The old covenant set out severe punishments for disobedience under the law, including even death. But under the new covenant, the punishment has been taken in full by Christ and his death on the cross (Rom. 8:1; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:23). After all, that’s why he died, right? To take on our punishment, to pay the price in full, in our place.
So when we fail to live by God’s instruction under the new covenant, we still reap earthly consequences, but God Almighty is not heaping punishment on us. Remember, if he were, the wages of sin would be death for us, not merely a slap on the wrist.
No, it would be death that God would be doling out. So thank God that Jesus died in our place, and thank God for this new way of grace!
Obviously, it’s very wise to listen to God’s instruction. When we do, we enjoy the privilege of transmitting his life and displaying his divine nature to those around us. We also avoid a load of wasted time and effort going in the wrong direction (Rom. 6:21; 1 Cor. 10:23).
If we are foolish enough to choose another path in a given moment, God goes right along with us. He is in us no matter what, and he picks up the pieces with us after we fall. He never leaves us.
That’s the main difference between the in-and-out, here-and-gone relationship with God that some are pushing today and the radical, new way of grace we’re called to enjoy.