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Worship Series: Lord’s Prayer
Worship Theme: Forgive Us Our Sins
- CW 389: Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- Forgive Our Sins, Lord, We Implore
- CW 385: Chief of Sinners Though I Be
- CW 232: Lord of My Life, Whose Tender Care
Message: Forgive Us Our Sins
Pastor Jon Brohn
Every generation has its own series of slang terms. Let’s see if we can figure these out from past decades. In the 1950’s, someone cool was called a “hipster.” In the 1960’s, something cool was called “groovy.” In the 1970’s if something was cool, you asked, “Can you dig it?” In the 1980’s if something was cool it was “gnarly.” In the 1990’s, if something was cool it was “phat.” In the 2000’s if something was cool it was “sweet!” In the 2010’s if something was cool it was “sick.” In the 2020’s, if something is cool it’s “dope.”
Back in my day, back in 1000 BC, when I, King David, lived, when something was cool we said, “Hoe-doo ladonai kee-tove. Kee li-o-lam chas-doh.” (That’s Hebrew for: Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 118:1) When someone is awesome in your day and age, people yell out, “You’re the man!” At one time in my life, that same phrase was spoken to me but it wasn’t to celebrate my accomplishments. As I share my story in 2 Samuel 12 today, you’ll see how the expression, “You’re the man!” took on a different meaning for me personally and it changed my life forever.
It all got started on one of those restless nights. You’ve all had them. You can’t sleep; you lay there tossing and turning and churning in frustration. You fluff your pillow trying to get extra comfy so you’ll finally sleep. Then you eventually pummel your pillow in frustration that nothing works. No matter how hard you try you just can’t sleep. You wonder if you should get up and do something or just lay there and get more frustrated. I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and took a stroll on the roof of my palace to get some fresh evening air. I happened to look down into the city below and saw a woman—a beautiful woman—and she was bathing. So you know what I saw. I couldn’t take my eyes off her even though I knew I should. I called over a servant to find out who she was. He told me she was the wife of one of my best soldiers and close friend, Uriah the Hittite, who happened to be away with the army fighting a battle I should have been fighting. So I sent my servants to her house with an “invitation.” She came back to my palace and one thing led to another... The next month she sent me a note saying, “I’m going to have your baby.” Oops.
“What do I do now?” I thought. Being a military strategist, I came up with a plan. I pulled Uriah off the front lines and asked for an update. Then I slyly suggested, “Go home and spend some quality time with your wife.” Surely, he’d jump at the chance for some alone time with his wife and then he’d think the baby was his. Problem solved! Well, Uriah was nobler than I. He reasoned, “How could I go home and cuddle up with my wife when my comrades are sleeping in tents in the army camp?” So that dummy slept next to my servants in the courtyard. I had to make this coverup work, so I asked him to stay home one more night. I invited him to my dinner table in the evening, got him sloppy drunk, hoping the liquor would convince him to spend the night with his wife. Nope, he slept in the courtyard again.
I had no choice. No one could know. No one could find out. I had to fix this. So I sent Uriah back to my commander, Joab, with a letter—a letter containing his death sentence. I instructed Joab to send the troops to attack the city, and to place Uriah where the fighting was fiercest. Then, when the troops get close to the city wall, withdraw so Uriah would be struck down and killed. Joab did his job. Uriah the Hittite was killed in action. His wife Bathsheba heard the news and mourned for him. When the time for mourning was over, I sent for her and she came to the palace as my newest wife. Problem solved for good! Less than nine months later we had a healthy baby boy. Even though I had gotten away with it, I hadn’t gotten away from it—from the guilt of what I had done. I’m guessing you know what I mean. I’m guessing you also are haunted by the guilt of what you’ve done in your past.
When our baby was born my friend, Nathan the prophet, stopped by for a visit. He told me a story that had me on the edge of my seat. “A rich man and poor man lived in the same town. The rich man had many herds of sheep and cattle. The poor man had one little ewe lamb that was like a daughter (Hebrew, bat) to him. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in the poor man’s arms. One day a traveler stopped by the rich man’s home. The rich man did not take one of the cattle or lambs from his plentiful herd, but took the poor man’s pet lamb, slaughtered it and prepared it for his traveler.” I was enraged! How dare a man take something so precious and loved from another man! That man deserved to die because he had no pity! He would replace the lamb with four lambs, just as.the Law of Moses required! Then Nathan said, “You are the man!” Oh...I was crushed by my guilt.
Before you point your finger, before you look down on me, look at yourself. You are no different than I am. I broke the 5th commandment and took another man’s life. I broke the 6th commandment and took another man’s wife. I broke the eighth commandment and lied. I broke the tenth commandment by coveting my neighbor’s wife. So have you. You may not have gone to the extreme of murdering another person but you have hated or despised others, and that is the same as murder in Jesus’ book (1 John 3:15). You may not have cheated on your spouse, but you may have had premarital sex (Hebrews 13:4), you may have lusted in your heart and that’s the same as adultery in God’s book (Matthew 5:28). You may not have deceived an entire nation, but you have all told half truths to your parents, your spouse, your friends—which are whole lies. And you’ve flat out, fully lied to save yourself from getting in trouble. You may not have coveted your neighbor’s spouse (maybe you have...there are some rather good looking people where you live and work), but you have coveted someone else’s home or possessions. Yes, you are the man! You are the woman! You are the child!
Maybe you have not concocted an elaborate cover-up as I did. But you have been covering up a specific sin for some time. You might be thinking to yourself, “But no one knows. My pastor doesn’t know. My parents don’t know. My spouse doesn’t know.” But let me tell you from personal experience, God knows. Don’t fool yourself. You cannot keep anything from the One who sees and knows everything. And it is God who matters most. Because when you sin against your fellow man, you also, more importantly, sin against your God.
I sinned against Uriah, against his precious ewe lamb, Bathsheba, against the entire nation of Israel, but far worse than all of them, I sinned against my LORD. Like a fool, I thought I could keep it from my God. Every day I lived in fear of being found out and that fear nearly destroyed me. Again, I think you know how I felt. You know the fear you have of someone finding out about your past or about the dirty little secret you keep hidden away. In Psalm 32, I lamented about the pain this cover up caused me. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4 NIV).
According to the Old Testament laws, any man or woman who committed adultery was to be stoned to death! Bathsheba and I faced the death penalty and we knew it. If anyone found out, I was a goner! She was a goner! But God, out of His mercy, called me out. He sent the bold prophet, Nathan, into my presence to point the finger of judgment at me and cry out, “You are the man!” Yes, I am the man! I could not hide. I could not excuse it. The only thing I could do was confess. I recorded my confession in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:1,4 NIV).
Wow! Did that feel good! For over a year I had kept that secret sin pent up in my heart. It was just so cleansing to finally speak those words and get that off my chest. These magnificent words of forgiveness from Nathan unlocked the shackles of guilt: “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” I fought back the tears. My knees nearly buckled in the wave of relief. God stripped away my sin like filthy clothes destined for the burn pile! That’s incomprehensible! For what I did—coveting, adultery, murder and deception—I deserved punishment not pardon, pain and suffering not peace and salvation.
Yet God took away my sin, not because I’m a good person, not because I’m king of Israel, but because of who the LORD is. He showed Moses who he is, and he has shown me. “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7 NIV). That is my God and LORD. He took away my sin out of His great love. He took it away thanks to the descendant he promised to send, the true King who would pay for my sins and the sins of the world on a cross. I did not receive the death sentence because the Savior would take it for me.
When the LORD confronts you with His holy Law and says, “You are the man!” “You are the woman!” “You are the child!” Confess your sin and repent. There is nothing to hide. There is no room for excuses. And when you pray, “Forgive us our sins,” you are asking your Father in heaven to send faithful Christians into your life to call you out and to expose your sin. Don’t be angry with them for doing what’s right and for moving you towards forgiveness. Thank the Lord for their faithfulness and their concern for your soul. And then turn your eyes and heart to the old rugged cross where Jesus made forgiveness real. On that cursed tree, Jesus died for your sins: lying, coveting, covering up, and even murder and adultery. He has taken away every wrong you’ve done by His death. Doesn’t that make your knees go weak? The cross announces to you as Nathan announced to me, “The LORD has taken away all your sin.”
This doesn’t mean you can continue in your secret sin. The Father does not want us to keep on sinning, but to do His will. So stop the adultery (the lust), the murder (the hate), the coveting, the deceiving and covering it up. Since we have been forgiven we ask God to help us to live in a way that honors and serves him.
I am the man. The things I did weren’t cool, or groovy, or phat, or dope. I am David whose sin was exposed... the man whose sin was forgiven. You are the man, the woman and the child whose sins have been exposed but whose sins have been mercifully forgiven. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His love endures forever! Amen.
Thanks to Pastor Jon Enter for sharing this sermon. I have edited his work to share it with you this weekend.