A Sinner Receives Forgiveness

The Gospel Project® for Adults  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:24
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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 11, Session 5
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources. Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., Sept. 2022.
Summary and Goal
On our own, none of us has the power to resist sin, let alone overcome it. This truth is tragically displayed through the life of King David. David had made great progress as Israel’s king. He had demonstrated wisdom and kindness in his reign. However, even this great king was not immune to temptation and to sin, so he too was in need of divine mercy and forgiveness. Like David, we are subject to and enslaved by sin and in need of divine mercy and forgiveness from the perfect King who is without sin and who grants us mercy and forgiveness when we cry out in confession and repentance.
Session Outline
++The King’s Captivity to Sin (2 Sam. 11:1-5, Sin Enslaves)
++The King’s Compounding of Sin (2 Sam. 11:8-9,13-17, Sin Breeds sin)
++The King’s Confession of Sin (Ps. 51:4-10, Surrender Liberates)
Session in a Sentence
God is gracious to forgive the sins of His people when they repent.
++When you feel trapped by your sins which then breed more sin, turn and surrender to God who alone can, and will always free you.
Christ Connection
Even David, the greatest of Israel’s kings and the man after God’s own heart, was a sinner who needed to repent and be redeemed. In the story of David, we recognize that we all need forgiveness through the sacrifice of the perfect King who would take upon Himself the punishment our sins deserve.
DDG (p. 75)
We all wrestle with the following reality from time to time, and probably more often than we care to admit: We know what is right, and we desire what is right, but we fail to do what is right.

Our knowledge and will are not powerful enough to overcome the failure.

The apostle Paul stated the problem this way in the Book of Romans:
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:19).
In this sentence he captured the essence of the common human experience, even for those who have trusted in Christ.
But why? Why have we all felt this tension before? Why do we fail despite what we know and want? The Bible answers these questions with a single word—sin. We are all sinners, and because of this, we all willfully break God’s laws and disobey Him, doing what we know is not right and failing to do what we know to be right, time and time again.

We can’t be good because we aren’t good (see Jer. 17:9; Mark 10:18).

Only a relationship with Christ can change who we are and what we do.
How does the biblical truth that people aren’t good compare with the world’s understanding of the nature of people?
(the world often sees people as basically good; the world limits the designation of “evil” to a relatively small group of people throughout history; when people do something wrong, it is because they made a mistake or were forced into it by their circumstances)
Summarize: On our own, none of us has the power to resist sin, let alone overcome it. In this session, we will see this truth tragically displayed through the life of King David. David had made great progress as Israel’s king. He had demonstrated wisdom and kindness in his reign. However, even this great king was not immune to temptation and to sin, so he too was in need of divine mercy and forgiveness. Like David, we are subject to sin and in need of a better king, the perfect King who is without sin and who grants us mercy and forgiveness when we cry out in confession and repentance.

Point 1: The King’s Captivity to Sin (2 Sam. 11:1-5, Sin Enslaves)

For all the ways David gives us a faithful example to follow, challenging our faith and making us yearn for more of God, he also reminds us that no one is immune to the pull of temptation and the allure of sin. Thus far, we have seen David win victory after victory for the Lord and Israel. But now we will see one of the most gut-wrenching stories in all of the Old Testament.
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5 (DDG p. 76).
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?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
DDG (p. 76)
This story, when we read it with humility, should awaken us to the reality of our sinfulness and help keep us sober-minded and watchful as we seek to put sin to death through the power of the gospel. While David mastered sin on many occasions, in this instance, he was unable or unwilling to subdue its power against him, so sin became king and David its servant (see Gen. 4:7).
Genesis 4:7 NASB
“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
David became comfortable and he fell before his sin like his enemies had fallen before him.
· There are twenty chapters between David’s anointing as king (1 Sam. 16) and the time when he was finally installed as king (2 Sam. 5). But it only took 6 chapters for him to commit adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-4). Some would argue that this all transpired because David refrained from the battle, he was no longer fighting for the cause of His God. Whatever the case, what began as a peaceful evening stroll on a rooftop ended in adultery, and later deception and murder.
Clearly the first verse, regarding David’s remaining in Jerusalem during a season when kings typically marched out to war, was intended by the author to give us a window into David’s situation. What is not clear, however, is the meaning behind the author’s inclusion of this scene-setting verse. Some scholars argue that this is an indictment against David for remaining in Jerusalem and not going to war like the other kings. Others say it’s simply a timestamp, noting David had not always attended Israel’s battles (10:7).
Whatever the meaning, one thing is evident: David was comfortable; his army was out fighting his battles while he was at home taking naps and evening walks on the roof.
The Challenge
++Sin is often most appealing when we are most comfortable.
++Comfort can be an anesthetic to our dependence on God.
When we feel safe, well cared for, and successful, we tend to drift away from God into other things. Comfort can be an anesthetic to our dependence on God. The comforts and pleasures of this life, which are incredible gifts to enjoy, often lead us away from dependence on God and into places we never intended to go.
We have to realize that our victories can be just as dangerous to our souls as our defeats, perhaps more so (Consider Elijah on Mount Carmel). Our comforts provide just as many temptations to sin as our calamities, if not more. The Bible constantly warns us to be sober-minded and awake because sin wants us to be comfortable (1 Thess. 5:6; 1 Pet. 5:8).
Can you think of examples when victories could lead to temptation and sin?
· Examples:
A promotion at work leads to an urge to celebrate with excessive partying.
Acing a test makes one feel entitled to spend way too money as a reward.
Life going well in general can create a mind-set of coasting, allowing your guard to slip.
DDG (p. 76)
Sleeping with Bathsheba had been a momentary indiscretion for the king, a fling. His night of giving in to his passions was supposed to be forgotten—by him, by his guards, and certainly by Bathsheba—and no one else was supposed to know of it. But that plan unraveled with news of the pregnancy. Now he felt compelled to take matters into his own hands and figure out a way to cover up his affair.
· Nothing in this text suggests that David wanted to have a meaningful, monogamous relationship with Bathsheba; she was someone else’s wife, after all. Instead, it seems he intended to use her for his own pleasure and agenda. It’s not too far of a stretch to think that when David sent her back to her home, he had no plans to see her again. For him, he had gotten what he wanted, and the whole matter was behind him as soon as she left the palace, or so he thought.
Here’s the thing, sin keeps the sinner prone to temptation to the same sin; sin leads the sinner to cover up his or her sin out of guilt and shame, lest it be revealed; one sin inevitably breeds more sins being committed.

Point 2: The King’s Compounding of Sin (2 Sam. 11:8-9,13-17, Sin Breeds sin)

Bathsheba became pregnant while her husband, Uriah, was off at war, and it wouldn’t be long before David was revealed as the father. So David brought Uriah home under the pretense of hearing a battle report. He hoped his soldier would spend an evening with his wife and cover over the evidence of his sin. But it didn’t work.
Read 2 Samuel 11:8-9,13-17 (DDG p. 77).
8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.
13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died.
DDG (p. 77)
This was David’s darkest hour as he tried to use Uriah to hide his own sin. But Uriah refused to enter the comfort of his own home to be with his wife while his fellow soldiers were at war, proving himself more faithful than David. So David’s last resort was a letter arranging for the murder of Uriah, a death sentence carried by the same faithful soldier and servant of the king. In this story, we witness the depths of human depravity. It seems there is no limit to how far the heart can go when it comes to sin.
· Not only did David continue to compound his sin, he expanded the sphere of those affected by it. He brought Joab, his general, into the situation with an unjust order, and he also dismissed and allowed other soldiers in his army to die for the downfall of Uriah, their peer and faithful friend.

Sin captures our imagination and deceives us.

One way is to convince us that life isn’t worth living unless we gratify a particular desire.
Once that happens, we become convinced that we must follow what our heart wants—no matter the consequences. What might begin with a seemingly “innocent” sin can mushroom before we realize what we have done. Sin doesn’t require a long time before we are doing what we never thought we would do (Rom. 7:15-21).
We sin against others directly or indirectly; we use others to accomplish our sin; others become collateral damage in our pursuit of sin; in our guilt and shame, we can negatively respond to others and hurt them without cause; our sin can encourage others to follow suit; our sin can lead others to doubt the good news of Christ.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 77)
Sin as Transgression: The word transgression means “to cross over” or “to pass by” and is often used in reference to transgressing God’s explicit commands. When God gives a specific command, as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and when that command is disobeyed, transgression has taken place (Rom. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:14). In this sense, sin is law-breaking.
· To understand the nature of sin, one must be clear about its origin. We often think of sin as being outside of us, that we “fall” into sin or we are attacked by sin. It is true that there are a number of influences around us that can draw us toward sin. But the reality is that we don’t need any of these to sin. We are quite adept at sin on our own. The reason is because sin is born within us, not outside of us.
Sin is a personal act of transgression against the law of God. The battle against sin is not fought primarily outside of us but within us, and for victory over sin, we need God’s power.

Sin is taking one’s love (1 Cor. 13:4a, 6b-7) for God and redirecting it to a distorted love of self (1 Cor. 13:4b-6a) through any lack of conformity to God’s law or will in action, attitude, or nature (1 Jn. 3:4; 5:17). Sin is a special type of evil, different from adversity (Job. 2:10; Eccl. 7:14; Isa. 45:7; Matt. 5:45). As a principle, sin resides within every man (Rom. 7:17, 21) and enslaves him (John 8:34; Rom. 6:15-23).

In addition to the previous verses:

The Bible states that out of the principle of sin within every man flow acts of sin (Matt. 15:19).

God as Creator set the boundaries of creation and man’s existence (Gen. 1-2; Acts 17:26), but man conceives inwardly a lust for self in his heart (1 John 2:16) which moves him to act in sin (James 1:15). This outworking of the principle of sin can be acts of commission (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 1:21-32) or acts of omission (James 4:17).
Sin is not simply an act of the mind or body, it is also a given state to all mankind.

Original Sin refers to Adam’s first sin (Gen. 3:6) and its relationship with every generation that has followed him (Rom. 5:12-21).

· The apostle James wrote about the nature of sin as an inward, personal desire in his New Testament letter:
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15).
Sin enslaves and breeds; fully realized sin produces death, but God did not leave us as slaves to sin. God gave us the tool through which we might end the inescapable cycle of sin, through confession — through surrender.

Point 3: The King’s Confession of Sin (Ps. 51:4-10, Surrender Liberates)

After Uriah’s murder, David married Bathsheba, effectively hiding his adultery. But then one day, the prophet Nathan came to him about an offense in the kingdom. David heard the account, became enraged, and declared that the guilty man in the story deserved to die. Then, in dramatic fashion, Nathan triggered the trap he had set: “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:1-7). Confronted with his sin, the king finally was contrite and repentant.
Read: Psalm 51:4-10 (DDG p. 78).
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
When confronted with the reality of our sin, we can fall into one of two errors:
DDG (p. 78)
Two Errors:
++Sometimes we minimize our sin
· Error #1: We can minimize our sin. We downplay it to make ourselves feel better. We don’t call sin “sin” or evil “evil.” Instead, the mantra of our culture is that we must decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. No one can decide for us. What is true for you may not be true for someone else. This makes downplaying our guilt easy: We didn’t sin; we “made a mistake” or perhaps even “did our own thing.”
Respectable Sins Chapter Three: The Malignancy of Sin

We who are believers tend to evaluate our character and conduct relative to the moral culture in which we live. Since we usually live at a higher moral standard than society at large, it is easy for us to feel good about ourselves and to assume that God feels that way also. We fail to reckon with the reality of sin still dwelling within us.

Respectable Sins Chapter Three: The Malignancy of Sin

when we sin, when we violate the law of God in any way, be it ever so small in our eyes, we rebel against the sovereign authority and transcendent majesty of God. To put it bluntly, our sin is an assault on the majesty and sovereign rule of God. It is indeed cosmic treason.

Two Errors:
Sometimes we minimize our sin
Sometimes we maximize our sin
· Error #2: We can maximize our sin. We allow ourselves to be defined by our sin. Maybe we beat ourselves up trying to self-atone or we try to increase our moral efforts hoping we can pay God back for our offense. But no matter what we do, we have this nagging sense that God is perpetually displeased with us and that He will never really forgive us.
1 John 1:9 NASB
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalm 51 shows that David neither minimized nor maximized his sin. Rather, he knew that all sin is a great offense against God but also that God is willing and gracious to forgive.
David’s actions hurt everyone in their wake, but no matter how far outward sin goes, it reaches even further upward (v. 4). All sin is cosmic treason against our holy and perfect God, but...

Our good and merciful God eagerly forgives those who repent in faith.

Voices from the Church
“Beloved, don’t go staring too long in the mirror examining your imperfections before lifting your eyes to the One who desires to meet you with compassion, relentless love and help.” 1 –Yana Conner (Christian Content Writer)

How do you respond? Do you minimize, maximize, or confess and leave your sin in the wake of God’s forgiveness?


How can we strive for a biblical balance regarding sin?

(we can live with honesty in the midst of a faithful, grace-filled, gospel-centered community of faith; we can study Scripture to know God better; we can meditate upon Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf; we can pray to have God’s perspective regarding our sin)
DDG (p. 78)
David’s sin had severe consequences, but God still forgave him and took away his sin (2 Sam. 12:7-19). Yet we know the mercy and grace of God in ways David did not because of Jesus. He died in the place of sinners and rose victorious over sin and death for those who confess their sin and repent in faith.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 78).
“Repentance”: Repentance is a response to God’s gracious call to salvation. It includes a genuine sorrow for one’s sin (Luke 5:1-11), a turning away from one’s sin toward Christ (Acts 26:15-20), and a life that reflects lasting change and transformation (Ps. 119:57-60).
It is the human counterpart to God’s work of regeneration; in other words, the human side of or responsibility in our conversion.
David, as incredible as he was in so many ways, had a heart just like ours. His desires led him to betray God, and the consequences were severe.
Like David, at times we betray God, disobey His commands, and reap the rotten fruit of our decisions. But just like God forgave David in his repentance, God has and will forgive us in our repentance by faith in Jesus Christ!
Christians are a forgiven and free people, and we now have a message of good news to share with the world. Let us learn to walk as people who are fully confident in the abundant mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, eager to announce His goodness, mercy, and grace to the world that they may be forgiven and free.
DDG (p. 79)
How do you view your sin?
Is it a trap or has it been surrendered?
If it has been surrendered, then you are no longer bound to or defined by your sin. Leave it with the Lord who is always ready to forgive and then help others find the same peace that God has graciously given you.
Voices from Church History
“It is not falling into the water, but lying in the water, that drowns. It is not falling into sin, but lying in sin, that damns. If sin and thy heart be two, Christ and thy heart are one.” 2 –Thomas Brooks (c. 1608-1680)

It is not falling into faith, but lying in faith, that liberates.

Session in a Sentence
God is gracious to forgive the sins of His people when they repent.
++When you feel trapped by your sins which then breed more sin, turn and surrender to God who alone can, and will always free you.
Close in prayer:
1. Yana Conner, “The Half-Education of Jay-Z,” Intersect, June 19, 2018, http://intersectproject.org/faith-and-culture/the-half-education-of-jay-z.
2. Thomas Brooks, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 94.
3. M. L. Strauss, “David,” New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2000), 436.
4. David Toshio Tsumura, “1–2 Samuel,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 558-59, n. 11:2.
5. “2 Samuel,” in Africa Study Bible (Oasis International, 2016), 445.
6. Heath Thomas and J.D. Greear, Christ-Centered Expositon: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Samuel (Nashville: B&H, 2016) [Wordsearch].
7. Kevin R. Warstler and Sherri L. Klouda, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2017), 863, n. 51:5.
8. Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2007), 836, n. 51:10.
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