In my mid-twenties I came face to face with the 32ndPsalm. It made me uncomfortable. I forced myself to read it twice. And then a third time. Then I just couldn’t pull myself away. The more uncomfortable I felt, the more I was drawn to the words on the page. I soon realized that there was something wrong – something inside of me. My heart wasn’t right. Sin was reigning there. It had been dwelling within for so long that I had become comfortable with it – until that day. Light was breaking through. It was a dreadfully painful experience, but I am eternally grateful for it. It changed me, as the Word of God should. Read these words together with me now:
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
I have since learned that the word “blessed” means “happy”.
Happy is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Happy is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them.
I don’t think we often attribute our unhappiness to the unconfessed sin in our lives. More often than not we blame our discontent on our circumstances or on what others have done to us.
When we submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in us – convicting us of sin – we open the door to happiness, to relief, to freedom. If we are His, he won’t let us have peace until we bring our sin before Him. We will be miserable. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
Once through the door, it is necessary to speak specifically to God regarding our sin. We must lay it before Him, recognizing what it is, rejecting it. When God spoke to me through these verses I realized just how much my sin had affected my relationship with Him. The chasm was great. This is really what caused my unhappiness-the great distance my sin had created between my Lord and I.
Matthew Henry wrote about the power of repentance:
“Upon our repentance, the transgression is forgiven; that is, the obligation to punishment which we lay under, by virtue of the sentence of the law, is vacated and cancelled; it is lifted off (so some read it), that by the pardon of it we may be eased of a burden, a heavy burden, like a load on the back, that makes us stoop, or a load on the stomach, that makes us sick, or a load on the spirits, that makes us sink. The remission of sins gives rest and relief to those that were weary and heavily laden, Mt. 11:28. It is the covering of sin, as nakedness is covered, that it may not appear to our shame, Rev. 3:18.”
For more commentary on this passage go here.
Confessing our sin is much more than telling God about our sin. It is recognizing the power that sin has had over us, and how it has coursed through our veins for too long. Oswald Chambers writes about the true nature of repentance:
“Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am utterly helpless; I know all through me that I am not worthy even to bear His shoes. Have I repented like that?” Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest p. 235)
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Cor. 7:10
So, what’s the difference between “worldly sorrow” and “godly sorrow”? Worldly sorrow is feeling terrible about the wrong you have done. Godly sorrow knows that you have offended God Himself and realizes that the depth of the offense requires atonement.
“Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses a man’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God – ‘against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.’ The marvels of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God’s grace. Repentance always brings a man to this point: I have sinned.” Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest p. 342)
The point of repentance is to get back into a right relationship with God Himself. As we draw nearer to Him we realize the utter wretchedness of our offence and begin to see the nature of sin the way God does. Onward we go, turning our back on that sin and moving forward in the amazing grace of our Lord – cleansed and forgiven. Once again we can claim the unchangeable truth that we are clothed in the very righteousness of Christ and stand justified before the Father.
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