By Jana White
Staff Writer for The Daily Grace Co.
When is the last time your sin was real to you? When was the last time you saw it as the Father does, and was broken over it? For many of us, we have grown to be content to sin less instead of being sinless. We have focused our attention, though subtly and, of course, behind the hidden doors of our hearts and minds, on how we are better than the one we have chosen to compare ourselves to. We all do it. But let’s remember who we compare ourselves to as Christians—the One whose life is our example—that is Jesus. And Jesus’ example is perfect, sinless, and holy. So when we see our sin, we see it as it really is—as heinous, evil, and wicked. I don’t know about you, but I need a heavy dose of that reality every minute throughout every day. Meditating on Psalm 51 helps me to do this.
In this psalm, we see the psalmist rightly seeing himself and his sin before God. Likewise, when we rightly see our sin before our holy God, we cry out along with him, “Have mercy on me, O God.” This plea comes from one who knows and understand the depth of his own sinfulness. And why should He have mercy? We know that we have sinned, and that sin has been part of our DNA since our conception. We sin out of the very nature of who we are. So why? Why should God be merciful to us? The psalmist tells us it is according to his “steadfast love and abundant mercy.” You see, God has placed His steadfast love on you if you are in Christ. He has called you to be One of His own. And nothing you can or will ever do will change your position before Him. David knew that he belonged to God, but He also had a clear picture of his sin and knew that sin leads to broken fellowship with the One in Whom he belonged. Just as David, we can cry out to Him for mercy. This cry bellows out from humility and wretchedness, knowing that the cry will fall on the ear of Him who is faithful to us according to His love and mercy.
In addition to the psalmist plea for mercy, he also desperately cries out for God to “blot out my transgressions,” “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,” and “cleanse me from my sin.” This psalm is a psalm of David after he had sinned with Bathsheba. He knew the depth of his sin and the acknowledgement of his sin led to a harsh reality of who he really is. Sin remains on David. The stain is still there, and he is in need of it to be clean. His pleas for cleansing are not pleas for a one-time stain removal, but conveys the need to be washed and washed and washed. David knew that his sin ran so deep (see v. 5) that he was in desperate need of a cleaning that only could come from the One who gave him life. It is a deep stain that will come at much cost. Friend, we are not less sinful than David. Our sin and the depth of our sin demands a high cost as well. And what is the cost? Colossians 2:14 says, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he [Jesus] set aside, nailing it to the cross. The gospel shows us the cost—the shedding of Jesus’s own blood. And this cleansing is not simply removing the outward stain of sin, but it will also bring healing from the shame and guilt that sin leaves behind. Surely this stain—this sin problem—is not something we should take lightly or simply choose to live with.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us where we are. Rather, he “delights in truth” and he will “teach me wisdom.” Just as David pleaded for cleansing, God will grant that to not just him—but to any sinner. David proclaims, that God will “purge me with hyssop.” The result of this purging will be that the psalmist will be clean. In its most literal form, God will “de-sin” you. God will “wash me, and I will be clean.” God will not simply treat the stain “good enough.” No, it will be removed. There will be no trace of sin or stain. For the blood of Jesus is sufficient to remove all sin.
As Christians, it is easy for us to get wrapped up into our post-conversion life and forget that we still need Jesus every single day. Every day presents us with new opportunities to act in our flesh and to sin in both old and new ways. We foolishly think we are okay and because we have Jesus now, our sin is okay. We bank on His grace instead of doing the hard work of killing the sin that resides inside of us. This is not how Paul instructs us to respond to grace. He says, “Shall we continue to sin so that grace can abound?” He strongly replies, “Absolutely not!” In the same way, our sin is not something to which we grow indifferent. Rather, in sanctification, we should be doing the exact opposite. As we grow in Christ, our hatred for the sin that lies inside of us should grow all the more awful and should break us—truly break us—all the more. Psalm 51 should give us great hope to know that when we confess our sin and actively seek the Lord’s help to kill it, there will be rejoicing. Though it may hurt, God is faithful to allow the bones that he has broken to dance.
At the end of Psalm 51, the psalmist concludes that God will not accept or delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings. Rather, he concludes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” This is what God desires from us. When is the last time you repented in brokenness? May we pray together: Holy Spirit, would you break us over our sin? Would you cause us to repent with our hearts and grow more in sync to the Father’s heart? We desire this so that holiness would become sweeter. God, we want to destroy sin at whatever cost.