I. King David
II. Thessalonian Christian
III. Disciple of Jesus
2 Samuel 11:1-17, 26-27 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10 When David was told, “Uriah did not go home,” he asked him, “Haven’t you just come from a distance? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 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’s servants; he did not go home. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 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. 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
Live a holy life, David!
What was the thing David had done that displeased the Lord? Was it the fact that he didn’t go off to war, which was customary for kings to do back in his day? Was it the fact that David didn’t turn his eyes away from the bathing Bathsheba but let his lust linger on this lovely lady? Was it the fact that he slept with her and was guilty of adultery, spoiling God’s gift of marriage for her and for himself? Was it the fact that he tried to cover up his sexual sin by calling Bathsheba’s husband back from war to sleep with her in hopes of passing the newborn baby off as Uriah’s offspring? Was it the fact that David made Uriah drunk so in his inebriated state he could be further coerced to go against his principles? Was it the fact that he arranged Uriah’s death by putting him in the front line of battle and then withdrawing from him so he would be struck down?
It had to be all of these things that made up the thing David had done that displeased the Lordbecause he had told David to live a holy life! And these things were far from holy! They were downright despicable, devious and deadly!
David was one of God’s people Israel. He was raised from little on by his father Jesse to know the one true God and the currently available Old Testament Scriptures and the promise of a coming Savior. He had been hand-picked by God to be king over God’s people. David knew better what God expected of him, but he failed to live a holy life!.
Thankfully, there were better times ahead. After God sent his prophet Nathan to David, David repented of his sin. He called out to God in sorrow and leaned on God for forgiveness. Not that David became perfect, but the rest of the Biblical accounts about him are almost all positive, showing him to live a holy life.
When God calls his people back from their evil endeavors and wicked ways, the power of his forgiveness and the persuasion of his love leads people to eliminate evil, to withdraw from wickedness and to live holy lives! May we be strengthened by God to do the same!
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 9 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. 11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Live a holy life, Thessalonians!
What a contrast between King David and the Thessalonian Christians! While King David was unable or unwilling to control his body’s sexual desires with Bathsheba and was wronging Uriah and taking advantage of him, the Thessalonian Christians were avoid(ing) sexual immorality; …control(ling) his (her) own body in a way holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen…and no one wrong(ing) his brother or tak(ing) advantage of him.
The Thessalonian Christians were also commended by their former pastor, the Apostle Paul, for other aspects of God-pleasing living, including loving all the brothers throughout Macedonia, which tells us they were concerned for their fellow Christians; leading a quiet life, which indicates a peace-loving attitude; minding their own business, that is not sticking their noses into other people’s lives or gossiping about them; and working with their hands, in other words, not being lazy, but using their God-given gifts and abilities faithfully and diligently.
They did all this for a number of reasons. First, God had instructed them to do so and they were happy to do what their Savior God commanded. Second, God threatened to punish them and all who did wrong and they were eager to avoid such punishment. Third, they had been taught their daily life could have quite the effect on those outside their congregation and outside the family of faith and they wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of others.
But the most compelling reason for doing these things and living a holy life was the love of God for them in Christ Jesus. In the opening chapter of this letter, Paul wrote, “we continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (v3).
How awesome it is when God’s people live as God instructs and for the right reason as well…not to be better or more righteous than the next door neighbor, not to try to earn God’s favor and a place in heaven, but to say “thank you” to Jesus, who lived a holy life for all, who died an innocent death as sacrifice for all, and who rose from the dead to convince all that sin, death and the devil have been defeated by him and he is victorious. Because he is, so are we, his people!
Matthew 5:21-37 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Live a holy life, disciple of Jesus!
So, do you see more of King David or of the Thessalonians in yourself? Does your life seem to be filled with one horrible sin after another, like we heard this morning with King David, or does your life seem to be characterized by sanctified living like that of the Thessalonians? Either way, know that you will never be perfect and that the temptation to sin will continue to haunt you day after day, but that God sent Jesus to earn forgiveness for your minute or monstrous sins, for your minimal or many sins. Whether you find yourself to be more like King David or like the Thessalonians, God continues to call on you, a disciple of Jesus, to live a holy life!
Some of those instructions are given in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. No matter how today’s world dismisses some or all of these instructions as old-fashioned or out-of-date or obsolete, you and I are still being called upon to follow them.
Jesus addresses Fifth Commandment sins in the opening words of our text. I don’t know of any ax-murderers or serial killers among us, but I do know of haters among us, so all of us have to consider how harmful our anger and hatred toward someone can be. Our thoughts and words can be just as harmful to someone as an act of violence.
For those we have wronged in this way, we need to go and be reconciled to them. It is important we do this now, so we can pray and worship and commune at God’s altar with a genuine heart of love and a clear conscience.
Next, he references Sixth Commandment sins. Again, it is not just the action that makes one guilty of adultery, that is, spoiling God’s gift of marriage. Even just a look, just a thought of lust makes us guilty of breaking our own marriage bond or keeps us from entering a future marriage with a pure heart.
So, get rid of the lustful eye, get rid of the offending hand not by literally cutting it off, but by praying for God’s strength to turn away from and keep away from those things which will tear you away from Jesus and take you to hell through unbelief. That lustful eye and that offending hand has also been responsible for many a divorce, which God says he hates (Mal 2:16). Keep your own marriage intact and help others to do the same by trusting in the Author of marriage to forgive your wrongs, to provide needed gifts and to strengthen your commitment to your lifelong partner.
Finally, Jesus references Second and Eighth Commandment sins, which deal with the gift of a good name or reputation, God’s and ours respectively. As followers of Jesus, the only truly honest and trustworthy one, it is important for people to know us as honest and trustworthy, as far as we sinful human beings can be, that is. Tell the truth in all things. Keeping your word is a huge part of having a respectable reputation. There is no need to incorporate the name of God into your promises. OMG or “I swear to God” can be eliminated from our texting and our speaking. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’. In this way, you honor both God’s name and your own reputation.
With these words today, and with both the bad example of King David and the good example of the Thessalonians, and with many more Scriptural instructions, you and I have been taught to live a holy life. While it seems impossible to do so, and it is, our motivation to try to do so and our strength to accomplish any good thing in our life comes from the one who was holy in our place and knows how best to direct us and to help us and to forgive us. Trust our Savior Jesus for daily living and for eternal life!