One of the more sordid stories in the Bible is that of King David and Bathsheba. The king, already married to more than one woman, and having a few concubines as well, has a one-night stand with the wife of one of his senior officers, and then she, Bathsheba, ends up pregnant. Then, when David’s plans to cover it all up failed, he had the officer himself killed and David adds another woman to his harem. You can read all the gory details in 2 Samuel 11.
Well, by the next chapter, after David was confronted by Nathan the prophet with His sins, the response between Nathan and David is incredible: “So 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” (2 Samuel 12:13).
Just like that, David’s sin was “put away.” The Hebrew word translated “put away” comes from a root word, abar, which means basically to pass over, to pass by, or to pass through. It occurs here in the hiphil, or causative form, which means that God will make David’s sin pass away; that is, God will take away the legal punishment, the legal condemnation that he’d otherwise face because of his sin. This isn’t the same as the taking away the immediate consequences of the sin, which were immense, including the death the baby.
What’s fascinating here, however, is that Nathan, obviously speaking for the Lord, didn’t require of David any works, any restitution, any acts of penance. All that was needed was repentant acknowledgment of His sin, a confession; not that the repentance can earn forgiveness but rather repentance reveals the realization that one needs forgiveness. As soon as David saw his need, which was great (considering the gravity of his transgressions) –the need was provided for. It was given to him, through grace. It couldn’t have been by works because, up until that moment, David’s works were evil: adultery, lying, conniving, deception. In short, if David were to be forgiven, it would be not because he deserved it but only because of grace.
It's no different for any of us. We all need grace, we all need forgiveness, and by acknowledging our need, by confessing, and by repenting, thanks to Jesus, we can have that forgiveness, despite our unworthiness.
It’s what is known as the Gospel.