19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.Acts 3:19-21
Twenty-one weeks ago, I began this journey of writing and sending out devotions. It has been one of the most enjoyable and challenging tasks that I have ever undertaken. I love the Word of God. And I love sharing that Word with others.
These verses grabbed my heart and inspired the scope and direction of these devotions. I wanted to show people that there are times of refreshing to be had in the presence of Jesus. I still want that. I wanted to show people that the way things are going on this earth are not going to be that way forever – that God has a plan for restoring His creation. The King of kings and Lord of lords – Jesus Christ, our Savior and God – has already won the victory. We can put our trust in Him.
But a key part of following and worshiping Him is a lot less enjoyable. Repentance occurs before refreshment. And repentance is not fun. I think Keri defined repentance better than I will ever be able. When she was first learning of the concept, she said it so simply: “I need to turn away from my sin and look at God”.
It seems like it gets, or at least feels, more difficult as the years go by, but it is always that simple. We are to look at the surpassing worth of our Savior and away from the filth and wickedness of our sin. We see who He is and what He has done, and our desire for Him should become greater than our desire to satisfy ourselves in our sin.
When I think of people who exemplify what it looks like to worship the Lord with abandon, there is perhaps no man in the history of the earth who has worshiped the Lord with such a heart as King David. The Bible describes him as one who “the Lord sought out…after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). And he loved the Lord.
David was an example of worship and trust before the Lord. He killed the giant Goliath to show God’s people that “there is a God in Israel” and “the Lord saves not with sword and spear” (1 Samuel 17:46-47). But David was a man, and he was a sinner.
1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”2 Samuel 11:1-3
As much as David shows us what it is to be a true worshiper of the Lord, we can learn more through his times of sin than we can in his times of victory. We can learn as much, if not more, in the way that he followed God after Bathsheba than we can in him standing over the corpse of Goliath. We have more in common with him here and need to learn from his example of repentance.
You see, David’s sin here was not unique. It happened just like all our sin does. He was not where he was supposed to be. He was not doing what he was supposed to be doing. Is that not how we fall into sin – being where we should not and doing what we should not?
It was spring and the armies of Israel were out waging war. David was a warrior king. He belonged on the battlefield with his men. They “ravaged” but he “remained”. Then “it happened”. Sin happened.
I do not believe it was an accident that David was on that rooftop. I think he accomplished what he set out to do – to get to lust after a beautiful woman. You see, as much as we would like to convince ourselves and others, we enjoy the sin with which we struggle. Think about it: gluttons do not gorge themselves on lettuce and carrots but fried chicken and Little Debbie snacks; the prideful do not revel in their failures but successes. We struggle with sin that we enjoy and struggle with stopping. And sin works the same way for us today as it did with David thousands of years ago.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.James 1:13-15
When “it” happens for us, it begins in our hearts and minds. The idea is like a lure. It looks good to us. We occupy our minds with thinking about it until the point that the desire becomes acceptable to us. Once it becomes acceptable to us, it is only a matter of time before what is accepted becomes practiced.
We need to realize that, while the mechanics of sin is simple, the reality of it is not. James talks to us about how sin “brings forth death”. This is not a new truth; it is literally as old as mankind. We inherit the nature to sin from great-great-grand-daddy Adam. But our practice of sinning is our own. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death”. And that is exactly what David found himself confronted with.
You can follow the story in 2 Samuel 11. David lusts after Bathsheba and then sleeps with her. Not only is he a married man, but she is the wife of one of his mighty men. Their act of sin ends with her becoming pregnant. David’s cover up goes to great lengths before ending with him having her husband, Uriah killed.
2 Samuel 12 shows us how God confronted David in his sin through the prophet Nathan. I urge you to read it. God confronts us in our sin through the Word as well. David’s sin cost him the life of the child of his and Bathsheba’s union. I cannot explain it. The reality of it pains me to my soul. It is just what God’s Word tells us happened. Just as it tells us that “sin brings forth death”. It is the truth.
But there is good news even in sadness. Repentance restores us to God. Once God’s judgment and punishment showed up in David’s life, look at his response:
Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.2 Samuel 12:20a
David turned from his sin and back to God. The Bible records David’s cry to God in repentance in Psalm 51, a passage that we will be walking through over the next few weeks.
It is my hope and prayer that you learn what it is to repent and turn back to God. I can attest to how painful a thing it is to be confronted with sin. But I can also testify to how worthy God is and how sweet it is to be restored to Him. So, if you want to experience a time of refreshing in the presence of the Lord, I pray that the Lord will grant you repentance (2 Timothy 2:25) and, instead of death, you experience Life in Christ:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved….Ephesians 2:4-5
There is grace greater than our sin, and I pray you embrace it in Christ Jesus!