Appealing to those Living in Sin
2 Samuel 11-12
Sin is often defined as “Missing the mark.” What mark? God’s Word. He has standards of behavior that govern our thoughts, actions, and speech. Anytime we don’t meet those standards, we are sinners. It sounds harsh, but it is true. We are all sinners, and the “wages of sin is death.” We deserve death, hell, and eternal separation from God. But there is a way out. Jesus Christ. You see, “Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” God has made a way for us to be forgiven through Jesus Christ. We don’t have to live or die in sin. We just need to say yes to Jesus!
We all know someone who is living in sin. It may even be us. If a person is living in sin and one desires to appeal to them to turn from their sin, there are six steps one must follow. A word of caution: you are NOT God, so don’t try to play God. You don’t save people; you simply point them to Christ. You don’t convict people of their sin, that is the role of the Holy Spirit.
You can read the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, but here is a brief synopsis:
2 Samuel 11 opens up with David taking a night-time stroll on his rooftop when he should have been off with his army fighting. He notices a woman bathing, decides he must have her as his own and takes her. She becomes pregnant and David decides to fix the issue. He recalls the woman’s husband from battle so that he can sleep with her and get the credit for the baby. The man refuses. So David sends him back to battle and instructs the commander to place him in a position where he will be killed. This occurs. David then takes the woman as his own, and nobody is the wiser… At least that’s what David thinks…
Nathan is a prophet. God appears to Nathan and sends him to David to confront David about his sin. We can learn a lot about how to appeal to those we know who are living in sin by seeing what Nathan does. Follow along in your Bible.
Nathan used six steps in appealing to David to acknowledge his adultery.
Step 1. Appeal by sharing a story that illustrates the sin and wait for their reaction to the illustration.
2 Samuel 12:1-4: “The Lord sent Nathan 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.’”
“The Lord sent Nathan to David…”
It is not your job to be the “sin police,” going around looking for sinners to condemn. Wait upon the Lord. The Lord will prompt you to speak to someone. If you feel the urge, ask yourself, is this God asking me, or do I have ulterior motives? Will the confrontation be out of love, or something else?
Nathan tells a great story to David, appealing to him as a shepherd, and then waits for his response. David was a shepherd before he became king. The story Nathan shared would have penetrated deep into David’s past and reminded him of how helpless little lambs were. As a shepherd, this would have infuriated David.
2 Samuel 12:5-6: “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’”
If they react to the illustration, then confront them. Their conscience is convicting them.
If they are indifferent, it indicates their conscience is seared. Do not correct them or they will attempt to get even with you. Instead, pray and ask God to continue to convict them, to show them their sin for what it is.
Step 2. Appeal by confronting them with their sin, using the illustration as an example.
2 Samuel 12:7a: “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’”
“You are that man!”
You can picture David, burning with anger one moment, then hanging his head in guilt the next. Nathan made the connection between the story and what David had done.
Step 3. Appeal by sharing how God has blessed them in the past and what God’s desire is for them in the future.
2 Samuel 12:7-8: “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 all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.’’”
David had it all. He focused on the one thing he couldn’t have.
Why do we tend to focus on what we think God is withholding instead of rejoicing in what He has given us? As king, David could have had any woman who wasn’t already married. Instead, he went after someone he shouldn’t, someone he couldn’t have. How often do we go after what we shouldn’t? It is a story as old as time. In the Garden of Eden, Satan drew Adam and Eve’s attention away from everything God had given them, and focused their attention on the ONE tree they couldn’t have.
Step 4. Appeal by asking them why they have turned their back on God’s Word and despised it while God was observing them in their sin.
2 Samuel 12:9a: “Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?”
Remember, it is God, through His Word, that defines right and wrong; that shows us our sin.
The Word is a mirror that we can hold up to our lives. Don’t measure your spirituality on those around you, but measure it against Christ. Are you growing more and more Christlike? Are you maturing in your faith?
Step 5. Appeal by describing the whole scope of their sin.
2 Samuel 12:9b: “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.”
David had acted selfishly. He did not see (or want to accept) how his sin impacted others. When we are in our sin, we don’t think clearly. Keep this in mind as you talk with other people about theirs. They may not know (or want to admit) what they are doing is wrong. They may be focused on the good feelings instead of seeing how their sin hurts the heart of God. We need someone to take a step back and show us the entire nature of our sin.
Step 6. Appeal by sharing the consequences this particular sin will bring to them personally.
2 Samuel 12:10-11: “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. 11This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.’”
Listen to what happened as a result of David’s sin:
-Uriah died; one of David’s 30 mighty men, one of his closest friends.
-Joab, the military commander, knew the truth, do you think he would trust David again?
-Bathsheba, his new wife, knew the truth, do you think she could trust David? I can hear the conversation now: “David, I know you are restless, why are you getting up in the middle of the night… who is she??”
-The child that Bathsheba conceived would go on to die.
-David’s family would bicker and fight his entire life. Son against father, son against son, son against daughter. David’s family was a train wreck after this incident.
If you follow these six steps, the desire response is repentance.
2 Samuel 12:13: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’”
Note, David repented, God forgave. David is still a “man after God’s own heart,” but there were still earthly consequences. When we confront folks in sin, we need to remind them that the punishment has been paid for eternity, but there are still consequences. If you do something stupid, God is not your “get out of jail” free card.
Are you living in sin? What can you learn and apply from David’s life?
Do you know someone living in sin? Confront them, biblically!
Matthew 18:15-17: “15If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Psalm 51 is David’s song of repentance following this grievous sin. You can pray Psalm 51 and ask God for forgiveness.
This blog contains material from Motivating with Scripture by John Regier. Used with permission. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
Originally preached February 12, 2017 at the evening worship service at Faith Bible Church, Colorado Springs.