Jesus’ death on the cross paid the ultimate price for the wages of sin: eternal death and separation from God. That redemptive work is completed for you, there is nothing you can do to add to it nor take away from it.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the natural consequences that flow from the choices we make day-to-day, even minute-by-minute. For example, if you run a red light, God has forgiven the sin of you breaking a law instituted by the governmental powers that exist by God’s power. But, God allows the natural consequence of you receiving a ticket from the police officer who saw you run the light (or those darned red-light cameras–trust me, they work). You made a bad choice; you receive the consequence that flows from that choice.
Another example: if you choose to stand in the middle of the freeway, short of a miracle, you will suffer the consequences of that choice by getting hit by a car. You may die or be badly injured, but you will experience the consequences of that choice.
King David–a man after God’s own heart–suffered much as a result of bad choices. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David tried to hide it by first telling Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah–one of David’s captains–to go home and spend time with Bathsheba, hoping that Uriah would think the child was his. Instead, Uriah stayed with his men at David’s palace. Next, David tried to get Uriah drunk and send him home to his wife, but Uriah stayed with David.
If this weren’t bad enough at this point, David then resorts to murder!
Now it came about in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. He had written in the letter, saying, “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” –2 Samuel 11:14-15.
As you probably can expect, Uriah was killed in a battle. At this point, David thought that he had effectively hidden his sin. He married Bathsheba and thought it was all behind him.
God sent the prophet Nathan to David to show him that nothing is hidden from God’s sight.
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.'” –2 Samuel 12:7-9.
God called David out! He has laid his sins out for him to see clearly. Now God will tell David the consequences of his choices.
” ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’ ” –2 Samuel 12:10-12.
Harsh judgment. But consider who David was: he was king over God’s people Israel thus having a position of great power and influence. But David’s response to this was proper:
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” –2 Samuel 12:13-14.
There are the summation verses. David’s confession was immediate as was God’s gracious forgiveness of his sin. However, God did not take away the natural consequences of those choices! God spared David’s life, but will allow David to experience these consequences of his choices:
- The baby that Bathsheba is carrying, will die.
- David’s son Amnon has an incestuous relationship with David’s daughter Tamar.
- David’s son Absalom then kills Amnon in retaliation for the rape of Tamar.
- Absalom starts a revolt and David flees Jerusalem.
- Absalom has intercourse with all of David’s wives publicly just as God had said.
- Absalom is eventually killed by David’s soldiers in spite of David telling them to “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” –2 Samuel 18:5.
From this point until until the end of David’s reign, the kingdom suffered disorder and famine.
Did God forgive David’s sin? Yes. Did God allow David to experience the natural consequences of those bad choices to follow? Yes.
You cannot out-sin Christ’s redemptive work of the cross. But we should not be surprised when we may spend our entire lives living out the consequences of poor choices we make during our life.
The Christian life is a life lived knowing that you and your Creator are reconciled to each other. It is knowing that your sin has been paid for by Jesus so you will not live in outer darkness for eternity. It’s knowing that in spite of having to suffer–at times–consequences for the bad choices we may have made, God will give us the strength to carry on and to comfort us when we cry out.