Uriah was a member of Israel’s elite Special Forces. He was a man of impeccable character, someone David went to battle with many times. Yet, David impregnated Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, while he was on the battle field. Eliam, her father, was also a member of this elite, 30-man Special Forces. Eliam’s father, Ahithophel, was one of David’s closest counselors. Uriah, Bathsheba, Eliam, and Ahithophel were not some distant people unattached to David. Actually, quite the opposite was truth. David’s unscrupulous actions against Bathsheba and Uriah that led to his murder are very hard to understand in the context of David’s normal godly life. He is one of the great patriarchs of faith!
James, the half-brother of Jesus, is considered the writer of the book of James. Acts 15 records the meeting held in Jerusalem that included Peter, Paul, Barnabas, the apostles, and the elders. James was the decision-maker for the group, apparently the leader of the meeting and the church in Israel. In the epistle of James in the fourth chapter, much is written about the requirements for a teacher and the judgment that awaits those who wrongly communicate the gospel. Yet, James withstood the truth Jesus revealed to the Apostle Paul that is now written in the church epistles. Not only did he resist, he also hindered others from embracing the true doctrine. How could someone such as James be so contrary?
In the gospels, before Jesus ascended, it seems clear that he appointed Peter to lead the church under Christ’s direction as the head of the church. Many years would pass before Peter accepted that God’s purpose of the ages included the Gentiles and not just the Israelites. Even after he experienced their inclusion, recorded in Acts 10, with the household of the Gentile centurion Cornelius, he still struggled to reach out to them. After the above mentioned meeting from Acts 15, he went up to Antioch to join Paul in working with the Gentiles. However, after men came from James, he along with the other Jews fearfully retreated from the Gentile believers. Galatians 2 tells us Paul confronted him regarding this hypocrisy. Knowing the great man that Peter was and the great good that he did, it is hard to understand why he would act so!
In the later part of Acts, we learn that Paul decided it was best for him to visit Jerusalem with the intention of spreading the gospel to his Israelite brethren. He was warned three times not to go. First, through the spirit, then follow believers influenced by the spirit, and finally with the vivid illustration by the prophet Agabus, yet he still went. Thus, began his imprisonment that he endured for the rest of his life. Why would this great saint who obeyed God time and again even when it caused great suffering be disobedient as such!
How could four of the greatest men of all time be so wrong? The truth is I could add to this list every man and woman who has ever lived with the exception of our Lord Jesus the Christ. Everyone is born dead in trespasses and sins. Those who repent and accept Christ as their Lord are made alive together with Christ and are forgiven all our transgressions according to Colossians 2:13. However, even in our redeemed state, we are continually tempted to sin and at times succumb.
If the above-mentioned men struggled, we can be certain that we too are vulnerable. My intention in acknowledging their sins is not to glory in their weakness, rather, that we understand three important realities. First, we are not alone. Everyone has this ongoing battle with temptation and sin.
1 Peter 4:12 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.
Second, God will help if He is sought for “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” – 2 Peter 2:9. Each day requires our diligent awareness, and according to the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13, we need to ask His help daily.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
The Scriptures do not tell what happened with James. However, David repented and received God’s forgiveness. Peter did also for he wrote the epistles of Peter after this incident. While Paul was in jail, he wrote many of his church epistles, clearly indicating repentance and forgiveness. The third point is when we sin, forgiveness is available when we repent and ask.
1 John 1:7-10 - if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.