Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
As I was praying this morning and pleading forgiveness for the embarrassing amount of sin in my life, I couldn’t help thinking of Psalm 51, the Psalm that seemed to have been written specifically for those who are truly repentant of their sin.
It never ceases to amaze me that God anticipates every struggle we humans have, even the struggle to be convinced that God can forgive us once again for the same old sin that we keep committing over and over. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? We have those same old sins that just keep showing up in our life like stray dogs that get into the trash bags left on the curb every Tuesday morning for the garbage truck.
In order to avoid total despair at my lack of power to gain present victory over my sin, I have to constantly remind myself of what King David wrote in Psalms 51. Keep in mind, David is the only man in Scripture described as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13.22). However, he was also a man guilty of terrible sin – sin that he was painfully aware of: adultery, murder, bloodshed, etc. In fact, David had broken every single commandment. Guess what? So have you, and so have I. Don’t believe me?
- Have you EVER put anything before God? Don’t even think about denying that one… GUILTY!
- Ever worshipped an idol? Careful… it’s a little more complicated than just bowing down to a golden calf. We can idolize money, comfort, achievement, recognition, self-importance, affluence, security…. many things are idols. Who among us have not bowed down to one of these things at least once in our lives? GUILTY!
- Have you ever spoken God’s name casually, flippantly, disrepectfully or without the reverence He deserves? Have you ever invoked God’s name and then not followed through? GUILTY!
- Have you ever failed to set aside appropriate time to worship, to rest and to give God the time He deserves from us? GUILTY!
Well, you get the point. We could continue through all the commandments, and I promise you, there is not ONE commandment that we are all not guilty of breaking. God knew exactly how sin would affect us, and the Commandments directly reflect that. The Commandments aren’t a list of rules God made up so that He could punish us… they are a list of commandments that effectively show the sincerely repentant Believer how sin saturates every aspect of our behavior.
When we approach God,
truly understanding the reality of our sin,
it changes the basis of our plea for forgiveness.
When we approach God as sinners who have broken (and broken and broken and broken) every single commandment, it forces us to approach God with a different plea. As humans we tend to think (even if we don’t admit it): “God, I’ve committed a few sins, but overall, I’m a pretty good person. Now, I need forgiveness for those sins, I agree, but don’t forget to recognize that for the most part, I’m a pretty good person; especially compared to those around me”.
Beloved, that kind of mindset is exactly the essence of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (NKJV; emphasis mine). If there’s such a thing as “worse sin”, it’s a much worse sin to minimize, rationalize or ignore our sin than it was to commit the sin in the first place.
We should be so grateful to God that He has reminded us that we can ask forgiveness from Him, not according to what we deserve, but according to WHO God is. We ask for mercy based on God’s lovingkindness, not our own merit. We ask for grace based on God’s tender mercies, not because we’ve are owed grace. We ask for forgiveness because God alone can blot out our sins for His glory, not because we deserve it.
Man, am I glad. I cannot imagine the desperation I would feel if I had to approach God and CONVINCE HIM that I deserved to be forgiven for the twenty-seventh-thousand time. If God’s mercy was earned by begging Him for it, I’d be in trouble. I don’t have enough time in a thousand lifetimes to BEG my way to forgiveness for all the sins I commit, recommit, and commit again.
Over the next few days we’ll take a look at this wonderful Psalm that offers hope to those who are coming to realize just how sinful we all really are. I don’t know about you, but I need all the hope and encouragement I can get when it comes to understanding God’s forgiveness for my sin.
Lord God, Help us to see forgiveness as You see it, to understand sin as You reveal it in Your Word, and to approach You dependent not on anything about us, but on who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: Sin. You wouldn’t think “sin” is a very profitable or useful subject if you were to judge by the amount of preaching/teaching we hear about it from our Christian leaders. That’s strange given what a prominent topic it is in Scripture. In fact, sin is easily one of the most imminent subjects in the Bible. No wonder that we hear little about it. Sinful humans tend to ignore, in proportion, the things that are most important to God.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?