March 5, 2012
By John Barnett
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As we open to II Samuel 12, try to think of the searing pain that would come when secret, private sins get exposed for all the world to see. Just imagine what David felt as the truth of what he had done could no longer be hidden. That is the event and those are the emotions that David is feeling in the verses of this chapter.
One of the great deterrents to sin is looking at the consequences. God's Word records David’s crash through each barrier God put in his way, and the resulting wreck David made of his life and family. For a moment join me in that climactic moment as David faces his sin is a most uncomfortable moment. Please read the first 15 verses of II Samuel 12:
II Samuel 12:1-7a Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
When David stood at the other end of Nathan’s boney finger, pointed directly in his face—he was guilty, and he knew it. David had broken every law in the book, God’s Book .
DAVID BROKE ALL TEN
In reality, David had broken all of the Ten Commandments when he sinned with Bathsheba. How had he broken them all? In two ways; first by his actions he broke them all. And secondly, by God’s standards he broke them all.
1.“No other gods…”—David allowed his lust to be the god to which he bowed in obedience.
2.“Not take the Name…”—David took the Holy Name of God in vain as he said he was God’s man and lived like the devil.
3.“Not make a graven image…”—David engraved the image of naked Bathsheba as she bathed so deeply on his lustful soul, that he forgot even the God he loved for that moment of sin.
4.“Remember the Sabbath…”—David didn’t keep the Sabbath or any other day holy for God once he allowed lust to rule.
5."Honor thy father and mother…”—David dishonored them and all his family as he sank into such wicked and premeditated sin.
6.“Not kill…”—David sent the murder request to Joab, so it was not his sword but the arrows of others that David used--but it was his desire that Uriah be killed.
7.“Not commit adultery…”—that was the clearest of all David’s law breaking.
8.“Not steal…”—David stole the wife of his neighbor and trusted friend Uriah as Nathan clearly pointed out in the story of the lamb.
9.“Not lie…”—David’s false response was a lie when the messenger came with the ghastly news of Uriah’s death; and even more, every day David lived in sin was a lie that he deceptively covered.
10.“Not covet…”—David broke this law as he so coveted his neighbors wife that he would steal her and kill her husband to share in sexual sin with her.
So David was a guilty sinner. He broke them all. But in reality, so have every one of us. We all by God’s standards have become guilty of breaking them all. Listen to the very first New Testament letter, written by the very first New Testament local church pastor named James.
James 2:10 "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."
So Have We Broken them all
The good news is that Jesus died for all of us who are guilty sinners. As we walk through the accident scene and study the skid marks of David’s crash into sin with Bathsheba, may each of us determine by God’s grace that we will heed these lessons and not give in to the momentary pleasures of sins and reap the whirlwind of consequences. Remember the wrong choices David made?
FIRST STEP DOWNWARD—
David desensitized his conscience by incomplete obedience.
… David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David (2 Samuel 5:13).
At this point, David had let himself become involved in socially acceptable things that were unacceptable to God. Initially, it was just carelessness—a slight wandering, a tiny loosening in a socially acceptable area. But I believe that David’s sin with Bathsheba was sparked by small disobediences back in the earlier days as he relaxed his grip on the way God asked Him to live. Lesson: Stay sensitive to God by obeying Him!
Second Step Downward— David relaxed his grip on personal purity.
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1).
David had let little things slide in his life. Beware of allowing any unguarded moments in your life, thinking you’re safe from sin’s reach and it won’t bother you anymore. For at that very moment the ravenous devourer himself is crouching and preparing to spring. You and I need to be doing whatever it takes to maintain purity in our lives! That is what David discovered—only it was too late. Lesson: Keep purity your priority.
Third Step Downward— David focused his heart on physical desires.
"Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold" (2 Samuel 11:2).
In this period of restlessness with time on his hands, in a moment of listlessness and boredom David wandered the palace and used the highest spot in the city to take a supposed innocent peek at Bathsheba, his neighbor’s wife. This woman, who was very beautiful to behold, happened to be bathing at the time.
What I want to underline for you is this: There is no such thing as an innocent peek at another man’s wife; there is no such thing as an innocent peek at an off-color TV show; there is no such thing as an innocent peek at pornographic materials! Likewise, there is no such thing as an innocent “trying out” of intoxicating alcohol, enslaving cigarettes, debilitating drugs, or premarital sexual relations!
All of these temptations are part of downward steps toward life-crippling habits which can destroy your testimony and usefulness for Christ! It is impossible to flirt innocently with lust!
Temptations abound all around us as well. Because temptation to sin is so powerful, we need help. Before you might think this message isn’t for you, look at James 1:13-15:
"Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" (NASB).
Note that James (the initial pastor of the first New Testament church, the first leader of the Church of Jerusalem, and our Lord’s earthly brother) doesn’t say “if” but “when.”
God's Word says temptation is inevitable; temptation is inescapable; and temptation is going to follow us all through our earthly lives. In other words, this chapter’s message is for ALL of us. And this message hinges on one word—LUST.
Lust (epithumia, “super desires”) is dreadful, dangerous, and deadly. Lust is surrounding us and, in various forms, planted within us. Lust is either pursued for pleasure or fled from for righteousness.
Remember: youthful lusts that we nurture and feed as young people will chase us throughout our lives (2 Timothy 2:22). So we must decide to flee lust—no matter what our age happens to be.
Lust which tempts us to sin against God will cost us far more than we could ever imagine. And that is what David found out! Lesson: Flee LUST!
*FOURTH STEP DOWNWARD—
David rationalized his mind about wrong decisions.*
So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3).
David took yet another step downward, away from God, when he started rationalizing in his mind: Oh well, it’s not really that bad. It’ll only be once … nobody will know …
Each of us has an infinite capacity for rationalization—not just David. According to Webster, rationalizing is seeking “to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct.” And David was about to learn what a horrible thing that sin is!
Over the years countless men and women who have descended into sexual sins have been asked the same question: "What could have been done to prevent this?" With haunting pain and precision, most of them have answered nearly the same thing: "If only I had really known, and really thought through and weighed what it would cost me and my family and my Lord, I honestly believe I would never have done it."
In the back of my Bible (the one that is always with me at work, at home, and whenever I travel) I keep a very pointed reminder of the consequences of sexual sin.
We must always remember to put the focus where Scripture does—on the love of God and the fear of God, both of which should act in concert to motivate us to holy obedience. Lesson: Remind yourself of the real price of sin.
My Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality
Toward My God—
• Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters, and dragging Christ's sacred reputation into the mud.
•Losing my reward and commendation from God; and dreading the day that I will have to look Jesus in the face at His judgment seat and weep for days wasted by lust.
•Forcing God’s chastening upon my life in various ways through the inevitable work of His Galatians 6:7-9 consequence engine.
•Prompting laughter, rejoicing, and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14); and bringing great pleasure to Satan, the enemy of God.
Toward My Wife and Family—
•Heaping untold hurt on Bonnie, my best friend and loyal wife; and forfeiting her respect and trust.
•Giving up my credibility with my beloved sons and daughters: John II, Estelle, James, Julia-Grace, Joseph, Jeremiah, Elisha, and Elisabeth. (As they think: "Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")
•Realizing that if my blindness should continue, or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.
•Bringing years of shame to my family. ("Why isn't Daddy a pastor anymore?"—plus all the cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)
•Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.
Toward My Church and Ministry—
•Bringing years of shame to all the church families I have served over the years.
•Bringing years of shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders.
•Bringing years of shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled.
•Realizing that guilt is very hard to shake; even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?
See how dangerous sin truly is? The momentary pleasures are gone so fast, and the lingering pains are so deep and unending. But sadly, we see David’s:
FIFTH STEP DOWNWARD—David plunged his life into lustful sin.
Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house (2 Samuel 11:4).
When David plunged his life into lustful sin he forgot to do what he had done in the past, wrote of in the past, and rejoiced over in the past. Lesson: Decide to Look for God!
David forgot to Look for God
Look at David’s personal testimony in Psalm 139:7-11:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me ….
That truth is even clearer on this side of the cross. Look at Paul’s wonderful promise in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13:
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
This is a call to all of us who know and love the Lord to look for God in times of temptation—for He’s always there!
•First, regardless of the type of temptation facing us, we can be sure that our faithful God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to take without falling into sin.God knows our limits and is thus always standing by to protect us by holding open the way of escape so we don’t succumb to the devil’s snare.
•Next, we need to fully grasp that God is there all the time. The longer we meditate on 1 Corinthians 10:13, the bigger the shadow looming over it becomes. That shadow is none other than the shadow of the One who made that promise to us! He is not distant—He is never closer than when we are tempted! It is God who towers over this passage: God is there all the time.
God has told us that He is faithful. Whenever we think we are alone, we are not alone. He is there all the time, all the way, every time. So we never face the adversary, the prowling lion called the devil, alone.
If we had to face temptation all alone, we would be hopelessly defeated. But God has already measured and limited any attack upon us, and He has the best escape route ready if we will only look for it and take it.
Now then, I exhort you to pause and do something before you lose that truth:
•As you bow your head, say in your heart, “Lord, I believe that You never leave me.” Then tell Him “Thank You!” that He is there with you right now.
•This is now the hard part! With your heart open before Him, tell Him that the next time you are tempted (you may even want to express the temptation you most fear and often get defeated by)—that you will look for Him.
•Now, look up at Him and say in your heart: I WILL LOOK FOR YOU, GOD, THE NEXT TIME I’M TEMPTED!
Warren Wiersbe once told this story about a father whose son was experiencing his first serious conflict at school:
Two or three bullies had been picking on the boy. They had punched the youngster a time or two, pushed him over when he was riding his bike home from school, and generally made life miserable for the lad. And then came the day they told him that they would meet him the next morning and beat him up.
That evening the dad really worked with the boy at home. He showed his son how to defend himself, passed on a few helpful techniques, and even gave him some tips on how he might try to win the bullies over as friends. Before heading to school the next morning, the father and son prayed together, knowing that the inevitable was sure to happen. With a reassuring embrace and a firm handshake, the father smiled confidently and said, “You can do it, son. I know you’ll make out all right.”
Choking back the tears, the boy got on his bike and began the lonely, long ride to school. What he did not know, however, was that every block he rode was under the watchful eye of his dad ... who drove his car a safe distance from his son, out of sight, but ever ready to speed up and assist if the scene became too threatening.
The boy had thought that he was all alone—but he wasn’t. His loving father had been there the whole time!
Now fast forward in your mind to the next time you face a surge of temptation to fear, to lust, to be embittered, or to lie. Know that at that instant, in even greater measure, the God of the Universe is near! Though often unseen, He is with us! So then, look for God! He is always faithful!
BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE
(Words: Charitie Bancroft, 1863)
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!