Forgiveness and Consequences
The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless . . . the child who is born to you shall die. 2 Samuel 12:13,14
Someone recently asked me if forgiving meant forgetting. I don’t think the question was about literally forgetting, but rather, Does forgiveness mean we are supposed to live as if the thing never happened? Does forgiveness mean no consequences?
We are told that when we come to faith in Christ, we are forgiven, and that God sees us with the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22). Jeremiah 31:34 says that God forgets our sin. Some will insist that this means God is now incapable of seeing our sin and thus, cannot hold us accountable.
Today’s passage seems to indicate that it is not this simple. When the prophet Nathan confronted King David for killing a man and taking his wife, David confessed, and God forgave. The Lord has put away your sin. Nathan pointed out though, that this did not mean David would not face consequences. The son, conceived in sin, was still going to die.
The lesson is, that though I am forgiven and restored to God, I will still face consequences here on earth for my destructive behavior. Forgiveness does not cut the strings between my sin and its results. This, I think, is applicable to my earthly relationships as well. My wife can forgive me for repeated drug use and still be on guard against future relapses. Forgiving does not mean that she goes on with the rest of our lives as if I never had a drug problem.
The addict will of course, use this to manipulate. You don’t trust me? Then you haven’t forgiven me. That’s not very Christian of you. If you truly forgave, you would forget.
Today’s passage though, seems to indicate that some injuries cannot be undone. Though David confessed, and God forgave, nothing David could do would bring his son back.
When we confess our sin, we may bask in the love and forgiveness of Christ, but we may also have to accept the results of that sin. Forgiveness does not mean no consequences.