David thought it was over. His sin had been exposed, he had sought the Lord’s forgiveness, and it had been granted. A right spirit had been renewed, and a clean heart had been created. Then came the news that his child was gravely ill. The revelation threw David to the floor in anguish as thoughts of his sin filled his mind. Months had passed, but now his sin had come out of hiding to remind him of his treason against the God of the universe.
Years later, another son rebels, and again David is reminded of the sword that has been driven into his family because of his sin. Another brutal reminder that he, at one point, thought he knew better than the Lord of all creation. In his sinfulness, he desired something that the Lord had forbidden, but David ignored the law because he thought he knew better than his creator what was good for him. Oh, but how that sin has haunted him. How many times he thought he was done with it. He had repented, he had been forgiven, but regardless, it seemed to pursue him. Though it had no hold on his life, and there was no possibility that his sin could exact its wages from him due to the redemptive plan and work of God, it was not going to let him forget.
It seemed to sit in silence for extended periods to make David comfortable. Then as he would be going about his day, there would be those moments when something, whether it was something he saw or something he heard, gave his sin an opportunity to spring up on him and cloak his day with darkness by taunting him of his failures and reminding him of his foolishness.
You see, one or two moments of sin do not simply last for a season. Many times, they have a way of coming back in little reminders which sink your spirits every now and again, and the fact that it comes on when you least expect it is what makes it all the more difficult. After it happens a few times, it can cause you to begin to look over your shoulder in preparation for it to happen again, until you feel it trying to stifle you in your Christian walk. It can even cause a hesitancy to desire spiritual growth because of what it might do when you reach new territory.
As it did with David, sin has a way of robbing us of peace and joy. It can weaken, embarrass, and grieve us years after the indiscretion. As the enemies of God hear about it, they begin to rejoice, mocking the God we love because of what we have done. If you are toying with sin or considering spurning God’s loving standards to feed your flesh, you might want to think twice because what you do could linger for years to come.
Now, if this warning comes a bit too late and you already know from experience that all of this is true, you must remember that the haunting cannot ultimately hurt you. Bear in mind that our sovereign God, who has taken your sin and bore its wages on the cross, has promised never to lose His child. He has promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him: even the haunting effects of sin. Though they can be troubling and painful, our Lord uses all things to accomplish His purposes in your life. He will finish the work he has started in you, and with a bit of wrestling, he can change your name from Jacob, the heel-catcher and deceiver, to Israel, the prince of God.
Ultimately, David never forgot his sin, but that did not stop God from calling him “a man after His own heart.” As king of Israel, the Lord has used his example to show the world His love and forgiveness and that the Lord can use anyone in a powerful way, even those with severe failures in their past. Sin can haunt the repentant believer all it wants, but ultimately it cannot separate them from God’s love. Even though the enemy naively believes that he will stifle them by it, the sovereign God is using it to conform them to the image of His Son. Let us never forget that it was the haunting effects of sin that God used in David’s life, which caused him to draw up under the wing of his Lord, and through it birthed several of his Psalms which were inspired by the Holy Spirit and considered the very Words of God.
In an extraordinary way, the Lord uses the haunting effects of sin to bring his child to the point where we will no longer be able to be haunted by them. By using them to conform us to His image, not only will we avoid sin in the future, but when the accuser rears his head, we will understand that all his work is in vain, and the more he tries to afflict us, the more we will grow. Then, before long, Satan will be looking over his shoulder because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.