THE DISCIPLINE OF PURITY
If you turn on the TV, read a newspaper or a magazine, you wouldn’t miss what they’re trying to endorse – Sensuality. We live in a sinful world and “the end justifies the means” seems to be the motto of our generation. A few years back the United States of America voted to pardon the then President Bill Clinton saying that he had committed a mistake. The mistake we are talking about is Adultery. You may say, “But that’s the outside world, how does it affect us?”
Some years ago a senior minister of the Assemblies of God was found to be a homosexual. A well known minister and a Bible teacher was found guilty of cheating on his wife; he was having an illicit relationship with his secretary, who was almost the age of his daughter. Last year, newspapers in Tamil Nadu shocked the Christian world with the news of a self-proclaimed Bishop living with three wives.
“But we are always aware,” you may say, “Sin cannot become my master.” Beware, my friends! If that’s what you think, let me turn your attention to a famous personality from the Bible. He was a genuine seeker of God; he was called by God “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22); he was the king of Israel and had everything he wanted and yet he fell, and committed adultery. So, my friends, let’s draw some lessons from this fallen king, so that we may learn in our lives the “Discipline of Purity.”
1. Became Familiar
We all know that David’s sin was adultery with Bathsheba, but that’s not the beginning. It all began when David became the king of Israel. Let’s look at II Samuel 5: 13 – “David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem.” You might say how was that sin, weren’t the kings of the neighbouring nations doing the same? Yes, they were! But this itself was David’s sin; he became familiar with the ways of the world. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 17: 16–17 “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” David did very good on counts 1 & 3, but failed terribly on 2; he was not concerned whether he has a great number of horses, or large amounts of silver and gold, but he was concerned that he must have many wives.
We must understand that David became so familiar with the ways of the world that he forgot and disobeyed God, this is Sin. If we have a bottle of poison and we change the label of that bottle from Poison to Honey, will it alter the contents of the bottle? No, it won’t! The bottle having a label as Honey will still contain Poison in it. Changing the label does not alter the contents. In the same way, calling sin by any other name does not alter the nature of the sin. David did just the same; he became familiar with the ways of the world and changed the label of the bottle. Beware, that you do not fall into this trap. Do not become so familiar with the ways of the world that you forget God. Recognise that changing the name of sin does not change its character – “Sin is still Sin.”
2. Became Relaxed
The second problem in David’s life was that he became relaxed. “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam 11: 1). You might say it was OK for him not to go to the war and take some time to relax. No, my friends, as a king, it was his duty to set an example by fighting from the front and he failed to do so. But his sin here was more than just physical relaxation; the relaxation spread even to his moral life. Recognise that David did not suspect anything unusual to happen that day. He didn’t get up and say, “What a beautiful day, let me commit adultery.” May this serve as a lesson for us. Just when we think we are the safest, we feel no need to keep our guard up, to work on our integrity – temptation will come! Let’s not become relaxed in our moral life.
3. Fixation Was Also The Sin
II Samuel 11: 2 – 3, says, “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’” When David saw this young woman, he should have glanced away. But he continued to stare; he fixed his eyes on her naked form; his look became a sinful stare; and then a sweaty leer. At that very moment “the man after God’s own heart” became a lust-hungry old man. David’s sin was that he became so obsessed with Bathsheba that he forgot God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Satan does not make us forget God, he just makes his presence unreal.” The longer David leered, the less real God became to him; he lost his awareness of God. This is what lust does, my friends! So, let’s beware that we don’t become so obsessed with any fixation that we forget God and His purpose for our lives.
4. Sin Of Rationalisation
From deadly fixation, King David descended to the next level, which is rationalisation. One of his servants tried to dissuade him saying, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (II Sam 11: 3). But David did not listen. Some rationalisation took place in his heart. He may have thought, “This young woman is so beautiful and she is alone right now. Her husband is busy in the frontlines fighting for his nation. If I take her for myself for just one time, what a pleasure it would be. I will not make it an everyday affair; it is just for this one time. She is young and she needs the company of someone; I too am in need of someone. Even if someone comes to know, what can they do to me? I am the king.” Due to all these and many such thoughts, David failed to see that he was taking something that did not belong to him. Not just this, but he moved a step further and when he could not patch up things his own way, he got Uriah brutally murdered on the battlefront. This was also the sin of David. We too may fall into doing this. Let’s be aware.
David’s degeneration had begun from Adultery to Lies to Murder. David, no doubt, was forgiven by God (II Sam. 12: 13), but the consequences (results) followed: His son that Bathsheba bore to him died; his daughter Tamar was brutally raped by his son Amnon; when Absalom came to know of this, he murdered Amnon and later Absalom rebelled against David and David had to run like a fugitive; further, the kingdom that God had given to David broke into two halves. If David would have had an idea of these shattering results, he wouldn’t have given more than a passing glance to Bathsheba. He did not see the result; we have. So, let us be cautious.
God’s will for us is complete purity, not only in our spiritual life, but also in our moral life. I Thessalonians 4: 3 – 8, is the most explicit call for sexual purity. We are called by God to live a life of purity, so let’s do that. One of my teachers demonstrated this very beautifully when he taught about integrity. He brought an egg to the class and dropped it to the ground, splat the egg went and it was all over the floor; then he asked us can we join that egg together? None of us had any answer. He said: this is what integrity is like – feeble, fragile and delicate; we cannot join the egg, once it is broken; however, we can protect it from falling. My teacher is totally correct; let’s be cautious to guard ourselves for, “It takes a life-time to build integrity, only a moment to lose it.”