Are sins forgiven or held against us?
1. How would you reconcile these verses:
1 Thes. 4:3-6, which says of sexual immorality and improper conduct "The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you." There are also several places where Jesus return is described as a moment when each person will be repaid according to what he has done.
Versus any of the verses describing what seem to be complete forgiveness from God, 1 John 1:9 being an obvious example "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness," or the verse that says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins from us."
The only verse I'm aware that seems to synthesize the notion that God both forgives sin yet also holds us accountable for sin is in 1 Corinthians 3, where it says that our work will be tested with fire, and if we've built with poor material we will suffer loss, though our souls will be saved.
Do you have any thoughts on this? It seems to be important how I approach this because it has a very different effect on me whether I think about my sins being completely off my record versus thinking that I will be punished for them. For me, each brings about a fairly distinct reaction. I've been focusing on the idea that all our sins were dealt with in Christ, with the corresponding idea that we joyfully follow him. But I'm aware of other approaches where people are encouraged the fear God and not sin (not that I'm saying we don't believe the perspectives are mutually exclusive, but it's a matter of emphasis, I suppose).