The Forgiveness Of Sin
Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, favored by God] is he whose transgression is forgiven,And whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute wickedness,And in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted awayThrough my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me;My energy (vitality, strength) was drained away as with the burning heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You,And I did not hide my wickedness;I said, “I will confess [all] my transgressions to the Lord”;And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You [for forgiveness] in a time when You [are near and] may be found;Surely when the great waters [of trial and distressing times] overflow they will not reach [the spirit in] him. You are my hiding place; You, Lord, protect me from trouble;You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you. Do not be like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding,Whose trappings include bridle and rein to hold them in check,Otherwise they will not come near to you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked,But he who trusts in and relies on the Lord shall be surrounded with compassion and lovingkindness. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous [who actively seek right standing with Him];Shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
“Blackie’s loose, Blackie’s,” I yelled after I released the chain holding our ten-year old bird dog. From nowhere my missionary dad and brother materialized and we were off to catch Blackie before she bit someone. Pedestrians in our northwest China town scurried out of Blackie’s path as we closed in on her. My dad, huffing and puffing, looked down at me and promised, “George, when you get home you’re going to get the whipping of your life.”
Leading our captured dog back home, my older brother Paul,sensing my fear of the coming punishment, volunteered to take my place.
David had done something far worse than slipping Blackie loose. He committed adultery and instigated a chain of events which led to the death of his lover’s husband, Uriah. (2 Samuel 11) The law of God requires the sentence of spiritual death (separation from God) for the commission of any sin (Genesis 2:17, Ezekiel 18:20). David’s transgression, under the law of Moses, merited physical death as punishment.
But through the mercy of God, neither we nor David need receive what we deserve, rather God’s great grace is available. Psalm 32 articulates our gratitude when we experience the Lord’s forgiveness.
Psalm 32 opens with joy by repeating the word “blessed” as it provided four distinctions of atonement with God:
First, transgressions are forgiven. Forgiveness lifts and removes our deliberate, willful acts of sin.
Second, sins are covered. Forgiveness hides those times when we miss the mark, fall short, or fail to do as we ought.
Third, iniquity is not counted against us. Forgiveness drops all the charges against us.
Fourth, we are given a spirit without deceit. Forgiveness moves us into a future with a clean slate and where we no longer wish to repeat our wrong. Honest and genuine repentance will always produce a true life that has no deceit.
When Nathaniel the prophet first confronts David, David at first resists confessing his sin. However, when deeply convicted over his wrong, he spent a lengthy period of time groaning night and day under the weight of guilt. Sin, until its confessed saps our strength. Only when David took personal responsibility did change occur. Only when we take responsibility for our sins will change occur in us. As long as we shift the blame, we will remain the same.
God forgave David’s sins but the consequences remained: Uriah was dead and buried in a grave, the illegitimate son born to David and Bathsheba died.
George Wood says, “A sinful deed is like placing a nail in an expensive coffee table. Although forgiveness removes the nail, the scar remains- others suffer for the wrong we did.
Those who are forgiven can relax in the safety of God. “Let everyone who is godly pray to you.” David has been anything but godly, but what a change forgiveness brings to our standing with God. George Wood says, “The godly are not those who stand before Him commending themselves for living a good life, but who admit guilt. In the Lord’s sanctuary of forgiveness, safety is found. The suicidal moments of “wasting away” are over now that we are in a hiding place, protected from trouble, surrounded by songs of deliverance.”
Once we have received forgiveness, the Lord talks to us about our future. He has no desire to treat us like a horse or mule, controlling us with bits and blinders. He wants us to have a new sensitivity of obedience to Him. His desire is that we choose the right way, guided by His instruction and counsel.
Those whose sinful desires control their conduct, cause them to refuse to recognize that the “woes of the wicked” are many. Once we have been forgiven and surrounded by the Lord’s presence, we acknowledge the emptiness of the former life of sin.
Once we have been restored, the awareness of the goodness and faithfulness of God produces joy and gladness in our hearts. Our groaning and sighing is over and the singing has begun.
Living under the law of Moses eight centuries before Christ dies on the Cross, David’s understanding of forgiveness was fragmentary at best. Although he knew he had been forgiven, he did not know how. Although we ourselves aren’t able to fully comprehend forgiveness, the New Testament tells that someone has to pay for the wrong we commit. Peter in his letter (1 Peter 2:24) tells us that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” paying the sin debt we owed.
George Wood tells that his father made him bear the penalty for his disobedience. He rejected his brother’s offer. In our case, however, the Heavenly Father, sent His only Son, our Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, to the cross to take our punishment.
Oh what a Savior! Those whose sins have been forgiven and who recognize the extreme cost Jesus paid to cover them respond to Him with gratitude, worship, and willing obedience. We need not try to somehow pay for our failures, our forgiveness has already been purchased. We may suffer the consequences for our actions in this life for forgiveness doesn’t always remove them, but consequences aren’t Gods way of punishing us. They are the natural outcome of our choices. In the eternal view, consequences will not follow us into the world to come. They are the fleeting reaction to choice. David was fully forgiven by God and although he suffered the consequences, his throne was established forever through Christ Jesus.
The devil and others may remind us of our past, but God’s forgiveness covers a multitude of sin. Rest in His grace and love today. Confess your sin and receive His forgiveness. Unconfessed sin only harms us. God already knows about it, He’s just waiting for us to admit it and accept forgiveness. Don’t delay another second. Come to a gracious God and pour out your heart and find His grace in the time of need.
Dr. John Thompson