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About this series
Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever
How to Give Your Kids and Grandkids What Money Can't Buy
How do you leave a legacy that stands the test of time? How do you give others what money can't buy? We all desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. So, just what does that include? We can leave money and possessions, but what can we leave that really matters and will echo throughout time?More from this series
Sometimes stories have a tremendous power. People give us stories and movies and if you’re a child, sometimes a parent will, at nighttime, read a story. And rather than me tell you what a story says, I would like to do something a little different.
I would like to tell an accurate, historical story of a fellow who was the most powerful man in the world. He had very, very humble beginnings; he was of a tribe that was of the lower class; and he was the youngest. And he went from being a shepherd boy to being the most powerful king in the world.
He had everything any man’s heart could ever desire. He had wealth, he had fame, he was an artist, he was a warrior, he had beautiful women. Everything that God could ever give a person, in terms of heart’s desire, probably more than one beautiful woman is part of his downfall that we will talk about later.
But I want to tell you a story of how a very good man, who was passionate and loved God and who never planned to make a mistake, in a weak moment, destroyed major portions of his life.
It says in 2 Samuel chapter 11, “It happened in the spring of year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab, the servant and all of Israel, and they destroyed the people of Ammon and they besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” Every other year, he went out to battle. A lot of success. Things are going great. “I probably don’t need to go this year.”
“And then it happened,” notice it’s not planned, “and then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed, walked out on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing. And the woman was very beautiful to behold. And so David sent and he inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’
“And then David sent messengers and he took her. And she came to him, and he lay with her. (For she was cleansed from her impurity.) And she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, so she sent and told David and said, ‘I am with child.’” God’s man in a weak moment.
“Then David sent to Joab saying: ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David from the battlefield. And when Uriah had come to him, David asked him how it was going and how were the people doing and how has the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, ‘Well, go down to your house and wash your feet.’ And so Uriah departed from the king’s house and he got a gift of food from the king that followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord. And he did not go down to his house.
“So they told David saying, ‘Uriah didn’t go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Did you not come home from a journey and why didn’t you go down to your house?’” And he confronts a man with great integrity and loyalty.
“And Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I go down to my house and eat and drink and lie with my wife? As you live and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing!’” The contrast. Commitment. Loyalty. Integrity. What is fair. What is right.
As I read this passage, I notice the phrases: “Then it happened,” “He saw,” “He inquired,” “He sent,” “He lay,” “She conceived.”
And then begins the cover-up. And Uriah said to David, “I can’t do it.” So David tries plan B. In verse 12 he gets him drunk, sends him down, even in a drunken stupor, his loyalty is intact. And then cover-up plan B emerges in verse 14.
“In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab,” that was the head of his army. “And he sent it by the hand of Uriah.” What irony. “And he wrote in the letter saying, ‘Uriah, put him in the forefront of the hottest battle and retreat from him that he may be struck down and die.’
“And so it was that Joab besieged the city, and he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew valiant men were. And the men of the city came out and they fought and some of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” Cover-up complete.
Skip down to the very bottom, verse 26. “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.” Commentary: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”
A great portion of this book that I hold in my hands is called: The Psalms or the psalter. It was the hymnal of the Jewish people. And the great majority of these words from God to believers then and now, were written by this man. He is a man that is passionate for God, loved God, humble, God exalted him.
He was the deliverer of the people from the Philistines and later and greater and greater and greater battles. And the trajectory of his entire life changes because one night he can’t sleep. He’s not where he’s supposed to be, but it’s not planned. It’s not malicious. He just can’t sleep.
And he is made to do something but he’s not doing what he is called to do in this window. And as he can’t sleep and he walks out and he looks over and he is a man, like any man, on a business trip or away from home in a different environment, and something catches his eye, and there is something very normal and natural about the magnetic attraction to a very, very beautiful woman.
And then he takes the next step, he probably didn’t plan on doing anything. He inquired. I wonder who that is. I mean, not that I’d do anything, I just wonder who it is. And then he gets the feedback. And during that time, the seeds begin to grow and then he calls for her. And, still, maybe, You know…
And then he lies with her. And then there are consequences. And then instead of owning his stuff and realizing, This is a grievous sin. By the way, we read this in our twenty-first century eyes, the penalty for adultery was to be stoned. This is serious.
And so he, kind of like the many cover-ups we have seen in the last twenty years, so, I’ll cover it up. I’ll just get the husband to come home and he’ll sleep with his wife, he’ll think the baby is his. But he chose the wrong guy. The guy has got too much integrity.
And then in the way sin creeps in, that seed of sin, it was just seeing, then inquiring, then taking a step, then there’s an action, there’s a consequence, then there’s a cover-up. And all I want to do is get this under the…I just want to put this under the rug and it’s a mistake, God, I’m really, really sorry. I’ll never do anything like that again. And he’ll think it’s his baby and it’ll be over. And it doesn’t work.
And so this is how sin works. It’s like a cancer that multiplies rapidly and the cells multiply, multiply, multiply. And he starts thinking things that he would never do and then pretty soon he comes up with a plan, to kill her husband.
And he actually allows other people to go to the front where it’s too dangerous and this man dies and they play the game and she mourns. He marries her. And thinks, Wow, whew.
And then that famous, famous passage in the New Testament, “Do not be deceived; your sin will find you out.”
And I want to make a couple observations. I don’t know how you have heard this taught before. But my first observation is: He is a good man. A very good man. Sometimes we hear about people who make a big mistake and they commit adultery or embezzlement or they do something really horrendous that is so counter to everything we know about them.
And we are so quick to say, “Well, everything they ever taught was wrong. And must have had this super dark heart.” The fact of the matter, David was a very, very good man in a weak moment. And according to Scripture, there is not a person in this room, given the right circumstances, at a window of time when you are vulnerable, that you couldn’t do the same or worse.
And, by the way, until you come to that conviction that that could actually happen, you are even more vulnerable.
Second, he is described as a mighty warrior, a righteous king, and a man after God’s own heart. And, by the way, that is after this event. That’s a New Testament quotation. The book of Acts.
The Spirit of God describing king David: king, righteous warrior, man after God’s own heart. We get that after this event.
Third, the words murderer and adulterer are added to the biography of this amazing, godly man who is used by God in ways beyond anything probably we can imagine.
And here is the point I would like to make. We all make big mistakes sometime in our life. Some of them get found out, some of them don’t, but we know them. The question is: How do we recover?
We have talked about a number of things, and some of you, when we talked about teaching them to suffer well or “Work unto the Lord,” some of you, when it’s “Teach them to make wise decisions,” some of you have extremely deep regrets of that picture of water that has gone over the falls and this feeling that, There are certain things I didn’t do or there are certain things I did do that I so deeply regret, when confronted with that truth.
And the temptation and the enemy’s desire is to cover you with condemnation. It’s too late, you blew it, you’ve ruined their life, there is no hope. And the transferrable concept you want to teach those you disciple, the transferrable concept we must pass on to our kids and to our grandkids and to people that are in our local bodies of fellowship is this: Teach them to live grace filled lives.
I want to go over a theology of grace. And it’s from the beginning to the end of Scripture, so I want to give you the high marks very briefly and quickly. And then explain, maybe, grace that we really get our arms around: what’s it mean to receive grace? What is grace?
Grace is the unmerited and unconditional love of God toward us. Underline the word unmerited; unconditional. We don’t understand either and you’ll never get it anywhere else, from anyone else at all, like this.
Unmerited means you can’t earn it. Unconditional means you have it when you’re bad, you have it when you’re good, you have it when you’re up, you have it when you’re down. Grace is the disposition in the eternal God of wanting to give you what you do not deserve, on the basis of His character alone, not on your performance or your activity.
Second, grace is free to us, but it’s costly to God. It’s absolutely free. Completely removed from our performance. But it’s very costly to God.
Third, the cross is God’s greatest act of grace. We’ll develop that. But the greatest act of grace is the cross where He allowed His Son – fully God, fully man – to die in your place and my place to pay for, to atone, to be the substitute for all the things that you have ever done or ever thought or ever said that violated a holy God.
You are responsible for every one of those, I am responsible for every one of mine, and God said, “Since you could never live up to that, I will allow My Son, who is absolutely perfect, to hang between heaven and earth on a wooden cross. And I will take My just wrath and My judgment for sin, and I will pour it on My Son, who is an absolutely perfect sacrifice because He is God, and He is able to die because He is man, and in this moment of time, I will cover or atone for the sins of all men, of all times.” And whoever would choose to, with the empty hands of faith, ask for this gift of substitution and grace, I will give it to them on the basis of them believing.”
“God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever would believe might receive eternal life.”
Four, salvation is a free gift from God. It’s not of works. Five, grace must be received by faith. You might jot, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace we are saved through faith, and that’s not of yourselves.” The idea is not of your religious or moral attempts of good works. “It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
And I would like, if you would, just to stop for a second, because something that I think has, at least I grew up this way and I have rarely talked without people going, Oh, and it is so deeply embedded in your psyche. We theologically get to the point where we understand it, we invite Christ to come into our lives, His Spirit enters us, we begin this new life, but what is so deeply embedded in our minds is a concept that goes something like this: God has a big chalk board in the sky. And there is a line down the middle. And on one side it says: “Good deeds,” and there is a line and on the other side it says, “Bad deeds.”
And for many of us, all of our lives, implied or actually taught to us, if your good deeds, every good deed you get a little mark and every bad deed you get a little mark. And the way I grew up thinking was, When you get to the end of the game called “Life,” if your bad deeds are more than your good deeds, you go to the bad place. And if your good deeds are better than your bad deeds, you go to the good place.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you had nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand and ninety-nine good deeds, and one bad deed, you would violate the holy, perfect perfection of God, who can live with absolutely no sin.
If you put it in a score card, it would be something like this: In order to have a relationship with God the Father, you need your test score in every aspect of life to be a perfect hundred. You either have a hundred, or you fail.
Now, maybe the Billy Grahams of the world, although I’m sure he wouldn’t say this; or the Mother Teresas or some famous missionaries, maybe they get a ninety-two or ninety-four and maybe axe murderers get threes and fours and serial killers are a minus five. And most of us see ourselves as maybe seventy-five or eighties.
But unless you’re a hundred, you can’t have a relationship with God. So being a good guy, being moral, intellectually believing in God is not what it means to be “saved”, or have a relationship or be prepared or allowed to go into heaven. It’s by grace you are saved through faith.
Grace, number six, produces gratitude toward God and love toward others. When you experience grace, it activates something. Philippians chapter 2 says, “For it’s the grace of God; it’s God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Grace does something where, when you turn, in the empty hands of faith and ask Christ to come into your life, the Spirit of God enters your physical body. You are literally taken out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. You are placed into this supernatural community called, “The body of Christ,” or, “The Church.” You are deposited with a spiritual gift to fulfill your Ephesians 2:10 purpose.
Your mind begins to be renewed. You are sealed with the Spirit so that no one can take you out of His hands. You have, now, power. The penalty of sin has been broken, the power of sin has been broken, the Spirit of God lives in you to manifest the presence and the power of the very life of Christ and the Christian life, far from trying to be a good person is about abiding in Christ so that this new life can be lived out through your personality as you depend and walk by faith in Him.
And He transforms you from grace to grace. It is Titus, you might jot this down, Titus chapter 2:11 and 12. When people think of grace, one of the fallacies is, they think the opposite of grace is effort. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Ephesians 4:2 says, “We are to make every effort to become the kind of followers Christ wants us to become.” It takes effort, it takes energy. Paul said, “I beat my body, I focus, I discipline myself.” It takes great effort to be a follower of Christ to allow the grace of God to manifest itself in every area of your thought, your speech, and your relationships.
The opposite of grace is not effort; the opposite of grace is merit. Merit has to do with earning something.
Put it this way, a better way. The opposite of grace is a performance mentality. The opposite of grace is: When I read my Bible and pray, God loves me. When I don’t read my Bible and pray, He doesn’t love me.
The opposite of grace is: When I give financially, off the top, and when I’m doing good and I don’t have any moral slips, God really loves me. And, boy, I blew it, I watched something last night or I had a bad thought or I lusted after that or my money is a mess or now I’m in debt. Well, God doesn’t love me anymore.
And when you think that way, then I can’t really talk to God right now. I can’t be close to God right now but I am going to get my financials in order and I am going to try and work my way back to being a good boy or a good girl and then God will accept me again.
And that is bad, bad theology but many of you and me think that way and don’t live by faith through grace, even though we are saved that way. And we live this performance orientation, where we live with condemnation and guilt and are not tapping into the power of God.
The theme of the book of Galatians is very simple. However you get in relationship with God, or saved, is exactly the same way you grow or are sanctified. Does that make sense? You are saved by faith through grace. The way you grow is by faith through grace.
So grace produces this gratitude toward God, it produces a love and a lifestyle and a set of good works. Verse 10, right? You are saved, not by works but you are His workmanship, you are created and there this is this new power and life, this grace that gives you a “want-to” and a will to have good works of love and kindness and concern for other people.
The Old Testament roots are all the way in the early part of the Bible. Genesis 3, verse 21. After the sin of Adam and Eve, we have, Who takes care? Who covers? And he introduces the concept of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins.
And it says, “Also for Adam and his wife, the Lord God made tunics of skin, and He clothed them.” It’s a picture of what is going to come. Something had to die, blood had to be spilled, and two people got covered. That’s a good picture of what happens in salvation.
The other passage there is Genesis 6:8 and we have this horrendous violence in the world. Violence to the point, it was like back in Noah’s day, they had CSI. Do you realize how obsessed we are with violence?
You walk into, and I don’t recommend you do it long, walk into one of those video stores and look at the top fifteen games. And our kids practice killing things and blowing up people. The way we train our troops, because it is so viscerally difficult to ever get to the point to take a human life. And there are times in war where that happens, we train our troops with video games to desensitize them to human life so in the crisis of the moment, they will be able to shoot and protect those that they are with.
I would challenge you to get a little thing, put it next to your TV, and every program that has to do with killing or violence or, “Why do they kill it?” It got so bad that God said He was sorry that He made mankind, but in the midst of that, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Our biblical profiles are David, the adulterer and the murderer; and Peter the betrayer. Some of us really put David in that, Boy, those are really, really terrible. I don’t know that you can do anything worse than what Peter did. Anybody here been betrayed before? Anybody here have a mate walk out on you and sleep with someone else? Run off with someone else? Anyone have a business partner that you were doing life together and three hundred thousand dollars, you found out later, that doesn’t exist anymore, and he left town?
Anybody start a business, do a startup, and get a little slow on getting all the IP and the patent agreements and have someone steal all your stuff that you thought was your friend?
Anyone ever have a close friend that you’re in a Bible study with, a lady or a guy in a men’s group, only to find out that the most intimate things you have ever shared, they have gone and spread around to other people? I don’t know that I have ever been as angry or as hurt as when I have been betrayed.
Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Anybody here, in a moment of weakness, ever betrayed anybody? Anybody ever talked about people and you realized, Ooh, and then it actually came back around and you got caught? And I know my first reaction is always, “Oh, I didn’t say that!” So I just added a lie to my other sin, right?
I’m trying to help you get emotionally to where you understand: If you don’t go with me to where you have done these things, and some, it’s pretty quick and some it’s hard, you’ll never grasp grace because David was probably used by God as much or more than anyone in the Old Testament, even after his sin.
And Peter became the core foundation person for this thing called, “The Church,” after he betrayed Christ. And what the big theme about grace is, failure is never, ever final. He is the God of the second chance, the seventh chance, the seven times seventieth chance. He, out of His grace, extends mercy. That means He withholds the just judgment, penalty that we deserve.
And He is willing and open wherever you’re at, whatever you’ve done, to forgive and to cleanse, to restore, and to renew.
The New Testament command is in John chapter 3 and we so often quote or put at the end of the end zone, verse 16, you know? “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shouldn’t perish, but have everlasting life.”
But I love verse 17. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who doesn’t believe is condemned already, because he doesn’t believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
People who reject God will be apart from Him forever, not because they have not been forgiven, but because they will refuse the gift of the forgiveness that has been purchased for them. It’s stiff-arming God.
Jesus’ message was not, “Everyone is all messed up, get with the program.” His message was, “I didn’t come to condemn you. I came to help you own and come to grips with the failure and the sin and the using of people and the abuse and the lying and the deceit to let you know I will forgive you and cover you and I want you to know, you can have a relationship with My Father. He loves you.
Jesus’ message was not, “Everyone is all messed up, get with the program.” His message was, “I didn’t come to condemn you. I came to help you own and come to grips with the failure and the sin and the using of people and the abuse and the lying and the deceit to let you know I will forgive you and cover you and I want you to know, you can have a relationship with My Father. He loves you.
And I am going to pay the highest price that could ever be paid. And I am going to be separated in this moment of historic time, from the Father, the Tri-unity of God,” for the first time ever, He would bear the sins of the world and the Father would turn His head because He can’t look upon sin.
And Christ would bear your sin and my sin in that moment of time, in that price tag, to cover or atone for your sin and that is grace. That’s what grace is. And when we tell God, I know You have forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself, that is an insult. That is an insult and it is arrogant. Well intended, though it may be, it is arrogant. I had an abortion and I can’t ever forgive myself. I have been through a divorce; I can’t forgive myself. I lied to so-and-so; I can’t forgive myself. I did this when I was young and no one knows about it; I can’t forgive myself.
God has forgiven you and He has atoned for it. For you to not receive it is to tell God that what He has done for you doesn’t measure up to your standard. Whoa. I didn’t realize your standard was higher and better than His. Wasn’t it pride that kept Peter from saying, “Lord, not my feet!”? And wasn’t it the call to humility where Jesus would say, “Peter, if I don’t wash your feet, you don’t have any part in Me.” “Well then, Lord, wash all of me.”
What was he saying? It takes huge humility to admit I have need and allow another to wash our feet, to cleanse us, to meet our need, to say that there is dirt here. And it takes great humility to allow God to do that.
The number one reason people miss heaven is, at the core of it, they are unwilling to humble themselves, admit their need, and realize, I can’t do this on my own.
I love the passage in 1 Peter where it takes it, not only from what is done in the past, but he begins to help us focus toward the future in an orientation. And in verse 13, he says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled.” Then, I love this, “Set your hope, set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
You set your hope on grace. Not, If I do this, and if I do that, and if I try really hard, and if I do this, and if I do that. I set my hope on God’s grace.
I love a quote by Tozer in, I think, his most classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy. And just listen to this theological perspective. He says, “No one has ever been saved other than by grace, from Abel to the present moment. Since mankind was banished from the eastward Garden, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer goodness of God. And wherever grace is found in any man it has always been by Jesus Christ. Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ, but it did not wait until His birth in the manger or His death on the cross before it became operative.
“Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The first man in human history to be reinstated in fellowship with God came through faith in Christ. In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in latter times they gazed back upon it, but always they come and they come by grace, through faith.”
Let me ask you: How do we pass this radical, radical concept on in a performance-oriented world to those we care about most? I think the first step is for you to write in your name. In my notes, it says: I, Chip Ingram, choose to believe that, with God, my failure is never final. I choose to believe, that’s not an emotion, I choose to believe that with God, my failure as a parent is never final. My failure as a pastor is never final. My failure as a friend is never final. My failure, morally, is never final. My failure with regard to neglect in the past is never final. It’s powerful. It’s grace.
Now, let’s talk about: How do you experience that? Let me give you three specific ways. First, encourage them, whether it’s a fellow you’re discipling, a young woman, one of your grandkids, encourage them to meditate on the lives of David and Peter. Murderer, adulterer, and betrayer who are among God’s most beloved and mightily used servants.
Did you ever wonder? Some people wonder, Is this really God’s Word? Can you really trust it? Did God really write this? The many authors over sixteen hundred years and all the alignment and all the archeology, and all those are great reasons, but I’ve got news for you. No man would ever write such a self-revealing book and allow the heroes of the story to be so messed up.
You don’t have that in any mythology. Think of this. The deliverer of Egypt, the one who brings us the Ten Commands, oh yeah, murderer. Mmm, ack, kind of messed up that day.
David, the greatest king, the writer of the Psalms, oh, adultery, murderer. Ooh boy. The apostle Paul – the greatest mind of a century – wrote thirteen books in the New Testament. Murderer. Why? Rahab: prostitute. James, John: anger management issues. The other Judas, he was a terrorist! We read it in the Bible like, you know, he was a…
He was a terrorist! He was trying to overthrow the government, get a band of people to take it over, physically, and kill people and take over Rome. He was a terrorist!
Matthew: crook! He was an embezzler. He was a dirty, little crook! Wiping people for their money. This is the all – God’s dream team! And we have the audacity to say, “Well, God could never forgive me. I don’t think He could ever use me.” Are you kidding?
I remember I had not read the Bible growing up at all. And I remember probably after a year or so and dealing with all the stuff that I had to deal with and just sort of a naïve thought, I thought, You know, I’ve not killed anybody. I think God could use me! Because so far, the people that are used the most, they have all at least killed someone. I’m thinking, How much worse could it be than that?
And with your kids, they are going to fail. And our unconscious, works mentality that we will pass on is the blackboard in the sky message.
Now, does it mean that there’s not consequences for sin? Absolutely not. Does it mean you don’t discipline? Absolutely not. But I will tell you what. We can pass on, Oh, Jesus died for you. He loves you, He rose from the dead, you need to put your faith in Him because I want to feel really good about us being in heaven and all that stuff. And then raise them and your disciples in way that, basically, your love is conditional. They get good marks on the one side of the board and bad marks on the other side and when they do good, you’re affectionate and caring, and when they don’t, you back away.
And part of that is we have to tell stories, we have to tell the stories of Peter, more than walking on the water, and saying, “You are the Christ,” and talk about what goes in a human heart to betray the person who loves you the most? What happens in people who really, really are good people and love God that they start getting deceived and then they lie and then they commit sexual acts and then they cover it up and then they commit murder and then they go into denial and then they lie about it and the web that occurs.
And how did God treat people who blew it that badly? He caused some loving consequences and He restored and loved and used them. Some people think, Oh, God could never use me now. I’m thinking, Peter did okay. And I don’t think there is a more grievous sin to God than betraying Him.
We need to meditate, we need to think about, we need to tell, not just the Bible stories where they are heroes, but let’s peel back some of the layers and talk about where they blew it and make it into real life and talk about that pastor that we all know who fell, morally, with a little bit different spirit. And maybe assume that it was a good man in a weak moment.
And maybe talk about, You know, in a weak moment, that could be me or that could be you or you, when you talk to someone that you’re trying to help pass on the things that matter most.
Secondly, help them remove the power of secret, secret is the key word, and condemnation by practicing repentance – James 4:7 to 10 – and confession – James 5:16 – with some mature believers that they can trust.
The way the enemy works is this: When you sin, when you blow it big time, when you make a mistake, when you do something you’re ashamed of, what happens is we do exactly what David did. We start to cover it up. We don’t want anyone to know. We are embarrassed by it, we don’t want the consequences of it, and we cover it up.
And then a little secret and, by the way, I will tell you, what the enemy does is then, Oh my lands, some of you, you have lived with stuff for years, some with decades, and anytime you start to take a step here or a step here, You don’t think God’s really going to use you? Don’t you remember that hotel? I mean, yeah, you were young but remember that hotel room? What would happen if your mate ever found out that it was actually her best friend? And what about when you worked in, remember that time in the service and you were overseas?
And that starts playing the tape. And then you just cover that back up and then you push it down and if the truth were known, probably some depression and physical issues and unresolved conflict has been brewing for years and years and playing itself out.
God says, “I have a remedy.” When you take bacteria that is growing and you take it out of the darkness and you bring it into sunlight, you know what happens? It dies. You just bring it into the light.
And the process of bringing those things into the light are given to us in James 4. It says, “Therefore, submit to God.” You realize, Okay, I submit to You, and then notice that there is an enemy, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
You have to say, I am in Christ! Did I blow it? Yes. Was it wrong? Yes. Am I ashamed of it? Yes. But I am going to now bring, I am going to submit to God, I am going to resist the devil, I am going to quote Romans 8:1. “There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.”
And then I am going to draw near to God instead of feeling like I don’t deserve Him and I can’t come close. And He promises He is going to draw near to Me. Then I’m going to start this process and it’ll start with the external things and it says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you double-minded.” And so I am going to look at the outward things that I have done and then I am going to look at the motives of the heart, and then I am going to allow it to emotionally get down to my gut and to my soul, lament and mourn and weep.
I am going to embrace the emotions and the pain and the grief of what I have done against God. It’s a Psalm 51 moment. “Against You and You only have I sinned.” God, forgive me. Forgive me. I am sorry.
And then notice what happens. “Turn your mourning and your joy to gloom.” It’s a process. And this he is describing humbling yourself in the sight of God. And what is the promise? He will, He will lift you up.
But until you come clean, until you get the secret out in the open, in fact, later in James 5, until we confess our sins to one another, you don’t get healed.
I had a man in our church in California. And, man, it was just like, as a pastor you meet these guys. And he’s just a “with-it” guy.
And he was committed and he was driving about thirty-five or forty miles to church. I said, “Andy, can’t you find something a little closer?” He goes, “Look, I commute fifty-five minutes to work. God is speaking to me, He is speaking to my kids,” he had four or five kids. And he said, “We are all growing; it’s worth the trip.” I said, “Well, okay, but I’m just thinking there has got to be a church closer for you and etcetera.” He said, “No, no.” And it’s just one of those guys where you met him and, boy, he’s growing, he’s in the Scriptures, and pretty soon he is involved in ministry.
And you just dream about this, as a pastor, these really solid people that are going to make a huge difference, and they do. And ministries get built around them and you become friends with them.
And he said, “Hey, can I get some time with you?” I said, “Sure!” He said, “I need to do something.” I said, “Fine.” So he came to my office and grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down and he was kind of shaking. And I’m going, “Andy, what’s wrong?”
He said, “The last four months I have been traveling, secretly, to another city.” And I’m thinking, Oh man. I said, “So what is going on?” He said, “Well, it’s been going on for over thirty years.” He’s in his mid-forties. He said, “It started when I was seven years old and these magazines would come in, it was like the Sears catalogue. And I was just a kid, but I found the lingerie section. And it was like a magnet.
“And then I was about twelve or thirteen and I don’t know, accident or what, but my dad kept Playboys in between the mattresses. And I had a steady diet of those. By the time I was in my late teens, I moved and progressed to some hardcore stuff. I have never told anyone this.”
He was in some other denominations, he had been an elder and a deacon, he had been in leadership in the church, he was actually a good communicator of God’s Word. He said, “I have been living with this for thirty years. The Internet has been killing me the last decade. There is stuff and access that,” he said, “it’s like a thirsty man that I can only go hours without going and logging on the Internet.
“And the guilt that I have lived with and the turmoil inside, I can’t even explain to anyone. And so I heard about one of these sexual addiction groups, kind of a Celebrate Recovery type thing in this church about sixty-five miles away, because I didn’t want to do anything near us. And once a week, for the last four months, I have been driving there. And I got this secret out in the open. And something broke inside of me. And I wept with other men with the same problem and I have been clean now for, not just these four months, but a pretty good season of time afterwards. Now I have shared all this with my wife. It was horrendous. But, boy, do I have a godly woman.”
And he said, “Now, after this season, I feel like, I don’t know about the statistics, but probably twenty-five to thirty percent of the men in our church are dealing with this in some way. You are doing this series and I see where you’re going and you’re going to talk about sexual purity. With your permission, I’d like to tell my story. And I have asked my wife to sit on the front row, because I need to apologize to her publicly.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I really knew this guy and we prayed about it and I will never forget. I got to a certain point in the message and rather than giving an illustration I said, “I just want to stop for a moment. Andy, would you come up?” He was super respected in the church. “He has a little something he would like to share.” And I just came over here and Andy told his story.
And with tears streaming down his face, he apologized to his wife and his kids. And at the end of that, I said, “We need to get secrets out. Whoever has an issue like this in your life, Andy is going to be here tonight and we are going to start some shoot-it-straight, small group, sexual addiction for men.” We launched five groups that night.
It multiplied after that. I told this story and had people calling me from all over the country and all I do is I say, “Andy, can I have permission,” because he is gifted organizationally, I said, “can I have permission to just give your name?” He has launched, now, groups all over the country.
God has taken his greatest secret and pain and sin and not only forgiven him, but restored him and used the thing that was the worst in his life to become the conduit of grace for others.
What is your secret? What is it, in your past? Is there something that you would never want anyone else to know that needs to come to the surface, that you need to bring to God, first and foremost, submit to Him, resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse your hands, purify your hearts, mourn, humble yourself, and let Him lift you up? And then share that, in an appropriate place, with a safe person who is very mature, so God could bring healing to you and then use it as a redeeming, powerful ministry to others.
Did you ever hear the apostle Paul, when he gets really personal in the New Testament? “I am chief among sinners. And God revealed Himself to the apostles and also to me as one unworthy.” It was his depth of understanding of owning his stuff.
See, grace doesn’t mean much if it’s a little word that you say, “I am saved by grace. I believe in Jesus. I went to a camp. I raised my hand. I got baptized. Yipee-do. Yipee-do. Now I try and be a good, moral person. And in my functional Christianity, I realized there was a big blackboard in the sky. Good deeds, bad deeds, when I do, do, do, do, do, I feel good, good, good. When I’m bad, bad, bad, bad, I feel bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. So I will try really, really hard. I get really exhausted, I have to hide a number of things. And it doesn’t feel really good and I know I’m supposed to be a good guy but, but, but, but…”
That is American and much of Christianity around the world. It is not supernatural. It is not Christianity. It is performance oriented. It is not grace. Grace produces powerful life change from the inside out.
Third, teach them to refuse to continue living with a performance orientation in their relationship with God. It is and always will be a grace orientation. Sometimes when we think about grace, it’s still hard to get your arms around. There are a lot of Bible words like that, you know?
And sometimes a word picture gets it. So here’s a word picture. Here’s what grace is. If, in your flesh and frailty, is a human being, you make a mistake and you fall into a ten-foot hole. And you’re looking up and it’s a ten-foot hole and there is no way to get out of this thing. Grace is God will extend an eleven-foot rope with knots on it and you sit on the little chair at the end and He will pull you up out of it.
But if you happen to be one of those people that makes even a huge mistake and you drop into a ninety-nine foot hole, and you can barely see the light and there was no way out of the ten-foot hole but this is, there’s not even any hope, God will drop a one hundred-foot rope with knots in it, with a little wooden thing that you can sit on and He will pull you up. That’s what grace is.
It is all that you need. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Grace extends a foot beyond whatever your need is. Totally apart from your performance. Totally apart from what you could earn, try hard, get back together, If I’m really good, well, maybe then, all that thinking.
And I will just tell you, I think it’s a very long journey, especially if you are goal oriented, fairly strategic, happen to be driven, a little OCD, came from a legalistic background, can I continue or have you got the idea?
Performance control is always rooted in pride. Now, there is responsibility that is healthy. But some of us feel like we’ve got to be in control and manage everything and manage outcomes. You can’t.
And so God’s loving grace for some of us, well, He’ll just keep overloading you until you can’t handle it so that you come to this amazing discovery: I can’t handle it!
And I think God smiles and goes, Well, it took a while but, you know? I have known that from day one! I want to help you! Oh! Really? Yeah.
You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. So the life message here is you were created to receive grace and give grace.