Consequences

Nathan and David

2 Samuel 11:26-27 “When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

Why was Uriah dead? Because sexual sin, like all sin, has consequences. In the case of David and Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, there was an unplanned pregnancy, damage to the reputation of a man the Lord once described as “a man after my own heart,” hurt and heartache for Bathsheba’s family, a bad public example for the nation’s young people, an ever-spreading web of deceit and betrayal that finally ended in murder to try to cover it all up.

Who was the victim of this little indulgence between two consenting adults? The better question is: “Who was not?” Uriah died. David lived through months of spiritual agony. The seeds of jealousy, envy, rivalry, and self-interest were sown in David’s mixed-up family. Other soldiers died alongside Uriah, innocent bystanders in David’s attempted cover-up. High-ranking members of the military were made party to the crime. David and Bathsheba got away with nothing at all.

The consequences of David’s sin fell like dominoes throughout his family, his leadership, and his nation. In our time sexual sin runs like an epidemic through our society. The people of God’s church are not immune. Surveys about adultery, divorce, premarital sex, and pornography suggest Christian behavior doesn’t differ much from our unbelieving friends. The Centers for Disease Control claims that only one out of every 10 Americans waits for marriage. Other studies suggest that between 30 and 60 percent of Americans fail to remain faithful during their marriage. We have our own weaknesses where David did.

You can’t live that way and expect there to be no consequences. Four out of every ten children born in our country are born to people who are unmarried. Half of their mothers will be forced to live on welfare, and even more will live below the poverty line. It will cost taxpayers 2.2 billion dollars every year to support them. Those children will be far less likely to grow up and do well in school. They will be far more likely to grow up and end up in jail.

That’s when the children are fortunate enough to be born. Of the nearly one million American children who die by abortion each year, by far the majority are conceived by people who are not married to each other.

Where there is no pregnancy, there may still be disease. One out of five Americans is said to carry a sexually transmitted disease. We have ways of preventing pregnancy and disease, but they don’t work perfectly. Even where there is no pregnancy or disease, that does not mean no consequence. This kind of sin changes us. It changes the way we treat the opposite gender, and never for the better. It feeds our inborn selfishness. It erodes our patience, discipline, and self-control. It makes us shallow. We become less the servant to others, more the consumer and user of other people. In one way or another the consequences expose such behavior for what it really is: sin.

The sin in this story is clear to see. “But where is there any trace of grace?” you might ask. The story doesn’t end here. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. He led David to confess, “I have sinned against the Lord.” To that Nathan promised, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” So swiftly God took David’s adultery, lies and murder; so swiftly God takes our lust and ruined relationships, and removes them from our records. Seven little words, “The Lord has taken away your sin,” and that part of the story is done.

How can he do that? This grace is related to another consequence of David and Bathsheba’s union. In no way did the Lord approve either their adultery or their marriage. But that does not mean he will not turn such things and use them to his advantage. The second child born to David and Bathsheba is Solomon. God used him to continue the bloodline of the Savior and the promise of salvation for the sins of the world. David’s condemnation and judgment fell 28 generations and 980 years later on his greatest grandchild, Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah.

God’s grace still overcomes our sins. Though he never approves of them, he still cleanses us from them through the blood of Jesus Christ his Son. His grace still leads him to take everything we do and turn it to serve his penitent people. Maybe he uses it as a wake-up call, or a warning for others about the dangerous path they are pursuing. Maybe seeing the depth of our sin helps us to see the heights of his love more clearly.

Whatever God does, in all things he works for the good of those who love him, even when working with the consequences of our sin.

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