A bit of a long quote from Richard Rohr's "Breathing Under Water", but worth reading to the end.
"Almost all religion, and all cultures that I know of, have believed in one way or another that sin and evil are to be punished, and retribution is to be demanded of the sinner in this world - and usually the next world too. It is a dualistic system of reward and punishment, good guys and bad guys, and makes perfect sense to the ego. I call it the normal economy of merit or "meritocracy", and it is the best that prisons, courtrooms, wars, lawyers, and even most of the church, which should know better, can do.
The revelation from the cross and the Twelve Steps, however, believes that sin and failure are, in fact, the setting and opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender - and then the future will take care of itself. It is a mystery that makes sense to the soul and is entirely an "economy of grace", which makes sense only to those who have experienced it."