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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Three Most Powerful Words

Craig Smith - The Three Most Powerful Words

Craig Smith - The Three Most Powerful Words

Hey, Church, today I wanna take you to a story from the life of David. So if you wanna grab a Bible, start making your way to 2 Samuel chapter 11. Give you a little hint, 2 Samuel, you’re gonna find it right after 1 Samuel. That’s all I’m gonna give you otherwise, I’m sure you’ll make your way there. This is one of the most powerful stories I think that we find in the Bible, it’s one of those powerful stories of grace and redemption. But let me just go and warn you like every story of grace and redemption, it starts off a little bit rough. Because the reality is, if we didn’t have the rough, we wouldn’t need the redemption, right? If we didn’t have the gross, we wouldn’t need the grace.

And this is definitely one of those stories that it’s got a lot of gross, it’s got a lot of rough around the edges. And because of that, actually, it’s a story that a lot of people don’t know I’m talking about David of David and Goliath fame here. And most people know that story, or at least some portion of it, right. But this is a very different side of David, if you grew up in church, I can almost guarantee this was not one of the stories that made it into the Sunday school curriculum. Okay. If you did not grow up in church, and honestly, even if you have been in church, there’s a good chance you have no idea that this story is in the Bible but it is. And I love it partly because, listen, the Bible speaks the truth, even about its greatest heroes it speaks the honest truth, even when their lives are messy. And in that, there’s hope that there’s grace, and there’s redemption for the rest of us. But I really believe this is one of the most powerful stories of grace and redemption that we find in the Bible.

So we’re gonna start in 2 Samuel chapter 11. David has become king. He defeated Goliath, he fought through a bunch of other just junk that he had to do, and he’s become king. And then 2 Samuel 11, says this, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.” And immediately we know we’ve got a problem, right? Samuel is making it really clear, he goes, “Hey, at the time of spring, when kings go off to war, David didn’t so much go off to war, right. He used his power as king, his privilege as king to send other people off to war, but he didn’t.”

And one of the real ironies of this is that David’s only the second king of Israel, and when the Israelites begged God for a king, they specifically said, “We want a king to lead us in battle.” So now they’ve got a king to lead them in battle, and he’s chilling while he sends everybody else out into battle. Now, this is the first of a series of mistakes that David makes. And I wanna make sure that we don’t miss it because it’s a mistake that a lot of us can make but sometimes we overlook the significance of it. And here’s the reality, we tend to think about sin as being the wrong that we do. We tend to think of sin as the wrong that we do.

And that’s certainly accurate but what we sometimes forget is that sin often starts with the right that we don’t do. Let me say that again, sin often starts with the right that we don’t do. We shirk responsibilities. We don’t do what we are supposed to do like so you know, we don’t invest in our marriage and so our desires end up drifting in a place they shouldn’t be. We don’t study and so we end up having to cheat on a test. We don’t save enough money and so we end up stealing. We don’t work hard enough to earn a promotion so we end up sabotaging somebody else so that they don’t get ahead of us, right. And even in our relationship with God, we don’t invest in our relationship with God, we don’t pray, we don’t read the Bible, we don’t worship together, we don’t learn from his Word together. And because of that, we don’t have the spiritual strength to avoid temptation when it comes. A lot of sin starts with the right that we don’t do. David has a job, he’s supposed to lead the people in battle. He’s protecting them from their enemies, establishing the borders, but he’s not doing that. And that’s the beginning of a whole series of mistakes, but it all starts here.

And so I actually want us to ask each other this question and ask ourselves this question, “What am I not doing that I should be doing?” We should lean into that question for a second. What are you not doing that you should be doing? What responsibilities are you shirking? What duties are you setting aside? What necessary things are you neglecting? What should you be doing that you’re not doing? Because unfortunately, neglecting this part of it, getting this wrong leads to a whole lot of messier stuff. On the other hand, if we could get this one, right, if we could ask ourselves this question regularly, “Hey, what should I be doing that I’m not doing?” and fix that, we could save ourselves a whole lot of pain and heartache.

He sent out the armies and then we’re told this, they destroyed the Ammonites and they besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. I just want to make sure that we don’t miss that David’s still making the same mistake. Now, he sent out the army and the army had won one big victory, they had a big win, and they were on the verge of another and they’re besieging another enemy city. So they’re on the verge of another big one, their success, right? It didn’t all fall apart.

And here’s another reality that we need to be aware of, it’s that success hides sin for a while. Success hides sin for a while. David’s sin wasn’t immediately evident, it wasn’t immediately clear, oh, everything’s falling apart and he had to deal with it. Actually, no, the army’s winning, it’s going okay. And that meant that he didn’t need to sort of focus in on the sin. See success was hiding it.

And I think we all tend to think that, like, sometimes we do something wrong, we’re like, “Oh, no is everything gonna fall apart? Is this disaster that’s gonna overtake me?” And then it doesn’t, in fact, sometimes our sin actually leads to success for a bit. And we begin to think that maybe it’ll stay that way, that maybe our success will continue to hide our sin but it won’t. The reality is that our sin always comes out, it always does.

Years ago, I was working on a house helping to renovate it and there was a wall that had this nasty stain on it. I was in charge of getting rid of that stain. And so I painted over it, and it looked fantastic. And then I went away I came back the next day, and I was like, “There’s that stain again.” And I had one of these moments have you ever had one of these moments like, “Well, maybe I didn’t paint it, maybe I only dreamed that I painted it. I don’t know.” So I painted it again and I went away the next day I came back and there was the stain again, and I was like, “Okay, wow, okay, again, maybe I just dreamed that I did or sure thought I did.” I painted it a third time went away came back still there. It was some kind of oil and no matter how much paint you put on it the same kept coming back. Eventually, we actually had to cut out a piece of wallboard and put it back in and patch it and then repaint it and get rid of it.

And sin is sometimes like that. Sometimes we paint over it. Sometimes our success paints over and we go, “Oh, I’m good. Nobody’s gonna know it’s in the background, it’s gonna stay in the background. It’s never gonna be a problem.” But the reality is, it’s always going to be a problem. Sin always comes back out. So I’m gonna encourage you to ask yourself this question, “What sin am I hoping success will hide?” What sin are you hoping success will hide?

There may be a place in your life where the Holy Spirit’s been saying to you, “Hey, you’re not living the way you’re supposed to be, you’re outside of God’s will. You’re doing things that are not in alignment with who he is and what he’s created you to be and all that stuff.” But you’re like, “Yeah, but things are going pretty well. I’m killing it at work, my family is doing really well. My marriage is okay. Nothing’s really falling apart, doesn’t seem all that shaky.” And so you’re hoping success will continue to hide that sin but it won’t. So we got to ask that question. What sin am I hoping success will hide?

David hoped it would hide his. Unfortunately after that things just kind of got worse. It says, “One evening David got up from his bed. And he walked around on the roof of the palace. And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing.” By the way, I’ve heard people try to gaslight the woman on this one. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, you know, she was tempting him. She’s really the problem.” I don’t think so. And the reason I don’t think so is first off, it’s night okay. It’s already dark. We know that because David got out of bed, right? He got out of bed to do this so it’s probably already dark. Almost certainly she was bathing in the appropriate place, which would be the courtyard of her own home. So she was hidden from prying eyes. She’s probably bathing by lamplight in her own courtyard. Nobody can see her at that time of day, except for the one guy who’s walking around on his roof in the middle of the night. And he happens to be on the one roof that’s higher than all the other roofs, all the houses in town. I don’t think this is the woman’s fault.

The question we wanna ask at this point is what is David doing walking around the roof in the middle of the night when women are bathing in the courtyard below him? That’s the question we wanna ask. Because here is an interesting thing, right? His first mistake was that he didn’t do the right that he should have done. Now we find that he’s where he shouldn’t be, right. And that’s another reality we got to wrestle with.

See, a lot of sin comes from being where we shouldn’t be. A lot of sin comes from just being where we shouldn’t be. So let’s ask ourselves that question. What dangerous situations am I putting myself in? Going into the gym, when you know that woman’s there. Going into that bar, hanging out with that group of people. Getting on the computer late at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. We put ourselves in dangerous situations and that’s where a lot of sins start. So what dangerous situations are you putting yourself in?

So David sees this woman. We are told this, “The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her.” It’s interesting, again, David’s not doing what he’s supposed to do as king, but he’s still enjoying the privilege of being king, right? He’s still enjoying the power he has, he’s able to send Joab. And now he’s able to send people to find out about this woman.

But by the way, if you were with us last week, we talked about the three stages of coveting, the three stages of building a passion to possess something you don’t. The first stage is when you see it and you make a positive evaluation you go, “Oh, that’s good. She’s good. She’s beautiful,” right, that’s what he did. He saw her, she’s beautiful. That’s not necessarily a problem. The second stage is where things go wrong. The second stage is when we keep looking, we keep thinking, or we find out a little bit more in his case, he sent somebody to find out more. That’s preoccupation. And that’s the turning point to a passion to possess.

So he sends somebody to find out a little bit more about her. And the man that he sent, the man said, “Well, she is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Actually, in the original Hebrew, it’s phrased as a question. It’s, “Well, isn’t that Bathsheba, the daughter of your good friend Eliam?” Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” He’s sort of giving David an opportunity to step back. And I really do believe that God provides lifelines all along the way. If you have a relationship with God, and you’re moving towards sin, God provides lifelines all on the way. A lot of times we just kind of ignore them, though.

This man’s giving David one of those, he’s telling him, “Hey, there’s some pretty clear boundaries here. She is the daughter of one of your close associates,” which also strongly suggests that, like, she’s way too young for David. But also he says, “She’s the wife of Uriah the Hittite,” and a Hittite, meaning he’s not an Israelite, he’s not a Jewish person. But we’re gonna find out in a second Uriah is actually out in the field with the Israelite army, doing what the Jewish king should have been doing. So there’s all kinds of really clear boundaries here. And so the question, okay, you know, you sort of expect David to go, “Oh, okay. Yeah, well, she’s off-limits.” But then David sent messengers to get her.

Here’s the reality, sin picks up steam. You hear me, church? Sin picks up steam, the small decisions that we make that don’t seem like a big deal, they don’t seem like a big compromise, they begin to build momentum. They begin to pick up steam, and they move us into place, we never would have thought possible. And, you know, we say here at Mission Hills all the time, small steps in the same direction will take you to places you never thought possible. And that’s both positive and negative. As followers of Jesus, sometimes we go, “I just don’t know that I can ever really become a holy, righteous person.” But you can, with God’s help and those small steps in the right direction, you can actually become a holy and righteous person that you could never believe yourself to be. Small steps in the right direction will take you to the place you never thought possible.

Unfortunately, it’s also true on the other side, on the negative side, the downside, small steps away from where you’re supposed to be headed, can take you to places you’re just not gonna believe that you got to that place and became that person. And then, unfortunately, that’s what David is doing. He’s blowing past all the boundaries, his sin is picking up momentum. She came to him, or literally, she was brought to him. And he slept with her. And she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.

And that’s a little uncomfortable. But the point of it is that David’s broken two Old Testament commandments. I mean, not only is he committed adultery at this point but he’s also disobeyed clear teachings in the Old Testament that you’re not supposed to have relations with a woman as she’s ritually purifying herself. David’s just blowing past all kinds of boundaries because his sin has picked up steam. He’s moving in a direction that it’s pretty hard to imagine for the Israelite king, but that’s where he’s headed. Small steps in the same direction. Just listen to what happens next.

And then she went back home and the woman conceived and she sent word to David saying, “I am pregnant.” Woo, things just got real, right? What’s David gonna do? He’s done a pretty terrible thing. What’s he gonna do? So David sent this word to Joab the commander of the army who’s leading his armies that David should have been, who’s leading Uriah the Hittite there. He sent word to Joab, oh, what’s he gonna say? “Now, I screwed up. I messed up big time. You need to send Uriah, I have to make this right.” Not exactly.

This is the message, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. And when Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, and how the soldiers were and how the war was going. He says, “Hey give me the details, how’s it going? How’s Joab? How are you guys doing out in the field, is everything going okay?” And then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And so Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him.

You understand what David’s doing, right? He’s orchestrating a cover-up. He wants Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife so they’ll think that the child is his child. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master servants and he did not go down to his house. And David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Wait, haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” And Uriah said to David, “The Ark and Israel and Judah are staying in a tent or staying in tents. And my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will do no such thing.”

And then the great irony here is when he says, “As surely as you live,” what he’s doing is he’s kind of making a solemn oath on what he considers to be the honor of his king. Of course the reality is that he’s way more honorable than the king he’s swearing on. And David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I’ll send you back.” And so Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. And at David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening, Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master servants, he did not go home. It didn’t work. In the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab, and he sent it with Uriah. And in it, he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front where the fighting is the fiercest. And then withdraw from him so that he will be struck down and die.”

And understand, like Uriah has to carry that letter to Joab. He’s carrying his own death sentence. He doesn’t know but he’s carrying his own death sentence. And so while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. And when the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell. Moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. And Joab sent David a full account of the battle.

He instructed the messenger, “When you’re finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king’s anger may flare up. He may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know that they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez?'” That’s a past experience they’ve had that happened when they were in the battle together earlier? “‘Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asked you this, then you say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.'”

And understand Joab is worried that David’s gonna blow up, he’s gonna lose his temper because Joab just lost a bunch of key men. I mean, some of the language that’s being used suggests that these were kind of some of David’s sort of mighty men. They’re his close companions. They’re the guys that he’d fought shoulder to shoulder with. So some of David’s friends now are dead because of this thing, and he’s worried that David’s gonna blow up. So he says, “Hey, hold this until last when he asks, you know how it went. And why on earth were you in that place? Why were you doing such a dumb thing? Tell him Uriah is dead.”

So the messenger is set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and they came out against us in the open, and we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. And then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the men, some of the king’s men, some of your friends, they died. And moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

And what we expect at this point is for David to get upset for him to get angry. That’s why Joab sort of gave him a strategy for it. But David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab, don’t let this upset you. Don’t let this bother you, don’t get bent out of shape over this. It’s not a big…Yeah, I know a bunch of people are dead. But you know what, don’t let it get you down. Tell him the sword devours one as well as the other. Press the attack against the city and destroy it. Say this to encourage Joab.” Can I get a, “That’s messed up?” Is that not a little bit messed up? I mean, that is so messed up. I mean, David’s not upset that these people have died because Uriah’s dead. And he thinks his sin is gonna stay hidden a little bit longer.

And here’s an interesting reality, when we see this change in David and what he values, what he cares about, what’s important to him, see how messed up his values become one thing we begin to realize is this. It’s that hidden sin changes our values. You hear me, church? Hidden sin changes our values, the things that we try to keep hidden, they can actually change us from the inside out, turning us to people, honestly, that we would probably never recognize if we saw where it’s taking us. We’re like, “Well, that can’t be me. That’s not what’s important to me. I care about this, I care about these things. These things matter to me, not that stuff.” But hidden sin changes our values.

And then there’s an interesting reality I think that we sometimes forget. And it’s this, it’s that changes in behavior lead to changes in belief. Let me say that, again, changes in behavior lead to changes in belief. So we usually think of it the other way around we go, “Well, no, when I change what I believe, then it changes how I behave.” And that’s certainly true. The problem is it works the other way around too, that when we change what we’re doing, it can actually change what we’re believing. It can change our faith.

Every now and then I meet somebody who says, “Well, yeah, you know, I used to follow Jesus, I used to believe in the Christian faith. I used to believe in the cross and the resurrect… I used to believe in all that, but I don’t anymore. And whenever I meet somebody who tells me that, I’ve started to ask them a question, and the question is this, “Hey, what are you doing now that you used to think was wrong?” When they tell me, “I’ve lost my faith,” I go, “Hey, would you be honest with me? What are you doing now that you used to believe was a sin?”

And what I’ve discovered over the years is most of them have a very quick answer. And then I can go, “Hey, let me ask you this, did you start doing that before or after you lost your faith?” And the answer is always before. I got into something that I knew was wrong, I really believed was wrong. But then there’s this attempt to justify to make ourselves feel better about it. And so eventually, well, that’s not really sin, and then often leads to well, there really isn’t any sin. And if there’s no sin, the only way for there not to be any sin means there’s must not be a God.

And so what happens is actually a change in behavior led to a change in belief. It’s this insidious thing that happens, people worry sometimes about losing their faith. And then they go, “How do I keep from losing my faith?” The answer is very simple. Live out your faith. Live your faith as consistently as you can. And you’re not gonna have this inner turmoil that’s gonna create this schism within your soul. So we need to ask ourselves this question, too, today. What behavior is undermining my belief? What are you doing right now that you know is wrong, that you know is not in alignment with God’s will for you? What behavior are you engaging in that’s in conflict with your belief? And you need to understand you need to deal with it because it will change your belief. It will change your faith. It will change your relationship with God. So what behavior is undermining my belief?

Well, we see this radical transformation in the life of David. He went from David the giant killer to David the husband killer. How did that happen? And the answer is embracing behavior that wasn’t in alignment with his beliefs. Now when Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned him. And after the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house and she became his wife and she bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

And can I get a, “Well, yeah?” Right? Forget amen. That’s well, duh, of course, the thing is done. My only question is which thing? Which one of it, right? It’s the whole package of stuff, though, right? I mean, think about this. Can you imagine and this is David the giant killer? This is David, who as a young man went up against this massive guy who was heading the Philistine army, and everybody else is running in fear from him. And David said, “Hey, but with the help of the Lord, I can take him down.” With the Lord, he did. Can you imagine? Can you imagine going to that man as he was standing victorious before his fallen enemy, and telling him, “Hey, in a few years, you’re gonna turn into a peeping Tom who’s doing the peeping Tom while you’re shirking your duties? You’re gonna orchestrate a cover-up. You’re gonna order a murder? Do you think he would have gone, “Oh, wow, what do I need to do to keep that from happening?”

Or he would have looked at you and gone, “You’re out of your mind, I’m never gonna be that guy. There’s no possible way I’m gonna get there.” But see, here’s the reality, hidden sin can turn you into somebody you wouldn’t recognize. You hear me, church? Hidden sin can turn you into someone you wouldn’t recognize. You’re looking at yourself in the mirror and go, “How did I get to be this man? How’d I get to be this woman?” And the answer is hidden sin. The answer is hidden sin. David went from being the giant killer to being the guy who was a creepy stalker, to being an adulterer, to organizing a cover-up, to ordering a murder, to not caring about how many other people got killed in the process as long as his sin stayed hidden.

The thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And that’s our bad news and our good news. Yeah, the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, but God is a God of grace. He’s a God of mercy. And he extends lifelines all along the way. And this is so important to understand because here’s the thing, some of you listening to this message right now, you’re in the same place that David was. Not necessarily the same behaviors, but you’re in that place where you’re looking in the mirror, and you’re going, “I don’t even recognize this person. How did I get here?” You’re filled with shame, and guilt, and deep, deep fear that it’s going to get out, it’s gonna become public knowledge.

Or maybe you’re not all the way there but you’re on the road, you’ve started taking the small steps in that direction, and you feel the momentum picking up, you feel sin picking up steam. And you can see where it’s headed, and you’re terrified, but all your energy is going into just trying to make sure nobody else knows what you know. And that fear and that shame, and that guilt is eating you alive.

Here’s the bad news and the good news. The bad news is that you might be able to fool some other people for a while, but you’re never gonna fool God. He knows. And the real bad news, I guess, is the one person whose knowledge of you and their opinion of you matters the most is the one person you can’t fool. Here’s the good news. The one person that you can’t fool, you can’t keep it hidden from, this is also the one person who can fix it. He’s the one person who can redeem you, the one person who can pour grace on you. He is the one person who can actually get you out of the mess you’ve gotten yourself into. And God wants to get you out. He’s throwing lifelines.

He throws David one. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And when he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town. King, I wanna tell you a story.” He said, “There were two men in a certain town. There was one rich and the other poor. Now, the rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him,” which is weird okay, let’s just acknowledge that that’s weird, okay.

“Now, a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who’d come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against that man. And he said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die. He must pay for that lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

See the reality sometimes we’re much harder on the sin of others than we are on our own. In fact, sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. And then Nathan said to David, “You are the man.” Might be the first time that phrase was ever uttered, actually, “You the man.” It was just not quite as positive as we use it.

He said, “You are the man. And this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, he says, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all of this had been too little, I would have given you more. Why did you despise the Word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and you took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. And now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despise me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the Lord says, ‘Out of your own household, I’m going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to one who was close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'”

And you’re saying what God’s saying to David is your hidden sin is not gonna be hidden forever. I’m gonna bring it out into the light. So this is what God does, God brings light on things. He brings really good things to light, unfortunately for us, sometimes he also brings the nasty stuff to light. And understand he doesn’t do this out of anger or out of wrath he actually does it out of love. Because here’s the truth, nothing healthy grows in the dark, you hear me, church? Nothing healthy grows in the dark and God wants health for your life, and so he is going to bring that hidden stuff to light for your sake. The very thing that we’re terrified of allowing to happen, or that will happen God says, “Yeah, I’m gonna make it happen because I love you so much. And nothing healthy grows in the dark. So we got to get this stuff into the light.”

So God says this to David, and honestly, what we’ve seen so far of David, and the way he’s handled things, how his hidden sin has changed who he is. We expect him to blow up at Nathan, right? We expect him to come down on Nathan. But listen, this is the most amazing thing. And then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He says, “I’ve sinned.” And it’s interesting even after this, David is called a man after God’s own heart, which is pretty hard to believe, right? After everything we’ve seen him do how can he be a man after God’s own heart? And the answer is because of his response to this confrontation, he said, “Yeah, I’ve sinned, I was wrong.” And Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You’re not going to die.”

Now, let’s be clear this doesn’t mean there were no consequences. Everything that God prophesied through Nathan did come to pass, there were earthly consequences for his sin, but the eternal consequences are gone. The relationship and the rupture and the relationship between David and God, it was repaired, he was forgiven. Well, we’re gonna see David someday in heaven. You can go up to David someday, and you can go, “Hey, tell me about Goliath.” You can also go, “Hey, tell me about Bathsheba.” I wouldn’t suggest it, seems kind of rude, but it’s gonna be an option because he’s there, even after all the stuff. And somebody will go, “That doesn’t seem right. Like how could God forgive all that stuff?” And the answer is what we call the Gospel.

The answer is that God can’t just say, “We’ll just forget about it, we’ll pretend like it didn’t happen.” No, our sin, the out-front stuff, and the hidden stuff, it has a price. The Bible says the wages of sin, the price of sin is death. But God loves us so much that he sent his own Son to die in our place. That’s Jesus on the cross. He died to pay the price of our sin. He rose from the dead three days later, and he offers us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sin if only we’re willing to say the three most powerful words. How did David get forgiven after all that he’d done? Because he spoke the three most powerful words ever. You know what the three most powerful words ever are? I was wrong. That’s the three most powerful words ever, “I was wrong.” He said, “I have sinned.” And God said because you said that you can take a hold of the lifeline I’m throwing because I’ve said that you can take a hold of the forgiveness that I’m offering.

Those are the most powerful words ever. As the Apostle John put it 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins,” if we say I was wrong if we say I have sinned if we admit it, he, “God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That’s the power of those three words. Those are the three most powerful words you will ever speak. I was wrong. I have sinned. Because when we do that, God says, “Okay, now you can take a hold of the grace, now you can take hold of the redemption that I paid the ultimate price to purchase for you.”

Now, here’s the thing, it would have been really great. How much better it would have been if when David didn’t go off to war and he heard that there were winning wars he’s like, “I should be there.” And he said, “Oh, I was wrong,” and went. That’d be so much better, right? Would have been so much better if when he was walking around on the palace, and he saw this woman he went, “Oh, that was dumb. What am I doing up here? No, I gotta get back. I gotta get right. I was wrong,” so much better. When he heard that it was his friend’s daughter and one of his soldier’s wives he should have said, “That was wrong. What am I doing? Why am I even thinking about this?” Everything would have been better all along the way. At every stage, it would have been better.

But here’s the powerful thing. As far as he goes, he doesn’t go beyond redemption. As far as he allows it to take him, he doesn’t go beyond God’s grace. And here’s an incredibly important truth for us to grab ahold of, it’s never too late to use the three most powerful words. It’s never too late. Maybe you’re convicted today, you’re starting on a road that you have no business being on, you see where it’s going. It’s not too late to use the three most powerful words. Maybe you’re at that place where you’re looking in the mirror, and you go, “I can’t even recognize me.” It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

So we’re gonna take a moment right now just to go before the Lord. And I encourage you to take this time to reflect on some of the questions we’ve already asked like, what am I not doing that I should be doing? What sin am I hoping my success will hide? What dangerous situations am I putting myself in? Or what behavior is undermining my belief? I’m gonna encourage you to take a few moments right now as we pray to go before the Lord with those things. Let him speak to you. Bring some of those things to the surface. So that you can use the three most powerful words right here right now. Would you pray with me?

God, thank you for your light. Thank you for your commitment to not leaving things festering in the dark. Well, we confess that we have things that we would really prefer to stay hidden but we know they’re not hidden from you. So for the person who matters most, they were never hidden. Holy Spirit, we just invite you right now to bring that stuff to the surface for each of us. Lord, as we come before you right now we humble ourselves. We’re ready to do deep work with you. So move among us show us what needs to be confessed brought out into the open so we can be forgiven free. God, as you continue to move in our hearts, as you reveal these things to us, some of them are things we came in here knowing about and some of them were things that we’re only now really becoming aware of. As we recognize these things, we come before you. And all together we pray this.

I encourage everybody in your hearts to pray this with me:

God, I was wrong. I have sinned. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. I put my trust in you, Jesus. I receive your forgiveness. Thank you for setting me free. I’ll follow you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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