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Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 3, 2021 7:00 pm


Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 3, 2021 7:00 pm

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If you have your Bibles with you, turn with me, if you would, to 2 Samuel chapter 24. We're looking at starting with just verse 1.

Again, the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, today we look at the sin of pride. It's not an outward sin like drunkenness, or child molestation, or adultery. It's the sin of the heart, and it can be often hidden for extended periods of time. This sin was the first sin ever committed as Lucifer stood up and said, I will exalt myself over the stars of heaven.

I will be like the Most High God. Pride was the first human sin. Satan tempted Eve and said, Eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and you will be like God.

Eve was not tempted by the beauty or delicious taste of the fruit. She was tempted by pride. Wanting to be like God, knowing good and evil, is a high price to pay. As we look at David's capitulation to pride, may we see the horrible consequences, and may we be humbled by the Word of God. Keep my lips from error, help this congregation to get serious about spiritual warfare, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. If I had never read 2 Samuel chapter 24, and someone asked me, Doug, how would you think David would close out his life, I would have probably said, I think that David would close out his life heroically, triumphantly, and gloriously. I would think that David would say, I want these last months of my life to bring glory and honor to the name of my Lord.

I think he would say, I really want to finish well for God's glory. And I would have been dead wrong. Somebody asked me years ago this question, they said, Doug, what's the difference between the Bible and all the other so-called holy books of the other religions? And I answered them this way, I said, well, the primary difference is this, the Bible is totally inspired infallibly and errantly by the Holy Spirit of God. And in the Bible there are no errors, there are no contradictions. Every statement, every word, every jot, and every tittle is perfectly exactly as God wanted it, as it came off the pins of those men who were inspired by God to write it. I said that was not true of the other so-called holy books of the other religions. You go to those books and you will find errors and contradictions on almost every page. But not only that, I also said to them, it's interesting that as you go read through the scripture, what you find out is that God never whitewashes over the sins of God's people.

He doesn't do that. God does not somehow forget about the errors and the sins and the mistakes and the blunders of God's people. In other words, there's only one hero in the scripture and that hero is the Lord Jesus Christ.

We as the children of God at our best are just sinners saved by God's grace. Having said all that, I'm still shocked that David doesn't really finish as well as he could have. He has seen God do so much. Here David was, the 16 year old kid, and out of all the men in Israel, God chooses him to be the king that will take the throne of King Saul someday. David went out to fight the toughest Philistine warrior that ever lived, Goliath, and when he went out, God empowered him with a physical agility and a military wisdom and he took nothing but a slingshot and a stone with him and defeated and killed Goliath with nothing but that in God. David became the greatest military strategist on the face of the earth. David became the sweet psalmist of Israel.

He wrote half the psalms in the Psalter. He was a man who was a man after God's own heart. He was the apple of God's eye and then we see David's sin. We see David's adultery with Bathsheba. We see his conspiracy to murder Uriah the Hittite.

We see his failure as a daddy, a failure with Amnon and Absalom and Adonijah. You would think that David would have learned from his sin that David would have come to this point in his life knowing that he doesn't have much longer to live and he would have said, I want my life to glorify God. I want the rest of my days to really count for the Lord's sake.

But that doesn't happen. And for those of you in this congregation who are elderly, hear me out. You can't lay down your spiritual armor until the day that you die.

Because you might have retired from your job, but you don't retire from the kingdom of God. And folks, we, as God's people, are going to have to wield our spiritual weapons until the day that we die. And we all ought to have a desire in our heart that by the grace of God, we want to finish well for the glory of God's kingdom.

We ought to want that. In fact, you ought to want to have a great obituary, maybe one like the apostle Paul had that he wrote down himself in 2 Timothy 4 where Paul said this, For I am now ready to be offered in the time of my departures at hand. For I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also who love His appearing.

I've got six points I want to share with you today. Point one is the temptation to sin. Look with me again at verse one. Again, the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, the anger of the Lord was also kindled against David. It's very interesting that this particular story that we have here is not only recorded for us here in 2 Samuel 24, but it's also recorded for us over in 1 Chronicles 21. And if you check that out, and if you go to those passages, and you read the first verse in each chapter, you will find that there is a word change, and it's a pretty big word change.

Let me read those first two sentences, or first sentence in each one of those chapters to you, see if you can pick out that word change. 2 Samuel 24 one says, God incited David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21 one says, Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So, who incited David to number Israel? Was it God? Was it Satan? Or was it David?

Roger Ellsworth gave some great counsel on this. He said this, how are we to reconcile these things? A reasonable synopsis would be to say God allowed Satan to tempt David, and David yielded to that temptation. In other words, God read the pride in David's heart, decided to allow Satan to tempt him as a judgment upon him. We can also say God allowed Satan to tempt David because God had a controversy with the whole nation. Keep in mind that David was God's choice to be king over Israel, and that Israel had flagrantly rebelled against God in going after Absalom. Up to this point, the people of Israel had not repented of that sin. By allowing Satan to tempt David, God was essentially bringing judgment upon the nation for her sin.

What we have here then is essentially the same thing that happened with Job. If you were in Sunday school this morning, you would know this. Satan to try Job, and he allowed him to try David. God allowed Satan to try Job, and he allowed him to try David. But we must remember that neither the fact that God permitted the temptation, nor the fact that Satan carried it out for one moment, relieves David of guilt. Folks, God doesn't tempt anyone to sin, but sometimes if a person's heart is hungry and to sin, God will take his hand of restraining grace off of that person, let them do what their wicked heart wants to do, and in the process, God will use that to bring about his perfect sovereign glory.

That's very important for us to see. Sometimes God will even use Satan and Satan's temptation to bring about his sovereign purpose. It was Martin Luther who wisely said that God is so sovereign that even the devil is God's devil. Folks, that's important for us to see because Satan cannot go one step further than God will allow him to go, and God is so sovereign that he can even use his evil. Here's a question. What is so bad about taking a census?

That doesn't seem so bad, does it? We have other places in the Scripture where the Lord sanctions a census. Numbers chapter 1, Numbers chapter 26.

So what's the problem here? In John MacArthur's study Bible, had a footnote that I thought was very good. It said, the census of Israel's potential army did not have the sanction of the Lord and proceeded from wrong motives, possibly pride and ambition. David either wanted to glory in the size of his fighting force or to take more territory than the Lord had granted him. Folks, David knew better than this. Psalm 20 verse 7, God inspired David to write that. Holy Spirit infallibly inspired him to write it.

What does it say? It says, some boast in chariots and some boast in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God. So David's temptation to sin was a temptation of pride and of ungodly ambition.

All right, point two. The committing of sin. Look at verse two through nine. So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army who was with him, go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Bathsheba and number the people that I may know the number of the people. But Joab said to the king, may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are. Well, the eyes of my Lord the king still see it.

Why does my Lord the king delight in this thing? But the king's word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan and began from Aror and from the city that is in the middle of the valley toward Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead and to Kadesh and the land of the Hittites and they came to Dan and from Dan they went around to Sidon and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites and they went out to the Negev of Judah at Bathsheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king. In Israel there were eighty thousand valiant men who drew the sword. The men of Judah were five hundred thousand. David gave his general, his commander, he gave him the responsibility of going out and doing a census of the nation, but primarily of the army.

And Joab didn't feel good about that. And Joab essentially said to David, David, I pray that God will multiply our number. I pray that He will multiply it a hundred times. I pray that the army will grow in its size and be everything it ought to be. I pray that we will have the greatest army on the face of the earth, that nobody will be able to defeat us, but David, I think you need to rethink this idea about doing a census. What's the purpose in it, David?

I don't think that this census is going to glorify God. I think you're using this for bragging rights. I think that this is going to somehow stroke your ego. I think you're going to do this and you're going to find out what the number is in and you're going to think that people's respect for you is going to rise up because the number is so great. I do think this was a pride issue.

It was C.S. Lewis who said that those who are most proud very seldom see it in themselves. And so here's Joab and he's pointing out to David that this is probably not a good thing for him to do. David needs to listen to that. David doesn't really want to hear that. And so Joab gives him good counsel, godly counsel coming from Joab that's saying something. But he gives him counsel and David doesn't want to take it.

He would not take it. Let me ask you something, folks. Can that happen in a church? You better believe that can happen in a church. How many churches today are primarily concerned about numbers? That's really all that matters to them. Get their numbers up.

Get their numbers up. Folks, we want to see people coming to Christ. I want to have a growing church. If you don't want to have a growing church, there's something wrong with you.

You want to be able to reach people on the outside, bring them in, disciple them. We want a church that's healthy and maturing and growing. But there are too many churches today that are caught up in this numbers game. Too many churches that are doing that. They move from worship to entertainment and they start watering down the Word of God because they're afraid that it might offend the unbelievers and it might offend those professing Christians in the church who are probably not Christians at all.

And folks, the goal is more people, more money, and more fun. Brothers and sisters, I want Grace Church to grow but never, never at the expense of God's glory. As I said three weeks ago, we're an ordinary church.

What does that mean? It means that we function by the ordinary means of grace, by prayer, by the preaching of God's Word, by the administration of the sacraments, baptism, and the Lord's Supper. And folks, God has used that for the last 2,000 years. He has used the ordinary means of grace in His church to bring glory to Himself.

And I don't really give a rip what the woke churches think. He's going to continue to use that because that's what He said in His Word. He'll continue to use that until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Who did David want to honor when he took the census? He wasn't trying to honor God, he was trying to honor David. And that brought damage to David and it brought great harm to Israel. Richard Phillips said this, The delight of God's people, and especially of their leaders, should be in the Lord Himself, in His glorious attributes, covenant promises, and demonstrated faithfulness, and never in worldly resources, however good they are in themselves. David's sin is at least a warning to us not to be simplistic about numbers in the church, and certainly shows us the folly of equating mere numbers with the blessing of God.

That's true. So what did David do with the wise counsel of Joab? He shrugged it off.

He said, Joab, listen, I'm the king of Israel. You're not. I'm not really concerned about your opinion. I don't really care too much about what you think. In fact, David was essentially saying, I don't really care what God thinks here.

I'm going to do what I want to do. Verse 4 tells us that the king's word prevailed over Joab. In other words, they're in this big argument, and David will not back away. He would not budge. Now think back with me to 1 Chronicles 21, verse 1.

Let me just read that to you again. Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. How does Satan most often attack us? He attacks our thought life.

Primarily, now he does other ways, but primarily, most of the time, he's attacking the thought life. In Ephesians chapter 6, verse 11, the scripture says, Put on the whole armor of God, that you might stand against the schemes of the devil. In 2 Corinthians chapter 2 and verse 11, the scripture says that we are not ignorant of his schemes. The word schemes is a very interesting word in the scripture.

The root word for schemes is mind. Let me read you a paraphrase. We are not ignorant of his ability to get into our minds and direct our thoughts. That's what's going on with David. Satan is nudging him in his thought life. He is saying to David, you don't seem very happy. You need to be happy, David. And the way that you get happy is when you get your ego stroked.

The way that you get happy is when your heart fills up with pride. So David, number the people, and when you number the people, everybody will have all this great respect for you, and you'll get all the credit. That's what you need to do, David. It was an attack on David's thought life. David bought into Satan's lies, and he refused to listen to Joab's counsel.

And for over nine months, David pushed this ungodly census. All right, point three is the confession of sin. Look at verse 10. But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.

Let me read this phrase from a few different translations, that first phrase. The NASB says, but David's heart troubled him. The New King James Version says David's heart condemned him. The CSV says that David's heart troubled him. The King James Version says that David's heart smote him. The ESV says that David's heart struck him.

I think the ESV probably says it best. David's heart was struck. The Hebrew word for that is nakah, and it's a severe word.

It means to attack or to assault. David is under such deep conviction that the Holy Spirit of God is pummeling his heart with guilt. And there is shame, and there is regret, and there is sorrow. Several years ago, there was a lady that called both Eugene and I up, one after the other. And she was crying on the phone. They've since moved away from here.

They live up north somewhere. But they called us, both of us, and she was crying so hard I could hardly understand her. She said, could y'all please come down to the house? We both got to their house at about the same time.

We walked into their front door. The lady was crying, her baby was crying, and her husband was laying on the floor in a fetal position, absolutely sobbing. We started trying to talk to him, and he confessed to us that he had had an adulterous affair. And he just was weeping, and he said, I can't believe I was so stupid. He said, I can't believe that I hurt my wife this bad. I can't believe that I hurt Jesus this bad.

I can't believe that I did not listen to my own conscience. He said, oh God, I'm sorry. Eugene and I tried to minister to that family. We prayed with them. We shared scripture with them. We told them the possibility of reconciliation in that family. We told him of his need of genuine repentance, and praise God that man did repent, the family stayed together. But the price he paid was more painful than he ever imagined. Eugene and I walked back to the car together when that meeting was over, and we looked at each other, and we said to each other, wow, sin is costly. And we said about our own selves, we better be careful, and we better fight temptation with everything that's in us. I was reminded of Adrian Rogers' quote, sin will take you further than you want to go.

It will keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you want to pay. What Adrian was feeling in his heart as he lay on that floor just weeping like a baby was exactly what David was feeling. David's heart was struck. And brothers and sisters, that's a good thing, because it proved God's love for him. It proved that God was his father, and he was God's child.

Hebrews chapter 12 verse 6 says, for whom the Lord loves, he chastens and scourges every son whom he receives. So what did David do? Did David shrug his shoulders and say, well, nothing I can do about it now? Did he say, well, this is just some spilt milk and no use to cry over spilt milk?

No. David was broken, and he prayed. I want you to listen to his prayer. Oh Lord, I have sinned greatly. Please forgive me. Take away my iniquity.

I have acted foolishly. True Christians aren't perfect. True Christians sin. But if you are a true Christian, chastisement is going to come when you sin, because the Lord loves you.

And if you're a true Christian, there's going to be confession, and there's going to be genuine repentance. Takes us to point four, the chastening for sin. Verses 11 through 13. And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad. David's seer saying, go and say to David, thus says the Lord, three things I offer you choose one of them that I may do it to you. So Gad came to David and told him and said to him, shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you?

Or shall there be three days pestilence in your land? Now consider and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me. David is given a choice to make concerning the chastisement that he and Israel will experience. Far as I know, this is the only time in the Bible that we ever see this.

It's very strange. But David had to make the choice. And when David made the choice, I think that it brought heartache to him that was even greater than anything else he'd experienced. Folks, I talk to people all the time who believe that confession and repentance promises you that the consequences of that sin will be gone.

I want you to know that's not true. Confession and repentance will remove the guilt of sin, but it will not necessarily remove the consequences of sin. I believe that's very, very important for us to understand. If a person spends years wrecking his body, drinking way too much alcohol, he comes to the end of his days and he's genuinely repentant and he comes to know Christ. Praise God for that. He's genuinely forgiven. But it may be that that body that he's destroyed over all these years is not going to get better.

And most of the time it's not. The man that Eugene and I went to see that night was forgiven by God. I don't doubt that at all. I believe that his repentance was real. Let me tell you something, his wife's heart didn't automatically just stop hurting.

He was known as a professing believer at his work in the snide comments and the smirks and the attitude of his fellow workers toward him did not change. Folks, even the consequences of God's judgment, as tough as they are, they're still filled with grace. For the consequences remind us that sin is just not worth it. It also reminds us that we belong to Him. It reminds us that we don't get away with sin.

When you spank your children, you are not just disciplining them for their past, but you are also training them for the future. The day after Eugene and I had that meeting, I saw him over in the church and walked up to him. I said, did you find it easier today to fight temptation? And he said, man, yes. He said, Doug, he said, I will never forget that man lying in that floor in a fetal position weeping his heart out. He said, sin is costly. When I left that man's house that night going back to my home, I prayed for that man, but I also prayed for myself.

Lord, give me a heart to fight temptation because sin is just not worth it. So God sent the prophet Gad to David and Gad gave him three options that God had given him and listen to the options. Number one, three years of famine on you and your land.

Number two, your enemies will pursue you for three months. Number three, three days of God sent pestilence in the land. David said, I will take the three days of judgment from the hand of God. It takes us to point five, the distress of sin.

Look at verse 14 with me. When David said to Gad, I am in great distress, let us fall into the hand of the Lord for his mercy is great, but let me not fall into the hand of man. David knew the discipline was going to be deep. He knew it was going to be harsh. It was not only going to affect him, it was going to affect the entire nation. And so David stands before this prophet and he says to the prophet with tears streaming down his cheeks, I am in great distress. Whatever distress is an interesting word, it means tied up, restricted, constricted.

It means that his stomach was just tied in a knot as he was having to deal with this. The judgment that God sent on Israel was not sin on an innocent Israel. For God had called David to be the king of Israel. And Israel had walked away from that calling of God. And they said, we don't want David to be our king anymore.

We want to put the wicked Absalom on the throne. We think it'll be better for us with somebody that God did not call. And so God didn't let that happen. God stopped all that. But when God did, we see no remorse. We see no regret. And we certainly see no repentance on the part of Israel. So as we look at this story, David is the primary one at fault, but we need to realize that Israel is very, very guilty as well, and David knew that the discipline was going to be severe. Folks, I wonder if David said to himself, wow, if I had just known the consequences of my actions, of my expressing this kind of nasty pride, I think he would have said, I would have never done it, and I don't think he would have done it if he could have seen the outcome, if he could have seen the conclusion. How often do men and women have adulterous affairs? And they look at their spouse that's just absolutely shattered, and they look at their children that are heartbroken, and they look at their families that have just fallen apart, and they say, oh, if I could have just seen the conclusion of this, I would have never done it.

How many alcoholics get to a point in their life where they look at the addiction that they have, they look at the family members that they have hurt, they look at the power of that addiction in their life and what it's done to them and how it's destroyed their body and how it has brought great devastation in their own personal life, and they said, oh, if I had just known this, I never would have taken that first drink. Sin pays a terrible wage. One man said it this way, sin does not serve well as a gardener of the soul. It landscapes the contour of the soul until all that is beautiful has been made ugly, until all that is high is made low, until all that is promising is wasted. Then life is like a desert, parched and barren. It is drained of purpose.

It is bleached of happiness. Sin then is not wise but wasteful. It is not a gate but a grave. Point six is the fruit of chastisement. Look at verse 15 through 19 with me. So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time and there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity, said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, it is enough, now stay your hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Arunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people and said, behold I have sinned, I have done wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father's house. Gad came that day to David and said to him, go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Arunah the Jebusite.

So David went up at Gad's word as the Lord commanded. No decent parent enjoys spanking his child, I know I certainly didn't, but if we love the child we'll spank them if that spanking is needed. Proverbs 13 24 says, he who spares the rod hates his child.

God knows the value of godly discipline. And a spanking should produce not only a change in that child's behavior, but also a change in that child's attitude. Often times I had to spank my children twice. The first time I had to spank them to correct their disobedience, but the second time it was for an attitude adjustment.

And so often that's needed. In this story the pestilence killed 70,000 Israelites and you know what happened? What happened was this, there was a nationwide heart change. Not sure, but I think this came pretty close to a revival that took place when these people saw the devastation that sin brings in a life. I want you to listen to David's prayer. He says, I have sinned and I have done wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? Essentially what he's saying is this, he said, Lord, let me take the wrath of God for them. Let me ask you something, who's that sound like?

Does that not sound like Jesus? Lord, let me take God's wrath for them. Now what's going on in David's heart? What has this chastisement done for David?

I think several things. The pride is absolutely gone, absolutely. His pride is broken. His disrespect for God's Word has vanished. His desire to glorify God has multiplied exponentially and his value for others has grown like crazy. I submit to you today that God's chastening did its intended work. What's the message for us?

Let me share with you three things I think we ought to go away thinking about today. Number one, no matter how long we've been serving the Lord, we never outgrow the temptation to be proud and self-serving. Number two, we cannot sin without profoundly harming other people. A lot of times we don't think that. We think, well, I can do this, I'm only hurting myself.

Never works that way. If you're a believer and you sin, it's going to hurt somebody else. And then three, sin is not worth the cost.

It's never worth the cost. May we learn this from the Word of God and not have to learn it from the rod of God. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, what a humbling story we had before us today. David, the apple of God's eye, the man after God's own heart, ignores God's warnings, thumps his nose at the chastening hand of God, and purposely, intentionally, and wickedly disobeys God. This is not Haman or Jezebel or Judas.

This is not Herod or Nero or Felix. This is David. If David can yield to temptation, so can we. Help us to be strong in the Lord through faith in Jesus and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Help us to realize that there's nothing good in us but Christ. We love you, Lord, for it's in your holy, precious, and wonderful name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-14 17:31:51 / 2023-08-14 17:45:15 / 13

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