When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, God’s voice immediately boomed from heaven, “David, my son, you have sinned against me and you’re going to pay the penalty,” and David trembled with fear, knowing God’s punishment is always instantaneous and obvious.
Oh, wait, this did not happen until Joab sent a messenger to tell David of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah’s death in battle, a murder David committed, in effect, by proxy.
No, that isn’t correct either. But surely David heard God’s booming indictment when he took Uriah’s wife as his own.
Actually, the booming voice in the story of David and Bathsheba didn’t happen, but you already know that. God did not thunder in David’s ears when David sinned, any more than he thunders in your ears today when you or I sin. But as Nathan explained to David, his sin did have consequences.
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” 2 Samuel 12:13-14 (NIV)
God did take away David’s sin, but he did not remove the consequences of it, and although David fasted and wept, his son did die.
Some today argue that sin has no consequences, that Christ died for all of everyone’s sins and we are all automatically forgiven, and that all traces of sin and any possible consequences are wiped away. Some believe strongly there is no need of repentant prayer or tears, with or without fasting. Forgiveness of sins today is nothing more to some than a perpetual green light to freedom from guilt or shame. Sin can certainly abound when the conscience cannot be pricked.
If a man (or a woman) drives a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident resulting in property damage, physical injury or the death of another person, the consequences are obvious. The police will investigate and make an arrest. There will be bond, an arraignment, and possibly a trial and prison term. The driver can not merely shrug his shoulders and walk away scot-free, saying, I’m insured and having insurance absolves me of all responsibility and penalties.
There are those who do get away with repeatedly driving under the influence, until a “day of reckoning” arrives under the legal system. Even if there is no immediate penalty to the one who broke the law, others’ lives are affected, often permanently, leaving deep scars.
God knew from the foundation of the world, long before David was born, that Christ, God’s son, would die as a once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin. Although David repented and his sin was taken away, his son still died. And that was not the end of Nathan’s word from God.
“This is what the LORD says, ’Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you, Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all
Nathan’s prophetic word from God was fulfilled in 2 Samuel (NIV). So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he lay with his father’s concubines in the sight of all
The pain and suffering of sin is not just personal. It also affects others.
God is holy and he hates sin. And sin, although it can be forgiven, should never be trivialized and shrugged off. Perhaps if God’s displeasure boomed from heaven and a penalty exacted at the moment of commission, sin would be taken more seriously in today’s society.
Forgiveness of sins is available because Christ died on the cross, but sin still carries a penalty. Once a sin is committed, it can not be reversed. Words said in anger, arrogance or self-righteousness can not be retracted. The young children turned into orphans by the driver under the influence will spend the rest of their lives without their parents. The innocent person given an STD (sexually transmitted disease) by an unfaithful marital partner must wrestle with the physical and emotional burdens of betrayal. The family, friends, congregation, employees, neighbors, or investors of one who has been deceived by someone they trusted may never be able to fully trust others again.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23a
This is such an encouraging verse. Eternal life is a gift, not a right or an automatic deposit in our spiritual bank accounts when we are born into this world. Eternal life is a very precious, priceless gift from God.
What is your attitude when you realize you have sinned? Don’t listen to and fall into the teaching that every sin is automatically forgiven and without consequence. Instead, remember your sins earned you a death penalty, which Christ paid in your stead. Do you still want to shrug off sin? Or does it give you a strong urge to fall to your knees?