Monday, June 6, 2016

2 Samuel 12:1-15 Grace's Judgment more Severe

KEY TEXT: 2 Samuel 12:13-15 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. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die." 

KEY THOT: David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. When told that she was pregnant, he arranged for Uriah to be brought home from the battlefield to sleep with his wife, hopefully taking responsibility for the child. But Uriah refused to return home to sleep with his wife as his comrades were still fighting in the battlefield. So David sent Uriah back to the battlefield with a message to his commander Joab to put him in the hottest part of the battle to be killed. After that David took Bathsheba as his wife. But the whole episode stank before the Lord and he sent the prophet Nathan to pronounce judgment on David. While David would be forgiven because he repented, nevertheless the baby born out of his adultery would die.

The question before us is: Does God still judge his people who are now "under grace", not law? Some preachers teach that now that Jesus has taken upon himself our sins at the Cross, God no longer judges believers when they sin. While we like to think that those who live before Christ is "under Law" rather than grace, the truth is that David was one OT believer who lived under God's grace, not law. While it's true he was operating under the tutorship of Moses' law, but his relationship with the Lord was on the basis of grace (Heb: hesed, translated as lovingkindness). This is reflected in most of his psalms e.g. Psalms 23; 32:1-2; 51 (written after his adultery with Bathsheba); 103:1-5; etc.  But despite his relationship with the Lord on the basis of grace, he nevertheless suffered divine discipline and judgment for his sin of adultery and murder. 

There are two kinds of consequences for our actions. The first is based on the natural law of cause-and-effect. Paul describes that as the reap-what-you-sow principle: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). A believer (whether in the OT or NT) is not spared from this natural law: if we are lazy, we will not succeed; if we eat junk-food, don't sleep enough and never exercise, our health will suffer; if we don’t complete our assignments consistently, we are unlikely to excel in our school examination; if we don't take God’s word seriously, we will fall easily into demonic deception; if we don’t exercise due diligence in our business dealings, we will be swindled; if we drink and drive, our driving will be impaired; etc. 

God will not be mocked. If we make bad decisions, He will let us face the consequences of those decisions to learn painful lessons from them. Just as parents should not bail out our children from facing the "music" when they break school rules, so they can learn not to repeat their mistakes, God will not always bail us out of consequences caused by our rejection of his will and his word. For example, if we practise homosexuality, the likelihood of contracting HIV is nearly 100%. If we repent, God may yet heal us, but we will not escape the consequence of infection with HIV.

The second kind of consequence of our sin is imposed discipline. When a father discovers his child has lied to him, there may be no natural consequence for his action. But in order that the child learns that bad choices will have negative consequences, the father would impose his own punishments for that choice made e.g. withdrawal of privileges or impose some form of corporal punishment. If however, there is no imposed consequence, the child will continue to lie as he faces no negative feedback to his action. Good parenting must include imposed penalties to help our child avoid making the same bad choices again. 

The question we ask at the beginning of this blog may be rephrased as: “Does the NT teach that those who are under grace will not experience divine judgement?” As much as we dislike the answer, the truth is that the NT actually teaches that under grace, God's judgment can be even MORE not less severe: “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:28-31). 

Paul in dealing with the case of incest in the church at Corinthian calls for the church to impose a severe discipline on the offender: “Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). 

While some of us may be temperamentally uncomfortable with these "hard sayings", we should not try to remake "grace" to suit our temperament. Grace does not mean no more judgment for sin; in fact, under grace, our judgment can be more severe because our privilege is much higher. We may not like this biblical truth about divine discipline, but we should not deny it or expunge it from the Word of God. Instead, we should warn those believers who are careless and ill-disciplined to wake up or they may find themselves on the wrong side of the grace of God. 

May God deliver us from bad choices because we believe the lies of seducing spirits of deception. Paul has stated categorically: God is not to be mocked. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. But if we indulge in our sinful desires, we will sow destruction for ourselves. We need to reinstate the fear of the Lord in the churches again, so that believers will strive for holiness. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

Father, thank You for Your grace that takes away our sins. Help us walk in the fear of the Lord always, so that we will make wise choices, not foolish ones. Amen.

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