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WHEN CONSEQUENCES REMAIN

 

We all know that when we make decisions there are consequences involved. These can be good when the right decision is made. As Christians, we should be guided by the Holy Spirit. Not for every little thing—common sense is enough to tell us when to do laundry or eat lunch, for example. But you get the idea. However, the consequences I have in mind today are the bad ones, the ones that come when we make poor choices, disobey the law, disobey God, and so on. Sometimes God in His mercy and sovereignty can lessen or remove the consequences of these actions, while at other times He allows them to remain.

 

To hear some preachers talk, such as the name-it-and-claim-it crowd or the prosperity pushers, there should not be consequences when we are walking in the favor of God. At one time I must have internalized that somewhere. I got saved in prison, but that did not take away my criminal record or the restrictions I have had to live by. There are many other examples. The man who is sincerely sorry and repentant for cheating on his wife may still be divorced and lose custody of the children. The person who through a freak accident caused a car wreck may truly regret her mistake, but she still might be sued. The sex offender who was born again in prison may be a genuinely changed man who will never commit another sex crime, but chances are he will still be on the sex offender registry for life and might even be classified as a predator. On and on the list goes.

 

Having to not only live with the consequences of my actions but also having to deal with some additional restrictions, it was very hard for me to believe that God had forgiven me, considering what I had apparently internalized as I noted above. Before physical injuries and deterioration necessitated my applying for disability I actively sought work and, even though I am very well educated, could only secure menial jobs due to my criminal history, and this after my last offense was long ago. I prayed to God, believed Him for favor, stood on His Word, and still never saw any real breakthroughs in the job market. Sometimes in my despair I suffered alcoholic relapses until, thankfully, deliverance helped me to start achieving more consistent victory in sobriety. Still, the doubts about my forgiveness remained. Christian entertainment did not help. Watching movies where people got jobs, spouses, or lesser consequences for bad actions played with my mind. Hearing testimonies in person from others who got from God the very same things I had sought and believed Him for would send me into despair. I genuinely tried to be happy for these people but sometimes I was envious instead, wondering what God still had against me or if He was ever going to give me a break.

 

Receiving deliverance also helped me with my doubts but did not completely remove them. I took solace from the Word of God itself when I found in its pages revered saints whom God loved even though they suffered. One had done nothing wrong—Job. Challenges to the Lord by Satan led Him to allow the devil to attack Job in numerous ways, yet this righteous man trusted God anyway. See what he said after suffering terrible personal losses, then after this a hideous outbreak of boils:

 

Job 1:20-22:  Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

 

Job 2:7-10:  So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

 

Job’s attitude in the face of suffering which was not for any wrongdoing on his part is admirable. And inspiring. In the end, God blessed him with double what he had before calamity struck (Job 42:12-17).  But then there is the case of King David. He did do some things wrong, and many of the consequences he suffered did not go away, but remained. There was no question that David sinned, none whatsoever, and some of what he did called for the death penalty under the Mosaic law. What did he do that was so evil? David had an affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, Uriah the Hittite. When she communicated to the king that she was pregnant, David let Uriah have some time at home to be with her, even so far as to getting him drunk in the hopes that he would sleep with Bathsheba and make the baby seem like it was his. It did not work. Uriah refused to enjoy the comforts of home, even passing up intimacy with his wife, while his men were out in the field (2 Samuel 11:8-13). Seeing this, David wrote a letter to his relative and murderous army commander, Joab, by the hand of the unwitting Uriah, telling Joab to send him to the hottest part of the battle and then retreating from him so that he may die. Joab followed orders and Uriah lost his life. Months went by, but finally David’s sin caught up with him when the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. David was profoundly grieved over his own sin, and deeply sorry. Notice what transpired during the confrontation:

 

2 Samuel 12:7-15:  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 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 put 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.” Then Nathan departed to his house.

 

All these things came to pass. Despite praying and fasting for his child, the baby died. David’s son Amnon raped his own sister Tamar. Two years later Amnon’s brother Absalom killed him in retaliation for what he did to her. Some time after this occurred, Absalom led a rebellion against David in an effort to usurp the throne. During this time he had intercourse with David’s concubines. Some other things I will not detail also happened along the way and ultimately, against David’s wishes, Absalom was slain by Joab and some of his men. After the rebellion was quelled there was a dispute between Judah and Israel which prompted another uprising, this time by a man named Sheba. It was successfully put down.

 

In sum, David was sincerely sorry for his sins, but his and Bathsheba’s first child died in infancy, two of his sons were murdered, his daughter Tamar was violated and traumatized, he had to put away in isolation the concubines that Absalom had laid with, and he suffered two dangerous rebellions, either of which could have ended his rule. And when David was old, he ordered a census, more dependent on the numbers of his men of war than on the hand of the Lord, and seventy thousand people died as a result, though he repented. When David was on his deathbed his son Adonijah tried to usurp the throne from Solomon, the son that the Lord had decreed would rule after David’s death. The attempt was thwarted, but surely not without great anxiety and concern. Things appeared to look really bad for David. It would have seemed that King David was getting what he deserved for what he did. In truth, that was not the case. Although the Law dictated that both David and Bathsheba should have been stoned to death, they were allowed to live. This in itself was an act of great mercy by God. There was a lot of turmoil in David’s household and in his kingdom, but he did not lose the kingdom, and his son Solomon went on to rule in his place, for a time bringing Israel to the apex of her status as a nation called out by God to be His people. Almost a thousand years after David of the tribe of Judah died, the promised Messiah and Savior, Jesus Christ, was placed into the family line of those directly descended from David: Joseph and Mary. What else does the Bible say about this flawed but repentant king? Here are a few examples:

 

 

1 Samuel 13:14, 16:11-13:  But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”…And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

 

2 Samuel 23:1:  Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel:…

 

Psalm 18:50:  Great deliverance He gives to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed, to David and his descendants forevermore. (Also read Psalm 89:19-37)

 

You can see that God truly loves His own, even when He allows the consequences of our actions to remain. They could be left for chastisement, the discipline the Lord gives to those of His children who disobey, but this is a sign of His love just as parental discipline is a sign of love toward their children (Hebrews 12:3-13). Also, while we are redeemed people, the world system itself is not going to be redeemed. In the future the world and all of creation will be renewed, cleansed from the curse of sin (Revelation 21:1).When we do wrong in the world there are consequences to be had, and some of them do not go away. In God’s sovereignty we may have to live with the consequences of bad decisions for the rest of our lives here on earth, but that does not mean God does not love us or has not forgiven us. I turned to the Word of God and was shown by the Holy Spirit that despite my past and the consequences I have to live with, I am accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6). Whether you have a criminal record or not, whatever you may have to deal with because of some things you have done, Jesus Christ loves you. For those of you who are lost, come to the Lord today. Jesus died for your sins (John 3:16-17).  For those of you who are backslidden, return to the Lord like the prodigal son did to his father; He will rejoice over your return (Luke 15:11-32). All of you who belong to Jesus but are paying a price on this earth for mistakes and bad choices, remember, in heaven the slate is clean. The Lord loves you:

 

Psalm 103:11-12:  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 

Romans 8:33-34:  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

 

 

 

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