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Psalm 51: Life Changing Prayer

Sin will kill you. Which is just another way to say you will kill you; which is just another way to say, God will not tolerate sin; which is just another way to say there is life and joy in obedience. We need a change of course. Normally we respond to sin in one of two ways: Self-denial or self-improvement. Both send our lives into a sort of death spiral, orbiting around our own sinfulness.

Denial takes a lot of work. We try unloading the heavy backpack full of our sin, to cover it up. We shovel on comparison to bury the bag; certainly our sin is not as bad as those around us. We shield others from opening up the zipper to see what’s inside. Walls go up, keeping us from honest relationships with God and others. We think He’d never take us back, no love, no mercy, no relationship. There is no joy in self-denial.

We try self-improvement, hoping to counterbalance the heavy weight and steady ourselves. We add good deeds to our sin. A little more bible study. A better attitude. Helping others, speaking kindly, living tolerantly. Life only gets heavier. We think He’d never embrace a dirty me, so we do not run to Him. There is no joy in self-improvement.

David lugged his sin silently around, doing more, hiding more, until God centered Himself in the king’s life once again. “You are that man!” that sinful wretched pauper of a man, who had everything yet needed more. Who slept with a woman who was not your wife, who sentenced her husband to death, who tried to hide your discontentment. God, and His sovereign gifts were not enough.

We cannot avoid our sin.. We cannot compensate for our sin. There is only one way to change course, to find life again, to enjoy relationship with God and others. We must confess, repent, and rejoice.

Confess:

We are not honest with God because we fear rejection. God is “steadfast in love.” He did, does, and will stand in love with us. God is “abundant in mercy.” He will overwhelm us with his kindness. The first step out of our sin is confession.

Slow down, list your sins before God. What have you done? What have you left undone? What have you desired? What have you hated or loved? Lay these things before God. Then, investigate why. This is the reality, who you are. Why is God not enough for you? Why have you chosen sin rather than Him? Tell Him, honestly, why you do or don’t do these things. He can take it. He wants to take it. He is always loving and deeply merciful.

Repent:

Knowing who we are and what we have done to God is knowing that it is against Him only that we have sinned. And it is by Him only that we will be transformed. He must change our course, create in us clean hearts, purifying, washing, purging, cleansing, blotting out the stain of our sinful selves. Joy, relationship with God, is restored as He upholds in us a willing spirit to do His will. Our hope is His indwelling Spirit, empowering us for obedience.

Take time to picture your life in the area of your sin. What would it look like if He supplied in you a willing, obedient, heart? Picture walking in the opposite course of your sin, in love with God, fully in line with His desires. What would it look like to cherish a beautiful woman as God’s daughter, desiring her salvation, not her? What would it look like to give your money generously to meet needs, other than your own? It’s all the same question: What would this area of your life look like if God was enough for you? Ask Him to make this your reality.

Rejoice:

Life doesn’t orbit around self or sin when all is laid bare before Him and we walk away forgiven and transformed. Life begins to orbit around God. The only fitting response is worship. He is worthy of our praise! Oh, what a salvation He has freely given! Oh, how He has transformed our lives! If only everyone knew this gracious God who has forgiven sin and made us new! Joy.

Take time to praise God for your forgiveness. In the moment of your sin, Jesus loved you. You have been spared. The Jewish people once took the hyssop plant, dipping it in the blood of a lamb, to spread the blood on their doorposts. God passed over, sparing their children. Year after year, God’s people dipped hyssop in the blood of animals to sprinkle it over themselves as a sacrifice for sin. God passed over, sparing their judgment. David called for God’s purging of the hyssop plant for his own cleansing. Only when Jesus hung on the cross, and the hyssop branch lifted a sponge soaked in wine to His lips, did He drink down the punishment for sin, once for all. God’s wrath settled upon Jesus in the spilling of His blood. It is finished and we are spared, because He was not.

God is steadfast in love and abundant in mercy. Confess your sin. Repent and turn to Christ in obedience. Rejoice, you are forgiven.

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