This is an important subject, so let's address their objections:
Objection: God disciplines but never punishes. We simply suffer consequences.
In English and Greek, discipline can include punishment. More relevant is the fact that Hebrews 12:6 says God disciplines and punishes.(1)
Objection: God is good and only gives good gifts (James 1:17). Therefore, He's not a part of punishment, trials or difficulties in our lives.
Good isn't the same as pleasant.
Discipline and punishment can be good for us, increasing our faith - Hebrews 12:11; Revelation 3:19. (2)
Objection: Since there's no condemnation for Christians (Romans 8:1-2), there's no punishment.
Condemnation (a final verdict) is different from discipline and punishment. Believers are not condemned, but neither are we freed from consequences or punishments here on earth.(3)
It's important we have the correct view of God. If we believe God is perfect and loving, we'll accept His right to punish His children.
(1) In Heb.12:6 the Greek word for discipline can include punishment.
And there's no doubt about the Greek word for punish which literally means "whip."
(2) 1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
(3) Condemnation is a different word in the Greek than either discipline or punishment. It involves punishment after a verdict of guilt. We often say a man is "condemned to death." See Romans 6:23.
Here's some longer passages that talk of God's perfect punishment and discipline. For the sake of space, I've linked them instead of including the full text.
In Revelation 2-3 Christ warns the churches how and why He will punish them.
In Acts 5:1-11, God publicly punishes Ananias and Saphirra to instill a healthy fear in the church. It's clear that these are direct punishments from God since dishonesty in spiritual matters doesn't result in instant death for everyone (i.e. it's not a natural consequence).
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, Paul tells the church to punish a church member in the name of Jesus.
In Numbers 20:1-12, Moses was punished for the way he handled one situation as a leader.
In 2 Samuel 12, God punished David in specific ways that are not natural consequences for his sins.
Psalm 106 gives an overview of Israeli history and the many times God punished them for their good.
We must be willing to say like the Psalmist:
Psalm 119:75: I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
1 Peter 4 contains a number of clear principles regarding suffering and punishment.
copyright 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com