It is true that Jesus came, in delivering us from our sins, to deliver us also from the painful consequences of our sins. But these consequences exist by the one law of the universe, the true will of God. When that will is broken, suffering is inevitable.
But in the perfection of God’s creation, the result of that suffering is curative. The pain works toward the healing of the breach.
The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while those sins yet remained. That would be to cast out the window the medicine of cure while still the man lay sick. Yet, feeling nothing of the dread hatefulness of their sin, men have constantly taken this word that the Lord came to deliver us from our sins to mean that he came to save them from the punishment of their sins.
This idea has terribly corrupted the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Good News has not been truly communicated. Unable to believe in the forgiveness of their Father in heaven, imagining him not at liberty to forgive, or incapable of forgiving forthright; not really believing him God who is fully our Savior, but a God bound — either in his own nature or by a law above him and compulsory upon him — to exact some recompense or satisfaction for sin, a multitude of religious teachers have taught their fellow men that Jesus came to bear our punishment and save us from hell. But in that they have misrepresented his true mission.
The mission of Jesus was from the same source and with the same object as the punishment of our sins. He came to do more than take the punishment for our sins. He came as well to set us free from our sin.
No man is safe from hell until he is free from his sin. But a man to whom his sins are a burden, while he may indeed sometimes feel as if he were in hell, will soon have forgotten that he ever had any other hell to think of than that of his sinful condition. For to him his sin is hell. He would go to the other hell to be free of it. Free of his sin, hell itself would be endurable to him.
For hell is God’s and not the Devil’s. Hell is on the side of God and man, to free the child of God from the corruption of death. Not one soul will ever be redeemed from hell but by being saved from his sin, from the evil in him. If hell be needful to save him, hell will blaze, and the worm will writhe and bite, until he takes refuge in the will of the Father. “Salvation from hell” is salvation as conceived by such to whom hell, and not the evil of the sin, is the terror.
— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, “Salvation From Sin,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 39-40.