By Kevin Maxey
“New and improved! Our product is now 100 percent natural and pure. It contains no dyes, perfumes, artificial colorings, additives, cholesterol, fat, or sugar.” Our society is obsessed with maintaining product purity. Manufacturers are rapidly selling everything from clear soft drinks to clear detergent. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the spectrum, our society is tragically selling nothing but impure and unnatural sexual standards. Apparently people foolishly care more about product purity than sexual integrity.
Society continually bombards us with explosive messages of filthy sexual immorality. The mass media has capitalized on the world’s universal appeal for sexual passion. No small number of songs on the radio have sexual overtones and themes. Television situation comedies often poke fun at circumstances involving pre-marital sexual relations. Soap operas build on similar adulterous themes. Every movie it seems must also have its moments of sexual exploitation on the screen. Even advertisers use sex to sell everything from automobiles to butter. In addition to all of this commercial pressure, our educational system has become saturated with humanistic philosophies approving sexual activity, homosexuality and abortion. We still have not even mentioned the pounding influences of a peer group that overwhelmingly flirts with and participates in sexual immorality. According to an article in Time Magazine (January 21, 1991), 80% of all youngsters in New York become sexually active by the age of nineteen.
What is a young mind to do? Is it possible to keep our hearts pure in such a godless age? The psalmist appropriately asks, “How shall the young man cleanse his way?” (Psa. 119:9) We can either allow the world to corrupt our souls or we can confidently determine to live by the principles found in God’s word.
When we look at the story of David and Bathsheba recorded in 2 Samuel 11, we discover that sexual immorality is not new to our age. Even this man after God’s own heart was subject to sexual temptations (1 Sam. 13: 14). No one is immune to the “passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25). No matter how long we have been Christians, no matter what good we may have done in the past, or even if we are dating other Christians, we too can be tempted. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10: 12). Since this account was “written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11), let’s investigate what led to David’s fall, so that we can avoid making the same mistakes.
Neglecting Our Responsibilities
We often overlook the negligent behavior that may lead up to the sin of sexual immorality. What was David doing, or not doing we should say, before committing adultery with Bathsheba? “Now it came to pass in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem” (v. 1). It was “the time when kings go out to battle” and “David remained in Jerusalem.” The text does not say why David remained, but we do know that if David was fulfilling his work as king the temptation with Bathsheba that night would not have occurred.
David teaches us the danger of neglecting our responsibilities. If we are busy about our “Father’s business” we will avoid a great deal of temptation (Lk. 2:49). If we make God the center of our lives at school, at work, with our friends and especially in our dating relationships, we will always lessen the opportunities for being tempted. The couple who fills their time with godly activities and submits to God will be able to “resist the devil” (Jas. 4:7). Attending gospel meetings and Bible studies, and enjoying uplifting forms of entertainment with other Christians will aid in removing sexual temptations. Paul assures us that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We can find that “way of escape” through filling our time with spiritual activities. When we neglect the righteous work God has for us to do, we, like David, open the doors for the sins of sexual immorality.
After examining what we are not doing, we next must look at what we are doing and investigate whether it leads to sexual immorality. What do we find David and Bathsheba each doing before they commit adultery? “Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked 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” (v. 2). David was walking on the roof of his house. In and of itself, walking on one’s own roof is not a sin. But if David knew he could see such thing:; from his roof then he should have avoided that activity. B Bathsheba, the text says, was bathing. In and of itself, bathing is certainly not sinful. However, if Bathsheba knew others could see her, then she should have avoided bathing in such a visible place.
What is the lesson for us? There are many activities that in and of themselves are not wrong to participate in. However, if we know those activities may lead to temptation, we then should avoid them. Instead, we often get as close as we can to the world and subject our hearts to compromising situations that lead to sin. For example, wearing stylish clothing certainly is not a sin, but when we dress immodestly, we are inviting immorality (1 Pet. 3:3-4). This very situation with David and Bathsheba clearly proves that the lack of sufficient clothing leads to sexual sin. Swimming is another example. In and of itself swimming is a healthy activity, but swimming in mixed company in immodest clothing leads to impure thoughts. Going to a party with friends is not a sin, but attending a party where alcohol is being served or where dancing is present pro-motes lasciviousness and “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:16-21). A second way to maintain sexual purity is through avoiding compromising situations.
Dwelling On Fleshly Lusts
Being faced with a temptation is not a sin, but what we do with that temptation is crucial. What did David do upon seeing beautiful Bathsheba? “So David sent and inquired about this woman” (v.3). David allowed sinful thoughts to enter his heart, and they affected his behavior. David “inquired” about Bathsheba. The things we expose our mind to will certainly influence our actions. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Paul recognized the danger of sexual pressure and warned young Timothy to “flee also youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Peter likewise emotionally begs us to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). Notice the power of the words used in these two verses. We are to “flee” and “abstain” from evil desires. This does not mean to try to get as close as we can to sin but instead it demands we run away from such lusts as Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:12). Fleeing and abstaining re-quire us to have nothing to do with, to avoid at all costs, to reject and to refuse lascivious thoughts. The fall of David powerfully informs us that we must avoid sexual immorality by diligently guarding our hearts against the filth of the world (Prov. 4:23).
Hardening Our Hearts
Finally, the story of David and Bathsheba teaches us the incredible power sin has to harden our hearts and turn us away from God. Once we let our guard down by neglecting our responsibilities, putting ourselves in compromising situations, and dwelling on fleshly lusts, we become easy prey for the devil who “walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). David’s heart had become so corrupt that he boldly disregarded God’s law and gave in to the temptation of adultery. “Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her” (v. 4). After David received word of Bathsheba’s pregnancy, he deceptively tried to cover his sin by shamefully murdering her honorable husband, Uriah (v. 15).
Who could have imagined that David would have committed adultery and then even participated in murder? We occasionally hear shocking stories about Christians who partake in similar sins. David is not the only one who tried to cover his sin of fornication by murder. Currently, mothers violently abort over 1.5 million babies each year. Why? Because sin hardens the heart.
Though the moral integrity of the world is crumbling around us, we can victoriously maintain our sexual purity by building our lives on God’s word. The sexual relation-ship between a man and a woman is a beautiful gift from God when reserved for the honorable state of marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). May we all learn from the tragic story of David and Bathsheba to endeavor to maintain sexual purity.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 6 p. 11-12
March 16, 1995