If God gave man free will, why does He then punish man for disobedience?

God gave us free will so that we could choose to love Him back for true love is not forced or robotic. God gave us the option to accept Him or not (Joshua 24:15). If we choose Him, we have life eternal which is goodness and happiness beyond that which we can imagine. On the other hand, if we don’t choose Him, we have only this earthly life to live (Romans 6:23) which is marred with sin, suffering, and death.

Those who refuse to obey God are joining forces with Satan who first rebelled against God’s government and then formed his lawless government on earth. We have seen the results of Satan’s government in all the the suffering that exists. God is offering us a way out, and it’s up to us to make the choice. One thing many people lose sight of is that God is both merciful and just (Exodus 34:6; Isaiah 30:18). Justice demands that those who have broken the law of love  must receive their due punishment.

Can you imagine living in a country where thieves, rapists and killers were not punished? How would life be like there? Peace takes place only when justice is administered. Likewise, in God’s government, those that hurt and inflict pain on their fellow men and disobey God must receive the punishment of their wicked acts because the innocent cry out to God for justice (Matthew 25:46).

Each wicked person will receive punishment equal only to his deeds. The worst wicked will obviously be punished more than the least wicked (Luke 12:47,48). Justice demands that. In punishment some wicked may perish instantly while others linger. God can’t force a sinner to live eternally with Him if the atheist doesn’t want that.

When mankind was deceived by Satan to disobey the Lord, God moved with infinite compassion to save them. God sent His innocent Son to receive the punishment of man’s sin (John 3:16). God’s ultimate justice was poured on Christ (1 Peter 2:24). In God’s government the punishment of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  So, Jesus paid the penalty of our sins by His death to give us a second chance to make the right choice. Every man that accepts Christ’s death on his behalf and follows the Lord will be saved (John 1:12) but those who reject it will have to carry the punishment of their own sins.

The question is: Why would anyone reject such an offer? Although the idea of eternal happiness and peace is irresistible, some may still choose to reject it. This is the mystery of sin that blinds the human heart. But when the light of God’s love for humanity comes into the heart, the darkness is cast away and people are able to make the right choices.

One more thing to comment on is the following: The Bible teaches that the punishment of the wicked will not last “forever.” While God is loving, He is also just. A person who has sinned for 70 years will not be punished for eternity for this is unjust. The truth is that an eternal hell of torment would be hell for God also, who loves even the worst sinner. The eternal hell teaching is a slander upon the loving character of God.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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