Does God reward our good behavior, and punish our bad behavior?
I still find myself, at times, stumbling over that stumbling stone, the grace of Jesus. Why would a Christian say such a thing? A Christian can backslide by abandoning his or her morals, and getting caught up in the world, and the lust of the flesh. A Christian can also backslide by abandoning the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus, and slipping back into an old testament mentality of rewards and punishment. When I do something I feel particularly good about, often the first thought I have is, God must be pleased with that, and I begin to expect something good to happen. And in turn, if I do something I feel particularly bad about, I think, God must be displeased, and begin to expect something bad to happen. This should not be the mindset of a child of God. There is nothing good we can do to make God love us more, or bad we can do to make him love us less. We love God because he first loved us.
1 John 4: 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.19 We love him, because he first loved us.
God’s love toward us is perfect. We never have to fear him, or be afraid. He loves us because we have accepted Jesus sacrifice for us. It is no longer a reward and punishment relationship. That is the relationship a non repentant person has with God. By non repentant, I mean a person who has not repented of their belief that, good works can save a soul. When we come to fully rest in the perfect love God has for us, we begin to walk as he walked. No longer out of a fearful heart, that expects rewards and punishment, but out of a joyful heart, that always expects good, and in return wants to do good, and share with others.
Hebrews 8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
This is the Good News of the New Covenant. We need to be set free from the old covenant mentality of rewards and punishment. All the punishment was laid upon Jesus at the cross. When we sin, we have already been forgiven. When we do good, we have already been rewarded! God is not in heaven testing us, to see if we are good enough to be rewarded, with either physical blessings now, or eternal blessings in the future.
1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s;22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s;23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
All things good are ours now! We do not have to earn them, in fact they cannot be earned. This is that stumbling stone, that the world and even at times Christians, stumble over.
1Peter 2: 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Christ has earned all blessings for us. This is what makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world. It is not based on our performance. It is a Gospel of the love God has for all mankind. A perfect love. God is offended when we disregard, or take lightly, all he has given us, and all he has done for us. Lets walk in that perfect love. This is the light that will shine into a world of darkness, a world that bases everything upon an individuals performance.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?