Sexual Freedom: The Poisoned OasisErwin W. Lutzer | June 13, 1999
Selected highlights from this sermon
Sexual freedom lures many as a supposed source of relief from restraints, but once it’s entertained, it proves to be poison for the soul.
God created sexuality and He set boundaries in order to protect us. Sadly, in a culture filled with sensuality, many have wandered away from holy sexuality into promiscuous relationships. As a result, guilt and shame have welled up within them.
But Christ offers freedom. A renewed, spiritual virginity is available to those who desired to be cleansed.
Several years ago there was a deacon here at The Moody Church who left his wife, and took up with another woman. And many of us tried to help him to understand that this was a bad idea. We tried to restore him to God and to his marriage, but I remember he told me, “You know, for years I have lived in the desert, and now,” he said, “I have found an oasis, and you are telling me to go back to the desert.”
So he left his wife and he went with the oasis.
Eleven years later he wrote an incredible letter to me. It would be worthwhile reading the whole thing, but I won’t read any of it because of lack of time. But he told me how God had been disciplining him, and all of the problems that he had in his second marriage and the difficulties, and the bottom line was this. Things are so bad—this oasis is so poisoned—that I wish I had stayed in the desert.
We really do fool ourselves, don’t we? We like to fool ourselves. We think that we can break God’s commandments without those commandments breaking us. As many of you know, this is a series of messages titled Seven Snares of the Enemy, and today we come to immorality or sexual freedom, however you may want to call it.
We’ve talked about such things as alcoholism and gambling and pornography, but now we come to the temptation that is a possibility for all of us. Thousands of people have said, “I will never commit that sin,” but they’ve ended up committing it. Someone has written these words: “This is where your game is played. Everything else is warm-ups and practice. The real game is played on the field, and on this field only.”
The devil is very smart, isn’t he? He doesn’t come to many of us with all kinds of hideous terrible things. He comes with that which is beautiful and fulfilling, and that which is going to invigorate us and meet a deep need within us, to satisfy our curiosity and to meet our need for companionship (all those things)—in short to give us an oasis. The problem is that it’s poisoned.
A number of years ago Mary Whelchel used this story that was sent to her. She’s the director of our women’s ministries, and I’d like to read it to you.
A young girl was walking through the woods one day when she almost stepped on a snake. When she saw the snake she pulled back in horror, but to her amazement the snake cried out to her, “I’m so glad you came along. I’m so cold and I need a friend. Will you please pick me up and put me under your coat so that I can get warm, and will you be my friend?” In fear the girl replied, “Oh I can’t possibly do that. You are a rattlesnake and you will bite me. I can’t pick you up.” “No,” the rattlesnake answered, “that’s not true. I promise I won’t bite you. I really want to be your friend, and after all, I am a creature of God’s, just like you, and I’m so cold. Please pick me up. Please.”
She began to feel sorry for the snake and sat down to think it over. As she looked at the snake it became more beautiful to her with its many colors. She noticed its graceful lines and movement, and gradually it began to look harmless to her. She thought, “Well, you know, he’s right. After all, of course, God created him, and just because most rattlesnakes bite doesn’t mean this one will. He’s a very nice snake, and shouldn’t I be willing to be a friend when someone asks me?” (chuckles) So she said to the snake, “Okay, yes, I’ll be your friend.” And she picked up the snake and put it under her warm coat. Immediately the snake bit her. Pain and poison flooded her body. She cried out in pain, “Why did you do that? Why did you bite me? You said you wanted to be my friend.” As the snake wiggled away from her it turned and said with a smirk, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
Yes, we know what it is, but oh how we would like to believe the devil’s lies. We want to believe, and the more you look at it, the better it appears. “Maybe it’s not a rattlesnake after all,” you say.
What I’d like to do today is to give us a quick biblical survey regarding sexuality to understand ourselves, to understand the way in which God created us, to better understand our temptations. And then we shall also end with words of warning to those who have never been involved in sexual sin, but also hope for those who have. That’s the agenda.
Now, you know when I preach I always want you to listen obviously, but I can’t think of any message I’ve ever prepared where it’s so important to listen to the whole thing. This is a difficult message to be able to receive in bits and pieces, so remember it’s my responsibility to speak, and it’s your responsibility to listen, and I hope to God that we end at the same time. Alright?
First of all, take your Bibles and turn to Genesis 1 and 2 where we have sexuality and creation. We’re going to hurry over this very quickly, but you know that when God created man, and He created all the beautiful things, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And many of us second that and say, “Oh God, thank You for knowing that it is not good for man to be alone.”
Now, when He created man He created Him from the dust of the ground. He made a mud man. Ladies, when you are disappointed with us, never forget our origins. Okay? He made a mud man, and He breathed into his nostrils and man became a living being. Now when He created woman you remember, of course, it says in Genesis 2:21: “The Lord God caused the man to fall in a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping He took one of the man’s ribs and closed him up and the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man. And He brought her to the man.” She came from his rib. Don’t you admire me for avoiding all jokes about this that come to my mind? We shall bypass them all.
I want you to understand that when God created woman He separated femininity from masculinity, and after that, the desire to be together, the desire for companionship and for sexuality will be strong and unrelenting. That’s the way He created us. Obviously sexual desire, therefore, is God-given. It is involuntary. It’s not something you choose. You don’t say, “Well, I want to have these feelings and these desires.” You are born with them. Now, what you do with them is another subject, but we cannot get out of the fact that God created us as sexual beings. And may I hurry to say that therefore there is no shame that is involved in this properly understood?
You know, I’ve seen parents who shame their children regarding sexual matters, and the parents are doing it because they think, “I’m going to try to teach him that it’s evil, and he’s going to stay away from sexual sin,” and the opposite (the opposite) happens because not knowing what to do with these desires and being shamed, the child falls into sexual sin. And we’ve already learned that the roots of addiction are always secrecy and shame. Therefore, those parents who have a healthy understanding of sexuality are in the best position to help their children have a health understanding, and to keep them morally pure. So that’s sexuality in creation.
Now let’s talk about sexuality and marriage for just a moment. You’ll notice that God brings the woman to the man, and he says in verse 23: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, for she was taken out of the man.” That’s the marriage ceremony right there.
Now marriage involves two things. First of all, it involves a covenant (an agreement to live together), and I take it that those words are the covenant. “She shall be, in effect, my wife,” is what Adam is saying. But it also involves something else. It involves, you see, the sexual relationship, and God goes on to say, “For this cause, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” They will become one body, soul and spirit.
I have to put in a parenthesis here. Marriage involves both the covenant and the sexual intimacy. You can have one without the other and you really don’t have a marriage. Sometimes young people feel this tremendous obligation to marry the person with whom they have had their first relationship, and there are reasons for that as we will explain in a moment, but it’s a bad idea. It may be a bad idea, and so what we need to do is to counsel people correctly on these matters.
Then you find in today’s society people who say, “Well, you know, we live together, but we don’t have a marriage relationship. In fact, we don’t need a wedding.” And then they always ask that question with such a sense of self-confidence. “What’s a piece of paper anyway?” They always ask that.
Years ago my wife and I sold a home that we owned, and people decided to buy it and they said, “We’re going to give you so much money.” And we agreed that that was a good thing. Why didn’t we just shake hands and say, “It’s a deal. That’s all. We’re reputable people. You’re reputable people. Let’s just shake hands.” Why all this business of signing all of these documents? And God only knows how many we ended up signing. It’s a secret and He’s not telling. But why sign all these documents, because what’s a piece of paper anyway? Can’t you just hear it? And the answer is, “Look, I want you to know that we had an attorney. They had an attorney. We signed documents. They signed documents.” Why? It’s because what we were saying in so many words is, “Look, friends, you might be reputable people but we want you to know that if tomorrow you are driving down the street and you see a house for sale that you like better than this one, tough news, because you’re stuck with this one, thank you. (laughter)
That’s what’s happening in a marriage ceremony. (laughter) Isn’t it? Tomorrow you see somebody else. Tough news, buddy. We were there. We saw it happen. We’ve got a piece of paper.
Now, when the Bible says that they become one flesh, they became one flesh just like in a metaphysical sense. It’s the same word that is used in Hebrew when it says, “Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord—God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit—one. In the very same way, they shall become one flesh. That’s what marriage is all about.
Now, let’s move on and talk about sexuality, and alien bonds. What is an alien bond? An alien, you know, is a foreigner. An alien bond is a bond that is not sanctioned by God. It is a bond that breaks into that God-given relationship, breaking the boundaries and smashing the intention of God.
Now I’m going to ask you to turn to a passage of Scripture. It’s found in the New Testament in the book of Corinthians. It sheds more light on sexuality than all the secular books you’ll ever read. No matter how many have been written, no matter how many have been analyzed, no matter how much sexuality is talked about, you will never find a better understanding of the creator who made us than this passage of Scripture.
You’ll notice Paul says, and I’m going to pick it up in 1 Corinthians 6, and I shall begin in verse 15: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written (and here’s what shocks us), ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”
The Apostle Paul takes an alien bond, a relationship with a prostitute, in a sense one of the most degrading alien bonds, because there’s no pretense of love. Nobody’s saying that this somehow is a loving relationship. It is raw lust based on money. It is in its most degrading form of relationship where there’s no pretense. And notice the Apostle Paul says (snaps fingers), “They become one flesh,” for God says the two shall become one flesh. Wow!
It doesn’t mean they’re married. It’s like I mentioned a moment ago. That’s very important to understand because there’s no covenant. They have the relationship without the protection of a covenant, but that’s an alien bond, you see. An alien bond may be a homosexual bond; it may be molestation. It is any bond that actually is outside of the realm of a man-woman relationship with a covenant in marriage. That’s an alien bond, and God says that when there is a relationship outside of that, it is still true that they become one flesh.
Now, when you stop to think of it, what that means is that this intruder, this alien bond has some incredible consequences. May I give you a few very quickly? First of all, imagine now the power of the first bond. Imagine the power of the first bond because, you see, you have the image of the man and you have the image of the woman and they are being joined together in this relationship, and therefore, it is powerful.
I didn’t bring it with me deliberately because this message would get too long, but I received a letter, to which I dictated a reply this past Friday, from a woman who heard me speak on this over the radio. It was an amazing letter. All that she can think about in her present marriage is the first man with whom she was bonded. He was not a Christian and so she broke the relationship, and now she’s in a relationship where her heart actually is somewhere else, and she says it is on the verge of destroying their marriage. Wow!
I think of a young woman who came to me, tears running down her cheeks and dropping onto her lap, telling me a story of how she was seduced by an older man in a church, and the church acquitted him and called her the one that was responsible, a terrible situation, a kind of unfairness that often exists, and there she is weeping. But she said to me, “Even though he did me so much dirt, if I saw him today on a street corner and he said, ‘Let’s run off and be married,’ I’d marry him.” Why? It was her first bond. There’s so much power in that first bond.
Now what if that first bond is not at all even a consensual relationship? What if it’s molestation? I think, for example, of Roger, whom some of you know about who died of AIDS many, many years ago, and his story was so remarkable that I actually had it taped. But he said the way he got into homosexuality was an older man introducing him to it, molesting him as a child. And you begin to think that that’s the way you are. That’s the imprint that is left on your soul, and therefore, that’s the direction in which you go. It has that kind of power. Any one of us could have ended up in that lifestyle if we had been molested by someone who was trying to bring us into it.
When I was at Exodus International, a great work, by the way, working with those who struggle at various levels of homosexuality, I discovered that 80% of all lesbians were molested by their father, an uncle, a babysitter, or whatever. Do you understand why? Not why it was done, but do you understand the consequences, because now all parameters are taken away? All of God’s protections for this relationship had been removed, and now the child, hating men, understandably so, begins to gravitate toward the same sex and try to create the same experience, and able to do so in some measure and therefore, thinking that they can find fulfillment in this relationship, all because of the fact that they were violated as children. That’s why it’s so important… I mentioned a moment ago when we talked about children that it is so very, very important. Jesus said, “He who causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”
And today I speak to some of you who are abusing children whether sexually or otherwise, and I’ve said this before from this pulpit but I need to say it again, “Stop it! Stop it!” The power of those first bonds!
There’s another consequence and that is the tendency to promiscuity. I remember a young woman, 26 years old, tired of being a virgin, saying, “It’s my turn. Everybody else is doing it. I might as well.” She said that when it was over she could almost hear the words in her mind, just as clear as anything, say, “Well, now that you’re defiled, anything is possible.” It began a whole system of immorality that when she became pregnant she did not know who the father was. One alien bond, causing her to spin out of control, because see, all the boundaries are gone now. I think of a man wanting to get even with his wife, visiting a prostitute, ending up in that whole lifestyle for years and years and years until he was exposed. The power of these alien bonds!
And then, of course, we could just talk right now about sexual addiction, couldn’t we? I shall not, except to give a single quote. Someone says regarding sex addicts, “They use sex like a drug, not to consummate loving relationship but rather to drown the pain of feeling empty inside a dark shameful level of sexual oblivion.” It’s the blinding absorption of sin. That’s what the problem is.
And by the way, you know that young 16-year-old I told you about whose tears fell onto her lap? I met her several months later, and she was in another relationship. See, she couldn’t go back to that first relationship. That was impossible, but now she’s going to begin to seek over here and seek over there, and seek over there, and she’s absolutely convinced that somewhere, some place with someone, her deep need for appreciation and love will be fulfilled. And you and I know in advance that the answer is it never will be in those relationships.
Let me give you another consequence, and that is guilt. Guilt! Oh, many people deny it. They say, “Well we don’t feel guilty. We’ve come to terms. We’ve come to manage our guilt.” I was reading this past week of some people who were formerly married. And you know, they experience temptations that are sometimes more overwhelming than the younger generation, the formerly married. And within the Christian context there were all kinds of comments written out as to what they said. And one woman said, “Sometimes I feel so despondent after having been out, having a good time and companionship and sexuality, that I feel I would rather die than live with this torn apart feeling.” Another said, “I felt I had to prove my sexuality, and one part of me says, ‘It’s right. It’s beautiful. It’s fulfilling.’ But then there’s another part of me that says, ‘This is wrong for a Christian.’”
Well, folks, enough of this. Could I just ask you now? Do you understand why we have so many problems in our marriages? Here are young people who say to themselves, “Well, you know, we can be immoral and then God will forgive us. I mean if the blood of Christ can’t forgive us for this, what’s the blood of Christ all about anyway?” And so they are involved in relationships, and of course, the blood of Christ does forgive them thankfully, as we shall explain. But they bring to the marriage oftentimes all these alien bonds that have never been seriously dealt with, and as a result, they find it hard now to commit themselves to one person, because, you see, the parameters have been invaded in their life, and therefore it’s very difficult for them to find their sexual commitment and their equilibrium.
I’ll tell you, in this business, this temptation, which is so powerful (and all of us have experienced it), my how we have to watch it, don’t we, because we want to believe all those lies out there? We convince ourselves that they are right.
I think there’s a lesson we can learn from an animal in Northern Europe called an ermine. I think that’s the right pronunciation. It’s about the size of a weasel as I understand, and it has a very, very white coat, and it is absolutely committed to keeping that coat clean at all costs. Hunters take cruel advantage of this animal. What they do is they find its hole which is oftentimes in the base of a hollow tree, and then they smear it with grease or some refuse. They put some dirt in it and they leave it there, and then they chase their dogs, and this little animal goes scampering and wants to scamper into his hole, but he sees it’s dirty and he doesn’t go in. And the dogs come and the animal dies. What the little animal is really saying is, “I would rather die than get this coat dirty.”
I pray that God will raise up generations of people, even in this world, with all of its temptations who say, “I would rather die than get myself dirty.”
Now, of course, the question is, “What is the way out?” Isn’t it? I speak to those of you who may be in relationships that are very hurtful, but you’ve invested a great deal in those relationships. I speak to those of you who perhaps have experienced all of these bonds, and you say, “How can I be free from their impact and from their power to destabilize my equilibrium?”
You know, I do believe that there is such a thing, actually, as (What shall we call it?) spiritual virginity, because there are many people, you see, with these experiences in their past. And yet they have come to God. They have dealt with them. They have put these things behind them, and God, in His grace, is able to give them a very, very wholesome relationship as the past is genuinely put behind them. And I want to tell you today that there is more grace in God’s heart than there is sin in your past.
Maybe we can do no better but to look here at 1 Corinthians 6 where the Apostle Paul writes this letter. And now I pick it up actually at verse 9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
By the way, are you deceived? Could it be? Paul says, “Don’t be deceived.” However, we interpret the inheriting of the kingdom; it’s something very, very serious. Paul says, “I just want you to understand that people who practice these things are not going to get there.” Think of all the people who have talked themselves into the fact that what they’re doing isn’t that bad.
But now notice he says in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” He says, “That’s in your past.” That’s what some of you experience, but you’re not that anymore.
Now let’s look at the words the Apostle Paul uses, and he’s looking at it actually from the experiences of people. He’s not talking about it from God’s standpoint, because from His standpoint justification comes first, but he’s talking about the way in which we view it. He says, “First of all, you are washed.” You are washed! I say to those of you today with a polluted conscience, “Do you know the delight of being washed?”
A few years ago I gave an invitation here at the church and a number of people came forward, and we prayed with them later, which is something really we should do more often, but we have prayer partners here every Sunday. But there was a young woman present who later wrote me a letter, a marvelous letter. Some people have written me letters that I just need to keep because they’ve said it so well. She said, in effect, “I carried a heavy sin on my heart.” Now she’s talking as a Christian, remember. She said, “I carried a heavy sin on my heart for eight years.” She had lied to a man about being pregnant when she wasn’t so that he would marry her. And then they were married and then she committed infidelity, and so forth, and got involved in all of these kinds of situations. But she says, “My marriage crumbled because of my infidelity.” And so she said, “I decided that no one would ever know about my past, and even the man to whom I lied,” she said, “I determined that I would take the lie to my grave and he would never know the truth.” But she said, “I took a shower in that room (She’s speaking of the counseling room.) and was clean.” She said, “I had weighed so much, I felt if I stood on a scale it would register my extra weight,” and she said, “When I left I felt as if I weighed half as much as I used to,” because she made that sin right with God and also with that other man.
I say to those of you today who wonder, “Can God wash me?” the answer is yes. “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they can be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’” Paul says to these people who were involved in all these different kinds of sins, “You were washed. You were sanctified. You were set apart by God” because you belong to Him, you see, and now you are special to Him. And then he says, “You’ve been justified.” You have been declared righteous by God, legally righteous, just as righteous as God Himself is. And that’s why you have, actually within God’s help, the power, you see, to leave that sinful lifestyle behind. You really do.
Many of you remember when we had a lady here who had been a lesbian, and she and a friend of hers actually explained her testimony. This was in an evening service. It was very, very eye-opening and very helpful to all of us. But I remember she said, “The idea of leaving my lesbianism behind, when that even crossed my mind it was equivalent to someone telling me to move a building.” It would be like somebody saying, “Move this church. Just pick it up and move it.” It was an impossible thought. But within time, and with counsel of God’s people, step by step, she is free today. She is free today! You see, because she accepted Christ as her Savior and she was washed, she was sanctified and justified by God, a new creature in Christ. And really, whether you believe it or not, she no longer owed that lifestyle anything. She didn’t owe it.
A number of years ago a woman stopped me here in the lobby and said, “You know, I’m living with a man and I feel very, very guilty, and we’re not getting along very well.” And she said, “Things are just going terribly between us.” I said, “Well, why don’t you just move out of the apartment?” And she said, “Well, I’d love to do that but I own it.” And I said, “Well, that does create a problem of another sort.” I said, “Why don’t you take this guy and help him to find the door, and then lock it behind him and say, ‘Adios,’ or whatever it is that you say?” She said, “Well, it’s not that simple because he won’t leave, and he’s a lot bigger than I am.” I said to her, “You know what you need to do because he has no right to be there? You know that.” I said, “You need to go to the police. You have to get an order of protection,” which is exactly what she did, and she locked him out of the house, and she barred the door and he went on his way.
Now the question is, “How does a 115-pound woman tell a 200-pound man to beat it?” She does it because the law, you see, is on her side. And in all of these relationships with all of their temptations and all of our addictions and sins, the law is really on our side. God says, “It is because of what I have done, you are washed. Accept that washing. You’ve been sanctified. You’ve been justified. Accept it.”
A Lutheran minister used to tell seminarians that it would be very, very good if they always wore their clerical collar because he said, “The temptation that you would have to fall into sexual sin will be lessened if that collar and that garb reminds you of who you really are.” Now, I don’t wear clerical garb, but the man did have a very good point, didn’t he?
If you remember who you are in Christ, if you remember your redemption, if you remember all that Jesus did to buy you out from the slavery of sin, if you remember that, you see, there is indeed a way out. You’ll find, “I really don’t need to serve sin anymore.” That’s why it says in Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be master over you because you are not under a law. You are under grace. Sin no longer need master you.”
So what do we have to do? First of all, my friend, you have to believe that God is able to deliver—that’s number one, to actually believe that provision is made for deliverance. Second, we need to understand that repentance on this matter is urgent. It’s urgent! It’s not something that you should put off.
And I’m speaking now to Christians, but notice what the Apostle Paul says in verse 15. We read it a moment ago. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Oh, may it never be.” Never! Imagine it!
I speak to those of you who have rationalized what you are doing, and you’ve come to terms with it and you’ve learned to manage your guilt, and you’ve said, “For me, this is the way, and there’s no way out.” I speak to you for just a moment. Maybe you’ve got all of the rationalizations in place but I want you to understand that sexual sin grieves God. If you are a Christian, Christ is in you, so He has to be there to watch what’s going on. And you bring a holy Christ into an unholy relationship, an unholy bed, if you please.
Notice what the Apostle Paul says in verse 18: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” The body that you are misusing is the body that God purchased, and it is the temple, the inner shrine, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. He uses the word that is used for Holy of Holies. The temple no longer exists in Jerusalem. It has been moved into the human heart, and the Shekinah Glory and the glory of God, and the power of God, and all those things that we fear as we read the Old Testament and think about their awesomeness, they now reside in the heart of all believers.
So Paul is saying to us, “Please understand that these things must flee because God is grieved.” He’s grieved.
We think, for example, of how often we have grieved God. Joseph said the same thing. You remember when he was giving the rationale. Potiphar’s wife was trying to seduce him and so forth, and he said, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” We might be able to do it in such a way that Potiphar’s husband never finds out. That’s a possibility, but God finds out.
Let me give you a third suggestion, and that is that you must really believe that there is help in the Christian community. We’ve learned during the series on addictions and the snares that the devil would like to impress upon us that sometimes we can’t get ourselves out of the pit. We simply do not have the strength to do that. And furthermore, if it is true that it is shame and secrecy which is the place where all of these grow and this is where they are completely nourished and flourish, it is then that when we bring these to someone who is able to help that we find grace and forgiveness and help in a time of need.
I think, for example, of David. It’s a familiar story, isn’t it? But David, you remember, committed the twin sins of murder and adultery. And even if we say that the adultery was a sin of passion, the sin of murder was really premeditated over a period of time. David tried to hide his sin. Nobody has gone to greater lengths to hide his sin than David. Interestingly, David today is famous for his sin. Everybody knows about it.
You go to the corner of State and Madison and you ask about David. They may not know much about him. They may not know when he lived, but everybody knows his story with Bathsheba. He did a lousy job trying to cover it up, didn’t he? But finally, after perhaps nearly a year as he was trying to cover this and trying to give excuses and explanations, and keeping people at arm’s length because of things lest they find out, when the prophet, Nathan, came to him, you remember, and said, “Thou art the man,” David confessed his sins. Now he confessed his sins even though the consequences were beyond him.
Some of you feel that way, don’t you? You say, “But what about the consequences?” We can’t go back, and we can’t pick up all those pieces of snow that we trampled into the mud, can we? No, you can’t. David couldn’t. All the tears in the world could never bring back the purity of Bathsheba. All the weeping and all the repentance could never make Uriah, the dead man, come back to life. And yet even in the midst of that mess, David found forgiveness, cleansing and even joy.
He said in Psalm 32: “Day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” He’s talking about how guilty he felt, and how threatened he felt as he needed to protect that area of his life. He said, “My moisture is turned into the fever heat of summer.” He says, “It’s as if I’m always on edge, filled with anxiety.” And then he says, “I confessed my iniquity to you, and my sin I did not hide.” And the next verse talks about the joy that God poured into his soul.
And you remember Psalm 51 which actually comes historically before Psalm 32. He says, “Have mercy upon me, oh God, according to thy lovingkindness. According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin, for I acknowledge my transgressions unto thee. My sin have I not hid.” And he goes on to ask God to restore the joy of his salvation, and God did that. God did that!
My dear friend, I want you to know that there are snares out there that you and I can fall into. Oh, that those of us who have not fallen into that would be kept from it.
My soul, be thou on thy guard.
Ten thousand foes arise,
a host of sins oppressing hard
to draw thee from the skies.
And we know what that’s about, don’t we? But for those of you who have fallen, there is restoration. There is forgiveness. There is the breaking of those ties. There is a spiritual virginity whereby you genuinely do begin again. You begin again.
“And that is what some of you were,” Paul says. “You are washed. You are sanctified. You are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God,” and I say to you today, claim that. Claim that no matter the personal cost.
Our Father, today we thank You for the clarity of Your Word, and we thank You that it helps us to understand us. And we thank You, Father, for that. And we pray today, Lord, for those who struggle, for those who may be tempted at work, and they are on the verge of acting out their sins and their desires. Oh Father, keep them. For those, Father, who contemplate a relationship, we ask today, Lord Jesus, that You will help them to understand that God is not mocked. Oh Father! And then for those, Lord, who today this message has been very, very difficult for them, we ask today that they shall be brought to cleansing, to forgiveness, and to freedom. We pray today, Lord, that Satan will not be able to trap them back in that snare, but that You will set them free for the honor of Your name, and the credit of Your work on the cross. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.