One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what fills our hearts. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”
2 Samuel 11 & 12:
David & Bathsheba
This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!
Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God because He’s looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).
Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”
And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
So what were the consequences of David’s and Bathsheba’s sin? How did he reap that which he had sown? First, the baby who had been conceived died. The baby went immediately to be with God. “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (V. 12.23). But David and Bathsheba had to live with the loss.
God is the one who opens and closes the womb (1 Sam. 1.5, 19-20), so why would God allow Bathsheba to become pregnant as a result of their adultery? Remember, Romans 8.28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good …” but the following verse says, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …” And Isaiah 43.7 says that we were created to bring Him glory. He receives glory when we become more like His Son. If we are to become more like Christ, sin must sometimes be exposed and dealt with so God often allows the natural consequences of our sin to take place.
Another of the ways He receives glory is by our better understanding who He really is. He is love. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is good. But He is also the Righteous Judge of the universe and He will judge good and evil.
Referring to David’s attempts to hide his sin, including killing Uriah, John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible notes, “This is graphic proof of the extremes people go to in pursuit of sin and in the absence of restraining grace.”
In Romans 1.18-32, we see what we call “the downward spiral of sin.” In that passage it explains that as we willfully continue in sin, God begins to remove his restraining grace from our lives. When he does, we can and will do things we never thought we could do. God “gives us over” to what fills our sinful hearts (Rom. 1.24, 26, 28).
You are the man!
We pick up with the story in chapter 12 with Nathan’s visit to David. Some time has passed, possibly a year to a year and a half, but David has not repented. Nathan tells David the story of the man who stole and killed a poor man’s little lamb. David is incensed and demands to know who the man is, “So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity'” (12.5-6). Followed by Nathan’s pronouncement, “You are the man!” (v. 7).
Romans 2.1-3 tells us that often those who judge others the most harshly are guilty of the same. Matthew Henry in his commentary on those verses says, “… but it behoves those especially to consider it who condemn others for those things which they themselves are guilty of, and so, while they practice sin and persist in that practice, think to bribe the divine justice by protesting against sin and exclaiming loudly upon others that are guilty, as if preaching against sin would atone for the guilt of it.”
In 12.9-12, the prophet tells David that, because he had killed Uriah and taken his wife, besides the death of their baby, “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house” (v. 10) and “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.'” We will see this unfold during the remainder of David’s life.
But don’t miss 12.13, “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.” …” When David was confronted he repented without blameshifting or making excuses.
Praise Him for His goodness
The psalmist continues to honor and praise God for all His goodness.
Be careful to whom you listen
Verse 22, “Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly.” A wise man or woman will bring life and health to those who listen, but nothing good can come from listening to a fool!
By grace alone through faith alone
In verse 29 after the people asked Him how to do the works of God, “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” We cannot “do” what pleases God without beginning here with saving faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 40 says, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” God is the one who saves because of His mercy and grace, but we receive it through saving faith.
Saving faith is “unquestioning belief” in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, which will be reflected in our lives (Jn. 14.15). Even that faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2.8). Saving faith is not something we somehow conjure up, God gives each of us the ability to choose what we believe.
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Is there some willful sin that you think you can control? Are you at risk of it controlling you?
Where do you go to seek advice? Do you go to wise people who will tell you what God says or to fools who will tell you what you want to hear?