Caution: Handle God’s Possessions with Care

1 Corinthians 8:11-13

Introduction[1]
 
We will be finishing up 1 Corinthians 8 this morning. It will be helpful for us to do a bit of recap before jumping into the text. I will remind you of five things.
1. In Corinthians 8 Paul is addressing the issue of eating meat which has been sacrificed to idols (see 8:1, 4).
2. There are two different camps in the Corinthian church; the strong and the weak. The strong feel full liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols while the weak do not. The strong can eat such idol meat with a good conscience because they understand that there is only one God and that idols are nothing in the world (8:4). The weak, on the other hand, are those who have recently converted out of idolatry (8:7). Because they have recently converted out of idolatry they are still in the process of adjusting to the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. They weak cannot eat meat sacrificed to idols with a good conscience because, being new to the Christian faith, although they have embraced Christian truth, they have yet to understand the full implications of Christian truth.
3. Paul agrees with the strong theologically (vss. 4-6). However, he rebukes the strong for not being willing to give up the right of eating idol meat for the sake of their recently converted, vulnerable brothers and sisters in the faith.
4. Paul’s greatest concern is that these newly converted brothers and sisters will fall back into idolatry by mindlessly imitating their spiritual mentors (the strong). The weaker brothers have always and only eaten meat sacrificed to idols as an act of worship to whatever idol the meat was sacrificed to. They do not know how to distinguish between eating idol meat and worshipping idols. What the strong do with knowledge, the weak will do ignorantly (vs. 10). Paul’s concern is not that the weak will feel uncomfortable by the actions of the strong. His concern, rather, is that the weak will literally fall back into idolatry by ignorantly following the example of the strong. What the strong eat as a simple meal the weak will eat as an act of idolatrous worship.
5. Paul’s basic instruction is directed to the strong. His admonition is to patiently and lovingly set aside eating meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of the spiritual well-being of the weak in Corinth.

In this message we will be focusing primarily on vss. 11-13. In these 3 verses Paul underscores the seriousness of his instruction. The actions of the strong are not small or inconsequential. Ultimately, Paul communicates that the strong are in sin. They are running roughshod over those who are vulnerable to the pull of idolatry without a concern for how it will ultimately affect their spiritual wellbeing. This to Paul is sin as we will see in vs. 11. That is, those who are carelessly pursuing what is rightfully theirs to do the detriment of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are in rebellion against God. Paul agrees with them theologically. However, he calls them to flat out repentance in vss. 11-13. Their problem is that the knowledge of God’s word has produced in them arrogance and apathy instead of humility and love. Turn with me, then, to the passage and consider with me the seriousness of selfishly clinging to rights regardless of how it affects the people of God.
The Worth of God’s People (8:11)
In an attempt to demonstrate for the ‘strong’ in the Corinthian church the seriousness of their arrogant and selfish pursuit of rights, Paul identifies the worth of the people of God. He wants the ‘strong’ to know exactly who it is that they are tripping up. Look at vs. 11 with me.
11 Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge.
Do you see what Paul does here in vs. 11? He clarifies for the strong exactly who the weak are. He wants them to understand that the weak are not to be regarded as useless. No! The weak first of all are their brethren. They are co-heirs with Christ. They have been adopted into the same family. But he wants them to understand something even more important. He wants the strong to see that the weak are those “for whom Christ died.” The weak are not just God’s image bearers; they are God’s blood bought image bearers! Do you see how serious this is? The strong are treating God’s blood-bought possessions as if they were dispensable. They are handling them without care. So Paul reminds the strong of who the weak are so that they might see the seriousness of their actions.
Kristal and I watch the Antiques Roadshow on a regular basis. A few weeks ago we watched an episode where a middle aged lady brought in a rough looking wooden bowl. Now I am not sure of all of the details of the story (because I only saw it once and the details escape me), but I will do my best to give the basic jist of the story. The woman who brought the bowl in said that it was given to her by her grandmother who had apparently grew up in Germany. She told the expert appraiser that she had only kept it around because it was the only thing she had left to remind her of her grandmother. The appraiser asked her where she had put the bowl. She chuckled and said that it sat on top of her t.v. at home—it was used for the purpose of holding dvd’s and other odds and ends. The appraiser told her that it might be best to put it elsewhere. In classic Antiques Roadshow fashion he began to tell her the details about the bowl. Apparently it was made in Germany in the early 19th century. He explained that it was carved by one of the most infamous woodcarvers in Germany. To the surprise of the woman who brought it in the appraiser said that he would conservatively estimate that the bowl would sell at auction for at least $100,000! Immediately the woman said, “Wow! I guess I will no longer haphazardly throw dvd’s in it!” Once you know the true value of a possession, you treat it with a greater amount of care.
Paul is here putting a value on the weaker brother. He wants the strong in the church to understand that they are messing with God’s valuable possessions. If God were to hold His own form of the Antiques Roadshow for the purpose of valuing His people, each of us would wear a price tag that read, “Invaluable: Bought with the blood of Jesus”. You don’t haphazardly throw dvd’s and odds and ends in a $100,000 bowl. In the same way, you do not carelessly handle the people of God, regardless of where they are at theologically. Why? Because they are invaluable. It is sad and embarrassing that we are more careful with our cars and houses and dishes than we are with God’s blood-bought children. Turn with me to 1 Peter 1:18-19 to see the true value of the people of God.
18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ were bought with the blood of Jesus. He spilled His blood to purchase a people for God from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9-10). Notice how Peter speaks of the blood of Jesus. He contrasts it with the most valuable things on this earth. God hasn’t redeemed us with chincy precious medals. No, He redeemed us, purchased us, with the infinitely valuable blood of Jesus.
You have to understand that in emphasizing to the Corinthians the true value of the weaker brethren, Paul is making a statement. He identifies them as those for whom Christ died. Do you see how gross and sick the strong are? Jesus, being equal with the Father, became a man and died a gruesome, painful, and shameful death on a cross. He bore the infinite wrath of God. All of the righteous anger and holy indignation of God the Father was pointed at the sinless Jesus who hung on the cross for you and I. Jesus took the full penalty of our sin. Do you get it? Jesus gave His life under the full strength of God’s wrath for our weaker brethren and the strong are not even willing to change their diet![2] Jesus died for your brothers and sisters—He gave His all. This is embarrassing isn’t it? We cling to and hold on to our puny little rights at the expense of the spiritual wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Christ when Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross and infinite wrath of God as an innocent sufferer for their salvation. See what Paul says about Jesus’ self-giving spirit in 2 Corinthians 8:9.
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty you might become rich.
I know that I reference this passage on a regular basis. I cannot help but revisit it and revisit it and revisit it. It certainly does put us in our place. Jesus set aside infinite riches for you. He assumed the posture of a slave and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). He set aside what was rightfully His for the sake of our good. How shaming is it that we would not be willing to give up our favorite music or our wardrobe or our diet or our hip and trendy styles for the sake of our struggling brethren. How much do we value each other? Do we value each other enough to give up our rights?
Sinning Against Christ (8:12)
In vs. 12 Paul identifies the careless and selfish actions of the strong as being nothing less than sin.
12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.
Paul does not see the actions of the strong as merely evidencing a lack of wisdom. Paul comes right out and calls it for what it is. The arrogance and selfishness of the strong that is leading to the real spiritual ruin of the weak is nothing less than hardhearted rebellion against Jesus Himself. You will notice that he first speaks of it as a “sin… against the brothers.” But he doesn’t stop there. Although this certainly is a sin against the weaker brothers, Paul ultimately identifies this as a sin against Jesus Christ Himself—‘you are sinning against Christ.’ To sin against the people of God is to sin against Jesus Himself. Why? For a few reasons. First, because all sin is ultimately against God. After all, if you steal a man’s car, although you are taking something that does belong to him, you are not ultimately breaking that man’s law; you are breaking God’s law. This is why after sinning against Uriah the Hittite by sleeping with his wife and directly plotting his murder, David prays the following to God in Psalm 51:4:
“Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.
David understood that his actions against Uriah were ultimately an affront not against Uriah but against God. This does not mean that he didn’t sin against Uriah, but it certainly does mean that his sin was not ultimately against Uriah. David understood that he was not accountable ultimately to Uriah—he was not going to have to answer before the judgment seat of Uriah, but before the judgment seat of God. Second, sins specifically against the people of God are ultimately against Jesus because God’s people are God’s possession. Do you remember what Paul said earlier about God’s people? Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
19b You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price.
If Jesus died for you, you are God’s property. Jesus gave His life to purchase you, therefore you are His. To sin against the people of God, then, is to sin against God Himself because the people of God are His goods. For the strong to selfishly and arrogantly wound the conscience of the weak is for the strong to assault God’s blood-bought servants. Lastly, to sin against the people of God is to sin against Jesus Himself because Jesus is one with His people (see John 15:5-7; 1 John 3:24; 4:13-16). This is why Jesus is referred to as the head of the church and we as His body (Ephesians 5:22-33). This reality is most clearly evident in Acts 9:1-6.
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest 2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 5 ‘Who are You, Lord?’ he said. 6 ‘I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting’…
So Paul is running around the ancient world imprisoning the people of God. While on his way to wreak more havoc on the people of God, Jesus strikes him with blindness and says to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting the church’. No! Actually He doesn’t charge Paul with persecuting the church. Jesus charges Paul with persecuting Jesus Himself. How can He make this logical leap? Well, it isn’t a logical leap. Jesus is, after all, one with His people. To persecute them is to persecute Him. Let me put it this way; how you treat the people of God is how you treat God Himself. I don’t have to ask you whether you prize Jesus or not, I just need to see how you prize His people. I don’t need to ask you whether you are passionate for God, I just need to observe how passionately you serve and love His people. He is one with those He came to save.
Paul rebukes the strong not ultimately for selfishly and arrogantly causing the spiritual ruin of the weak. Paul rebukes the strong for beating Christ Himself. The strong are in sin. Certainly, they are theologically correct to see that meat sacrificed to idols is not inherently sinful. However, they have sinned against Christ by having no regard for His body.
Drastic Measures (8:13)
In vs. 13 Paul demonstrates the length which we willing should go to protect our brothers and sister in Christ from falling into gross and heinous sin.
13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall.
In this last verse Paul is using hyperbole—he is speaking in extremes to make a clear point. All throughout 1 Corinthians 8 Paul has been addressing the issue of meat sacrificed to idols. Here Paul seems to almost change subjects. You would think that he would have said, ‘Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat sacrificed to idols…’ But he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say that he will merely give up eating meat sacrificed to idols. Rather, he states that he will go to the extreme and give up meat altogether. Not only will he give up idol meat, he will become an all-out vegetarian! He is saying that there is no limit to how willing he is to accommodate a weaker, vulnerable brother. Paul, like Jesus, did not cling to his rights at the expense of the wellbeing of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He was more than willing to do whatever it might take to make sure that the pursuit of his rights did not become a stumbling block to his fellow blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let me give you a similar situation. Suppose someone were to approach me about the fact that I wear jeans when I preach. They give me sufficient reason to believe that me wearing jeans in the pulpit is leading them into all sorts of real heinous sin and rebellion. Paul would respond like such; “Brother, if me wearing jeans in the pulpit is the cause of your spiritual ruin as I am convinced it is, not only will I not wear jeans in the pulpit ever again, I will not wear pants at all (not that I will preach in my undies)—I will go to the extreme of preaching in a kilt for the rest of my days. If it means the preservation of your soul, I will go against any and every cultural norm to make sure that I am not in any way leading you into sin.
How willing are you to dispense with your rights for the sake of the well-being of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? This, to Paul, is an issue of obedience. This is why Paul says;
Romans 15:1 Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves.
If you love your rights more than the people of God, you are in sin. If you protect your rights more than you protect the well-being of your brothers and sisters in Christ you are in sin. Bottom line. It is essential that we be willing to set aside any right that we may have for the sake of our fellow siblings in the faith. Some may feel that this is a slippery slope: ‘Once we accommodate one weak brother, where will we stop? Pretty soon everyone in the church is going to be sporting their weak conscience to get their own way.’ This is not true. This is not a slippery slope. If we merely take the necessary biblical steps to distinguish between a genuine struggling, weaker, vulnerable brother and super-spiritual legalists who want to inflict God’s people with their own agendas and preferences, adopting Paul’s attitude toward those who are truly weak will never enslave the church or make her ineffective with the Gospel. But the church must learn to discern the difference.
I have decided that it would be counter-productive to give a parallel modern day situation to 1 Corinthians 8. Why? Because I think we need to approach this with an open mind. The principle which Paul lays forth, and ultimately the spirit of 1 Corinthians 8 is that we need to be willing to give up whatever may cause a brother to fall into gross and heinous error. I don’t want us to start categorizing what would constitute a 1 Corinthians 8 situation and what would not. The point that Paul clearly lays forth is that we must be willing to forgo what is rightfully ours, no matter how petty or puny or insignificant it may seem, for the sake of our fellow blood-bought brethren.
Conclusion
We must keep the cross at the center of all that we do. If the cross loses its place of first importance in the church we will lose both our ability to value the true worth of God’s people (bought with the blood of Jesus) and we will lose site of the radical standard of love which He has called us to. The cross is not just the basis of our hope, it is the center of our calling. We are called to both embrace the crucified Christ and to follow Him as our example. Behold the great salvation that Christ has won for you on the cross! Our calling is to receive the love of Christ and then to bend out that same self-sacrificial love and grace to our fellow brothers and sisters. If we keep the person and cross work of Jesus at the center of all that we do, we will understand that the standard is radical, because the standard is to “accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
Paul shifts the focus of the strong to the cross so that they might adopt this very same perspective (in vs. 10). And I can promise you one thing, you will never be called to lay down your rights for your fellow brothers and sisters more than Christ laid down His rights for you. How can this be the case? Because His rights are truly His rights. He deserves every right that He has while our rights are gifts of grace. Not only that, but God will never call you to, as a sinless person, take the infinite wrath of God in the place of depraved rebels who have transgressed your own law. The standard that God has given us is radical. And yet God has called us to a sub-bunny hill version of what He has done for us. This is not to say that you can be lax about fulfilling the law of Christ. Rather, it should cause you see the standard that God has set for you with the understanding that He has done infinitely more for you than you could ever do for your brethren. You will never love another like Jesus has loved you.
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[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman HCSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
[2] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 378.

NEW COVENANT PROVISION FOR KING DAVID’S SIN

2 Samuel 12:1-31
So the LORD sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. (2) The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, (3) but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. It lived and grew up with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. (4) Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. (5) David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! (6) Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” (7) Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. (8) I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. (9) Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife–you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. (10) Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ (11) “This is what the LORD says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. (12) You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.'” (13) David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you will not die. (14) However, because you treated the LORD with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.” (15) Then Nathan went home. (HCSB)
INTRODUCTION

Moe Bergeron
King David fought with the Ammonites and prevailed, but he had as yet not completely defeated them. The Ammonites retreated to Rabbah. David sent his general Joab and the army of Israel to lay siege to the city and while his army fought David remained in Jerusalem. On a certain day he rose from his bed around the time when others prepared to go to bed for the night. In his leisure he ventured on to the rooftop of his palace where he happened to steal a look at a beautiful young woman bathing herself. He is so taken by her beauty that he sends messengers to find out who she is. David’s servants learn of her identity. Her name is Bathsheba and she is the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. This Uriah was a faithful solider who was serving at the battle front along with Joab and Israel’s army. David’s interest in this young wife should have ended right there and then, but it does not. His curiosity quickly becomes a temptation and rather than flee from entertaining the thought of sin he now lusts for what does not lawfully belong to him. Jesus taught:
Matthew 5:28
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
So David sent his servants to bring Bathsheba to his palace where he does the unthinkable. He has sex with her. When she cleanses herself, she returns home.
Proverbs 9:17-18 ESV
“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
It all seems to be over. But, sin always has its tragic consequences.
“…her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”
I.  THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN: THE COVER UP
Things take a very different turn when Bathsheba sends word to David to inform him that she is carrying his child. David the giant killer tries to cover up his sin by ordering Joab to send Uriah home on leave under the pretense of giving David a battlefield report. He’s hoping Uriah is like the typical hot blooded young soldier who, when he has arrived home, will enjoy some carnal pleasures with his wife. There’s only one small problem. This Uriah is not like most hot blooded young soldiers. He is a cut above.
2 Samuel 11:9-11
But Uriah slept at the door of the palace with all his master’s servants; he did not go down to his house. (10) When it was reported to David, “Uriah didn’t go home,” David questioned Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?” (11) Uriah answered David, “The ark, Israel, and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my master Joab and his soldiers are camping in the open field. How can I enter my house to eat and drink and sleep with my wife? As surely as you live and by your life, I will not do this!”
Uriah is more honorable than David. He wants to be at the front and not home pleasing his flesh. David knows time is running out and that his sin will be found out. It’s at this point that things really become ugly so he sends Uriah back to Joab, with sealed written orders to Joab to put Uriah to death in a way that makes it seem like Uriah is a casualty of war. Joab (a bloody man) does as he is told and sends word to David: “Mission accomplished.”
SIN EXPOSED
Responses To Uriah’s Death: (11:26-27)
It would seem that David got away with his adultery and murder. So it would seem. When Bathsheba is told of her husband’s death in battle, she mourns for her husband. I believe she mourns her husband’s death because she really loved him. David does not even pretend to mourn. As soon as Bathsheba’s mourning was complete David sent for her and made her as his wife. Was David trying to conceal his sin or was he seeking to legitimize it? Whatever David’s motives are they are self-serving. (Numbers 32:23)
THOT: When running from sin and its consequences you cannot out run the Lion of Judah.
II. GOD THE SPIRIT AT WORK
It is at this point that God calls upon Nathan to address David and his sin. This is an unbelievable task. Nathan has to be braver than when David was when he stood before Goliath the giant. Now who stands as the wicked and evil sin filled giant who opposes the God of Israel and who is this humble servant of God? Before we consider God’s use of Nathan to confront and address David’s sin I want you to know that Nathan was not alone in addressing David. God by His Spirit was also at work preparing David’s heart.
Psalms 32:3-4 HCSB
When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. (4) For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Selah
Bob Deffinbaugh’s comments on this passage; “David makes it clear that God is at work even when it does not appear to be so. During the time David tries to cover up his sin, God is at work exposing it in his heart. These are not times of pleasure and joy, as Satan would like us to conclude; they are days of misery. David is plagued with guilt. He cannot sleep, and it seems he cannot eat. He is not sleeping nights, and he is losing weight. Whether or not David recognizes it as God who is at work in him, he does know he is miserable. It is this misery which tenderizes David, preparing him for the rebuke Nathan is to bring, preparing him for repentance. David’s repentance is not the result of David’s assessment of his situation; it is the result of divine intervention. He has gone so far in sin that he cannot think straight. God is at work in David’s life to break him, so that he will once again cast himself upon God for grace.”
III.  GOD’S SERVANT AT WORK
Nathan Tells a Shepherd a Sheep Story – 2 Samuel 12:1-6
So the LORD sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. (2) The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, (3) but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. It lived and grew up with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. (4) Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. (5) David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! (6) Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” (7) Nathan replied to David, “You are the man!
Nathan is a prophet, he is also a man who appears to be a friend to David. Nathan does not come to David only as God’s spokesman, he comes to David as his friend.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6)
2 Samuel 12:1
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David.
What man in their right mind wants job? You have to be sent and sent no less than by God himself.
NATHAN: THE SKILLED SERVANT
He is well prepared. He is filled and equipped by God’s Holy Spirit. Nathan’s approach and the success of the mission all hangs on a simple but well crafted “sheep story.” It’s the sort of story a shepherd boy can easily grasp and with which he can readily identify. David was a shepherd boy in his younger days, as we know from the Book(s) of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 16:11; 17:15, 28). I think somewhere in David’s experience as a child shepherd he took a strong liking to one or more of the little lambs his father entrusted into his loving care. Nathan is setting an example for a right use of Matthew 18.
“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? (13) “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. (14) “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (15) ” If your brother sins , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (16) “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. (17) “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (18) “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:12-18 NASB
Note that the NASB translates verse 15 in this manner; “If your brother sins” and not as the HCSB renders it; “If your brother sins against you “
Nathan does not immediately speak to the details of David’s sin, rather, his design is not to put David on some sort of immediate defensive. His one smooth stone is targeted at David’s heart and not Goliath’s head. Nathan is not there to mortally wound David. He simply wants to prick David’s tender but buried and hardened heart with the pointed arrow of God’s love. David identifies two evils that have been committed by this fictional rich lamb stealer. First, the man has stolen a lamb, for which the law prescribed a fourfold restitution (Exodus 22:1). Second, David recognizes what he views as the greater sin, and that is the rich man’s total lack of compassion.
Bob Deffinbaugh adds:
David is furious because a rich man stole and slaughtered a poor man’s pet. He does not yet see the connection to his lack of compassion for stealing a poor man’s beloved companion, Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. The slaughtering of Uriah is most certainly an act which lacks compassion. The crowning touch in David’s display of righteous indignation is the religious flavoring he gives it by the words, “as the Lord lives” (verse 5).
NATHAN: THE BRAVE AND BOLD SERVANT
It’s at this point where Nathan had to be either out of his mind or fully trusting in God for his protection. After all, David is the most powerful man alive and he is but a poor servant of God.
2 Samuel 12:7-12 HCSB
Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘ I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. (8) I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. (9) Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife–you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. (10) Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ (11) “This is what the LORD says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. (12) You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.'”
Numbers 32:23b KJV
….ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
Nathan’s little fabricated story made David furious. It’s always amazing when those who have not repented of their own sin take pleasure in prosecuting the lesser sin of others.
Matthew 7:3 HCSB
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?
DAVID: A BROKEN MAN
Now that the arrows of God’s convicting Spirit have reached their intended target and David’s heart has now been made tender Nathan can speak to David as God’s prosecuting attorney. The trap has been set and David has fallen deep into it. There’s no escaping our God when he pursues the objects of his love. David, the mighty warrior king, is now humbled and arrested before God. Nathan now lists the charges against him. Perhaps David still does not understand the gravity of his sin. In verses 7-12, Nathan draws David’s attention to his sin against God and the consequences God has pronounced for his sin. Note the repetition of the pronoun “I” in verses 7 and 8:
“It was I who . . .
. . . anointed you king
. . . delivered you from the hand of Saul
. . . gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives
. . . gave you the house of Israel and Judah
Everything David possessed has been given to him by God. Has it been so long since David was a lowly shepherd boy that he has forgotten? David is a “rich” man because God has made him rich. And if he does not think he is rich enough, God will give more to him. David has begun to cling to his “riches,” rather than to cling to the God who made him rich.
Ultimately David’s sin is against God, and it is God who gave David everything, even his heart’s desire. Yes, he remained home when Israel was at war with the enemy! and Yes, He commited adultery! Yes, He murdered an innocent God fearing man! Yes, he lived a lie! But his sin was against God.
Psalms 51:1-4 HCSB
For the choir director. A Davidic psalm, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. (2) Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. (4) Against You–You alone–I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight . So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.
All sin is against God! Get the “You” out of your Matthew 18, not because an offense against you isn’t real, but because ALL SIN IS AGAINST GOD. And if you really love your brother and sister in Christ be a Nathan to them and represent the interest of God and his Christ.
David’s sin against God manifested itself by the evil he committed against others. Nathan outlines these, employing a repetitive “you:”
…you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil
you struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and
(you) took his wife as your own wife
you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword
you despised Me
you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife
IV.   HOW CAN GOD PASS OVER DAVID’S SIN?
2 Samuel 12:13
David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you will not die. (14) However, because you treated the LORD with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.”
Under the Mosaic Law there was no sacrifice for the sin of murder or adultery. Both sins were capital crimes that required certain death. So on what basis could God forgive and restore David?
Deuteronomy 22:22 HCSB
If a man is discovered having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both the man who had sex with the woman and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
Exodus 21:14 ESV
But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
GOD’S NEW COVENANT PROVISION IN CHRIST: The Gospel!
How then could God forgive and restore David unto himself? The answer is the same today as it was in David’s day. Sin can only be taken away by our Lord at the Cross. If you lived prior to the incarnation you had to look forward in time with the eye of faith to the day when God himself would make atonement for your sin through the offering of His own Son.  Turn for a moment to the larger narrative found in Genesis 22 and specifically to:
Genesis 22:8a ESV
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
There’s a tendency by some to see their own sin as less serious than the sin of David. All sin is an offense to God worthy of death. As Adam’s descendants we are all born with an inability to please God. Bad trees cannot produce good fruit. There is no exception. We are all unrighteous. We are all undone.
Romans 3:10-18 ESV
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  v11  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  v12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  v13  “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”  v14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”  v15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;  v16  in their paths are ruin and misery,  v17  and the way of peace they have not known.”  v18  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Again, the question yet modified, how then can God forgive and restore the sinner to Himself?
Romans 3:21-26 HCSB
But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed–attested by the Law and the Prophets (22) –that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. (23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (24) They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (25) God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. (26) He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
But if you reject the God of David then you will surely die in your sins and suffer the wrath of God.
Revelation 20:11-15 HCSB
Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. (12) I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. (13) Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. (14) Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire . But if you would believe and trust in Jesus Christ and His shed blood to save you from your sin, then you will live and He will give to you of His Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:36-42 HCSB
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” (37) When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” (38) “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (40) And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” (41) So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. (42) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.
It is for this reason that David could once again approach his God. This is but one reason the scriptures teach;
John 1:14-18 ESV
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  v15  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)  v16  And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  v17  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. v18  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Be saved from this corrupt generation!
Will you trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ!