Sin: Relational Or Judicial?

“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” (II Samuel 12:10).

In II Samuel chapters 11 and 12 we read the story of David and Bathsheba. A story of a great man, David, having a great fall into sin. He took another man’s wife to his bed, then killed that man to protect his own honor, then took the wife of the dead man as his own wife. At the conclusion of the story the scripture says, “The thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (II Samuel 11:27). 

Have you ever committed a willful sin, realized what you have done, and thought of it as selfish? When we sin against the Lord we are doing more than being selfish. Today’s passage would seem to indicate that by our sin we are despising the Lord. 

Despising? Isn’t that what atheists and people who hate Christianity do? How can a Christian, who is filled with the Holy Spirit, despise the Lord? The biblical writer even goes farther to say of David, “By this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord” (II Samuel 12:14). 

In our Western culture we think of sin in terms of wrong actions and right actions that we do. Our notion of sin is somewhat judicial and forensic. But all sin is committed in relationship. We sin against others and we sin against God. The relationship is offended and broken by sin, especially intentional sin. This is why the Lord says that David’s sin despised him and scorned him. Consider that the Lord told David that of his many blessings, that, “If this were too little, I would add to you as much more” (II Samuel 12:8). So, all sin is more than something judicial or forensic. All sin is a violation of relationship. This is why when confronted, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He didn’t say, “I’ve sinned.” He said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

What sins do you struggle with? Chances are, when we struggle with something we look at that thing forensically. But if we come to understand how offended and hurtful our sin is to Christ who died for us, then we may see a turnaround. Because transformation from sin doesn’t happen by obeying a rule, it happens by submitting in relationship. 

Memory Verse

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).


Take a spiritual inventory. What sin comes to mind that you have viewed judicially rather than relationally? Take that sin in confession to God and seek to restore your relationship.

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