Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sin’s Consequences: Correction, Chastening, Casualties

David and Bathsheba mourning their son

Sadly, sin is not limited to the unsaved person, but remains as an obstacle even in the lives of those who are born again by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Only Jesus walked this earth without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), but once He calls us home in our glorified resurrection bodies, we will sin no more (1 Corinthians 15:42-57).

In the meantime, it is a daily battle between our old sin nature (Romans 7:5-13) and the born-again (John 3:3-8) new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), who wants to follow the Holy Spirit, yielding to Him rather than quenching (ignoring) or grieving (rebelling against) Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). Unless we mortify, or put to death, our sin nature daily, it is all too easy to succumb to temptation (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Even the apostle Paul described his daily struggle between the old law, or sin nature, in his body parts warring against the new law of liberty through Christ Whom he wanted to follow, so that he found himself sinning, doing things that he knew were wrong, while failing to do God’s will (Romans 7:14-25).

King David, who was God’s anointed (1 Samuel 16:13), a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and a wise patriarch, fell far from wisdom, knowledge and understanding, for no man is free of sin (Romans 3:23). As we have seen, his loss of focus on God’s plan for his life led to his flirting with temptation and then outright sins. When we decide to sin, it is a free choice born of our free will – we can’t blame God for not providing an escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), or the devil for making us do it.

Consequences inevitably follow the decision to sin, affecting our own well-being, that of others, and our fellowship with God. Sin never occurs in isolation, but has casualties reaching far beyond those directly involved. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought about their own expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the curse of sin on all mankind, and separation from God (Genesis 3:16-24; Romans 5:12).

David’s desire to hide from the world his sins of lust (Job 31:1) toward Bathsheba, fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and adultery (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Matthew 5:28) resulted in the death not only of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, but also of Abimelech and other warriors, whose lives he had recklessly endangered (2 Samuel 11:13-15).

When David learned that Uriah had died in battle, he apparently was relieved rather than remorseful, for he glossed over the other casualties and encouraged Joab to keep fighting. Bathsheba mourned when she learned her husband Uriah was dead, but then David married her and she bare him a son (2 Samuel 11:16-27).

But there can be no joy when we disobey God to get what we want, for “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord (2 Samuel 11: 27).  When a child of God sins, our loving, just and righteous Father must correct us (Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19), just as an earthly father deals with a rebellious child (Proverbs 13:24) for his own good, for that of others, and to restore their relationship.

If verbal correction is ineffective, physical chastening may be needed, or even casualties with disastrous repercussions for the child’s testimony, his ministry, and his family. God first corrected David, showing him his sin by using the prophet Nathan to compare David to a rich man who took a poor man’s only lamb to prepare a feast for a visitor. When David expressed self-righteous indignation at the cruel behavior of the rich man in the parable, oblivious to his own sin, Nathan said “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:1-7).

Despite David’s repentance, expressed so vividly in many of the Psalms he wrote, Nathan warned that God’s chastening would wreak havoc on David, his family, and his kingdom. God’s message to David was that He had anointed him king, delivered him from his enemy Saul, and blessed him beyond measure. And yet David had despised God, rebelled against His commandments, and did evil in His sight. God’s judgment against David was that the sword of violence would never leave his household, his own family would betray him, and his wives would be sexually assaulted in plain sight of all Israel  (2 Samuel 12:7-12).

When David repented, God forgave him and spared his life, but would take the life of David and Bathsheba’s firstborn son. God’s reason for this judgment was that David’s adultery and its aftermath led God’s enemies to blaspheme Him (2 Samuel 12:7-13-14). This may be one of the most terrifying and sobering consequences of sin – that our sin actually encourages, aids and abets God’s enemies. Do we really want to be on the wrong side of God? (Romans 8:31)

The ensuing maelstrom of deceit, betrayal and bloodshed was far worse than that of any soap opera or murder mystery. David’s son Amnon raped Tamar, who was his half-sister and David’s daughter, and banished her from his sight, which infuriated their brother Absalom. He was so enraged that he plotted for two years and eventually conspired to assassinate Amnon, after which he lived in exile (2 Samuel 13:21-14:24).

David was distraught, more so over the absence of his beloved Absalom than over the death of Amnon or the shame of Tamar. He no longer ruled effectively until he pardoned Absalom and returned him to Jerusalem, initially as a commoner rather than a prince. Almost immediately, Absalom began plotting David’s overthrow, first by convincing David to restore him as a prince, then by openly criticizing David and winning over his own supporters.

Ultimately Absalom’s betrayal of David was so vile, thorough and shocking that he marched on Jerusalem with his troops, forcing David to evacuate; publicly raped David’s concubines; and considered murdering David but instead began a civil war. A string of deaths ensued, not only troops in combat, but also Absalom’s murder by Joab and the suicide of Ahithophel, one of Absalom’s advisors (2 Samuel 14:28-19:8).

David’s response to all this included agonizing heartbreak (2 Samuel 12:16), an attempt to restore leadership while passing the reins to Solomon (1 Kings 1-2), and his intense need to renew his fellowship with God. He prayed (2 Samuel 12:16), wrote and perhaps even sang in the Psalms that God would create a clean heart in him, renew a right spirit in him, and restore to him the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:10-12).

If we choose sin, refuse repentance, and continue to rebel against God, His judgment will demand correction, chastening and even casualties. Ultimately, He may turn His wayward child over to Satan for destruction of the flesh, to prevent further damage to God’s kingdom, while preserving his spirit eternally in heaven (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).

If a man such as David, a man after God’s own heart, could fall so far, and yet be restored and used by God, there is hope for all of us. May we heed this dire warning not to linger in temptation, lest we sin and fall into a downward spiral of ever worsening transgressions. 

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Distracted Ruler Loses Focus, Faithfulness, and Fear of the Lord

King David displayed wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, for he was a Godly man of faith, a wise father to Solomon, and a good ruler to God’s people. Yet the Bible shows us that even such a man is not immune to distraction, temptation and ultimately sin (Romans 3:23). One of the proofs that Scripture is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) is that it does not sugar coat the truth, portraying its heroes as picture perfect, but rather shows us man’s weaknesses and failures as well as his virtues.

King David had just scored a great victory over Syria (2 Samuel 10) and was enjoying a well-deserved respite in his home at Jerusalem. Certainly there is nothing wrong in rest (Matthew 11:2; Psalm 127:2), renewal (Isaiah 40:31), and refreshment (Exodus 23:12) after triumph in a hard battle, whether it be physical, spiritual, or political warfare. God Himself rested after His work in the six days of creation (Genesis 2:2-3).

But overindulgence in rest (Proverbs 6:9-11) can become distraction (Hebrews 12:1) from God’s purpose for our life, leading to idleness (Ecclesiastes 10:18; Ezekiel 16:49), and slothfulness (Proverbs 19:15). In David’s case, his year of rest should have been over, for it was time for the warring kings to return to battle, and for him to lead his troops. Instead, he sent his commander Joab, his servants, and all of Israel to destroy the children of Ammon and besiege Rabbah, while he lingered behind in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1). 

This sin of idleness soon put him in a position where he could be tempted by the lust of the eyes, which if uncontrolled soon leads to the lust of the flesh and pride of life (1 John 2:16). Pride is evident in David’s belief that fulfilling his desires was more important than not hurting others or disobeying God.

When born-again believers, meaning those who are saved by our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), are not doing God’s work, we get restless. The new man within us longs to yield to the Holy Spirit, to serve God, and to be in the center of His perfect will (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

Yet our sin nature rebels against God (Romans 7:7-25) and tries to convince us that we deserve time off, or that we should be directing our efforts toward improving our position in the world, or just “following our heart.” All of these are euphemisms for sin and lies from the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 2:22), causing us to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

So David, who should have been fulfilling God’s plan for him as faithful servant, benevolent ruler, and heroic warrior, instead lost his focus, lingered in temptation, and fell into sin. One evening he was so restless that he arose from bed, walked out on his roof to enjoy the cool breeze, and spotted a beautiful woman bathing (2 Samuel 11:2).

Billy Graham once wrote that if a young man notices a beautiful woman who crosses his path, that is only temptation, but if he stares at her, that is sin. God always provides a way out of temptation if we choose it (1 Corinthians 10:13). David could simply have averted his eyes, walked back inside, and prayed to God to create a clean heart within him (Psalm 51:10).

Instead, he allowed his temptation to grow into lust (a sin in thought) which soon gave way to sinful acts toward the family of Bathsheba, described as the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. He discovered who she was, sent messengers to bring her to him, and had sexual relations with her (2 Samuel 11:3-4).

Jesus said that if we even look at another person with lustful thoughts toward them, it is as if we have committed adultery in our heart (Matthew 5:28). David went beyond that to commit fornication in the flesh, and adultery by sleeping with a woman who was already married, setting up a love triangle between himself, Bathsheba, and her husband Uriah.

This was particularly shameful as David had many wives and concubines, yet he defiled Uriah’s only wife. David’s sins began to snowball out of control, as idleness gave way to lust, coveting another man’s wife, and adultery. God’s anger over adultery is so intense that the laws He gave Moses demanded that both partners in adultery be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:22)

The apostle Paul writes that sexually immoral persons, idolaters and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), making it clear that sexual sins are a form of idolatry, because they separate the sinner from fellowship with God and they elevate one’s own desires over the good of others. Thus, committing adultery becomes a form of apostasy, or rebellion against God Who imposes laws against fulfilling the desires of our sin nature.

We see this clearly with David, whose sin of adultery led not only to deception, but ultimately to murder, all of which are transgressions against God’s laws in the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:7-17-21). When Bathsheba got pregnant, David plotted to make Uriah think he was the father. He had his commander Joab send Uriah to David, and he asked Uriah to report on the progress of the battle (to cover his true motive for bring him home), and then ordered Uriah to go home to his wife while he was in town (2 Samuel 11:5-8).

This elaborate scheme was intended for Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba, so that when her pregnancy became obvious, everyone would assume Uriah was the father, and David would not be held responsible. But Uriah had far more honor, loyalty, and valor than David, for he could not choose the comforts of home while his fellow soldiers were camped out in the field.

When David questioned why Uriah did not go to his house, he replied “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing (2 Samuel 11: 9-11).

So David tried again to lure Uriah into Bathsheba’s arms, plying him with liquor in hopes of making Uriah abandon his principles (Proverbs 20:1), but he could not. When Uriah had been in Jerusalem for three days, David wrote a letter to Joab, sent it with Uriah, and in it ordered Joab to position Uriah on the front lines of the hottest battle, withdraw support, and allow him to be fatally wounded  (2 Samuel 11:13-15).

Consequences, judgment and heartache always follow sin, as we shall see next week, but no sin is too great for God to forgive. Lest we follow David’s path, may we gird up the loins of [our] mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop