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Summary: How do we get back on track after lapsing into sin?

Often, as we come together for Sunday morning worship or Friday evening Bible study, the topics we address have to do with how to be a good Christian. I don’t mean that in a negative way ("aren’t you a good little Christian"). I mean that we consider what the Bible teaches about how to be faithful, obedient, effective followers of Jesus Christ. People whose faith affects their lives in a positive way. People who aren’t just going through the motions of being religious. People whose Christian faith guides their decisions, whose devotion to Jesus Christ makes them different than the world around them.

· So, for instance, we’ve covered topics like:

* How to improve your marriage

* How to forgive others

* How to be a person of integrity

* How to have joy

* How to trust God

* How to unlock your creative potential

· Good, positive messages. Nothing wrong with that. We need to understand what it means to follow Jesus Christ, what it means to be like him. We need to understand what God expects of us, what He requires of us as His sons and daughters.

· But there’s another side to all this. A side we don’t like to talk about, especially in our success-oriented culture. We like to focus on the positive, setting goals and achieving them, learning Biblical principles of life and applying them, always growing and learning and making forward progress. Sometimes we talk as if the Christian life is one long, uninterrupted series of victories and blessings as we progressively become less and less sinful and more and more holy. No setbacks. No reversals. No stumbles, no falls. In this idealized view, once we overcome a problem, it never again causes us any difficulty. Once we gain victory over a sin, it never tempts us again. Once we learn a lesson, we never have to repeat it. Once we attain a certain "level" of spiritual maturity, we never again are subject to the mistakes and struggles and sins that we had to deal with before.

· The problem is that that’s all bunk. There are no such "levels" in the Christian life. Yes, there is such a thing as Christian maturity, there is such a thing as spiritual growth. But the road of our spiritual journey isn’t a freeway where you just sail along at 65 miles an hour. The road of our spiritual journey is more like I-90. [Construction Zone / Detour / back roads / lost / backtrack / flat tires / not paying attention - major accident].

· So here’s the question: what do you do when you fail? Not, "how do you avoid ever failing?" But, "what do you do when you’ve done wrong?" What do you do when you’ve failed your family, your employer, yourself? What do you do when you’ve failed God?

* I’m not talking about mistakes, or errors in judgement, or misunderstandings. I’m not talking about the times when you try your best and don’t achieve your goal. I’m talking about sin. Moral failure. Wrongdoing. Unrighteousness. I’m talking about knowing the right thing to do, and yet doing the opposite. I’m talking about lying, stealing, deceitfulness, selfishness, gossip, [7 deadly sins - pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, sloth].

* I’m talking about the times when you come to your senses and realize that you’ve messed up royally. You’ve hurt people. You’ve violated your principles. You’ve intentionally disregarded the teachings of the Bible. You’ve acted in such a way as to bring dishonor to yourself and to the name of Christ. You’ve violated God’s Law.

What do you do? How do you get back on track? How do you avoid just falling farther and farther into the pit of sin that you’ve been digging for yourself? What do you do to restore your relationship with God?

This morning I’d like to give some driving directions for those who have come to realize that they are heading in the wrong direction. Consider this a road map to guide you back to the straight and narrow.

David and Nathan

[Summarize David and Bathsheba] Then God sent the prophet Nathan to David with a message:

This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

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