[This is the fourth installment from our friend’s essay on forgiveness. Many thanks to her once again] –
Another aspect we see in God’s forgiveness is that it does not remove consequences in this life. David sinned twice, with Bathsheba and when he numbered the people. Both times God forgave him, but also gave him some kind of consequences afterwards. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church and after he repented, he ended up getting the persecutions he inflicted on others. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. God forgave Moses when he disobeyed, and gave him consequences. God really does have a way to make sure that no one gets away with sin or makes light of sin. He’s incredibly just, while He forgives. This is how we show GRACE to someone who has sinned. The cancer must be rooted out, not ignored.
To sum it all up to this point, God’s forgiveness teaches us that it is a transaction between two parties, that it’s essentially a pardoning of guilt, it requires repentance and justice—the debt must be paid for, it does not eliminate consequences, and it leads to reconciliation—of some kind.
This is the part that gets tricky with people relationships. There is room for discernment here because there are situations where a relationship should not be restored. It is possible to violate a person so deeply that it would be unwise to restore that relationship. For example, rape or adultery against another person— if by some miracle the perpetrator repents this does not mean that the two people involved need to be friends or in any kind of relationship again. If such a person does repent, I would consider it “reconciliation” to merely acknowledge the offender’s genuine repentance if the evidence is there.
Or a situation where someone is getting divorced for being abused. Let’s say hypothetically the abuser repents, even then the fact that that marriage covenant was violated so horribly to the core, it would be right for the offender to accept the consequences of the divorce permanently. If it were even possible for the abuser to repent in that case, and gets saved for real this time, I would consider it “reconciliation” to think of this offender as no longer an enemy. That’s it. Sometimes being on good terms with a person is also reconciliation, especially if after many years of separation they have moved on. How we apply this requires wisdom, but the relationship is affected in some way, and it needs to be left up to the offended person to decide what to do with the relationship.
[To be continued]
Bathsheba….there was never any justice in the story of Bathsheba.
David used his position as king to order an innocent woman to his palace, where he raped her. Then he murdered her husband, whom she loved. Then the baby she conceived from the rape died, no one seems to console her in her devastating grief.
Then Bathsheba gets to spend the rest of her life locked in the palace of her rapist/husband, David….because he was forgiven after he prayed and cried and refused to eat.
Where was the justice for Bathsheba? She had no power to say no to David’s guards when they kidnapped her from her home to take her to David.
Why would a just God force a woman as tortured as Bathsheba to marry David, who had so horribly abused her?
Her pain in this is never addressed, nor her healing, nor her right to dignity and freedom.
Remember when Nathan the prophet confronted David with a parable that describes what he did? Nathan painted a picture of a man who has slaughtered an innocent lamb and David indicted himself when he said he should pay fourfold. He ended up doing just that.
1. His first child with Bathsheba died
2. His daughter Tamar was raped
3. His son Amnon died
4. His son Absalom died
5. …And more, because later on he ended up being betrayed by his closest counselors and advisors.
I believe Bathsheba was redeemed and validated when David married her and took full responsibility for her ; her son Solomon became king and she was put in the genealogy of Christ. God has not forgotten her and he didn’t let David get away with anything.
Natalie – One thing is certain – God is perfectly just. We wrestle with seeing all kinds of injustice in this world and like the Psalmists we often ask God “why?” Why doesn’t He act? Where is He? But the Bible always leads us back to the certainty of His justice, so that all He does is right. We are also told (see Psalm 73 where the Psalmist is wrestling with these very issues –
Psa 73:1-3 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. (2) But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. (3) For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.)
But he eventually realizes “Consider their end.” That is, God’s justice is not fully carried out in this present life.
For David, as for us who truly know Him, God’s justice was effected by Christ on the cross. David was justified. His sins were removed.
Did Bathsheba receive justice for the wrongs committed against her? Yes. How so? God didn’t strike David down, so how did she receive justice? By Christ. Christ took David’s sin upon Himself at the cross, just as He did for all His people. And remember, David was, very unlike the abusers we deal with so often, repentant. David repented. Genuinely. And He knew that the misery which came upon His family was due to his own sin.
God always gives justice. Always. Sin is never disregarded. Either a person’s sins are atoned for by Christ, or the sinner himself is condemned in hell.
This is why Paul wrote of David:
Rom 4:5-8 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (6) just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: (7) “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; (8) blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
If we look for and insist upon God’s justice against sin being carried out in this present world, then what of our own sins? What would have happened to the Apostle Paul for his persecution of the church?
Thank you for pointing us back to Christ! He’s always the solution!