2 Samuel 12:14 “But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
Repentance brings personal forgiveness, but it doesn’t necessarily remove the consequences of our sin, in this life at least. Some people seem to think of repentance as a “get out of jail free card,” but that is simplistic at the very least. What God said through Isaiah is very true: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) However, various sins have lingering consequences, particularly as they affect other people. David fell in the area of human/family/interpersonal relationships, and those can be very difficult to repair. That’s one of a number of reasons that God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16) When other people suffer because of our sin, God isn’t the only one from whom we need to seek forgiveness. That can be very difficult indeed. In David’s case, he had arranged for his prime victim to be killed, so he couldn’t receive forgiveness from Uriah. We probably won’t go that far, but God’s rules for human interaction are as certain as His physical rules, such as gravity. David’s sons doubtless knew of their father’s actions, or at least heard of them later, and it predisposed Amnon and Absalom to do things that brought tragedy to the family and to the kingdom. Even when our sins are personally forgiven, their influence can continue to spread. That is all the more reason to obey God actively, and to seek His help in doing so.
This again applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. Some of the sins I have committed have indeed impacted others a great deal, and I can’t change that. I can only pray that my repentance would likewise impact many. The past cannot be undone, but it can be covered over with the love of God. (1 Peter 4:8) I am to speak the truth in love at all times, warning people of the consequences of ignoring, or even actively rebelling against, God’s laws, even as I proclaim His grace. His grace would be meaningless if we didn’t need it! I am to help people deal with the consequences of sins of which they have repented, and in particular seek to help them not become bitter against God or people because of what they themselves have brought about. That can be difficult, but it can also be beautiful when it happens. God does amazing things, and He indeed turns even our sins around and uses them for good when we genuinely yield them to Him. (Romans 8:28) I’ve tasted that myself, and I need to be God’s agent in opening other people’s eyes as well.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I can think of several people who are suffering the consequences of their actions right now. I ask You to use me to speak Your truth to them so that they may receive it and be set free from their self-made prisons. I pray that we would all grasp both Your holiness and Your grace, so that we may follow You in obedience and gratitude and joy, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!