The End Of Your Rope
Posted on 09/07/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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*** listen to the audio for the introduction to the message ***
Have you ever felt as though you were at the end of your rope? As though everything in your life had completely been turned upside down and you had nothing and no one to which you could turn?
When you're at that place, when you've completely come to the end of yourself, your life changes. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
The title of my message today is, "The End Of Your Rope"
Most of us know the story of David and Bathsheba. Instead of being in the battle with his army, David stayed home. Walking on his rooftop and looking over the city, he sees a woman bathing, and finds her very attractive. He sends for her, and they commit adultery. After she becomes pregnant, David arranges for her husband to be put in a place in battle that he is sure to be killed. And after he is out of the way, David marries Bathsheba, and they have a son.
You can read this story in 2 Samuel 11, and the last verse ends with the words, "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."
Apparently it didn't displease David too much.
First, he covets another man's wife. This should have pricked his conscience and brought him to repentance. But it didn't.
Next, he sends for her and commits adultery with another man's wife. This should have put him under such incredible conviction that he wouldn't be able to eat or sleep until he had repented in sackloth and ashes. But it didn't.
Next, he arranges for her husband to die in battle, essentially murdering him. Now, if lust and adultery didn't wake David up and bring him to his knees, surely knowing he had murdered someone would bring him to the altar. But it didn't.
David is comfortable in his sin. He is the king. He has wealth and respect. He has wives and concubines. He has the best food and wine. He lacks nothing. And now he has another man's wife, the man dead by his command, and she bore him a son. The whole thing is behind David -- the lust, the adultery, and the murder. And he has a knock-out wife as a result. Now he can move on with his life.
Or can he?
I think sometimes we feel as though we can get away with our sin. Maybe David did still hear the voice of his conscience, but didn't listen to it. And maybe we hear the voice of our conscience, but don't obey it. And the more we ignore that voice, the less power it has over us.
Did David have a problem? We know he had many wives and concubines, but that was common for a king in those days. Could it be that David was controlled by his sexual desires? It could be.
What controlls YOU? What is YOUR vice?
I think we tend to look at David and think that we wouldn't do what he did. But the things that have us bound seem somehow different in our eyes. While we think that David had a choice in the matter, we sometimes seem to feel as though we do NOT have a choice in the matter.
But just as David would have chosen differently if his perception were different, so we too would find that these unshakable vices in our life would fall away almost effortlessly if our perception was drastically altered.
Let's read from the next chapter, Second Samuel chapter 12, and see what changed David's perception and brought him to his knees in true and permanent repentance.
2 Samuel 12
1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.
3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.
4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
5 So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!
6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."
7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
8 I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!
9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.
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 adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'"
13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."
So David's perception was changed. God sent Nathan to tell David a story that would touch David's heart, about a man who loved a little lamb. David grew up as a shepherd boy. Several times he risked his life to save the sheep. And he was ready to pronounce the death sentence on the man who would do such a thing.
You see, David did not see his sin like God saw it. It looked okay to him. You may be asking, "How could sleeping with another man's wife and then having that man murdered look okay to someone?!?" And yet what about your little insignificant sin? Is God saying the same thing, "how can that look okay to someone?"
Or maybe you're held in bondange to something that looks bad to you, you know it's wrong, but you just can't seem to break free. Either way, you need a change in perception, one that only God can bring.
So David was very angry, and ordered that the man be put to death. Then Nathan replied, "David, you ARE that man!" Talk about a wake-up call. But David did not receive the same judgment he had pronounced. The child born as a result of his adultery died instead.
And the prophet proclaimed the life sentence from God upon David and his household. He said that the sword would never depart from his house, and that his wives would be taken from him and given to others. How's that for justice?
But the judgment of God on David's sin not only served justice, it also brought David to a startling realization that he wasn't as okay as he thought he was. One moment everything was fine. He had no real problem, aside from the shadows in his soul. The next moment everything came crashing down around him, and his life would forever suffer the results of his sin.
And this brought David to the end of himself. One moment he was the great and mighty king who could do as he pleased without it being truly wrong. The next moment he was the man he despised, the man he had condemned to death without trial, the weight of his sin crushing both him and and all those he loved.
What will bring you to the end of yourself? While it wrecked David's life, it saved his soul. Isn't your eternal soul worth any price? Jesus certainly thought so.
In Psalm chapter 51, we hear the repentace of David. God had opened his eyes and brought him low, in the process bringing him deliverance and the opportunity for reconciliation to God.
Let's read this from Psalm chapter 51, beginning with verse one:
1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight,
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart;
These, O God, You will not despise.
First David cries out for mercy. He asks for his transgressions to be blotted out, and asks to be thoroughly cleansed from his iniquity, that inner condition that resulted in his outer sin.
He says, "Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice." David realized that God had broken his bones, so to speak; it was God who brought David to the end of himself, the "end of his rope" so to speak, and I believe he realized that had it not been for that, he would not be in this place of repentance and reconciliation with God.
Is your eternal soul worth some broken bones? It most certainly is. What is holding you captive today? What is pulling you down? And are you ready to be brought to the end of yourself, to the end of your rope, so that your perspective can be changed and you can be set free?
David then prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Do you remember when you first gave your life to Jesus? When you felt so new and clean inside? When you determined that no matter what, you would live in a way that pleased God? There is a steadfast spirit that, once it has died away because of compromise, only God can renew within you.
And then comes a cry of desperation, "Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me!" If you have ever walked in fellowship with God and partaken of his Holy Spirit, there is no lonliness or emptiness greater than the feeling that God has cast you away from his presence or has withdrawn his Holy Spirit from you. And yet David realized that God hated sin and would not remain forever with someone who would not turn from their sin.
Maybe you've thought about that, maybe it's troubled you... "Will my sin hold me bondage until it's too late?" But just as David prayed in the next sentence, God can and will restore to you the joy of his salvation, and will uphold you by his generous Spirit.
You see, God does not desire sacrifice, he does not delight in burnt offering. Rather, the sacrifices that please God are a broken spirit, and a broken and contrite heart.
It's when we come to the end of ourselves, the end of our rope, when our perception is changed by the realization that we are at the very end, overlooking a chasm of destruction; it is when our spirits are broken, and our heart is broken and contrite.
That word "contrite" means to be broken, to be crushed, to be devestated by a consciousness of our own guilt.
Maybe you're okay today. Maybe there's nothing between you and God. Maybe there are no unrepented sins, and nothing that holds you bound. If so, praise God! You are in the most beautiful condition.
If you're not in that place, if your conscience is not perfectly clean, then are you broken and contrite? Are you absolutely crushed and devistated by the guilt of your sin? If so, you are at a turning point, and freedom and restoration are knocking at your door.
And if you're not in that place of a clean conscience, but you also have not hit the bottom, you have not come to the end of yourself, the end of your rope, then I'd like for you to remember what David prayed. He said that God had broken his bones. David did not come to this place of contrition and genuine, permanent, life- and soul-transforming repentance on his own. No, God took him to that point of brokenness. God brought him to the end of his rope.
And if you start asking God, "Lord, bring me to the end of myself; whatever it takes, break me so I can be free from my sin and made right before you," if this becomes your heart's cry, then God will most certainly answer you.
It might not take losing a child or a spouse like David did, or having the sword not pass from your household. But you should be willing to pay whatever price is required for your spirit to be broken, for your heart to be crushed. And God will not do you harm, but only good. Even if it seems like harm, it will all be for your good.
Sometimes we have to be saved by fire. Sometimes something is rooted so deeply within us that our desire is not or perhaps could not be greater than that sin. But God knows how to change our perception. God knows how to bring us to our knees. God knows how to thoroughly purge our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So Lord, turn up the heat!
The ministry team can come to the front now.
Lord, bring us to that place in which we are broken! Bring us to the place of contrition, in which we are crushed by the weight of the realization of our own guilt!
Lord, some of us may have sins in our life that have held us captive, and as many times as we've tried to break free, they just keep holding us bound. Lord God, bring us to the end of our rope! Whatever it takes Lord, whatever, we ask you to do it. Even if we have to lose everything to gain you and be made right before you, then let it be so. Let it be so.
This altar is open. I would like to invite everyone to get out of your seat and come to the front and seek after God.
If you're already at the end of your rope and are crushed by the weight of the realization of your own guilt, if your spirit and your heart are broken, then spend this time praying as David did, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me! Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by your Spirit."
If you haven't yet come to the place of being completely broken and contrite, and if the sin in your life still holds you captive, then you're not there yet, and you need to ask God to bring you to that place, and commit yourself to allowing him to do whatever it takes to break you, humble you, and crush you, until your perception is changed and you are set free.
In a few minutes, we'll meet in the room to your left for a time of fellowship, and you're all invited. If you need to go, you're free to do so. Otherwise, let's gather at the altar.