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January 11, 2013

Lessons on Sin and Grace from King David

By Anthony Wade

A look at the relationship between sin and grace and how in the life of David, we can learn how to deal with our own sin.


You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. -- Psalm 51: 17-18 (NLT)

I have friends who are firmly in the grace alone camp. Following the preaching of men like Joseph Prince, they welcome a message that focuses on the unbelievable grace of almighty God. They feel that the church uses our sins too much against us and that it robs people of the power they should walk under knowing that God has already paid for our sins on Calvary. From that perspective they are correct. No church is going to be perfect and sometimes we can preach to the sinful state too much and other times we can preach to the grace of God too much. There needs to be a balance. To be honest, while I agree sometimes there can be an over emphasis on the sinful state of mind I simply do not see that too often anymore and I see it decreasing as we enter further into the end times. Because the reality is that it is not a cheery message. It does not tickle the ears. It does equate to large offerings and mega-church crowds. It does not fit into the theories of modern church growth. No, if anything, I see that churches are heading in the opposite direction. The Joseph Princes of the world are allowed to rise to such prominence because he brings a message people want to hear. We do not want to hear about sin and repentance anymore. We prefer a bloodless and Spiritless Christianity where we can feel better about ourselves while paying lip service to the God who saved us from ourselves. So while grace is an enormously misunderstood Biblical concept, so is sin. I am not promoting the idea that we should all walk around in sackcloth and ashes due to our sinful nature. Our sin should not prevent us from moving forward in Christ -- it should remind us who Christ is.

Because to be fair, sometimes we forget. With all of the confusing poor theologies arising these days it is understandable. We have false worship music that turns Jesus into our next door neighbor or best buddy and for women He is morphed into their lover. We have preaching that demands blessings from God based on covenants we do not live up to. Jesus is our Lord which means we have turned over our lives to Him.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. -- Galatians 2: 20-21 (NLT)

And we should not treat the grace of God as meaningless! Neither should we forget that our lives were crucified with Christ and that now we live for Him! Jesus is also our Savior, which means we needed saving beloved. It means that the weight of our sin become so unbearable that we needed to be saved from it. This is why I am not supportive of baptizing children. Most children do not conceptualize sin, let alone the need for a Savior. It is hard enough for most adults to! But as part of the show we like to put on in Pentecostal circles we trot the children out with prepared statements of their desire to have God in their lives and then wonder what happened when their teenage years hit. Besides Lord and Savior, Christ is our Sovereign God. That means He gets to make the rules and we get to obey. That means that we enter into this relationship with a reverent awe. What is the beginning of wisdom according to the Bible? FEAR of the Lord. Modern theologies eschew the fear of God and the result is a closer relationship to sin than to the Lord. So let us look today at the man after God's own heart -- King David.

To some they may never get why someone with as spotty a record as David is referred to as a man after the very heart of God. David was a man of war who shed much blood. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Certainly sin was not absent from the life of King David. Here is the first lesson for us today. Sin is not absent from anybody! NO ONE. That seemingly perfect King of Israel had the husband of the woman he committed adultery with killed to try and cover up his transgression! That super spiritual person in the front row of your church for every service? She is not super spiritual and I guarantee she needs to go to God in repentance just like the rest of us do. That pastor who you elevate on a pedestal he cannot possibly live up to, is a man just like I am. Just like King David was.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. -- Romans 3: 23-26 (NLT)

There is that awesome grace of God again! But do you notice what it is always tied to? It is always tied to our natural sinful state! We all fall short of the glorious standard of God -- that is why we needed a Savior. You cannot truly embrace the grace of God until you embrace your sinful state.

So why then is David considered a man after the heart of God if he was such a sinner? It was because of his reaction to his sin. Let us take a closer look at two of his most infamous sins. The first is when he took a census of the fighting men of Israel. Often misunderstood, King David decided to number the men of Israel. While the Bible does not specifically say why this was sinful it does offer some clear indications that David knew full well it was. The story relates that it was actually Satan who rose up to tempt David to do such an act. The commander of his army specifically warns David that he is about to cause Israel to sin. Perhaps the sin is in the pride of the number because Scripture says David wants the report so that he "may know." Perhaps it is in placing his hope in the numbers of his fighting men instead of merely relying upon God -- who had seen him through all of his military conflicts with great success. I would probably lean towards that rationale because it hits so close to home for us today. We simply forget all the Lord has done and start to rely upon our own calculations. We start to give ourselves credit for things the Lord has done in our lives. God was less than pleased with the census and here is the exchange that follows:

God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it. Then David said to God, "I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing." Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David's seer. This was the message: "Go and say to David, "This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.'" So Gad came to David and said, "These are the choices the Lord has given you. You may choose three years of famine, three months of destruction by the sword of your enemies, or three days of severe plague as the angel of the Lord brings devastation throughout the land of Israel. Decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me." -- 1Chronicles 21: 7-12 (NLT)

Note what we need to learn here. First of all -- David recognizes his sin and admits to it. There is no excuse making. There is no blaming the devil, who had tempted him. There is no blaming anyone -- I have sinned greatly. Secondly, he immediately falls on the mercy of God. Please forgive my guilt for doing such a foolish thing. Lastly, there is still a temporal price to pay for our sin. There is still the principle of sowing and reaping. Yes God will forgive but that does not mean there is not still a price to be paid. That is what is so dangerous about grace alone doctrine. The grace of God covers our eternal consequence, not our temporal consequences. When all we want to do is focus on the grace of God what gets lost is the confession of sin, the repentance of that sin, and the eventual consequence for committing that sin. When we correctly confess, repent, and recognize the consequence THEN we can realize and take refuge in the grace of almighty God. What a realization! That God's unending grace will still cover me when I stand before Christ. That the shed blood on Calvary is sufficient to cover my sins eternally. Hallelujah! David decides on the plague and 70,000 of his people are struck dead. David then sees the death angel of the Lord with his sword drawn about to destroy Jerusalem. David and the leaders of Jerusalem put on sackcloth and fall before the Lord begging that the destruction be visited upon them and not the innocent people.

Then the angel of the Lord told Gad to instruct David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. -- 1Chronicles 21: 18 (NLT)

David was sufficiently broken now before God over his sin. Sometimes we pay lip service to our sin. We know we have done wrong and we say so, but we are not quite broken over it. In the key verses today we see the true sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. Not the trifles we might offer him but a full realization of what we have done. Here we see in verse 18 God is satisfied and tells David NOW he can offer his sacrifice. David insists on paying full price for the threshing floor because he will not "offer a sacrifice to God that costs me nothing" and God relents as David sees the death angel sheath his sword. Likewise we too should not be making sacrifices to the Lord that costs us nothing. The truth is that we are seldom "broken" over our sin because brokenness is another concept that is simply not taught anymore. David confesses, takes responsibility, pays a temporal price and then becomes broken over his sin. God forgives. The other great sin of David is probably the better known example -- Bathsheba. There are so many lessons for us in this story but I always love how it starts:

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. -- 2Samuel 11: 1 (NLT)

However, David stayed in Jerusalem. When we place ourselves where we ought not to be, the devil will always attack. David is on his roof one night and sees Bathsheba bathing. He lusts after her; sin number one. He finds out she is married to someone who is actually fighting for him in the above mentioned conflict. He covets her; sin number two. He sends for her anyway and sleeps with her -- adultery is sin number three. Are we seeing the progression sin takes in our life yet? Bathsheba conceives from the affair because remember there are always temporal consequences for our sin that we had not weighed. David tries desperately to cover his sin up but to no avail. He sends her husband into the front lines where he is sure to be struck down and thus he commits sin number four -- murder. He takes Bathsheba to be his wife and thinks he has gotten away with his great sin. No one needs to know except he forgets as we often do that God sees everything! Sin blinds us beloved so badly that we cannot even see such an obvious progression when it is occurring in our own lives. God sends the Prophet Nathan to tell David this great story about a mean rich man who takes a little ewe lamb that belonged to a poor man to prepare as dinner for a guest. David is horrified but his sin has blinded him so much that he cannot see he is that rich man. Bathsheba was the little ewe lamb. When the realization of his sin hits him he is overwhelmed and immediately confesses that he has sinned against the Lord. No fancy words. No excuse making. Just straightforward admission and confession. Nathan informs him that God will forgive the sin but that the child born from the sin will die. David fasts and prays for God to relent for seven days but the child dies on the seventh day. This highlights the last two applications for us today. God is sovereign and second, we need to accept the judgment we receive for the sins we commit. David appealed but God said no. The price was even greater than this as David would see his own son rise up against him and take his throne. That son would also eventually die. God would restore David but there is always a price to be paid for sin. It is usually more costly than we had ever anticipated. There is no anger from David towards God. He and Bathsheba would have another child and they would name him Solomon and he would succeed David to the throne of Israel. But oh how David's life changed because of that one night he was walking on the roof of his palace and sin was born in his heart.

As sin is surely born in all of our hearts beloved. Our human nature is to sin. I do not say these things as a means to weigh the Spirit down or hammer people into shackles of guilt. I say them because the better prepared we are, the more likely it is that we can avoid some of the pitfalls the devil might throw at us or the sinful leanings of our fleshly nature. We will never defeat sin completely but we can certainly progress in our walk with God. I am sure David would like a mulligan (do-over) when it came to the census sin or the Bathsheba sin but we do not get those chances. The grace of God will cover our sins for all eternity but there is still a temporal price to be paid. If we spend all day focusing on the grace of God and ignore sin then the devil will have a field day with the children of God. We see it happening all around us. This is why people are so easily deceived in these last days. We need to learn these lessons but God gives us His Word so we can learn the easy way -- from applying the principles - so we do not have to learn the hard way as David did. Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you intended to pay. How we react to it however can mean all the difference. Learning from David we start by confessing our sins openly to God for He sees them anyway! We refuse to play the blame game and take responsibility for our own actions. We need to understand that there are temporal consequences for our sinful actions.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. -- Galatians 6: 7-8 (NLT)  

God not only wants us to confess our sins but He requires brokenness over them. If you want to see brokenness read the all of Psalm 51. David wrote it after the Bathsheba sin was exposed. The brokenness is pouring off the pages. That is what our sin should do to us. It should remind us of who we are and who God is. He is sovereign. He is our Lord. He is our Savior. I want everyone to walk under the grace of Almighty God and in the complete brokenness of who we are before Him. THAT is where the power of God will be found in our lives.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- January 11, 2013

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.