We are studying the Upper Room Discourse and have just finished chapter 15. This chapter is very significant because it deals with the metaphor of the Vine and the branches. In this text believers are commanded to abide in Christ, they are to bear fruit, which deals with the subject of discipleship. Fruit bearing is a mark of discipleship:
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:8 ESV
To be a disciple is to bear fruit. To bear fruit is to be a disciple. So there is a difference between believing and being a disciple.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10 ESV
"If you keep my commandments"—this again is a third class conditional sentence, which means: "potential action. Maybe you will, and maybe you won't." So those who are clean, believers, may or may not "keep His commandments." And if they don't keep His commandments they will not abide in Him or in His love. It is not assumed that all believers will keep His commandments.
The problem that many have with this text is that they don't see a difference between a Christian and a disciple. They incorrectly think that "believer" and "disciple" are synonymous. But these are two different terms describing two different groups of people in relation to Yeshua.
A person becomes a Christian when they understand and believe the Gospel of Yeshua, who is the Christ. At that moment, they are placed into the body of Christ, given Christ's righteousness, indwelt by God, and are as sure of heaven as if they were already there. They are "in Christ."
Disciple is from the Greek mathetes, which literally means: "a learner or follower."
I see discipleship, being a follower or learner of Christ, as a conditional relationship that can be interrupted or terminated after it has begun. All Christians are called to be disciples, learners, or followers, but many will not pay the price. Discipleship is costly! A follower of Christ will be living like Christ lived. So what happens if we don't abide?
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:5-6 ESV
I see verse 6 as talking about believers who won't abide in Christ and would therefore be taken away for disciplinary action by the Lord God. In other words, if as believers we do not bear fruit, if our life is characterized by persistent rebellion against the Lord God, then discipline takes place in the family of God.
"Fire" is a common symbol that occurs throughout Scripture to describe the judgment of both believers and unbelievers. So understanding it in that way then our Lord is talking about disciplinary action made necessary because those who are in the vine are not producing fruit.
In the text of John 15:1-17, I see Yeshua as addressing His followers, His disciples. It was not to unsaved people, not to a mixed audience, but to believers and believers alone, that He said this. The central theme of chapter 15 is not salvation, how it is to be obtained or the danger of losing it. The theme is abiding in Christ, discipleship, obedience, which produce fruit. To not abide, to not be a disciple, to not live in obedience is to not produce fruit and to be disciplined. There are temporal consequences to disobedience. Believer, if you do not abide you will get burned!
To illustrate the fact that sin, disobedience, not abiding has serious temporal consequences. I want us to look at the story of a great man of God and the severe price he paid for his disobedience to Yahweh. King David was a great man of God. God said that David was a man after His own heart. Speaking of Saul the Scriptures say:
But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." 1 Samuel 13:14 ESV
Saul's replacement, David, is to be a man after Yahweh's own heart. Paul says this of David:
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' Acts 13:22 ESV
Commenting on "A man after my heart," Albert Barns writes, "This expression is found in 1Samuel13:14. The connection shows that it means simply a man who would not be rebellious and disobedient as Saul was, but would do the will of God and keep His commandments. This refers, doubtless, rather to the public than to the private character of David; to his character as a king. It means that he would make the will of God the great rule and law of his reign, in contradistinction from Saul, who, as a king, had disobeyed God."
One characteristic especially distinguished David's rule—he rigidly guarded the people from idolatry and all the abominations which attended idol-worship, and kept them faithful to the adoration of the pure and holy God of their fathers.
As we'll see David had his failures but the bent of his life was to love and serve Yahweh. But then there's Bathsheba. The story of David and Bathsheba is very familiar to most Christians. But what happened to David after he repented of this sin is not that well known. Let's look at what David's disobedience cost him.
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1 ESV
In the spring, after the latter rains were over, it was customary to resume military activity, David ordered Joab to launch an invasion of Rabbah, the capital of Ammon. David was the King of Israel and under the blessing of God, David had become one of the great kings of the earth.
Although it was customary for kings to accompany armies, they did not always do so. David, for reasons not given, remained in Jerusalem. At this time, David had been the king for 17 years. He should have gone to battle with his men, but instead, he stays behind and sends Joab. Joab was David's Chief of Staff, his four star general.
Let me give you a principle that I think is true: When you are where you shouldn't be, you become subject to temptations that you wouldn't experience if you were where you belonged. Does that make sense?
It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 2 Samuel 11:2 ESV
David is looking at a woman that he shouldn't be, he should be at war. David had three beautiful wives, but he was very tempted when he saw Bathsheba.
And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" 2 Samuel 11:3 ESV
Instead of fleeing the temptation, David pursues it. He should have done what Joseph did in Genesis 39 and ran.
But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. Genesis 39:11-12 ESV
This is the proper way of responding to temptation—run!
So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 2 Samuel 11:4 ESV
This is adultery! This great man of God violated two of the ten commandments.
"You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14 ESV
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." Exodus 20:17 ESV
David began by coveting, and then he committed adultery.
Notice the parentheses at the end of verse 4. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, "She was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness. This notice indicates that Bathsheba has just finished menstruating, eliminating any possibility that Bathsheba could have been pregnant by her husband, thus complicating David's attempt to cover up his misdeed."
And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, "I am pregnant." 2 Samuel 11:5 ESV
David's sin has gotten him in trouble. It started by David not being where he should be, then he began to covet, then he committed adultery, and now she is pregnant.
Many Christians would say that David must not have been a Christian if he did this. Can a Christian commit adultery? Yes! Apart from the grace of God, a Christian can commit any sin that an unbeliever can. Most sins that are condoned by Christians are just as bad as what David did.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
Christians lie, slander, and cause discord, and think nothing of it.
David should have repented of his sin, but he doesn't. The longer you stay in sin, the worse it gets.
So David sent word to Joab, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. 2 Samuel 11:6-7 ESV
The crisis brought by the pregnancy required some kind of suitable resolution, so David determined to "legitimize" the impending birth by bringing Uriah back from the Ammonite campaign, thus making it possible for him to spend time with his wife, thus covering up the adultery.
Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, "Uriah did not go down to his house," David said to Uriah, "Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?" Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing." 2 Samuel 11:8-11 ESV
David's plan to cover his sin failed. Why should he, Uriah argued, be allowed the comforts of home and a conjugal visit while his friends in combat were deprived of them?
And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 2 Samuel 11:13 ESV
Even after David got him drunk, Uriah's sense of loyalty to his comrades prevailed over his desire for his wife.
In the letter he wrote, "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die." 2 Samuel 11:15 ESV
David moves from adultery to murder. Uriah wouldn't sleep with his wife, so David had him killed.
And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. 2 Samuel 11:17 ESV
David is now a murderer. He has broken another of the ten commandments.
"You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13 ESV
So, David, "a man after God's own heart," commits adultery and murder.
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. 2 Samuel 11:26-27 ESV
This translation is kind of week. NASB Translation says, "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD." Not once in all of this did David confess his sin. His sin just keeps piling up. He goes from one sin to another trying to cover his sins.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Lest you think that David is just having a great time sinning it up, look with me at Psalm 38. This Psalm is supposed to have been composed by David after his sin with Bathsheba.
A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. Psalms 38:1-3 ESV
David feels like a human pin cushion, He is experiencing pain and loss of health.
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. Psalms 38:5-12 ESV
For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. Psalms 38:17-18 ESV
Finally, David has had enough, and he confesses his sin. Believer, the sooner you come to this point, the better off you will be. When you sin, don't try to cover it up, but confess it.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
"Confess"—is from the Greek word homologeo, which means: "to say the same thing." To confess our sins is to say the same thing about sin that Yahweh does, and the Bible does. Willful disobedience breaks our communion with God; when we are in communion with God, we are constantly cleansed by Christ's blood. This is a beautiful description of the intimacy and fellowship that our union in Christ should bring.
Let's continue on with David's story. God sent a prophet to David to confront him in his sin.
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, "There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." 2 Samuel 12:1-4 ESV
The case presented by Nathan may appear to have nothing to do with David's crimes, since it deals with neither adultery or murder. But what Nathan's case demonstrates is that adultery and murder were only the end results of a more serious crime: abuse of power. David is formally indicted by the divine counsel (speaking through the prophet) not only for taking another man's wife, but for believing that he could take whatever he wanted and being dissatisfied with what God had given him.
Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 2 Samuel 12:5 ESV
What a hypocrite! It's interesting how easily we can see the sin of somebody else but don't see it in our own lives. David just pronounced judgment on himself.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 ESV
David showed no mercy, but insisted that the man must die.
and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity." 2 Samuel 12:6 ESV
David would like to be able to sentence the offender to death, but the law was clear enough. The fourfold compensation is consistent with the law for the theft of a sheep:
"If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. Exodus 22:1 ESV
Please remember what David says in verse 6, "He shall restore the lamb fourfold."
Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 2 Samuel 12:7 ESV
Nathan tells David that the parable is all about him. Then God reviews the grace that He has demonstrated toward David. God had given David everything, but he wasn't satisfied.
And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 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.' 2 Samuel 12:8-10 ESV
Now, notice carefully what verse 11 says:
Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 2 Samuel 12:11 ESV
"Out of your own house"—keep this in mind along with verse 6,"He shall restore the lamb fourfold."
Now, finally David repents.
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 ESV
This is where we pick up Psalm 38:18, "I have sinned." David confess his sin, and God forgives him. Notice what Nathan says in response to David's confession—"Yahweh also has put away your sin; you shall not die." When we confess our sin, God forgives us, and we are restored to His fellowship.
Now, someone is bound to say, "Boy, David sure got away with a lot. He got to enjoy the pleasures of sin, and then upon confession, God forgave him." If you think that, first of all you are forgetting about Psalm 38 and how miserable David was while in sin. And secondly, you are forgetting:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7 ESV
The law of the harvest is that you reap what you sow. When David confessed his sin, God forgave him and restored him to fellowship, but this did not remove the consequences of his sin.
Let's say that you go out and get involved in fornication, sex outside of marriage, and because of this sin, you contract AIDS. Then you confess your sin, and God restores you to His fellowship. Does God automatically heal you of AIDS? He could! But the chances are good that you will die of AIDS even though God had forgiven you. You do reap what you sow. David paid way beyond what he experienced in Psalm 38. David was disciplined "four fold" (verse 6) "out of his own house" (verse 11). Let's look at what happened to David because of his sin.
1. DAVID'S FOUR MONTH OLD CHILD DIES:
Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die." 2 Samuel 12:14 ESV
On the seventh day the child died… 2 Samuel 12:18 ESV
David's four month old child of Bathsheba dies because of David's sin. Think about this, parents. Can you imagine how you would feel if your child died as a result of your sin?
Believers, this is something we must all understand—our sin affects others. Let's say that your sin is drunkenness. Will it affect others in your home? It sure will, you may be verbally or physically abusive to your family because of it; you may lose your job because of it, and thus not be able to provide for your family; you may drive drunk, and actually end up killing some or all of your family. Our sin affects others. What if you commit the sin of adultery, will it affect your family? It sure will! You can bring an incurable disease home to your spouse; you could end up in a divorce because of it. Our sin affects others, and David's sin destroyed his family. Remember "four fold" and "out of your own house."
2. AMNON RAPES TAMAR:
Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David's son, loved her. 2 Samuel 13:1 ESV
But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. 2 Samuel 13:14 ESV
When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar. 2 Samuel 13:21-22 ESV
David's son, Amnon, raped his half sister, Tamar. David knew that he was the cause of Tamars pain. So, we see death and sexual sin in David's household. David reaps what he has sown.
3. AMNON IS MURDERED BY ABSOLOM:
After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 2 Samuel 13:23 ESV
Then Absalom commanded his servants, "Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, 'Strike Amnon,' then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant." So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled. While they were on the way, news came to David, "Absalom has struck down all the king's sons, and not one of them is left." 2 Samuel 13:28-30 ESV
David's discipline is severe, we can only imagine his great pain as his family is being destroyed.
And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king's sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly. But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead. 2 Samuel 13:36-39 ESV
4. ABSALOM IS KILLED:
Absalom had been working on winning the support of the people. He had been weaning the people away from David. Absalom effected a coup, and David fled the city, running for his life from his own son. But no matter what Absalom did to David, David still loved him very much. David asks his men to deal gently with Absalom in battle.
And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. 2 Samuel 18:5 ESV
And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it and told Joab, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." 2 Samuel 18:9-10 ESV
Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him. 2 Samuel 18:14-15 ESV
And the king said, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was." 2 Samuel 18:29 ESV
The king said to the Cushite, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man." And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 18:32-33 ESV
I think that David is wishing that God would have killed him for his sin.
It was told Joab, "Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, "The king is grieving for his son." And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, "O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 19:1-4 ESV
What could be more painful for a parent than years of pain watching their family destroyed because of their sin. David knew that the pain was his own fault. David paid "four fold, out of his own house" because of his sin. David was held to a high standard because he was the king. His chastening was severe because his sin was severe. God had a purpose in the discipline, He wasn't just punishing David, but teaching him not to sin, and helping him to grow and mature.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV
Believer mark this down, sin brings discipline; sin causes pain; sin is destructive. Don't ever take sin lightly, sin is an affront to God, and it will always cost us. Our salvation is secure, but God will chasten us in this life if we fail to walk in obedience to Him.
Some of you may be thinking, "David, this is not a very uplifting, "feel good" type of message." That's where you are wrong—if you realize the high cost of sin, and therefore, turn from it, and live a life of obedience to God, if you abide in Christ, you will feel good; you'll feel great! There is no joy like the joy of abiding. Sin brings discipline, but obedience brings blessings.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalms 16:11 ESV
When David said to the Lord: "in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore," he meant that nearness to God Himself is the only all-satisfying experience of the universe. God created us, and He created us to live in fellowship with Him. Only as we do that will we know true happiness. True happiness, true joy only comes from abiding in Christ. To not abide is to get burned!