I Ruined My life…is There Hope for Me?

I know that I for one have done things in my life that I certainly regret. I think all of us have. As a pastor, I’ve heard many people’s stories about how personal sin ruined their relationships and livelihoods. It’s heartbreaking to witness the collateral damage of sin.

But what is sin? Countless books and doctoral dissertations deal with the question, but simply put, to sin literally means to miss the mark. As in trying to hit a target of perfection and falling short of it. Another way of thinking about sin is that it is the breaking of relationship. For example, if you steal my bike, you have sinned against me. You have broken my trust, and our relationship won’t be the same. In the same way, we sin against God when we violate God’s laws and how He wants us to live.

The problem is that we all sin. We’ve all messed up. We fall short of God’s perfect standard, and that causes separation between us and a holy God. We give into our selfish natures and choose to do the wrong thing even though we know we shouldn’t. Maybe you have even willfully and repeatedly done so, and it may feel like you’ve ruined your life.

The good news is that when I look at the stories found in the Bible, I see many examples of how God works with us in spite of our shortcomings. This past weekend, Pastor Dave unpacked the idea of how “By faith, we survive the messes.” If you missed it, you can click here to catch up on past sermons as well. 

One of the most compelling stories about how God can still use someone who seemingly ruined their life is about King David. To this day, David is still considered Israel’s greatest king. He was a shepherd, poet, giant killer, and a great military leader. Beyond his talents and exploits, David was known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14).

Yet David had incredible moral failings. This story is found in 2 Samuel 11-12.

At that time, David had ascended to the throne and had brought stability and prosperity to his nation. But he let his guard down and decided to withdraw from his responsibilities as king.

There’s already a lesson here for us – when we have done great things for God and achieved success, that’s often when we are most susceptible to temptation.

This was certainly the case for King David. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn’t leading his troops into battle; instead, as he strolled around his palace, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. He didn’t stop at voyeurism; he summoned her to the palace, slept with her, and then sent her home.

Not only was David married, but so was Bathsheba. Her husband was off fighting for his king, the same king who happened to be sleeping with his wife. What a disgraceful thing to do!

But wait, it gets even worse.

You see, Bathsheba soon learns that she’s pregnant and that the king is the father. Instead of coming clean, David tries to cover up his sin. He orders Bathsheba’s husband (Uriah) to return home, hoping that he will sleep with his wife; because there weren’t any paternity tests, everyone would naturally assume that Uriah was the father, concealing David’s sin.

But Uriah wouldn’t cooperate with David’s scheme because, at that time, it would have been dishonorable for him to go home while his fellow soldiers were camping on the battlefield. David, however, was determined to cover everything up, so he got Uriah drunk to try to make him go home to his wife, but Uriah still refused and returned to the battlefield.

The story gets only more sinister. David messaged his commander to move Uriah to the frontline, where the battle was the fiercest. He then ordered all the troops to retreat, leaving Uriah defenseless so the enemy would kill him. That is exactly how the king’s loyal soldier, Uriah, was killed.

As soon as the funeral ended, David married Bathsheba, thinking he got away with adultery and murder. But even though the people may not have realized what had occurred, “the Lord was displeased with what David had done” (2 Sam 11:27).

You can fool people, but the Lord sees it all.

The Lord sent his prophet Nathan to confront the king’s sin by telling this story:

“There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

-2 Samuel 12:1-4

When David heard this story, he was furious and said, “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” Nathan replied to the king saying, “You are that man!”

What a mess! Can this really be ‘the man after God’s own heart’? I don’t know your story, but it’s probably not worse than David’s.

I’m sure we can agree that David’s actions were despicable and selfish. But we also learn from this story that we have never gone too far to receive God’s grace and forgiveness.

After David was confronted by Nathan the prophet, he confessed his sin and was filled with genuine repentance and sorrow. We get a glimpse of what is happening inside of him at that time by reading Psalm 51. There, we find David pouring out his heart to God, asking God to create a pure heart inside of him.

Sometimes, when you feel so guilty about something you’ve done, you may not feel like you have the language to approach God. You want forgiveness but don’t know what to say. In those times, I’d encourage you to pray the words of David.

We know that God answered David’s prayer!

His failure wasn’t the end of his story. God used David and his descendants to bring about the promised Messiah, Jesus. God redeemed David, and scripture remembers him as “the man after God’s own heart.” His heart was cleansed and a right spirit was renewed within him (Psalm 51:10).

This story gets even better for us on this side of the cross.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” John was writing this letter to Christians, knowing that we are still in the process of being made holy. We will remain in this process, called sanctification until Jesus comes again. There are still earthly consequences for our sins, but we can remain confident that if we approach Jesus with a repentant heart, He will forgive us and cleanse us.

I love what D.L. Moody says about the incredible grace of God: “Grace isn’t a little prayer that you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”

Our sin is no match for God’s grace. So, take heart, there is hope for you!

Because of Jesus, there is hope for all of us.