Question 19: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
Answer: Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.
The catechism notes that God “delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin” through Christ. Notice the two accomplishments mentioned there. Let’s take the last one first: through Jesus Christ, God delivers us from the punishment for sin. That means that because of Jesus’ death for us, we will never face the punishment of Hell, of eternal separation from God. In Christ, our guilt has been removed, and our sins have been forgiven forever (Jer. 31:34).
But the catechism also says that God “delivers us from sin,” not only from the punishment for sin. What does that mean? It means that in Christ, sin no longer has power over us so that we live under its domination. Through Christ, we are not only forgiven of sins, but we are given power by the Holy Spirit to fight sin and live in holiness before God. We won’t do so perfectly in this life, but there should be a marked difference between those who are in Christ and those who are not when it comes to sin. No true Christian can live under sin’s power for long without coming under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and turning from sin in repentance.
Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Romans 6:1-14. What does this passage teach about sin’s power over Christians? What does it teach us about what baptism means?