In our message series, we are learning to “Follow God’s Heart.” As we’ve looked at the life of David, we’ve seen him have great success and blessing. Yet, we’re going to see that no one is exempt from temptation’s lure.
1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I certainly don’t want to be devoured by a lion. But that’s what the devil seeks to do to each one of us. He looks for our weak spots and throws temptations at us, hoping we take the bait. This verse tells us to be watchful, for the devil is always prowling around. How does temptation work?
James 1:14 (ESV) But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Temptation is when the devil gets your attention with a temptation and your own desire responds to that temptation. If there’s nothing within you that responds to the temptation, it has no effect. But if your own desire I drawn to that temptation, it is the beginning of trouble. Martin Luther put it this way. You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.
James 1:15 (ESV) Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
When your desire for the temptation overcomes your resistance, then you succumb to the temptation and sin. The result of sin is always negative and of course unforgiven sin leads to eternal death. Now, what would make a person give in to temptation? Every temptation is a lie from Satan. When you believe the lie, you are on your way to giving in.
Satan uses all kinds of lies to entice people with temptation. Here are some examples:
Today’s message is entitled “Recovering from Failure.” We’re going to see how the greatest king, King David, fell into temptation. He ended up breaking five of the ten commandments. From his example, we’re going to learn ways to resist temptation. And we’re going to learn how to recover from and not be destroyed by failure.
2 Samuel 11:1 (ESV) 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.
This first verse sets the stage for what is coming next. It was the time of year when kings led their armies in battle. Israel was at war with the Ammonites, but David was not leading the army. He was taking it easy in Jerusalem, as we’ll see. David was not walking in his calling as king and Satan would take advantage.
2 Samuel 11:2 (ESV) 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.
What was David doing in the afternoon, lounging on his couch? Certainly not leading the army or even managing the kingdom. The roof of the king’s house was higher than any of the other houses and had a good view. As David looked around, he saw a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop.
There was the temptation. Would David resist or pursue it? David sent messengers to inquire who the woman was. They came back to David and said that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David did not let the fact that she was married deter him, after all, he was the king. David knew that Uriah would be fighting the Ammonites with the rest of the army. Uriah would be nowhere around.
2 Samuel 11:4-5 (ESV) 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. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
David sent his men and they took her with them, she had no choice. David committed adultery with her and then let her return to her house. Over the course of time, Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant and notified David. It would be difficult to conceal David’s sin, he had not resisted the lure of temptation.
David’s first mistake gives us a clue how to be on guard against temptation. David was not pursuing God’s calling on his life, he was taking life easy. Just lounging on his rooftop, looking around to see what he could see. When we’re following hard after God, it’s far harder for temptation to catch up to us. But when we’re just being idle, surfing the internet or television channels, we’re likely to end up at some temptation. Somebody once said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop and it is certainly true.
When temptation comes, God gives multiple ways for you to escape. David could have just looked away and gotten busy with his work. When the first messengers reported that Bathsheba was Uriah’s wife, he could have let it go. Yet, David’s desire continued to lust after the woman until he succumbed.
Jesus showed us that using God’s Word is an effective way to combat temptation. Even though David knew God’s Word, he did not use it in temptation. God wants to teach us to resist the lure of temptation.
2 Samuel 11:8-9 (ESV) 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.
What’s going on here? David is trying to find a way of covering up the pregnancy of Bathsheba. So, David sent for Uriah who was away from home fighting with the army. David figured that if Uriah went home, he would sleep with his wife and the child would be seen as his. Only David and Bathsheba would know any differently.
However, Uriah would not go down to his house, as the rest of the army was still fighting. David even got Uriah drunk, he still would not go home with his wife. Finally, David gave up on covering up his sin with Uriah. The only remaining option in David’s mind was to have Uriah killed, so that he could take Bathsheba as his wife.
2 Samuel 11:14-15 (ESV) In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 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.”
David sent the letter describing how Uriah was to be killed with Uriah’s own hand. Joab, the commander, would abandon Uriah in the battle, so that he would be killed by the enemy. Although, Uriah would be killed in battle, it would be by the plan of David. The plan was carried out and Uriah died in battle. David could now take Bathsheba as his wife and continue to coverup his sin.
2 Samuel 11:27 (ESV) 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.
David believed the lie that only Bathsheba knew his secret sins. And even she probably did not know why Uriah died. But God knew what David had done and He was very displeased with David. Both for his initial sin and then the coverup with the murder of Uriah. As we see, covering up your sin makes things even worse. Adultery then led to murder. Don’t cover up your sin.
There are two ways that we’re tempted to cover up our sins. The first is simply by trying to ignore it and do nothing about it. Perhaps to even rationalize it with one of the lies of Satan.
The other way to cover up our sin is to lie about it in one way or another. But as we’ve observed in David’s story, one lie often leads to another or an even bigger sin. God’s Word says that no one can truly cover up their sin. Even though only you and God know what you have done, you will reap what you have sown.
If we sow to commit wrong, we will reap the bad consequences. If we sow to follow God, we will reap His blessings. Rather than covering up or ignoring our sin, we need to …
2 Samuel 12:1 (ESV) 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.
David was not responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit for his sin, so God sent Nathan the prophet. Nathan told David the story of a poor man who had a little lamb that he loved. The rich man had a guest come and rather than use one of his own lambs, he took the lamb from the poor man to feed to his guest. David became angry at the rich man, saying that he deserved to die.
2 Samuel 12:7 (ESV) 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.
David was the rich man who had been rescued from Saul and anointed as king. David had many wives, yet he went and took Uriah’s one wife for his own. And that was not the worst of David’s sins.
2 Samuel 12:9 (ESV) 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.
David was a murderer, who thought up and carried out the plan to kill Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. In seeking to cover up his sin of adultery, David had committed the ultimate sin of murder. Nathan goes on to tell David that the sword would never depart from his house. God spoke through Nathan to tell David that evil would raise up against him from his own house.
2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV) 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.
Upon hearing the conviction of God through the prophet Nathan, David repented and turned from his sin. You can read a much more in-depth repentance by David in Psalm 53 that he wrote concerning this sin. Nathan’s reply to Davids’s repentance was that God had forgiven him and he would not die.
Yet, the consequences of his sin continued to be seen. The child conceived with Bathsheba became sick and dies at the Lord’s hand. Even though forgiven, David’s life after this sin was a life of great difficulty. We must respond quickly to God’s conviction.
How are we convicted of sin today? God has given each of us a conscience. The Holy Spirit brings conviction and feelings of guilt when we sin. The Holy Spirit also uses God’s Word to bring conviction of sin. Once, we recognize that we’ve sinned, which should be on a daily basis, we must repent of that sin.
What is repentance? Repentance is admitting our sin and turning away from that sin in the future. True repentance means that if we were in the same situation again, we would not give in to the temptation. Simply saying sorry, but I’d do it again next time, is not true repentance and will not receive forgiveness. The quicker that we repent, the sooner we can get right with God and back on track with him. We must respond to Gods’ conviction.
Temptation is something that we all face and must learn to resist. Resisting temptation begins with recognizing the lie behind every temptation. Seeking God first in all of life is the best protection against temptation. Idleness or knowingly putting ourselves in a position to be tempted is dangerous. When we give into temptation and sin, we mustn’t try to cover up our sin. Hiding our sin leads to more problems and usually more sin.
We must learn to be sensitive to God’s conviction. God brings conviction through His Word, His Spirit and other people. When we become aware of our sin, we must quickly repent and turn away from it. As we do, God forgives and brings us back into fellowship with Him. No sin is too big to be forgiven. No matter what you’ve done in life, God can forgive you as your turn to Him.