Last week we talked about our need to be self-disciplined. Without discipline in our lives we tend to drift into ungodliness. I believe that the second law of thermodynamics is true in our lives. It is the law of entropy or simply stated anything left to itself tends to decay. If we don't work at our Christian lives, they will digress. A lack of self-discipline can really cost us. I want to talk to you this morning about the high cost of sin. I think that most Christians view sin too lightly. Too often our attitude is, "We're saved, God loves us, positionally we have the righteousness of Christ, so it really isn't a big deal if we sin. God is forgiving." But sin is a big deal!
Today we're going to look at a story about a man of God who allowed his life to plunge into the debts of sin. He committed sins that you simply wouldn't expect a good man to commit. And it wasn't one of those cases where he accidentally committed a sin before he realized what was going on. No, he put a great deal of thought and effort into committing his sin, and then he went to even greater trouble to cover his sin. In fact, the events in his life read more like an Oliver Stone script than a Bible story. When the smoke finally cleared, three people were dead and several families destroyed. However, the most amazing fact about this story is that this didn't ruin the man. He was able to recover from his sin and get back on his feet.
You might have already guessed; the man I'm talking about is King David. The same man who, as a teenager, killed Goliath.
This is the story. David was one of the greatest believers that ever lived. He was a man after God's own heart. One evening, King David had a hard time going to sleep, so he went out on the balcony of his palace to take a walk. Off in the distance he saw a beautiful woman named Bethsheba taking a bath. When he found out that her husband, Uriah, was a soldier and was away at war, David sent for her and seduced her. David committed adultery.
How did this happen? How did a great man of God fall into this terrible sin? We have a clue to answering this question in:
2 Samuel 11:1 (NKJV) 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.
David was the king of Israel and as king, he should have been with his troops, but he wasn't. He was where he shouldn't have been and because of this, he was subject to temptation that he other wise would not have been subject to.
Principle: when you do things that you know are wrong, you open yourself up to temptation and sin. David's adultery started with his disobedience. Believers, listen to me, when you do what you know is wrong, you are opening yourself up to temptation and sin. Some of you men might think that pornography is harmless, but it leads to greater sin.
Sometime later Bathsheba told him that she was going to have a baby. This would have been a good time for David to have confessed his sin. In an attempt to cover his tracks, David had her husband, Uriah, brought in from the battlefield for a time of "R&R." David suggested that Uriah go home and spend time with his wife. Uriah politely refused; going home to his wife during a time of war would have been an act of disloyalty to his fellow soldiers. Since Uriah couldn't be persuaded to compromise, David sent him back to battle with a letter to deliver to the commanding officer. Uriah didn't know it, but he was delivering his own death warrant. The letter told the Chief of Staff to put Uriah on the front lines and withdraw the other troops so Uriah would be sure to die. This is exactly what happened. Uriah was killed in battle and David married Bethsheba. David went from adultery to murder. No one in Israel knew the story behind the story, but the bible says;
2 Samuel 11:27 (NKJV) And when her 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.
It was sometime later that a prophet named Nathan confronted David with his sin. David knew that he had done wrong, and I'm sure that deep down he knew he couldn't get away with it. To make matters worse, David and Bethsheba's newborn child was very sick, and Nathan said it was all David's fault. He said to David, "Because of what you have done, this baby is going to die." Imagine how David felt about that! He couldn't hide it any longer. He had blown it in a big way, and now it was time to face the music.
David did face the music. He made things right with God and got his life back on track. At some point during this time, he wrote Psalm 32. In this Psalm we see David's confession of sin. We can learn from David's example how to make things right whenever we commit a "big" sin.
In the first two verses of this Psalm, we see the happiness of a pardoned sinner.
Psalms 32:1-5 (NKJV) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
In verses 3-5, we see the misery that went before, and the comfort that followed the confession of sins
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
When we sin in a big way, we often make the mistake of thinking that God hates us because of what we've done. The truth is, He loves us no matter what. When we sin, even when we sin big, He wants to forgive us and help us get back on our feet.
Getting back on track after you have sinned requires a:
1. Change of Mind
Psalms 32:5 (NKJV) I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden.
Have you ever noticed that we gladly take credit for our accomplishments, but we often blame our failures on extenuating circumstances? For example, how many times have you heard someone say something like, "I'm sorry I lost my temper. It's because I'm so tired; or I'm under pressure; or you were getting on my nerves." Our natural tendency is to blame someone or something else whenever we fail. When people say, "I'm not myself today" they most often mean that they are at their worst, not their best. It's not always easy to accept responsibility for our failures, but we have to if we want to get our lives back on track. We have to change our mind about who is responsible for our life. We have to stop blaming others and accept responsibility for our actions.
In 1980, New York City Mayor, Ed Koch, appeared on a local news program in the middle of the city's financial crisis. Koch had spent over a quarter of a million dollars to put up bike lanes in Manhattan, and they turned out to be a disaster. Cars were driving in the bike lanes, pedestrians were walking in the them, and bikers were getting crowded out. It was a mess, and many people in New York were irate about it. Koch was coming up for re-election, so a handful of journalists cornered him on this show, planning to tear him to pieces for spending money foolishly when the city was nearly broke. One reporter said, "Mayor, in light of the financial difficulties New York City is facing, how could you possibly justify wasting $300,000 on bike lanes?" The stage was set for a half-hour confrontation. Instead, Koch said, "It was a terrible idea. I thought it would work, but it didn't. It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made." Then he stopped. None of the other journalists knew what to say or do. They were expecting him to squirm and make excuses, but he didn't even try. The next journalist stammered and said, "But Mayor Koch, how could you do this?" Koch said, "I already told you. It was a stupid idea. It didn't work." Then he stopped. There was still 26 minutes left to go on the news show, and the reporters had to find something else to talk about. The last thing they expected that day was for the mayor to take responsibility for his actions. Ultimately, of course, Koch went on to receive both the Democratic and the Republican endorsements for re-election.
The principle here is that we cannot blame our sin on anyone else. We are responsible for our own lives. It does no good to say, "I am a victim of my environment, or a victim of my circumstances, or a victim of genealogy, or a victim of bad luck." David could have said, "It was Bethsheba's fault; look what she was wearing at the time." Or he could have blamed God. Or he could have blamed his other wives (yes, wives; he had many of them) for not being sensitive to his needs. He could have placed blame in several different areas, but he realized that it was now time to take responsibility for his actions and take back control of his life. That's why he said;
Psalms 32:5 (NKJV) I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden.
David was saying, "I am responsible for my actions. I can't blame anyone but myself."
Secondly, getting back on track requires a;
2. A Change of Heart
Psalms 32:5b (NKJV)....I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
David was guilty, and he knew it. He couldn't deny his wrongdoing any longer. He could only confess to God and ask forgiveness.
Not too long ago, basketball's bad boy, Dennis Rodman, made the headlines when he kicked a cameraman during a basketball game. Luckily for Rodman, he escaped criminal charges, and got by with just an 11 game suspension and a $200,000 payout to his victim. A few days after the incident, Rodman discussed the event in an interview, and his attitude reflected anything but a change of heart. In fact, he insisted that what he had done wasn't all that bad. He said that he himself was the victim in this whole ordeal, since he was being forced to pay money only because he's rich. After all, he said, he just gave the guy a little tap. He must have forgotten that everyone saw the footage of the assault. The bottom line was, even after the payout and the suspension, Dennis Rodman didn't believe he had done anything wrong.
We're often just that way about our own sin. We try to justify it and pretend that it's not so bad. We try to explain why it isn't really sin. As long as we keep this defiant attitude, we can never get completely right with God. Getting right with God requires a change of heart.
Jim Bakker's new book is titled "I Was Wrong." In the book, he admits not only to moral failure, but also acknowledges that he led many people astray by teaching theological error. He describes himself during that time of his life as ambitious and self-serving, and considered himself above consequences. When he wound up in prison; alone, broke and abandoned, he experienced a change of heart. He reached a point where he was truly sorry for his sins.
A change of heart means that we're sorry we did it, regardless of who knows or doesn't know about our sin.
Getting back on track requires a change of mind, a change of heart, and a;
3. Change of Direction
David's life got off track because he started doing things his way and going in his own direction. Suddenly, he recognized that things had skidded out of control, and that he needed to make things right. He also realized that he couldn't do it without God's help. Listen to his words;
Psalms 32:6-11 (NKJV) For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
We can mess things up on our own without anyone's help, but it takes an act of God to get us back on track. We must depend on Him to forgive us, and keep us from trouble. Too often, we are guilty of trying to clean ourselves up and make ourselves "good" so that we will be acceptable to God; and that is simply not acceptable to God! It is God who preserves us and gives us joy when we trust in Him. Getting back on track requires a change of direction; where we stop going our way and start going His way.
And what does it mean to "go God's way"? It means that we; Spend time alone with God on a consistent basis. David said, Psalms 32:6 (NNAS) "Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found." If we are spending time with God, the calamities of life will not overwhelm us. We need to spend time with the Lord daily in Bible study and prayer. And we need to walk in obedience.
You might be thinking, "Wow, David really blew it, he sinned 'big time,' and yes, he suffered some for it, but once he confessed his sins it was over. David sure got away with a lot." You don't understand. David was in quite a bit of misery during that year as is seen in:
Psalms 38:1-12 (NNAS) O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, And chasten me not in Your burning anger. 2 For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. 5 My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. 6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long. 7 For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. 11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off. 12 Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they devise treachery all day long.
Psalms 38:17-18 (NNAS) For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
So, we see here that David's sin cost him. Now just in case you are thinking, "Well, once I can't stand the pain any more, I'll confess and it will all be over." Think again! Once David had confessed and was forgiven, he suffered beyond what he had already experienced in Psalm 38:
2 Samuel 12:9-10 (NKJV) 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 '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 12:13-14 (NKJV) 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. 14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."
Principle: When you sin, it cost you; once you confess your sin and get right with God, the discipline doesn't end. Let's say that you went out and cheated on your spouse. In doing so, you contracted AIDS. When you confess your sins, will the AIDS go away? No! Confession doesn't remove the consequences of our sin, but it does restore our fellowship with God and keeps us from piling up more consequences.
David's sin cost him dearly. You may feel that you have problems in your family, but notice what David's sin cost him and his family:
1. His child, born of Bathsheba, died (2 Samuel 12:14-18).
2. David's son, Amnon, raped his daughter, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1,14,21-22)
3. David's son, Amnon, is murdered by David's son, Absolom (2 Samuel 13:28)
4. David's son, Absolom, attempts to kill his father and take over the kingdom. David flees the city, running for his life from his own son. Later in the battle, Absolom is killed:
2 Samuel 18:14 (NKJV) Then Joab said, "I cannot linger with you." And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom's heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree.
2 Samuel 18:32-33 (NKJV) And the king said to the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" So the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!" 33 Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: "O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom; if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"
This should give us some idea of the high cost of sin.
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. If you do find yourself in sin, remember what you need to do. You must have: A change of heart, a change of mind, and a change of direction. Do you know what all of this adds up to? Repentance. When we blow it, we need to repent. Some people think that repentance is feeling guilty, but I've got "bad news" for those people: feeling guilty isn't enough. There's more to repentance than just feeling bad. Of course, when we sin, we do feel guilty. That's natural. But if you feel guilty too long, you haven't really repented. Repentance removes guilt. When David asked for God's forgiveness, he also asked God to restore the blessedness of salvation. Repentance results in blessedness. If you've blown it, you need to get past feeling guilty and get back on track. Ask God to help you change your heart, and change your mind, and change your direction.
Psalms 119:67 (NKJV) Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
God's chastening hand on David taught David to walk in obedience. Don't ever take sin lightly! God hates it, and disciplines because of it.