A REPENTANT HEART LEADS US IN SETTING A PROPER CHRISTIAN EXAMPLE
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A REPENTANT HEART LEADS US IN SETTING A PROPER CHRISTIAN EXAMPLE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

31 JULY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

2 Samuel 11:26-27
            12:1-23
Isaiah 52:5
Romans 2:17-24
Ephesians 4:1-16

A repentant heart does lead us in setting a proper Christian example.

But all too often, the repentant heart follows after our example: We sin and then we say that we are sorry.

Thus, the very world, to whom we are to set the proper example, see Christians as a bunch of hypocrites, because they see the sin.

The proper way to apply a repentant heart is to test our actions before we do something, so that we don't have to say we're sorry.

We are to live the way God wants us to live - first.

But someone might say, "We all sin. It's impossible to live that way."

Such a statement is a cop-out, for it's a way of excusing ourselves from even trying.

And if we don't try to live a sinless life, we never will; thus we make our statement a self-fulfilling prophecy.

God gave us the ability to live as He desires us to live; and we must work at it, if we are to be successful.

This is exactly what we are told by Paul in Ephesians 4:1-16.

Note the many examples Paul gives us as to how we are to lead with our heart.

1. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

This is the challenge.

So how do we do it?

2. [Walk] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,

The first thing we must remember to do is to put the other person first in our lives, and not ourselves.

This is the first step in being humble.

If we are gentle and patient with others (humans and animals alike), and not jump all over them when they do something we don't like, we show them forbearance in love.

But there is more, for true love will not simply stand by and let the other person get into trouble without trying to help them.

But how do we do this?

We start by setting the proper example; in essence, our walk must be in a manner worthy of our calling.

3. being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If our way of correcting the other person's walk causes strife, then we have not preserved the unity of the Spirit or the bond of peace.

4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6. one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

All too often we forget this fact, too; for we act as if God is our God and not theirs, and that it is our faith and not theirs.

Jesus Christ came for everyone, not just the human believers.

If we are to remain humble, we must remember that today's believers were yesterday's non-believers.

It is our job to lead them to Christ by setting the proper example.

And we're not alone in this.

7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

8. Therefore it says,

"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."

One of these gifts is our faith.

9. (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

This is one of the reasons that our version of The Apostle's Creed says, "He descended into Hades."

10. He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Jesus Christ is the final witness at the judgment seat, but in the here and now, we are to be His witnesses.

11. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Every one of us has been given at least one of these gifts, and most of us have been given more.

We must learn to use these gifts properly.

So that...

14. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

We talked about this very thing on Monday night at our Bible study, and how we must be diligent in learning how not to succumb to the deceitful scheming of others.

15. but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,

16. from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

All of these gifts, all of these ways of walking the Christian way, are in reality examples of leadership.

Even if some of us have never considered ourselves as leaders, we are, if we walk in a manner worthy of our calling for, hopefully, others will follow our example.

Now, if we couple this leadership with a repentant heart, we are an even greater leader.

And remember that a truly repentant heart is one that considers the outcome before taking action, so that we don't make mistakes, and thus, don't need to repent.

In Isaiah 52:5 we are given examples of leaders who have neither a repentant heart nor a Godly walk.

5. "Now therefore, what do I have here," declares the Lord, "seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?" Again the Lord declares, "Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long.

Paul picks up on this thought in Romans 2:17-24 when speaking to the Jews who claimed to follow the law, but who were really hypocrites.

17. But if you bear the name "Jew," and rely upon the Law, and boast in God,

18. and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,

19. and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

20. a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

21. you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You, who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?

22. You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

23. You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

24. For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," just as it is written.

They were to show the same leadership back then, that we are to exhibit today.

When the Gentiles saw that they were not the people they claimed to be, because of the hypocritical things they did, they didn't believe in God.

And even worse, because of their actions, they blasphemed God.

These Jews also didn't have a repentant heart, or they would have foreseen the results that would come from their actions.

The same thing happened with King David when he let his pride and lust overcome his love of God and had Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, killed.

This is something that can happen to any of us, too, if we let our guard down.

Listen to what is recorded of this event in 2 Samuel, beginning at 11:26.

26. Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

Remember that Bathsheba had knowingly entered into this adulterous affair with David.

She, like David and the others we read about previously, didn't consider the effect her actions would have on others.

She mourns for her husband, but she is also partially responsible for his death.

27. When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Since David was king, and responsible for setting the ultimate example of Godly living for the people, his actions were evil in the sight of the Lord.

The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David, and he tells him a parable to which David responds that such an evil person should die (2 Samuel 12:1-6).

1. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said,

“There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.

2. “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.

3. “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb

Which he bought and nourished;

And it grew up together with him and his children.

It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom.

And was like a daughter to him.

4. “Now a traveler came to the rich man,

And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,

To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;

Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

5. Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.

6. “And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

Note what Nathan says next:

7. Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.

8. 'I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

God does indeed continue to bless us when we continue to follow Him.

Thus the Lord asks David a very pointed question that is equally meant for us, when we don't consider the results of our own actions.

9. 'Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.

So instead of a blessing, David gets a curse.

10. 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'

11. "Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.

And it came about that David's own son, Absalom did this.

12. 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.' "

13. Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.

We can easily see that David's remorse came a little late, for Bathsheba was pregnant and Uriah was dead.

Our loving God does forgive, but the results of our sins are still present, and are seen by the world around us.

Thus God must react to our sins, even if He forgives us.

This is why it is so important for us to exercise our repentant hearts before we act.

14. "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."

15. So Nathan went to his house.

Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick.

16. David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.

17. And the elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them.

18. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!"

19. But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead."

20. So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

21. Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food."

22. And he said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'

23. "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."

David knew that the punishment was not against the child, but against him.

He knew that God, by His grace, would take the child home to heaven.

But how much better all of our lives would be, if we just took a few more moments to consider what the effects of our actions could be, before we did them.

If we really love God and others, don't we at least owe them this much consideration?

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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