ and it is never a stand alone thing which we ‘do’. In a close relationship, we either move toward the other person or away, we either are loving or unloving, we either care or we don’t, in each moment.

    This is as complicated as it needs to be!

    Father simply wants to enjoy our life’s journey with us, and if we improve, or become more relational, less broken, then fantastic! He loves us regardless though……

  9. Hello Wayne and Brad, I have been enjoying this podcast so much!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost unsubscribed a long time ago because of something that I didn’t understand or agree with. I can’t even remember what it was at this point. But I remember hearing a nudge of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “no, do not unsubscribe, there is much that you will learn by sticking around” and I am so glad I did!!! While I have not listened to this podcast yet, I must say that I agree with your point. I have been thinking about it from past podcast episodes. Think about it: how can God give you Grace and punish you at the same time? To me it’s a complete contradiction. It’s God’s grace that will help us get through the consequences of your sins that we create by our own free will. A lot of what you say about us having choices and affecting outcomes in our lives has become more and more clear through other awesome teachings I have been listening to. We have a say in how we live our lives. Religion has wrongly taught many that God has absolute control over everything when what they are really saying is that God had my sin already planned out for me to walk in all on my own and I have no control of my own actions. SO WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS!!!!! There are a few words to simply describe this: laziness and irresponsibility just to start. We need to understand that we can have as easy a relationship with God and his ways as we can with satan and his ways. One has reward and the other consequences. The lure of blinding instant gratification is as blinding to the person that chooses to sin as it is for the religious leader that wants to lazily explain away our responsibility of our free will instead of searching deeper for a significance of why people sin. They do not want to work to get to the root of the problem. In the end we are all sinners and as Dr. Paul Tripp said many years ago: we are people in need of change helping people in need of change! I will chose to start there, help others as I am also being helped at this time. God bless you and keep on podcasting!!!!!

  10. That’s great! I’m glad you hungry around, Edwin. Love your perspective and how God comes to help us through even the consequences of our own struggles. Blessings on your continued journey.

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