Three Steps Away

Three Steps Away

II Sam 11

I’m excited to share God’s Word with you this morning. I believe, without a doubt that what we look at this morning will benefit all of us here today.

I want to start out with asking a couple of rhetorical questions:

Who makes mistakes?  Everyone does right?

Have you ever made a mistake? If I were a betting man, I’d bet, that if not all of us, the majority of us have made some sort of mistake, whether it be a large one that carried significant consequences, or a small one that maybe didn’t carry a weighty consequence but nonetheless caused some uneasiness in your life.

Some mistakes, are not as serious as others. You can err in a decision; turn left when should have turned right. Perhaps you made a mistake on a test, or mistakenly called someone by the wrong name.

Mistakes can even have some humor in them. Like typos, like typos in church bulletins.

READ EXAMPLES:

Don’t let worry kill you…let the church help

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

There are however some mistakes that are not humorous, in fact they can be downright disastrous. Instead of being a little embarrassing, they leave scars, not just physical scars, but emotional and spiritual.

Our Mistakes have consequences.

The things we do, say, even think have an effect, not only on ourselves, but other people.

Speaking of Mistakes

I love to hike and explore the outdoors. However, there are a lot of dangers in hiking, especially here in Alaska and especially if you hike alone.

There are many times I have hiked alone because my schedule sometimes does not fit with others.

On some of my adventures I have experienced moments where the excitement of the exploration, turned into what some would call an adrenaline rush, or most would say a bad idea. Culturally, where I’m from, people say, “Yeah, that was pretty stupid” 

I remember once such incident.

It was last spring, before the alders started to bloom. I let my wife know that I was going hiking but didn’t tell her where I was actually going. So I drove off ready for a grand adventure. I ended up deciding to follow some sheep trails.

The cool thing about following sheep trails is that they can take you places that you would have never thought you could get up to. These trails are all over the place leading here and there. There are also some well-established trails that have perhaps been used by generations of sheep.

I felt very alive and inspired

A chance to get away by myself, de-stress, take a break from things.

As I followed these sheep trails on the side of the peaks, I was amazed that these little road systems were flat enough to walk on. I had very little difficulty in navigating my way up to around 3,000 feet and had even been able to stealthily approach and video some sheep close up.

Now, on my way back down it became a challenge to determine, with accuracy, which trail I had used to get up! There were several paths in which to choose. I figured, what goes up must come down.

As I began to follow the trails down I found myself in a situation I had not planned for, one I didn’t think it would happen.

I found myself on a ridge where I could not go back up to get on another trail and going down was my only option, but it was very sketchy, to say the least.

I had to descend quite a way to get to another ledge and go down again to get out of this predicament. So I assessed the situation and decided to go down this vertical crevasse. So I wedged myself in the crevasse and started slowly descending down. As I was wedged in between the sides of the rock, the crevasse starting getting shallower and I found myself being pushed out by my backpack.

No one around to help me, I was stranded there, wedged, now unable to go up or down……..  Suspended, if you will, between heaven and earth.

I want us to leave me stranded there in my mistake for a while as we look at our text, one that has striking similarities to my hiking predicament.

But before we go into our text, it is extremely important for us to clarify something. Up to this point we have been talking about MISTAKES, but now we’re going to be talking about SIN:

Two totally different words. With different meanings and extremely different consequences.

A mistake is an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong; Turning left, when I should have turned right, adding 2 plus two and getting 5 instead of 4.

A sin is the deliberate- willful breaking of God’s Commandments and Laws.

I have never seen in God’s word that people are sent to Hell because of their mistakes, but because of their sin.

As Christians we tend to hide behind the word “mistakes” instead of using the word “sin” to define what we do.

Our text comes from II Sam Chapter 11:
This is a very familiar text

This text describes to us David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah the Hitite.

But before we read the text, I want us to get a good idea of who David was

So Who was David?

Here is a short resume of David: Israel’s Greatest King

The youngest son of Jesse
He was a Shepard – killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands
Defeated Goliath as a youth- with a sling shot
was a mighty warrior- Songs in his honor: Saul has killed his thousands,     but David his ten  thousands
He was God’s choice for Israel’s King over Saul
Defeated Israel’s enemies
Captured the City of Jerusalem
Brought the ark back into Jerusalem
United the 12 tribes of Israel
He wrote over half of the Psalms
God made an unconditional covenant with David: that his throne would be established forever, the Messiah, Christ would come through the line of David.

Peter, in the book of Acts 13:22, that David was a man after God’s own heart.

David loved God. Many of us here today, hopefully all of us are like David in the sense that

He longed to please God. So do we

His desire was to serve God. So do we

When we read the psalms, what he wrote about resonates with us

David knew the difference between a mistake and his sin

So how could a man like David, a lover of God like us, This Believer, do what he did?

Even though the sin itself happened in a day, it didn’t just happen in one day, it was a process.

If we examine the text, we can see three steps or sins that David willfully took which put him in a place that he never thought he would find himself.

Let’s Read: Read II Sam 11- But lets pray first

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.

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. 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?” 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.”

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. 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. 10 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?” 11 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.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 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.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 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.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 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. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king's anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

22 So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 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. 

1. He abdicated his responsibilities:

vs 1: When kings go out to battle…

The first step that David took was one that unfortunately is an easy step to take, because it doesn’t seem to be drastic, or that it could even lead to anything bad.

The writer here is showing a contrast between what kings were supposed to do, their responsibilities, and what King David was doing, or actually what he was not doing.

The definition of abdicate is rendered as such: In regard to the monarchy or kings and queens it has the meaning of renouncing one’s throne, fail to fulfill or undertake a responsibility or duty.

David was the spiritual leader, and ruler of Israel.  Perhaps he felt as though he was fine and it wouldn’t hurt if he slacked off in his responsibilities, you know…just a little bit. After all there are other people who can lead, like my generals. No one is going to notice, I need to take a break from it all anyway. I’m tired. He had done that before, and nothing happened.

Not doing, ALWAYS leads to doing.

In other words, when you stop doing something, you fill it with something else.

Galatians 6:9: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

David didn’t make a mistake, he abdicated his God given responsibilities.

As believers, as Christians we have responsibilities 

What are our responsibilities as Christians?The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Corinth wrote this in regard to our Christian responsibilities:

1 Corinthians 15:58: As Paul is talking about the resurrection of our earthly bodies and that if we truly believe that Christ gives us the victory over death and the grave then we should.., listen to his words here..“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

This, then, is the believer’s responsibility: as believers in Christ we are to stand firm in the faith and give ourselves completely to the Lord uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life.

When we get to the place where we stop reading our Bible, When Gods Word is only opened as an academic exercise, we stop praying, we stop sharing the gospel, we stop being that friend, that parent that as a Christian we have been given a heavenly decree, the responsibility to be. That’s a step that you don’t want to take, that’s a path that has the potential to be deadly.

Men have we abdicated our responsibilities to be godly leaders in the home, Ladies have you abdicated your responsibilities to be the helpmeet to your husband.

Moms, Dads, have we abdicated our Christian responsibility as parents? Are we expecting the church or the Christian school to instill God’s Word and principles in our children? Proverbs: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Parents if we have abdicated our responsibilities, our God given responsibilities, what do we expect our children will do, or become… perhaps they will become just like us!

We’re not just talking about a onetime step. Remember this is a process. The first time you choose to stay out of church, to read your bible, or to decide not to do to whatever, you fill in the blank, it becomes easier the next time, up till the point where we don’t even have to justify why we’re not doing it anymore.

So stay in the fight. It’s easy to get tired, disappointed, discouraged.  When we abdicate our responsibilities, even for a short time, as Christians we take that first step in making ourselves vulnerable to falling. And when we fall, because we are leading, others stumble over us. 

2. He isolated himself from accountability: vs 1-5

David’s next sin is a direct result of his first sin.

Once we abdicate our responsibilities, the momentum from that first step just kind of propels us into the next step which is to isolate ourselves from people who will hold us accountable.

After taking that first step We tend to stay away from people or places that will hold us accountable. Because that’s the one of the last things we want in our lives is to have someone tell us that we are stepping off that spiritual ledge!

All of David’s battled tested friends, the people who would give him sound advice, those who would dare to admonish him, he isolated himself from, look at vs 1 again “he sent them away. “   David stayed in Jerusalem!

David now was in a place where he could do anything he wanted to. No one to hold him accountable, no one to give him Godly counsel or rebuke.

In verse 3 we see there was one person who made mention of who Bathsheba was, but no warning to David, “don’t go there Boss”, because this person had no spiritual influence over David.When we isolate ourselves from other believers, we put ourselves into situations that can easily lead to, and most often does, sin.

We put off our friends who are strong Christians and replace them with other friends.

Because these people are always telling me what to do! Always judging me! They just don’t understand me!

Proverbs 18:1 “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement” 

Christian, have you been slowly removing yourself from those who would hold you accountable? Are your solid Christian friends wondering where you’ve been? Are you MIA, missing in Action? Not even in a spatial sense, physical proximity, but you know you can distance yourself emotionally from even people you live with or your church family.

It’s very unsettlingly, unnerving, uncomfortable, to be around other Christian’s when you are not where you are supposed to be spiritually speaking.

3. He distanced himself from the presence of God: vs 11;

David’s third step was the natural consequence of his previous two steps. The Ark of the Covenant was where the presence of God on earth dwelt among the nation of Israel. It was where God met man on earth. The ark at this time was the heart, the center point of the nation of Israel there was no Temple built yet, the ark was kept in a tent.

The Ark was the center of the worship of God. It was carried before Israel into battle, hoping to insure God’s presence would be with them.

In Exodus 25:21-22 God gave Moses the instructions for the Ark and what it would be used for:

“And you shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I shall meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people.”

When David abdicated his responsibility, it became easy to isolate himself from those who would keep him accountable, which in turn made it easy for him to be ok with being far from the ark, or far from the symbolic presence of God on earth.

Remember Jonah? When Jonah abdicated his responsibility to go to Nineveh, he surrounded himself with non -believers on a boat to run from the presence of God

The person who has taken this third step now finds themselves with no real desire for the things of God.

Yes, they may still have a bit of a conscience, but they easily can dismiss that.

The person that has reached this step doesn’t want to hear anything about God or anything from God, they may go and sit in church as an appeasement of sorts, but they are not moved at all. God’s Word, it‘s warnings, it’s challenges, it’s commandments- go unheeded.

It’s like pouring water off a ducks back.

That’s when it happen, vs 2: “ It happened, late one afternoon…” Time had elapsed

So, I want to go back to where we started:

There I was, wedged in between the walls of that crevasse.  I’m stuck in this position, a potentially deadly one because of some steps that I took that could have been avoided. No one around to help me- stuck. My backpack is keeping me from going back up and at the same time its pushing me out of the crevasse.

I had to make a decision, and yes I was praying the whole time, God please get me out of this, I’ll never do something like this again.

So the only way down without falling was to take my NEW$125 25 liter Ospry backpack off and toss it down, hoping that it wouldn’t fall of the other ledge below me and be lost forever. I took a big gulp and let it drop.

I had to get rid of what had the potential to either kill me or bring unwanted physical pain, no matter the cost.

Well as you may have figured out, I made it down safely, and I was thanking God that he had kept me safe, even though I had made some bad mistakes.

However: When you read the rest of the account in 2 Sam 12 and study David’s life you will see the immediate and the future consequences of his sin. Because of his willful choices, those 3 steps he took, changed David’s life completely. The child that was born out of David and Bathsheba’s sin died. David’s family was wrecked, God told him “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house..” Turmoil !!

However, David sought forgiveness from God, and God forgave him. Psalm 51and 32 are David’s account of his repentance, but he still suffered the consequences of his sin. 

Conclusion:

Just like David, we are all three steps away from falling.  It may be a little sin a first, but little sins destroy just like big sins. Even little sins put Jesus on the cross.

Here is a question, one you need to ask yourself- where are you today? 

  • Have I abdicated my responsibilities as a believer? Do I feel that I just need time to do stuff for myself and take time off from reading my bible, praying, attending church? Have you abdicated your responsibilities as a father, a husband, a wife, a mother, a son, a daughter?  Confess and turn!
  • Have I isolated myself from accountability? To whom or what am I associating?

What have I done with those who will hold me accountable? Have I replaced biblical accountability and counsel with the counsel of unbelievers, non-Christians?

  • Have I distanced myself from God. Have I reached the point where I just don’t have the desire to attend church, to be involved with a body of believers? Am I in right relation with God?  

As a Christian, someone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ,

have you already stepped across that threshold? Have you done things that you never thought you would do? You’re in a position that you think that maybe no one knows, perhaps you’re feeling like “I can’t let this get out, if it does I’ll be ruined!”

Are you sitting here today miserable? Perhaps you’ve come this morning seeking comfort while still trying to hid your sin, hoping that it will, in time, just go away without any consequence and now you’ve heard this message and you are feeling worse than when you came in!

Is there any hope for you? Well it depends on what you are looking for. If you’re just looking to get out from under your consequences, not much hope in that.

Just to be honest with you
“ The consequences of sin, will come knocking on your door, confessed or unconfessed, so how do you want to greet them ?”

It was at a minimum, 9 months that David covered his sin, maybe more.

David in Psalms 32 wrote this about what it was like during that time.

“ For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

But if you truly desire to be forgiven and have my relationship with Jesus restored

Here it is…

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

In the first two verses David writes this about the person who confesses and repents.

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (by God’s mercy, not by our attempts to keep it hidden). Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

Sin can be forgiven and fellowship with God can be restored as was in David’s case but the consequences of sin still remain.

Confess, turn around, take that step that leads you back to Christ, the step of obedience, and of humility of a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51)

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sin, (not our mistakes) he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What about the unbeliever this morning,

The bible is clear that the unbeliever is an enemy of God and

the ultimate consequence for sin is death.  “For the wages of sin is death”

So is there any hope for you? YES!

But, the gift of God is eternal life…