It is easy to confuse the natural consequences of sin with God’s discipline or God’s punishment, but consequences and discipline are very different. Sin carries consequences, and some consequences are greater than others.
If you jump off a roof, you may break your ankle. God didn’t cause your ankle to break to punish you. The physical damage is the consequence of gravity and your own actions. And there may be lifelong physical consequences that remain long after the ankle has healed.
In the same say, sins we have confessed and repented have been forgiven by God, but there may still be consequences that remain. We may have lingering damage in our relationships with people we love. We may grieve over choices we made that harmed others or harmed ourselves. We may suffer lifelong physical, mental and emotional consequences from drugs, alcohol, or other bad choices.
But the consequences of our sin do not represent God’s punishment, because God’s full punishment for any sin would be eternal death (Romans 6:23). When God forgives our sin, there is no judgment and no condemnation.
Psalm 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sin, nor punished us according to our iniquities.
Romans 5:9-10 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
In Christ, we are forgiven for our sins and we are precious to the Lord. We are NOT condemned. God does discipline His children (Hebrews 12:5-11), but His discipline is for correction, not for punishment. The root word of discipline and disciple are the same, and the central meaning is “to train by instruction”… to teach. The positive side of discipline is to instruct, to give knowledge and to train. The negative aspect of discipline is correction and reproof. Setting back on the right track. Discipline is an act of love.
God may choose to allow some of the consequences of our sin to remain in our lives, and that is His sovereign right. He also may discipline us through the consequences of our sin, and that is also His right. But we can experience His complete and total forgiveness of our sin, even when some of the consequences of our sin remains in our lives.