OVERCOMING MORAL TEMPTATION

April 24, 2020

OVERCOMING MORAL TEMPTATION


There is nothing quite so devious as moral impurity. But there is also nothing quite so predictable. Our great Enemy knows that he doesn’t have to be creative with immorality. The bait is so strong that it just needs to be placed within our reach. If we do not immediately apply God’s remedy, we will be ensnared. Sweet for a moment, the end results are always excruciating.

DAVID’S GREAT FAILURE

There was no one like David who was “a man after God’s own heart.” Perhaps the story of David’s failure is included in the Scripture to remind us that no one is immune to moral temptation and its possibilities. Even the most godly can fail if unguarded. In all that is recorded of David’s 40-year reign as a spiritual King in Israel, just four short verses chronicle his greatest fall.

1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.
2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
4 David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.


PAYING ATTENTION TO THE VERBS

There are an important set of actions that describe David’s progression into sin. These verbs show us David’s defeat and forever give us insight into what we must do to avoid moral failure.

1. David STAYED in Jerusalem (verse 1).

David should have been in battle with his army. Instead, he shirked his responsibilities, perhaps thinking that he had now risen to a place of such importance that he was above these tasks.

Idleness gives the Devil the greatest avenue for moral sin. Satan doesn’t care how long it takes to get you; he just wants to catch you. He often comes in the most unguarded moments.

*WINNING THE BATTLE: Give yourself fully and continually to the tasks God has before you. Resist random idleness. Even in moments of rest, give yourself to the pursuit of God’s will.

2. David AROSE from his bed and WALKED around on the roof (verse 2).

There was nothing inherently wrong with this action, which reminds us that the Enemy can present temptation at the most innocent of times. We must not assume temptation is not lurking at the door at any moment.

*WINNING THE BATTLE: Be always aware that sin can present itself when you least expect it.

3. He SAW a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful in appearance (verse 2).

The gate that opens the door to immorality is almost always the eyes. “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes,” a wiser David would later say in Psalm 101:3. “It shall not fasten its grip on me.”

This is not hard to understand. Evaluate your struggle with lust and you will find this predictably true. An image, a person of the opposite sex can come within your line of sight. This is called “temptation” and temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted in all ways just like us, yet He did not sin.

There was nothing wrong with Bathsheba taking a bath. There was nothing wrong with David innocently seeing her (although, if he had been at war he would not have seen her). But there was something drastically wrong with David not being wise enough to avert his eyes. To turn and walk away. God’s consistent instruction to us when we are confronted is summed up in one word: FLEE!

When my sons were coming to an age when temptations took on new meanings, I taught them the little trick I’d learned in ROTC military training in college. When the military leaders would say “Eyes right!” or “Eyes left!” on a battlefield march, you snapped your eyes in that direction. This was a choice you made to obey the Commander. To this day my sons and I practice “Eyes right (or left)” when moral temptation comes into our view.

*WINNING THE BATTLE: Don’t go places that provide visual temptation. And when presented with moral temptation, instantly avert your eyes.

4. David SENT and INQUIRED about the woman (verse 3).

David now makes a deliberate choice to pursue sin. Gone was the innocence. David might have rationalized this moment. “I’m just going to search the internet, or browse the television, or walk by her desk at the office.” We are no longer innocent when we take the next curious step. This step is described in the foolish man in Proverbs 7:8-9.

Passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house. In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness.

*WINNING THE BATTLE: Realize that when you take a deliberate next step you are headed to almost certain failure. Resist the next curious step and the casual closeness to temptation.

5. David SENT messengers and TOOK her and … LAY with her (verse 4).

Here was the killing blow. Now determined to sin, David deliberately pursued his immorality. The end was inevitable. Almost no man nor woman can turn away when they have taken multiple steps towards their sin. To PURSUE immorality is to DO immorality. Jesus is clear about this.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

* WINNING THE BATTLE:  Even if you have not consummated your immorality, you have already committed the sin if you take steps to pursue. Resist the next step! The heart-sin is the issue before God. He knows that the consummation is sure to follow.

Each time we read the account of David’s sin we want to scream at him to flee. We know the end of the story and it’s not pretty. David’s sin had great consequences for himself, his friends, his family, and the entire nation. Immorality takes you farther than you want to go and makes you pay a price higher than you want to pay.

But be encouraged. You can win this battle! Millions have by consistently applying God’s remedies. In heaven one day, you will be eternally grateful that you resisted moral temptation.

Our overcoming God, help us. Make us wise regarding immorality. Keep us vigilant. Help us master the tools that defeat this deadly temptation. And give us “running” grace! Help us to not put ourselves in vulnerable positions and give us the power to flee at temptation’s slightest presence.

 




2 Responses

Troy Nicholson
Troy Nicholson

May 07, 2020

Such a great crystal clear call to purity wrapped in a grace-filled tone. I love you Bill – and I love that you push me to love Jesus more.

Tuck Kemper
Tuck Kemper

April 28, 2020

Years ago, I heard David’s situation described, in aviation terms, as a “graveyard spiral”. When an airplane leaves the stable flight envelope, it can enter a spin. Unless corrected early in the spin, it becomes a tighter and tighter spiral, ultimately ending in the graveyard for the pilot and passengers. In David’s case, his sin began by shirking his kingly, Commander in Chief duties and “staying home” when “kings go to war” He could have stopped the spin at that point, by repenting of his dereliction of duty and joining his troops on the field of battle. However, failing to do so resulted in the “plug being pulled” on the power cord that connected him to his Heavenly Father, a power he would need, and which we all need, to help overcome the temptation that lurked just the other side of the roof. Satan, like “a roaring lion” sails around the island of our soul, looking for that still, quiet, beach where he can come ashore undetected. David, having lost his power connection to the strength God gives us to overcome temptation, did not have the ability to resist the next temptation upon seeing Bathsheba. More loss of power occurred. More temptation arrives, and now, further away from God’s protection than ever before, David had tightened the spiral even more. Ultimately, the loss of his friend Uriah, a child born of the illicit encounter, his influence on his sons, the purity of his daughter, sent him to the “spiritual graveyard”. Only after losing his influence, his family, and ultimately his kingly influence, was David finally able to beg from desperation, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew that right spirit within me!” How much better for us all to burn into our soul, the admonition, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.” Stay in fellowship with the Father. You’ll need His power more often than you think.

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