1 Corinthians 6, 2 Samuel 11-12

1 Corinthians 6, 2 Samuel 11-12

SERIES: Christ Is the Answer When the Church Is in Crisis

Sin Will Take You Further Than You Want to Go

SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 6, 2 Samuel 11-12                           

Introduction:  A Southern Gospel song I heard only once in my life, but remember clearly, goes like this:  

“Sin will take you further than you want to go,

Slowly but wholly taking control.

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay,

Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.”

That is the message I want to share with you today.  Several weeks ago I spoke on a passage in 1 Corinthians that warns believers strongly against sex outside marriage.  The key phrase was “flee sexual immorality.”  After considering the strong logical arguments the Apostle Paul offers against this kind of behavior, we took a detour into the OT to examine a real-life, flesh and blood person who successfully resisted an incredibly difficult moral temptation by fleeing.

This morning we are going to look at another example, this one not so positive, of a biblical character who faced similar temptation.  But rather than fleeing, like Joseph did, David began a steady slide down the slippery slope of sexual sin, devastating his own life and that of many others. Some of you may feel I’m overdoing a point by spending 4 of the past 5 Sundays dwelling on sexual immorality.  But I think not.  Virtually every survey of moral behavior in the church indicates that professing Christians are only slightly behind the world at large in respect to yielding to these temptations.  The survey we have taken of our own congregation, and the counseling done by our pastors reveals a great need for teaching on this subject right here at First Free.  

The response by the congregation to these messages has been very encouraging.  In fact, our tape ministry has been so overwhelmed, they have begged me to quit talking about sex so they can catch up on their orders.  Well, I was planning on wrapping it up today, but then I noticed Jeff chose as his title for next Sunday, “Sex Is Good.”  I think he’s just trying to capitalize on the momentum!

This morning I want to read the story of David as found in 2 Samuel 11-12.  It is rather lengthy, but all of it is important to gain the full context.

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.  (Skip down to verse 26).

{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.

The LORD sent Nathan (the prophet) to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. {2} The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, {3} but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb 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. 

{4} “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 had 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.” 

{5} David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! {6} He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 

{7} Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. {8} I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. {9} 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 took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. {10} Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 

{11} “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. {12} You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'” 

{13} Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 

Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. {14} But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”

As we examine this tragic incident in David’s life, I think we will observe that his fall was not nearly as sudden as it might first appear.  There were, first of all, little stress cracks that appeared in his life, vulnerabilities he sadly ignored.  

Vulnerabilities ignored

In fact, I see five key issues in David’s life, which, while not intrinsically evil, rendered him unusually vulnerable to sexual immorality.

1. Success.  If you read the previous chapter, you discover that David had just come off a series of major political and military victories.  In fact, the whole book up to this point is a series of victories for him.  He has solidified his power, conquered Jerusalem, returned the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place, and defeated one enemy after another.  I think David had begun to read and believe his own press clippings.  Self-confidence had begun to replace God-confidence.  We are always more susceptible to temptation after a great victory.

2.  Wealth.  King David was fabulously wealthy, as were most kings of his day.  As far as we know, his riches were not ill-gotten; in fact, God Himself gave David everything he had.  But I want to warn you that wealth can make one unusually vulnerable to sexual immorality.  There are places the rich can go, people they attract, and entertainment they can afford, that are unavailable to the average person.  That means the wealthy need to be more careful.

3.  Power.  David was king.  It doesn’t get any more powerful than that.  The powerful are often surrounded by sycophants, who will do their every bidding and never challenge them.  I have talked to professional athletes who say there are groupies who constantly follow the teams around and offer them bodies freely to the stars.  Whether one’s power comes from athletics or business or politics, or even the pulpit, the powerful need to be unusually vigilant regarding sexual temptation.

4.  Leisure.  David had time on his hands.  2 Samuel 11 opens up with an interesting comment: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David remained in Jerusalem.”  I don’t know why he didn’t go with his troops this time, as he usually did.  Perhaps he felt this was a minor skirmish.  Or maybe he was tired of living in a tent and eating soldiers’ rations.  Why not stay home in his palace?  But his leisure was not unrelated to his downfall, for the next statement is, “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.”  

Americans today generally have more holidays than our parents, longer vacations, shorter work weeks, greater mobility, and lots of free time.  To put it in the words of an old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop!”

5.  Isolation.  The hint in verse 1 is that David was alone in Jerusalem.  Not completely alone, but away from the men who had been his companions and his colleagues for years.  Isolation isn’t sinful, friends, but it can lead to sin.  That’s why temptation increases when a business man is on the road. He has to put extra guards on his heart.

To sum up, David was fresh from a series of great victories.  Public adoration was at its peak.  He had money, power, and fame far in excess of what is healthy for most of us.  We are never more vulnerable than at a time like this.  Either David didn’t realize it or, he ignored it.  But let me ask, “What is your vulnerability quotient?  What sorts of things are making you particularly open to sexual temptation?  Recent success in business?  A large increase in income?  Extra leisure time?  Unusual popularity?  Lack of accountability?  What are you doing to guard your heart against these things?  

David allowed his vulnerabilities to be ignored.  But worse than that, he let direct warnings go unheeded.

Warnings unheeded

1.  God’s Law.  There was the direct warning of the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”  There is nothing ambiguous about that commandment.  Polygamy was perhaps an ambiguous issue in the OT, but adultery certainly was not.  In fact, the Law called for the death penalty for adulterers.  When David asked for information about the woman he saw bathing, he was told clearly she was married, yet he did not stop pursuing her.

2.  God’s advice.  As early as Gen. 2:24, God made it clear that one woman/one man for life was His ideal.  Not only that, God warned His people very early that leadership has an even higher standard than the rank and file.  Listen to Deut. 17:14‑17:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,’ be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.  He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’  He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.  He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.”  

Three prohibitions are offered here for the king of Israel.  He is not to accumulate horses, wives, or money.  David didn’t listen very well, particularly in regard to the wives.  In 2 Sam. 5:13 we read that “After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.”   David’s moral defenses were undoubtedly weakened by his lack of self‑control in this area.  

3.  Common decency and loyalty.  David was not only told that Bathsheba was married; he was also told to whom she was married and whose daughter she was.  This is important because Uriah her husband was a member of David’s elite corps called “The Thirty” in 2 Samuel 23:23.  These men were a group of malcontents who had gathered around David during the period he was fleeing from Saul, and he built them into his personal security force.  They were extremely loyal and were willing to go to their death for him, if necessary.  This should have caused David to stop, if nothing else did.  

With so many vulnerabilities ignored and warnings unheeded, the next step should be no surprise.

Adultery committed (11:4)

Then David sent messengers to get her.  She came to him, and he slept with her.  Then she went back home.”  The account is rather terse, almost abrupt, with no titillating details and no description of the passion undoubtedly involved.[i]  But I wonder what went through David’s mind as Bathsheba left to go home.  I suspect deep regret followed his momentary ecstasy.  I imagine he went in and took a long shower with extra soap and probably prayed, “Lord, don’t let that ever happen again,” as if the Lord had somehow not been vigilant in protecting him.  As the days wore on, however, he perhaps began to think of it as just a momentary lapse–nothing that other kings, his peers, wouldn’t do.  At least he felt bad about it, which is more than they felt.  And I suspect he stayed off the roof for a few weeks. 

I wonder, too, what part Bathsheba played in all this.  She is clearly not the aggressor, but I strongly suspect she is not without some guilt.  After all, why is she bathing where she can be seen?  She’s on her own property, yes, but visible from the King’s palace.  I would not want for a moment to excuse male sexual offenders or even voyeurs, but women need to understand the power they have in this area because of the fact that men are so easily aroused by visual images.  

Clearly some women relish the control their bodies give them over men.  Women like Madonna, Brittney Spears, and Jennifer Lopez have not become superstars solely by reason of their intelligence or talent.  Young women especially need to be careful how they dress.  Extremely short skirts, plunging necklines, and skimpy swim wear can be like storing a can of gasoline in a hot oven.  It won’t do to just say regarding men, “Well, that’s their problem.  They should get their minds out of the gutter.”  Maybe they should, but the kind of bait you use determines what you catch. 

Within a few weeks I suspect David didn’t think about the incident much at all, until one day a messenger came with a simple note from Bathsheba.  “I am pregnant.”  And I wonder what David’s response was: “Oh, God, why did You allow this to happen?  I’ll bet that woman was trying to trap me all along.  Maybe I should make her get an abortion.  No, I can’t do that–too much danger of the news getting out.”  All night he lay awake thinking of options.

Coverup concocted

David first tries deception.  He conceives a scheme to hide his paternity of the child.  He orders Uriah the Hittite to come home from battle.  He feigns interest in the commander, in the soldiers, and in the war, and then sends Uriah home, figuring Uriah would make love to his wife and then assume the developing child is his own.  It might raise a few eyebrows when an 8# baby is born two months premature, but stranger things have happened.  

But Uriah refuses to go home!  Instead, he sleeps at the entrance to the palace with David’s servants.  Now I want you to consider the character of this man Uriah.  Whatever David lacks in integrity and self-control, Uriah demonstrates.  Remember that his wife is very beautiful and he has been a long distance from home for some time.  Just the thought of a little unexpected R & R at home must have been incredibly exciting to him.  

But when David asks him the next day why he didn’t go home, he responds, “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!”  Uriah’s loyalty to his fellow‑soldiers, to his commander-in-chief, and to his country is legendary.  It’s as though he is saying to David, “I can control my sexual appetites when something greater is at stake.”  Ouch!

Deception hasn’t worked, so David tries entrapment.  He asks Uriah to stay over one more night and invites him to eat and drink with him at the king’s table.  And it says David made him drunk.  I suppose that means he spiked his wine with some hard stuff.  But even that doesn’t work, for that evening Uriah sleeps again on a mat among the servants; he does not go home.  Uriah drunk is a better man than David sober.

Deception has failed; entrapment has failed.  So David is driven to the ultimate coverup:  murder.  He orders Joab to put Uriah into a place in the battle where he would surely be killed and then to withdraw support.  I can’t help but admire this man Uriah.  He is so trustworthy that David can send his own death warrant in a letter and have Uriah himself carry it to Joab.  David knows he won’t open a letter not addressed to him. 

The diabolical murder plot is carried out and David thinks, “Finally, the problem is solved.”  He sends for Bathsheba and she becomes his wife and she bears him a son.  Does it surprise you that no one complains?  The messengers in the palace know what has happened.  The king’s administrative assistants know about it.  The Secret Service knows about it.  But no one says anything, for it is assumed that the man at the top writes his own rules.  

Sadly, it’s often that way.  Finding a man with integrity at the top is rare.[ii]  But even though the text indicates that none of the servants or assistants or palace employees were displeased with David’s actions, the last phrase of the chapter thunders at us, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”  Don’t view this negatively.  God cared enough about David to be displeased, to not let him continue to become the devilish person he was in the process of becoming.

And that brings us to the fifth scene in our story.

Judgment pronounced

God’s displeasure is followed by divine intervention in the form of the prophet Nathan.  In those days it took great courage to approach a king regarding sin in his life, and Nathan knew direct confrontation would probably only bring an angry denial.  So instead, he tells a story.  “David, did you hear the one about the man with the pet lamb?”  And, as you well know, in his response to the story, David passes sentence upon himself.  While the law required only four-fold restoration, David goes further and says that the man in the story deserved to die.  

Why was David so harsh in his judgment?  Well, have you observed how often we condemn the very same thing in others that we refuse to judge in our own lives? When Jim Bakker fell, it was Jimmy Swaggart who made the harshest, most public condemnation of him.  In a short period of time it was revealed that Swaggart himself had been guilty of the very same sin, only worse. 

Once David levied judgment against the man in the story, the prophet spoke with words that must have stung like a whip, “You are the man.”  People use the phrase, “You ‘da man,” today as a badge of honor, but it was nothing of the sort when Nathan used it.  He pronounced the judgment of God, severe and far‑reaching–calamity, humiliation, rebellion in his own family, and worst of all, death for his infant son.

The only bright spot in this tragic story is that as soon as judgment is pronounced, David acknowledges his sin.

Sin acknowledged

Let me ask you a question:  Where lies the uniqueness of this man David?  Is it in the heights to which he had climbed before Bathsheba?  No, others have reached equal heights in service to God.  Is it in the depths to which he fell?  Certainly not.  Other great men have equaled David in his degradation, even surpassed him.  Is it in the way in which he was restored to usefulness?  No, there are others, too, who have found the moral healing of God and have returned to useful service. 

I submit that the uniqueness of David lies in the simple, honest, direct, humble and public way in which he admitted that he was wrong.  No excuses, no rationalizations, no double talk, no spin.  We see it first in verse 13 of chapter 12: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’” It takes a big person to admit he’s wrong and an even bigger one to confess to the sin of sexual immorality.  But if that is all we had, it would be impossible to tell how thorough David’s repentance really was.  

But we have more; we have the 51st Psalm, which is one of the great classics in all of literature, and certainly one of the most profound passages in the entire Bible.  And we have Psalm 32, where David tells us why he was so ready to come clean–because his conscience was taking him through a living hell while he tried to hide his sin.  I wish we had time to read those Psalms this morning, but I encourage you to read them on your own–Psalm 51 and Psalm 32.  

I don’t think we should minimize the confession of David.  It must be realized that he had everything to lose and nothing to gain (on the human level) by admitting his guilt.  He was the King of Israel and the most powerful political figure of his day.  He had a reputation as a prophet and was the recognized spiritual leader of his people.  He was known as “The Sweet Singer of Israel.”  To admit guilt would be to humiliate himself in front of the entire world!  

Besides, what he had done wasn’t unusual.  He lived in a day and time when kings took what they wanted and had virtual absolute authority over their subjects.  Yet despite these roadblocks to confession, we find David admitting his sin and pleading for pardon as few have ever done.  John R. W. Stott has stated, “Christianity is the only religion in the world which takes sin seriously andoffers a satisfactory remedy for it.”  I believe that is true.  

And when sin is acknowledged, forgiveness is offered.

Forgiveness offered

Nathan replies to David’s confession, “The Lord has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die.”  Friends, that is God’s character.  When we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  He is able to do that because Messiah Jesus came and paid the penalty for those sins. 

God did forgive David; He not only forgave him; He also restored him.  Many of his greatest Psalms were written after this incident in David’s life.  And God allowed him to remain as King of Israel–I suspect because of his immediate and thorough repentance.  But even though sin is forgiven, consequences must be endured.

Consequences endured

Nathan goes on, “The Lord has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die. 

But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”  And that’s not all.  If you examine the rest of David’s life, you find that everything has changed.  The contrast between the first 10 chapters of the book and the last 14 is stark.  The child of Bathsheba died.  The sword never departed from David’s house.  His sons were rebellious to the extreme.  Four of them died prematurely.  One, Absalom, took David’s wives and slept with them in broad daylight. 

And friends, the consequences of sin endure even today.  The man who drinks to excess doesn’t get a new liver even if he repents of his drunkenness.  The woman who is promiscuous doesn’t get her virginity back.  The person who does drugs doesn’t get a new brain.  The consequences of sin are permanent.  The scars never go away.  And that is why I want to spend my last moments here talking about prevention.


The best defense is a good offense, and while I have a burden for those suffering from sin already committed, I have an even greater burden to help those who have not yet failed to keep their lives pure.  I want to suggest three steps.

1.  Face the danger squarely.   David thought he was above the rules, perhaps even above temptation.  But he found out differently in a bitter moment.  In 1 Cor. 10 the Apostle Paul reiterates much of the history of Israel, particularly the moral tragedies that marred so much of their history.  Then he says in verse 12, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”  In fact, chances are great that we will fall exactly at the place where we feel the strongest.  Oswald Chambers wrote, “The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness.”

2.  Fear God.   Somehow David lost his fear of God for a while.  Perhaps because everything was going his way he began to view himself as bigger than life.  But 1 Thess. 4:3-8 brings us up short when it speaks of sexual immorality in these terms:

It is God’s will 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.  

3.  Flee.   We come back to where we started.  1 Cor. 6:18: “Flee sexual immorality.”  Joseph fled and was victorious.  David didn’t, and he crashed and burned.

Conclusion:  Friends, secret sin will do you in.  Sexual immorality destroys marriages, homes, families, and lives.  As we close today I think there is only one legitimate question to ask:  “Is it I?”  When Jesus told his disciples at the last supper that one of them would betray him, they didn’t look at one another and whisper, “I wonder if Pete, the big‑mouth, is the one.”  Or, “Bart has been acting a little suspicious lately.”  Or, “Tom has been missing services for over a month; it’s probably him.” 

Instead, each one asked, “Lord, is it I?”  It’s a lot easier to think about those we know have fallen or those we suspect might be in the process; but God would have us look inward and examine our own souls.

So as we close this chapter, remember the words of the Old Southern Gospel song we started with.  Read them with me, will you?  

Sin will take you further than you want to go,

Slowly but wholly taking control.

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay,

Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.

DATE: February 18, 2001





Consequences of sin



Prevention of sin

[i].  I’ve heard pornographers try to justify their trade on the basis that even the Scriptures contain accounts of sex and violence.  That’s like comparing the David statue in Florence to the Playgirl centerfold, or one of the Dutch masters to Larry Flynt.  There’s a world of difference that even a blind person can see between the Scripture’s honesty about sin and the sleazy products of those who push filth under protection of the First Amendment.  

[ii].  It is now commonly known that President Kennedy had a long‑standing liaison with Marilyn Monroe and shorter ones with numerous other women.  Apparently half the people in the White House were aware of it, but everyone looked the other way.  Many people at PTL knew of Jim Bakker’s indiscretions but no one blew the whistle.  When the Monica Lewinsky story broke, not a single member of Clinton’s cabinet had the integrity to resign or even to speak out against it.  Frankly, that says a lot about the kind of people the President gathered around him.