What Happens When Believers Sin?

2 Samuel 11:1: "And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time
when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel;
and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah.
But David tarried still at Jerusalem."


Is it possible for a Christian to commit murder?
Yes, a Christian can commit murder.
A Christian can murder, steal, commit adultery, desert his family, and allow his life
to be filled with such bitterness that he is a danger to all around him.
The Bible suggests this when it warns Christians against such sins.

We must never think that God will permit sin in the life of a Christian to go undisciplined.
We must also acknowledge that there is generally a point in our lives
beyond which He will not let us go.
We all sin.
Some sin in big ways and some in little ways.
We have experienced its consequences.

Sin turns ugly.
Pleasures turn to dust in our mouths.
But this happens so that we will come to where God intends for us to be.
He brings us to the point where we will yearn for the joy we once knew,
and will turn to Him for His perfect forgiveness and cleansing.

With that in mind let us look at and incident in the life of King David
in which this greatest of all of Israel's kings, the one who was called
"a man after God's own heart," sinned by committing adultery.
Then he compounded that sin by an act of murder.

It is a sad and solemn fact of history.
We turn to it in order that we might learn something of the depth of our own human depravity
and that we might learn how to turn to God for cleansing.

The Bible says that in the time of the year when kings went forth to battle,
David sent Joab and the troops of Israel out to battle against the Ammonites.
We are told in 2 Samuel 11:1 that "But David tarried still at Jerusalem."
That word, "but" indicates the disapproval of the Lord by David's action.

During this period, David saw Bathsheba bathing on a roof top nearby.
He sent messengers to find out who she was.
The messengers brought back the word: "Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam,
the wife of Uriah, the Hittite
?" (Verse 3)

That should have been the end of the matter for David
because Bathsheba was another man's wife.
But instead, he took her to himself, and later learned that she had conceived a child by him.
Probably, hearing this made David's blood run hot and cold.
But instead of confessing his sin, he compounded it.

First, he invited you Uriah home from the battle on the pretext of learning about it,
hoping that the man would spend a few nights at home with his wife
so that he could be identified as the father of the child.
However, Uriah was more conscious of his duty than King David was of his.

He would not go home.
He said, "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."
(Verse 11)

Uriah refused to go home, even when David made him drunk.
Therefore, David sent a note to Joab by the hand of Uriah saying that Uriah was to be placed
in a position in the battle where the fighting was the worst, and that he would be abandoned,
and left to be killed.

Joab must have wondered how David, the man who could write such beautiful, spiritual poetry
and who would not act against King Saul, could commit such a murder.
It was murder.
Nevertheless, he did as David commanded.
Uriah was killed.
David breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
"But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." (Verse 27

Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible expositor, once said,
"Though God may suffer His people to fall into sin,
He will not suffer His people to lie still in it
."
This is absolutely true.
Therefore, instead of abandoning David, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him with his sin.
Because of this, David repented.

Nathan had said, "Thou art the man." (2 Samuel 12:7)
David replied, "I have sinned against the Lord." (Verse 13)

As David confessed his sin, God forgave David's sin.
Although David still had to suffer many of the consequences of it,
God restored him to complete fellowship.

But how does a righteous God restore the fellowship of a man who has committed adultery,
and then, murdered an innocent man?
The important answer to that question lies in a great psalm that David wrote
as a result of this incident in his life.
If we understand this psalm, we can understand not only how God could forgive King David,
but also how God can forgive us.
No matter how great or small our sins may be, God can and will forgive us.

Psalm 51 begins, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness;
according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions
." (Verse 1)
Notice how many times this single verse speaks of God's mercies:
"Have mercy upon me... according to thy loving-kindness;
according to the multitude of thy tender mercies
."
Three times that verse speaks of God's mercies.

So, when David turned again to God in the aftermath of his sin,
the first thing he asserts is his belief in God's mercies.

There are times when we would hear people who do not know the Lord will say
that he only wants justice from God.
That person doesn't know what he is asking.
The person who wants justice from God will receive hell and eternal death
for that is the just punishment for sin. (Romans 6:23)

How wonderful it is to know that instead of coming to God for justice,
we can come on the basis of His mercy, the way that David came.

The basis of forgiveness for sin lies in God's mercy.
But this is only the first of several principles that we must apply in our search for forgiveness.
The second is that the condition for forgiveness of sin lies in our confession of it.

As soon as David recalled God's mercy, he immediately confess his sin:
"For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified
when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest
." (Psalm 51:3-4)

David laid his sin before the Lord and confessed it completely.
This is the significance of verse 4: "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned."
There are those who would say this is not entirely true.
David had sinned against Bathsheba as well as with her.
He had sinned against Uriah, her husband.
He had sinned against the armies of Israel, who lost a battle during the time of David's sin.
He had sinned against the nation.

Above all, however, he had sinned against God, and in his own mind
this sin opened the gate to other sins.
How great a difference there would be in your life and mine if we would only see
our sin for what it is in God's sight and confessed it openly to God.

The first step in David's great prayer is the basis of forgiveness -- God's mercy.
The second step is the condition of forgiveness -- the confession of the sin itself.
The third step is the means of receiving forgiveness -- atonement and renewal.

David says, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
(Verse 7)
Why does David say, "Purge me with hyssop?"

Hyssop was a little plant that grew throughout the ancient Near East,
and was used in the sacrifices of temple worship.
The plant, which was only 6" - 10" high, was broken off at the stem
and bound to a short stick with a scarlet cord.
This made a small brush.
It was then used to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice either up on the doorposts of the house
(as it had been done on the evening of the Passover in Egypt) or upon the worshipers.

Consequently, hyssop spoke of sacrifices and of the atonement provided for sin.
David is saying, "I come confident of thy mercy, acknowledging my sin;
but I also acknowledge that I need to have an atonement for my sin
."

Finally, David says that he needs renewal.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Verse 10)
These words acknowledged that in addition to the cleansing that was his
by means of the sacrifice, David also needed to receive a new, inner nature.

The word translated, "create," in this verse is the verb, "bara," the same word
used in the first verses of Genesis to describe God's creation of the world out of nothing.
So when David says, "Create in me a clean heart,"
he means, "Bring a new nature into existence out of nothing."

The Bible teaches that there is no good in man that can satisfy God. (Romans 3:10-20)
but it also teaches that God can and does plant a new nature within the person
who comes to Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9-10)
Where there was nothing but sin before, there is now a new nature.

Now we come to a very different subject -- the consequences of sin.

Does the believer experience some or all of the natural consequences of sin
in his life even though he has been forgiven by God?
The natural answer of our hearts is "No," of course not!
If God forgives He forgives utterly, and He also removes the consequences of sin.

But the fact is that God does not cancel out all the consequences of sin.
This truth is illustrated in the later incidence of David's life.

The whole story of the rebellion of David's son, Absalom (2 Samuel 13-19), is an example.
The judgment which God pronounced on David and his family because of his sin
with Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:10-12.

"Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house,
because thou hast despised Me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, to be thy wife.
Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house,
and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor,
and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
For thou didest it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun."

The study of the context of these verses reveals that immediately after this,
David confessed and was assured by the prophet Nathan that he had forgiveness.
Nevertheless, the events that God had spoken of in His words of judgment fell exactly
as He had said.

This challenges us because it is precisely opposite from the way we think of forgiveness.
What do we mean when we say that we are ready to forgive someone?
We usually mean, "I'll forgive, but I'll never forget."

We forgive to the extent of not insisting on retribution or on the prosecution of the law,
but the fellowship that previously existed between ourselves
and the other person is broken beyond recovery.
We wave the law, but break the fellowship.

God, in His perfect forgiveness does just the opposite.
He restores the fellowship, but He does not eliminate all the natural consequences
of our rebellion.

There are some conclusions to be drawn from this study of the life of David,
whatever your position is before God.
Perhaps, you have never turned to the Lord Jesus for salvation thinking that
God will "forgive" you in the way that we naturally think of forgiveness.
You may be expecting that somehow God will overlook the demands of His law and justice
and to tolerate your willfulness and rebellion.

But God doesn't work that way.
God considers the punishment of sin so important and so necessary that
He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sin in order to bear its punishment.
Salvation consists of believing that Jesus did that for you,
and because of that you committed your life to Him.

Perhaps, you are a Christian, but have become frivolous in your relationship to God.
Wrongly, you argue that God will somehow take care of you, and work everything out,
even if you do as you please.
Some feel that you can play with sin, and get away with it.

But God's love demands fatherly chastisement.
If we persist in our own way, God will send judgment.
At the very least, our life will be unhappy and we will lose its joy.
At the worst, God will break your lives into little pieces until you learn what kind of God
you are dealing with, and come to appreciate God who has called you to be His own.

You may be a Christian who is walking in the way of God,
but has failed to practice true forgiveness with friends or family.
Like David, you have broken the fellowship, but waived the discipline.
There is no surer way to produce problem children or weaken a friendship or a marriage.

Children must have discipline.
But it must be done in love and without destroying the fellowship.

Perhaps, you are saying that this cannot be done -- that you cannot do it.
That is right.
In your self, you cannot, for this is divine love and divine forgiveness.
And yet, the Lord Jesus Christ can exercise His love and forgiveness through you
if you are a Christian and will commit yourself to Him.

God is full of mercy, and He does forgive us when we sin.
But we must remember that we must confess our sins.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins unto God, He will forgive us
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
."

It is better that we avoid the sin than having to live with some of the consequences.

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White