Faithlife Sermons

When You've Messed Up!

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  • I remember a very powerful time in ministry when Ladonna and I were involved in prison ministry. We had a large group of kids; at the end of our weekend together we asked them to write down on a piece of paper whatever it was they were trying to hide from others and from God, that sin that they wouldn't even utter. They were instructed to write down that sin and put it in a little box we had made. The box was sealed and at the end it was burned, but the power of that exercise for those kids was unbelievable.
  • Here these boys were, most of them already hardened criminals, with no shame, many bragadocious about bad things they had done, yet they were still hiding something. Despite where they were coming from or what they had done, they were all hiding.
  • This conclusion was proved in 2006 when the NY Times ran article about Laura Barnett and Sandra Spannan. These two women stood in Manhattan on W. 44th street and held a clip board. They asked passers by to write down their sins and secrets, then seal them in an envelope. Hundreds of peopel stopped and wrote down all their dirty laundry. Executives, street people, couriers, secretatires, shoppers, joggers, all would pause and write something down. When the people were well out of site they would open the envelope and tape the confessions to a window. They were completely anonymous but represented the heart of the people in NY. As more people confessed more, wrote down theirs. Soon the whol storefront where they were standing was covered with secret sins.
  • What did that exercise show, across all generations, income levels, and social standings - people are hiding!
  • Am I talking about you today? Sitting there quietly, all is well on the outside; yet the words I am speaking are opening closets within. You see some of us may be hiding something desperately shameful in our past - an abortion, a shady deal, that thing you stole, the adult magazine or website you visited, the impure thoughts that are as we speak building momentum and will soon change from thoughts to actions?
  • Well, no one knows about the scheming, the lying, the cheating that we are all capable of, so your cover isn't blown, but you know it's there, and guess what. Since God is closer than we think, He knows it's there too.

  • There was once a great man who really messed it up. David, that glorious king was super-rich and incredibly powerful. He was a smart leader, wise, and godly as they come, but in a weak moment, King David messed it up big time.
  • David was standing on his roof one night and looking at all he commanded. And there he saw her, a woman named Bathsheba taking a bath. David was drawn in. (Had David only listened to Job 31:1 he might have been okay) but instead David was not thinking about God or purity at that moment. He foolishly lingered and looked.
  • Then, what he imagined, he demanded. He sent for her, committed adultery with her, even though he knew and respected her husband. After that, David received a phone call - "Davey, i'm pregnant!"
  • So what did David set to work to do - to hide this awful thing. He tried his best to cover his sin. This only resulted in the death of her husband Uriah.
  • Then imagine this, David marries the grieving widow to cover us the expected child. Everyone would commend him for doing such a noble thing. David probably though, "whew, I got away with it."
  • Yet we can't hide from God. Several months later, a prophet named Nathan came to visit David. And we pick up the story here in 2 Sam. 12:1-4
  • Then in v. 5, and this is great, David explodes at the story. And in one of the most sobering moments in all of Scriputre Nathan says simply, v. 7, David you are that man. Then he recounts what the Lord wants him to know. vv. 8-12.
  • Now, how do our leaders today respond to this? I swear I never slept with that woman! Ring a bell? It mirrors our reaction doesn't it? Plausibl deniability, displacement of blame, attacking the critic, or some other tactic. But David didn't do that. Look at his response, v.13. To which Nathan responds, v. 13-15.
  • Let me ask you, did David deserve to die for what he did? He had sex with another man's wife, he lied, he betrayed, and he murdered. David himself answered that in Nathan's story.
  • What is sad is David thought that he got away with it, yet the heart wrenching consequences would follow, striking not only David and Bathsheba, but innocent people as well who knew nothing of David's sin.
  • David's story teaches us something very important. The very best of us fail. Like David, we all have something that we deeply regret, that we are ashamed of, that we are embarrassed about, something that has changed us.
  • Maybe you are wondering in a moment like this; How can I recover? How can I erase the guilt? How do I find courage and strength to deal with the consequences? Has God written me off?
  • Well, let's look at the rest of David's story. Let's turn to Psalm 51.
  • This Psalm was written at this exact time. This is David's confessional prayer to God. Just like those papers in the box, or taped to the glass window, David writes it down for him and God to see.
  • In his confessional prayer David lays out 5 steps toward spiritual recovery that we can take today. Each of these steps puts you in the spiritual position for God to do His work in your life again.
  • Let's walk with David and discover that God is closer than we think when we've really messed it up!
  • Read Psalm 51

Take Responsibility for Your Sin (vv. 1-5)

  • Notice first off that David does not fall into the common trap that you and I might fall into. He does not self-justify, he does not blame-shift, he doesn't say, "the devil made me do it, the medication made me do it, the alchohol made me do it"
  • David faces the music. It's "my" iniquity, it's "my sin", "my" transgression. "I have twisted and perverted something good into something evil. I have taken aim at a false target; I have trespassed where I am not allowed."
  • In v. 5 David rightly traces the genesis of his sin - he was born with a bent to sin. Just like you and I and all humans. You see, this isn't just an external issue of bad behavior; it's an internal issue of a nature that pushes for autonomy from God and craves sin.
  • But at the same time, he doesn't blame his mother, his heritage, or anything else.
  • David, candidly comes clean without conditions. In fact, look how he says it in v. 4, God is right when He passes sentence on David.
  • This is the first step in breaking free of the past and renewing your walk with God. You can forget moving forward until this happens.

Come Clean with our Sin (vv. 1-4)

  • What David is doing in vv. 1-4 is coming clean.
  • You need to come clean with God; don't rationalize, minimize, excuse, or spin what you've done. Get real.
  • Before David reached this point he had been living in denial. Once he realized that he hadn't fooled God, he stopped playing games.
  • So what happens if you continue to deny or justify? Remember Psalm 32:2-4? That was the way David felt before he got it right with God.
  • A Christian psychologist, Dr. Steve Arterburn said that there are only 3 reasons why someone would not come clean with God:
      • You're afraid of losing your reputation
      • You're afraid of losing your favorite sin
      • You're afraid that it might cost you financially, emotionally, or relationally.
  • I don't know which excuse keeps you in your seat and keeps you from pouring out to God, but if you're counting the cost of staying silent properly, you'll follow David's example.

Ask For and Receive God's Forgiveness (vv. 1-4, 6-9)

  • In the first expression of David's confession he says, be gracious to me, blot out my rebellion, wash away my guilt. When David cries out for mercy, he is appealing to God's willingness. He is crying out for God's work to be done. He wants what only God can accomplish - total forgiveness.
  • Look at vv. 6-9
  • God desires truth.
  • David says wash me with hyssop. The process of washing with hyssop was one of a blood offering. Forgivenss could never be given without the shedding of blood, and here is a reference to Chris't ultimate shedding of blood on the cross. It is only by asking God to forgive us can we come to that place.
  • For God to wash us, for us to ask for and receive God's forgiveness means we have to have Jesus as the Savior in our lives.

Request a Fresh Work of God's Grace (vv. 10-12)

  • Now that David is cleaned he desperately wants to sense what has nto been there for a long time; the presence of God in his life.
  • vv. 10-12 is a prayer for gladness and freedom to be experienced.
  • When you are burning up time and energy covering sin, all joy is gone. God seems to be a million miles away. Your prayers don't work, the Bible seems boring, church feels dull. But once renewed, David pleads for God to flood him with joy and restore that eager obedience that once marked his motives.
  • Spiritual recovery requires you to come clean, to take responsiblity for your sin, to ask and receive God's forgiveness, and pray for His presence and power to once more flow through your life.
  • That brings us to the last step.

Resolve to Use Past Failure for Future Ministry (vv. 13-15)

  • David was saying, "God, get me back in the game."
  • "I want this to be useful for Your purposes so that I can say to someone thinking like I was thinking, "Man, it's not worth it." "There is a better way."


  • So there it is. God is definitely closer than you think. Always!
  • Honest confession, taking responsiblity for your choices and asking for God's forgiveness. Asking Him to pour Himself through you in a fresh way and getting back into ministry again.
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