From a Protestant and Evangelical tradition and perspective, the true believer in Jesus Christ will never be punished for sin or sins. Jesus bore all the punishment for us when he hung on the cross and offered himself up to God the Father as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29 and 36).
Another key concept in this regard is found in Jesus' chat with Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night (see John 3:1-21). In this dialog with Nicodemus, Jesus said quite plainly and emphatically,
"'For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (vv.17-18 KJV).
The words which Jesus used in the KJV, condemn and condemned, can also be translated judge or judged. In other words, the sentence which God, the Judge of all humankind, must pronounce on a nonbeliever in Jesus is "Guilty of unbelief." The punishment for unbelief is eternal condemnation and punishment.
An important distinction to keep in mind is that there is a difference between punishment for sin and discipline for sin. A true believer in Jesus Christ will sin. To say differently is to be deceived (see 1 John 1:8). When believers sin, God encourages them to confess their sin and be made clean (1 John 1:9).
If a particular sin is also a breaking of a societal law, God allows "the powers that be" in our society to punish his children. In America, punishment is meted out when we are proved guilty in a court of law. Generally speaking, God will not intervene in situations such as that, unless of course the law we broke is trumped by a "higher law" (see Peter's statement in Acts 5:29).
Even then, God may allow us to be punished by imprisonment, for example. It happened to the apostle Peter, but God miraculously "sprung" him from prison. On the other hand, God did not spring John Bunyan. Perhaps if he had, we would not have Pilgrim's Progress today, which Bunyan wrote while imprisoned!
Then too, a true believer, in a sense, punishes himself or herself by sinning, particularly when a sin may not be punishable by society's law but is punishable by God's law of "reaping and sowing" (see Galatians 6:7-8). In violating God's law concerning sexual immorality, for example, a person could contract a venereal disease, or trigger a divorce by a spouse and/or lose custody of children, sacrifice a good reputation and a fruitful ministry within a local church or an entire denomination. These are just a few of the many possible punishments for breaking one of God's commandments.
While God does not punish a child of his who is guilty of sinning--that is, in the sense of revoking his or her adoption as his child, he does at times discipline him or her. Big difference. Again, our punishment for sin--eternal condemnation and separation from God--has been borne by Jesus at Calvary. Sometimes, however, God will spank us in any number of ways (see Hebrews 14:4-11). For some of the unruly Corinthian believers, God actually intervened by ending their lives:
"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [i.e., die prematurely]" (1 Corinthians 11:30. Be sure to read this verse in context!).
In conclusion, the cliché that we don't so much break God's commandments as we break ourselves on his commandments, has some merit. When we do break ourselves, that is not God's fault, but ours. Being broken can be a good thing, however, since
"The sacrifices of God are a
A broken and a contrite heart,
O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17 NASB Updated).
When we mess up by lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3), grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30)), or quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), we do not lose our salvation. We do, however, lose the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12). When we are through punishing ourselves and then confess, repent, and forsake our sin, God is there to restore the joy of our salvation and to renew and empower us to live victoriously for him.