When God “forgives your sins”, what does that mean? Does God eliminate all of the penalties for your sins, or just the ones that are eternal?
King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her husband murdered. The Lord sent His prophet, Nathan, to confront David with his sin. Nathan said,
“Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 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 adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.”
So 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 given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”
(2 Samuel 12:9-14)
In verse 13, David confesses his sin, and God forgives him. God says He has “taken away” David’s sin, and that David will “not die”. God’s law requires the death penalty for both murder and adultery (Lev. 24:17 & Deut. 22:22), yet God did not put David to death. And with his sins forgiven, David was able to go to Heaven when he died, rather than Hell. Certainly these are great blessings! But even so, God’s forgiveness did not eliminate all temporal punishment. God forgave David’s sins, yet He still judged him worthy of numerous penalties.
First, God put David’s son to death. In verse 14, God declared the judgment. And in verse 18, the child died.
In verse 10, God ordained that the sword would never depart from David’s house. Violence would plague David’s family for many years to come. This penalty comes true throughout the rest of the book of 2 Samuel. David’s daughter, Tamar, was raped by David’s son, Amnon. Then David’s son, Absalom, killed Amnon. Later, Absalom himself rebelled against David, and tried to take over the kingdom. Absalom got killed in the process. In punishment for David’s sin with Bathsheba, there were many years of violence and bloodshed among David’s household.
In verse 11, God ordained that David’s wives would be defiled, and that another man would sexually lie with them right out in the open, in the sight of all Israel. This judgment came true in 2 Samuel 16:22. While Absalom was trying to take over his father’s kingdom, he pitched a tent on top of a building, and he laid with his father’s wives in the sight of all Israel.
Even though God forgave David’s sins, David still had to pay massive penalties for his sins, for the rest of his life. Let us not think we can escape God’s judgment in this life, simply by saying, “I repent. Please forgive me!” God will forgive us, and we can go to Heaven. But we still may not escape God’s judgment here on earth. This is one reason why holiness is so important.
Therefore, let us always avoid sin. Let us constantly obey God, so we can live our lives under His blessing, rather than under His curse!
This article was published in the following newspapers:
Norris City Banner – Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Ridgway News – Thursday, May 7, 2009
Gallatin County Democrat – Thursday, May 7, 2009
Anna Melissa Tribune – Friday, May 8, 2009