Reading: Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 2 Samuel 12:14

Forgiveness of sin does not eliminate consequences. In the estimation of some there might appear to be a problem here, for no sooner was pardon declared than punished was decided. If God really forgave David then why was David so sorely chastened? Doesn’t the Scripture say, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10)? How are we to reconcile forgiveness and chastening?

God does not deal with us according to our sin with regard to penal judgment (God’s dealings with us as a judge). The law of God declares that the punishment must suit the crime (“eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:24). If we received our just deserts, we would have been cast into hell long ago. But God has brought the severity of the law on Another and exacted from Him full satisfaction for my sin. The justice of God with regard to the believer has been satisfied and cannot be satisfied again. Augustus Toplady affirmed, “And payment God cannot twice demand; first at my bleeding surety’s hand, and then again at mine.” And so with respect to God’s eternal justice, He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

However, God deals with us as a loving Father. In this respect the sins of believers are not ignored by God. God chastens His children—sometimes sorely—according to His sovereign purpose. The great distinction between penal justice and fatherly love is the absence or presence of mercy. Penal justice shows no mercy; Christ felt the full heat of God’s wrath. Fatherly love, on the other hand, chastens in mercy. The consequences of our sin remind us that although justice is satisfied, we still need the mercy of God.

God’s chastening in no way impinges upon His forgiveness; rather it is an expression of His mercy. —A. W. Pink