One of the first and most elementary things a young Christian learns in Sunday school is the idea that God’s commands are “good for you.” The violation of a moral command activates a set of consequences. On the individual level, this is not a controversial thought. Think of the Ten Commandments—violating prohibitions against adultery, theft, and murder results in pain, chaos, and violence.
Extending beyond the basic requirements of the Decalogue, the Bible is full of if/then propositions that describe the terrible consequences of sin and the benefits of obedience. There are so many, in fact, that it’s one explanation for the persistence of legalism or the prevalence of problematic theologies like the prosperity gospel. Seeking certainty in an uncertain world, Christians latch onto these propositions as if the promised rewards for righteousness are typically immediate, literal, and material.