When a 'Good' Man Sins (Part 2)
We asked a simple question in last week's feature lesson: What happens when a "good" man sins? We noted that, in an absolute sense, no man is good (cf. Matt. 19:17).

We also considered three main points in detail:

  1. When a "good" man sins, it is because he has allowed his sense of right and wrong to be overcome by lust.
  2. When a "good" man sins, his sin is compounded when he tries to hide it.
  3. When a "good" man sins, and doesn't repent, he will find it easy to rationalize his actions.

Let's now read II Samuel 12:1-25 and then introduce four more points on this same theme.

"Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: 'There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.' So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.' Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife." Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun."' So David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD.' And Nathan said to David, 'The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.' Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, 'Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!' When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, 'Is the child dead?' And they said, 'He is dead.' So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, 'What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.' And he said, 'While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, "Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?" But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.' Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet; So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD."

"So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!'" (II Sam. 12:5).

The prophet Nathan had just told David a tragic story, and David was touched by the enormity of the injustice. A poor man's only and precious lamb was taken by a rich man, who had "exceedingly many flocks and herds." To us, the parallel is obvious: David was rich; Uriah was poor. David had many wives; Uriah had one wife. David took Uriah's wife to satisfy his lust even though he could have gone in to any one of his own wives and been gratified! Notice that Nathan didn't even have to carry the parable to the extent of the rich man murdering the poor man. He had already said enough to kindle David's wrath. David wasn't mad at Nathan for exposing him as an adulterer and murderer. David didn't even realize yet what this parable was all about! David was enraged about hearing of a lamb being stolen from a poor man! Such evil could not be tolerated! David declared that the thief was worthy of death! Of course, I think we'd all agree that the stealing of another man's lamb can hardly be compared to the stealing of another man's wife and then taking his life.

Yes indeed, David's sin didn't seem as bad in his own eyes, yet he thought that a man who had committed a lesser crime should be put to death. Sin does not look as bad in oneself as it does in others. "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes..." (Prov. 21:2). Remember when Jesus warned about seeking to remove a speck from a brother's eye while having a beam in one's own eye (Matt. 7:3,4)? That's essentially what David is doing here!

I have read about preachers who have blasted homosexuality from the pulpit, but they themselves committed adultery. There are folks who are quick to criticize people who speak false doctrines, but they themselves speak vulgarity and profanity. Some may be harsh against intoxication, yet they are terrible gossips. Some have been strong against the sins of youth, but they themselves are guilty of not paying debts. Vices usually seem worse in other people than they do in ourselves!

Paul was pretty blunt on this matter. He wrote in Romans 2:1 - "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." Now, look at 2:3 - "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" Paul reinforced his point in 2:21,22 - "You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?"

Friends, when we sin, let's make sure we don't justify it in our own eyes. And, let's not be hypocrites by judging others when we have sin in our lives that has not been properly dealt with.

"Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!'...'Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife...'" (excerpts from II Sam. 12:7,9).

Remember that at the end of chapter 11 it appeared that they would live happily ever after. Uriah was dead; David married the widow; she had his son. It was all supposed to appear legitimate. As the months passed, David thought he could relax. It was a complicated and dangerous plot, but in the mind of David everything had turned out all right. He thought it was a secret and that now life could go on.

"But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord" (11:27). David didn't know that the Lord was displeased, at least not until Nathan's visit. David probably thought that since nothing bad happened right away, that he had nothing to fear. It is not unusual for people caught up in sin to think the same way today. This self-deception is explained in Ecclesiastes 8:11 - "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." The point is that when there is no immediate consequence--no quick punishment--then evildoers think they are getting away with it! They think there will be no punishment if nothing bad happens soon. This is foolish thinking. There is no "statute of limitations" on sin; judgment is not diminished just because it may be delayed.

Of course, some sins may be hidden from men for many years, even a lifetime. I Timothy 5:24 - "Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later." This means that in some cases a person's guilt will be known by others, but not always. In some cases, it will be the final judgment before all will be known. But, in either case, sooner or later one's sins will come back to haunt him--unless of course one's sins are forgiven. However, even then there may be far reaching consequences to deal with.

Can you imagine how it must have stabbed David's conscience when God's prophet said to him: "You are the man!"? Dear listeners, you can be sure that your sins will find you out.

"Thus says the Lord: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun...You shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die'" (excerpts from 12:11,13,14).

David had sown the wind and would reap the whirlwind (cf. Hosea 8:7). He would not die for his sins, but there were enormous consequences that would follow. Forgiveness did not cancel the harvest! Bathsheba's child would die. Furthermore, the sword would never depart from his house; that is, violence would visit his family time and again. The treachery he practiced against Uriah in secret would be dealt back to him openly and by his own son. This was fulfilled in Absalom's rebellion (cf. II Sam. 15,16).

All of this demonstrates the truth of Galatians 6:7 - "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Solomon wrote some pointed things about the consequences of adultery in Proverbs 6:27-33 - "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent...Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get. And his reproach will not be wiped away."

It is interesting to observe that when David heard Nathan's parable and was enraged against the man that stole the neighbor's lamb, he stated: "He shall restore fourfold for the lamb." Fourfold means four times. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but following David's sins there were four major tragedies of death that came upon his family: (1) The baby born to him and Bathsheba died (II Sam. 12:18); (2) Amnon was killed by Absalom for humbling Tamar (13:32); (3) Absalom died in rebellion against David (18:15); (4) David's son, Adonijah, was killed by Solomon not long after Solomon came to the throne (I Kings 2:25).

This is not to say that every sin we commit will have far-reaching consequences in this life; some will, but others won't. However, every sin that is not forgiven will have far-reaching consequences at the Judgment Day!

One of the terrible things about sin in this life is that there is no way to know exactly how it will negatively affect our own life and our descendents. Consider Numbers 14:18 on this point - "The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation." The verse does not teach that the guilt of sin can be passed on from generation to generation, but the consequences can be. How often (and tragically) has suffering and sorrow come into the lives of children, husbands, wives, and parents because a loved one got involved in wickedness! When a "good" man sins, it may result in tragedy in the lives of children, grandchildren, and even to generations not yet born.

"...by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme..." (II Sam. 12:14).

We will only touch on this point briefly because it is an obvious truth. The prophet's emphasis is not on what people might say against the king, but what they would say against the God that the king claimed to serve. Enemies would point at David and blaspheme Jehovah.

When a "good" man, a child of God, sins, it hurts his own reputation, of course. It is also a reflection against his family, and it gives a bad name to the church. It brings a reproach on the family of God. The main point in this verse, however, is that it brings a reproach against the name of God. David's sins would cause people to curse God. Such still happens today when "good" men sin and it becomes known publicly.

Sins that bring a reproach against the church should be confessed publicly. The more widely a sin is known, the more openly it needs to be acknowledged and the more the repentance ought to be publicized. This will help minimize the reproach against God.

Let me stress the fact that all sin can be forgiven. When David, an adulterer and murderer faced the reality of his sin and repented, God forgave him. His sins could not be excused, but they could be forgiven. Through obedience to the saving gospel message, anyone can have all his sins washed away. As Ananias said to Saul of Tarsus, so I say to those today who are outside the body of Christ - "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).

When a Christian sins after his baptism into Christ, he must confess it to the Lord. The gracious assurance from the Scriptures is that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"--if we are walking in the light, that is (I John 1:7,9)

Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.