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Coming Clean

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Text: 2 Sam 12:1-13; Psalm 51

I.     The Crime is Committed

A.   Toy with Temptation

***The danger of listening to the voice of the tempter, and the subtlety by which he accomplishes his wiles, is illustrated by R. Spencer Stanhope in a picture in the Manchester Art Gallery, entitled "Eve."

        In it he represents the serpent whispering in her ear while she listening, plays with the sin within her mind. At the same time, unseen by her, he bends a branch of the tree with a coil of his body, and lo! as she daIlies with the sin in her mind, an apple drops into her open hand. When the temptation has once been permitted to enter, the means of gratifying it is at hand.

-James Burns Tan 6527

***Leslie Dunkin told about a dog he had when he was a boy. Periodically his father would test the dog's obedience. He would place a tempting piece of meat on the floor and give the command, "No!"  The dog, who must have had a strong urge to go for the meat, was placed in a most difficult situation -- to obey or disobey his master's command.

   Dunkin said, "The dog never looked at the meat.  He seemed to feel that if he did, the temptation to disobey would be too great.  So he looked steadily at my father's face."  Dunkin then made this spiritual application: "There is a lesson for us all.  Always look up to the Master's face."

   Yes, that's good advice.  God, of course, will not tempt us to do wrong.  However, we do encounter many temptations, and if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus we will be able to overcome them. --Leslie E. Dunkin

B.   Question God's Goodness

***   There are two big lies that Satan has been perpetrating ever since the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, a spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled and happy--when we step out of bounds, he takes delight in making us pay.

   The second lie is that God really doesn't care what we do--probably doesn't know. And if he does, his business is to forgive us. He'll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn't make much difference how we live and what we believe.

   -- B. Clayton Bell, "Many Happy Returns," Preaching Today, Tape No. 135.

***  Men are merely taller children.  Honor, wealth, and splendor are the toys for which grown children pine; but which, however accumulated, leave them still disappointed and unhappy.  God never designed that intelligent beings should be satisfied with these enjoyments.  By His wisdom and goodness they were formed to derive their happiness and virtue from Him alone.

   -- Timothy Dwight in a sermon, "The Sovereignty of God," quoted in Spiritual Awakening.  Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 2.

C.   Satisfy Sinful Desires

***  I had just finished a lesson on Christian behavior. "Now, Billy," I asked, "tell me what we must do before we can expect to be forgiven for our sins."

   Without hesitation, Billy replied, "First we gotta sin."

   -- Clara Null, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

***   A father took his young son swimming for the first time.  When they jumped into the pool, the little boy began to shiver with cold and cried, "Ohh, daddy, ohh!" His father led him out of the pool, rubbed him down with a towel, and dressed him. "Ahh, daddy, ahh!" the little guy purred, tingling with pleasant warmth.  A thought suddenly occurred to the boy's father.

   "Ryan, do you know the difference between a cold swim and a sin? When you first jump into a cold pool you yell, 'Ohh!' and then you say 'Ahh!' But when you commit a sin, you first say 'Ahh!" and then you yell 'Ohh!'

II.   The Crime is Covered Up

A.   Erase the Evidence

- Get  Uriah to sleep with his wife so that he would think the child was his.

*** My denial of my sin protects, preserves, perpetuates that sin! Ugliness in me, while I live in illusions, can only grow the uglier.

-- Walter Wangerin, Jr., in Reliving the Passion. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 7.

                ***   A little boy asked his mother, "Mommy, what is a lie?" His

mother answered by saying, "Son, a lie is an abomination unto

the Lord ... but a very present help in time of need!"  Sad to

say too often we teach a similar pattern to our children. Let's

be careful to model clearly what we teach with our lips.

B.   Eliminate Accusations

- Kill Uriah

                *** Onetime there were two brothers.  One was an outstanding

citizen and the other was a convict.  The convict brother killed

a man, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His

brother who was well respected went to his friend the governor

and pleaded for a pardon for his brother.  Since the governor

respected the murderer's brother he issued the pardon and gave to

his friend.  The brother went to the prison and visited with his

sibling.

  He asked him, "What would you do if you were to escape or get

released?"  His brother replied from his cell, "First, I would

kill the judge, then I'd murder the chief witness against me." Upon hearing this his brother ended the conversation, walked out

of the prison with the pardon in his pocket and gave it back to

the governor.

  You see his brother hadn't repented.  He hadn't had a change of

heart.

     - S. Toussaint

C.   Ease the Conscience

“Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and so encourage him.”

III.  The Confrontation with Conviction

A.   The knowledge wrongdoing

***

   The night was dark, the road a lonely one. A man named Kline,

lying in wait for one whom he believed to be his enemy, and whom

he decided to  kill, was startled to hear the voices of several

children raised in singing? The guilty conscience heard, "Jesus

died for Auld Man Kline, and Jesus died for me."

   Terror-stricken, he fled to his home. The next time there was a

Gospel meeting held he was present, and before long was able to

sing with the children, "Jesus died for all mankind, and Jesus

died for me." --Sunday School Times

B.   The judgement against wrongdoing

***   Your "death warrant: is, as it were, written into your own "birth certificate."

C.   The finger of accusation

***   John was driving home late one night when he picked up a

hitchhiker.  As they rode along, he began to be suspicious of

his passenger.  John checked to see if his wallet was safe in

the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it

wasn't there! So he slammed on the brakes, ordered the

hitchhiker out, and said. "Hand over the wallet immediately!"

The frightened hitchhiker handed over a billfold, and John drove

off.  When he arrived home, he started to tell his wife about

the experience, but she interrupted him, saying, "Before I

forget, John, do you know that you left your wallet at home this

morning?"    The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day were quick

to judge others while not recognizing faults far worse in their

own lives.  Jesus rebuked them for seeing a speck in another

man's eye while they had a plank blocking their own vision.

IV. The Confession with contrition

A.   Admitting the accusation

***Confessing your sins is no substitute for forsaking them

B.   Accepting the blame

***  "Blaming your faults on your nature does not change the nature

of your faults."

     - _Pulpit Helps_, November, 1991, p. 10.

                ***The only thing some people learn from their mistakes is to blame

them on others.

C.   Assessment Before God

***  A man went to steal corn from his neighbor's field. He took his

little boy with him to keep a lookout, so as to give warning in case

anyone should come along. Before commencing he looked all around,

first one way and then the other; and, not seeing any person, he was

just about to fill his bag when his son cried out, "Father, there is

one way you haven't looked yet!" The father supposed that someone was

coming and asked his son which way he meant. He answered, "You forgot

to look up!" The father, conscience-stricken, took his boy by the hand

and hurried home without the corn which he had designed to take.

William Moses Tidwell, "Pointed Illustrations."

V.  The Cleansing  of Conscience

A.    Petition to God

***  The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a portrait, was very angry with the photographer.  He stormed back to the photographer and arrived with these angry words:  "This picture does not do me justice!"  The photographer replied, "Sir, with a face like yours, you don't need justice, you need mercy!"

B.   Faith in God

*** D. L. Moody once said, "There are two ways of covering our sins: man's way and God's way.  If you seek to hide them, they will have a resurrection sometime; but if you let the Lord cover them, neither the devil nor man will ever be able to find them again."

   George Woodall was a missionary to London's inner city.  One day a young woman he had led to the Lord came to him and said, "I keep getting worried.  Has God really forgiven my past?"

   Mr. Woodall replied, "If this is troubling you, I think I know what God would say to you.  He would tell you to mind your own business." "What do you mean?" She inquired with a puzzled look.  He told her that Jesus had made her sins his business.  When he took them away, he put them behind his back, dropped them into the depths of the sea, and posted a notice that reads, "No fishing!"

                *** In a Gospel meeting a penitent woman was seeking salvation.

The evangelist quoted to her anxious soul the assurance of

Isaiah 53:6, and led her to simply take God at His Word, and to

depend upon Christ for the remission of sin. She went home

rejoicing, but the next morning came downstairs with tears in

her eyes. Her little boy, who had been with her in the meeting

the night before, asked, "Mamma, what is troubling you?" "Oh,"

was the answer, "last night I felt that I was saved.  But now it

seems like a dream. I fear I am deceived." "Mamma," said the

little lad, "get your Bible and turn to Isaiah 53:6." She did

so, and read, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us

all." "Mamma, is the verse still there?" "Yes, my son." "Then

your sins were laid on Jesus," said the wise lad. The mother saw

the truth. She took God's Word without regard to her feelings,

and then God's peace came to stay. -- James H. McConkey

C.   Acceptance From God

***n "The Whisper Test," Mary Ann Bird writes: I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.

When schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them I'd fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored--Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy--a sparkling lady.

Annually we had a hearing test. ... Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back--things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, "I wish you were my little girl."

God says to every person deformed by sin, "I wish you were my son" or "I wish you were my daughter."

Conclusion:

***  John Newton (1725-1807)

   A "wretch" who found "Amazing Grace!" 

   John Newton was nurtured by a devoted Christian mother who dreamed that her only son would become a preacher. But she died when John was a child, and he followed his sea-captain father to a sailor's life. John didn't care for the discipline of the Royal Navy: he deserted ship, was flogged, and eventually was discharged.

   He then headed for regions where he could "sin freely," and ended up on the western coast of Africa, working for a slave trader who mistreated him. Newton's life during that period bore the appearance of a modern Prodigal Son's: "a wretched looking man toiling in a plantation of lemon trees in the Island of Plaintains--clothes had become rags, no shelter and begging for unhealthy roots to allay his hunger." After more than a year of such treatment, he managed to escape from the island, in 1747.

   The following year his ship was battered by a severe storm. Newton had read The Imitation of Christ, and during the life-threatening voyage he became a Christian. Ironically, Newton then served as captain of a slave ship for six years. He gradually came to abhor slavery and later crusaded against it.

   Newton became greatly influenced by George Whitefield and the Wesleys. He married his long-time sweetheart and began studying for the ministry and preaching in whatever vacant building he could procure. Known as the "old converted sea captain," he attracted large audiences. He was ordained within the Anglican Church, and in 1764 he took a curacy in Olney.

   Newton felt dissatisfied with the hymns of the traditional psalter. He began writing his own, many autobiographical in nature, including "Amazing Grace!"

   He also befriended poet William Cowper, and they collaborated to produce Olney Hymns, which became the standard hymnal of evangelical Anglican churches. The hymnal, which includes Newton's hymns "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" and "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," was reprinted in England and America for the next century.

   In his old age, it was suggested that Newton retire because of bad health and failing memory. He replied, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

   -- "The Golden Age of Hymns," Christian History, no. 31.

See: Isa 44:22; Jn 5:24; 2 Ti 2:21.

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