What is punishment in relation to sin? Louis Berkhof states, “Punishment is the penalty that is naturally and necessarily due to the sinner because of his sin, it is in fact a debt due to the essential justice of God.”

There are two distinctions to the punishments for sin: (1) natural and (2) positive penalties.

Natural penalties deal with the natural consequences of sin. For example, the natural consequence of being slothful is poverty. In such cases, repentance and forgiveness does not save the individual from these natural consequences for sin.

Positive penalties can consist of natural penalties, however they are unique in that it carries divine judgments. This is the kind of judgment which the Bible usually refers to. For example, the breaking of the 10 commandments bring with it covenantal curses of being cut off from God and death.

Within these two distinctions lie two kinds of punishments for sin:

(1) From within. Separation between God and man; a lack of intimacy with God.

(2) From without. God willing judgment by means of calamity in this life and hell in the future.

This information was compiled from Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, pp.255-257

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