Create in Me a Pure Heart
A Review of the Sixth Commandment
A sermon based on 2 Samuel 11:1-27
Sunday, July 27, 2014 – Pentecost 8A
"Idle hands are the devils workshop." When the kids get bored, they start to fight. When we have nothing to talk about, we gossip. And it's been said that kids are like mosquitoes; when they're quiet you know they're into something.
"Idle hands are the devils workshop." How true that was for King David. When he went on vacation he found temptation. 1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army… But David remained in Jerusalem.
Apparently spring was the time for all the kings, but David, to go out to war. Neglecting his duties, he had some extra time on his hands… 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful… Just like Eve who saw that the fruit was pleasing to the eye, David let what entered through his eye take root in his heart and come to fruition in his sin… 3 David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.
David, David! What were you thinking?! Well, I guess he wasn't really thinking. He let his urges lead him rather than his faith and in full knowledge of his sin, slept with another man's wife. And the one night stand didn't end quite like David had expected: 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant." His sin of lust, became a sin of adultery, and, like sliding down a slippery slope, one sin followed after another. Uriah was too busy at battle (where David should have been) to even be suspicious of an affair when David, in an attempt to cover up his sin, called him home to spend some "quality time" with his wife. But Uriah refused the conjugal visit. "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!"
Time for "Plan B." Inviting Uriah to king's palace he offered Uriah some of the king's wine. And who dare refuse such a generous offer?! Even after the 3rd and 4th and 9th cups were poured. 13 At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. So David did the only thing he could think of to cover up the affair. He'd have Uriah bumped off. How busy he must have been planning a wedding and a funeral at the same time. 26 When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife…
David told Joab, the man who murdered Uriah for him, "Don't let this upset you," (literally, "Don't less this be evil in your sight.") "the sword devours one as well as another…" And he thought he got away with it. But there was only one problem: "the thing David had done displeased the Lord." Literally, "It was evil in the sight of the Lord."
Wow! Talk about sins against the sixth commandment huh? I mean, how hard was this one for David to keep? You shall not commit adultery? The guy already had seven wives (cf. 2 Samuel 3:1-5 and Michal)! That's one wife for each night of the week! But he still wasn't satisfied. What was wrong with this guy? Was his sex drive in overdrive?
Well, maybe. But the real problem was in his heart. …Just like it is in ours. It may seem that this commandment is pretty straightforward. "Don't have sex with someone that you're not married to." Cool. Easy enough, right? Nope. Not right. It's no surprise by now that this commandment runs deeper than outward actions. We break it long before we act, by our words, by our thoughts, and by our attitudes toward marriage and sex.
King David later realized this after the prophet, Nathan, revealed his sin. He prayed that familiar prayer, "Create in me a pure heart, O God." (Psalm 51:10) Sin begins in the heart. Sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex withheld in in a marriage, are all sins that begin with a sinful attitude in the heart that says, "Sex is mine to with as I please. My body is mine to do with as I please." But how wrong that attitude is. Our bodies are not our own!
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! …19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price." (1 Corinthians 6:15,19-20)
And so we break this commandment not just in the way we act with sex, but in the way we think about it. Viewing other people as objects to be used instead of people to be loved is a serious sin. Jesus pointed that out clearly in the Sermon on the Mount: "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28) And just as we sin when we have our bodily needs met in someone other than a spouse, we sin when we have our emotional needs met in someone other than a spouse. We cheat. And we are unfaithful.
And whether you're married, or dating, or single, by the way we talk about sex, the way the think about sex, we cheat not just on a spouse (or a future spouse), but we cheat on God. We may try and argue to the contrary, "Don't let it be evil in your sight. Everybody's doing it! How am I supposed to know if this person can truly make me happy unless I first go for a 'test drive'?" But try as we might to justify our wicked thoughts and actions, try as we may to cover it up, it is evil in the eyes of the Lord—even if it's just a thought.
The prophet Jeremiah describes just how vile our sin is to God. (cf. Jeremaih 2 & 3) This is how he put it: "On every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute… You are… a wild donkey… sniffing the wind in her craving— in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her… But you said, 'It's no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.' …You have lived as a prostitute with many lovers… Is there any place where you have not been ravished? …Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame."
Friends, for our impure hearts, for our polluted thoughts and attitudes, for our dirty deeds… for cheating on God, you and I deserve hell. We are adulterated, impure and dirty, and, therefore, deserve eternal death.
Yet, just as he did for King David, God calls us to repentance and doesn't give us what we deserve. How can he overlook our infidelity and impurity and yet remain a just and holy God? Because of Jesus. Jesus was a human in every way, with all the same urges and needs as any red-blooded male. He was "tempted in every way, just as we are—yet…" and here's the truly amazing part! "…was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) He never lusted! He never had an impure thought! He never cheated on God, not even once. And he gave that perfection to you and me.
And though he's caught us in our sin, he took that sin away. He paid the price for our infidelity on the cross. He suffered the hell our impure hearts deserve and was divorced from the Father for our adultery. He's made our hearts pure by removing all the sin and dirt. We are un-adulterated! And now he says to us as he did that woman caught in adultery, "Then neither do I condemn you…"
Wow! We are not condemned! We are forgiven! We are cleansed and washed, whiter than snow, with all our iniquities blotted out! We have pure hearts created within us, we are renewed in spirit, and will not be cast from God's presence! (cf. Psalm 51:7-11)
And now, with the joy of salvation restored to us again, we have willing spirits that long to serve Jesus in thanks! (cf. Psalm 51:7-11) How can we thank him? We can keep the 6th Commandment! We can follow the example of Joseph and resist the temptations that we encounter, crying out, "How… can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9) We can honor marriage and keep the marriage bed pure! (cf. Hebrews 13:4) Single people, save yourself for marriage. You don't want your future spouse to have slept with other people before you, so give them that same gift. Give that gift to God.
We can fulfill our marital duty with joy and not deprive each other! (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5) I'm reading a book right now that suggests that married couples ought not go longer than three days apart to keep each other satisfied and to prevent a wandering eye or heart.
We can keep pure by not being idle, but by keeping busy with godly activities. (cf. Titus 2:5) For if you're upright and breathing, if you interact with other people, many will struggle to keep this commandment. And you will need God's help to avoid and resist and overcome the temptations to break it. But with his help we can, even if it calls for drastic measures. So take action, today!
Change the channel or better still, turn off the TV! Get some internet filters that block the sites that tempt you. Seek help from a friend asking him or her to check your internet history regularly. Visit www.ConquerorsThroughChrist.net and see all the help that site offers. That's ConquerorsThroughChrist.net.
And sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures! Jesus said of lust, "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:28-29)
Maybe you need to cancel your cable subscription, get rid of the TV and computer altogether. Maybe you need to end a friendship when you're tempted to confide in someone besides your spouse. You may be inconvenienced when you have to drive to the library to read your email. You may miss that friendship and the outlet it gives. But you will be blessed as you live your life in thanks to Jesus—who's made you clean and holy, who's made you un-adulterated, who's created in you a pure heart and restored to you the joy of his salvation. In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.