II Samuel 24:10 says, “Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD: ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” David realized that what he had done was a sin, but as we see in the following verse, it did not keep the consequences of his actions from coming upon him.
Thousands of people would die as a result of his foolish and proud decision (:15) even though David had asked for forgiveness. This is a reminder to us that you can be “forgiven” of a certain sin, but it does not automatically mitigate all the damage that your sin has caused.
One may be forgiven for abusing his body with drugs, but it will not reverse the damage that abuse has done to his body. Another may be forgiven for his adultery, but it may not reverse the destruction it has wrought in his family. An embezzler may find forgiveness for his sin, but it may not change his prison sentence, or reverse the fact that they will not be trusted with money again.
As someone has well said, “sowing our wild oats and praying for crop failure” is not a profitable strategy. Realizing our errors, and asking God’s forgiveness, is important when we have sinned. But we should also not be surprised if, like in David’s case, some of the earthly consequences of our sin still afflict us. It is a sobering reminder that we are not to take sin, and its resultant effects, lightly. There are consequences of sin which cannot be changed in this lifetime.