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Jack Graham - How to Be Forgiven

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    Jack Graham - How to Be Forgiven
TOPICS: Songs of Encouragement, Guilt, Forgiveness

David is the author of both these psalms as he is the author and the composer of most of the psalms that are contained in God's Word. He was not only a great worship leader, but a warrior, a shepherd-king, a sovereign, a great man, a dynamic leader. A man who was described in the Bible as "after God's own heart". Wouldn't you like to be described in this way? A man, a woman after the heart of God. David was that kind of man. He was a great man and a godly man. He won great victories in his life and for the people of Israel, a giant killer and a powerful, powerful leader, a man among men. Of course, he was a believer in the one true God, the Lord God. A believer. But as we've noted David, being a great man, he was also at a place and point in his mid-life, no doubt, a great sinner.

In fact, his sin with Bathsheba becomes the most famous sin in the Bible, not withstanding perhaps the sin of Adam and Eve. The sin of David and Bathsheba is the most well known sin in all the Bible. I hate it that David so often known, not for his giant killing, but for the weakness that he displayed in his great sin. Because while David was a great sinner, we're also going to see in the passage before us that he was a great repenter and a great confessor, and found the forgiveness of God. This message is for anyone who needs God's forgiveness. Any person who needs the grace of God, and that is all of us.

This message is also a warning and wise words from God's Word that protect us and prevent us from falling hard like David fell. He should have known better. He did know better! He shouldn't have stayed at home while his armies were out battling for the future of Israel. He shouldn't have lazed around, languished around the balcony that day and leered lustfully at a naked woman taking a bath. He shouldn't have felt so entitled as the king, so prideful that he sent for her, this woman, Bathsheba, that he seduced her, that he slept with her and sinned with her. He should have known he wouldn't get away with it because Bathsheba conceived and was with child, and so now he's got a real problem and he begins to try to cover it up. He should have known he couldn't cover it up, but he tried, even to the extent of bringing Bathsheba's husband home from the battle line, getting him drunk, trying to send him home to be with his wife to cover up the sin.

And then when that didn't work, plan B, to send him to the front of the battle lines to set him up for sure death. And he did, he took a man's wife, and he took a man's life. It is a sorted, sensual sad tragic episode in the Scriptures, and certainly in the life of David. For one solid year-365 24/7-he tries to suppress the story, repress his own guilt, to forget about it, to hide it, to hold on to it in some way. But then God sent a fearless, courageous prophet by the name of Nathan. And Nathan was bold enough to walk into the court of David, put a long bony finger in his face and said, "David, you're the man who's committed great sin". David's busted. The prophet calls him out, and he's broken and contrite over his sin, until David came to a place of genuine repentance. And that prayer for repentance and confession is found in Psalm 51. It's a prayer that we all can pray when we sin, whether our sin is big and bad and bold like David's, or whether it is small and secret, and yet sin.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; and a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise".

Think with me about the cost of committing sin, the high cost of committing sin. It's been said the most valuable thing in the world is a human soul. "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul"? But the most expensive thing on earth is human sin. And David realizes the cost of committing sin. And he gives us in the first several verses here of chapter 51, a description of the nature of sin. You have something of a theology, the truth about sin. And though most people believe in sin of some sort, most do not understand or comprehend the consequences of sin. He uses several words. It is as though he ransacks his own vocabulary to give us several words that describes sin. For example, in chapter 51, Psalm 51, he speaks in verse one of transgressions, "My transgressions".

Notice, he's not talking about you or me, but his own sin. He's owning it himself. "my transgressions". And it's a word which means lawless or rebellious; a trespass. What is there about us that, you know, I remember as a small child (transgressions are wrapped up in the heart of a child.) if I saw a no trespassing sign I was sure to go over there, just because. That's rebellion that's in the heart of a human being. It's rebellion. It's crossing a line. And it's also a sin. He uses the word sin which a failure to reach the line, missing the mark, falling short. So sin can be transgression, it can be going over the line, outside the line, living outside the boundaries of God's law, or it could mean falling short and not coming up to the call of God, and meeting the goal and the standards of God. It's a short-coming. It's a failure. It's a missing the mark! He also uses the word iniquity here which is very strong word. It means perverted. It means twisted, crooked. And then he uses the word evil which means evil.

Billy Graham said, "Sin is a fountain of woe, the mother of sorrows. As universal as human nature and as eternal as human history. Sin has caused all the war, and all the hatred, and all the violence, and all the greed, and all the pain! We see it everywhere! Sin is a pollution and a problem that must be solved". Can a Christian sin? We know it's true. David was a believer. In fact, one my mentors Adrian Rogers, used to say that the most miserable man on earth is not an unsaved man, but a saved man or woman out of fellowship with God. And as a result of his sin David, like any true believer now is broken and in bondage to his sin. Again, for one solid year he's covering up; he's hiding it. Sin is our worst enemy. It's in all of us, in every single tell tale heart that beats. There is no sin that you or I would not commit if we took our eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ. We all have a proclivity, we all have a propensity! It's in our DNA. It's a flaw, a fracture in our souls.

That's what David means in verse 5 of 51 when he says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me". In other words, I was born a sinner and I chose to be a sinner along the way. And that's all of us! He said, "My sin is ever ever before me". It was staring him down and wearing him down. The Scripture says, "Be sure your sin will find you out". And so David is found out, and in this great confession he tells us something about the consequences of sin, the consequences specifically of covering sin. First, he says, when you try to cover your sin, it defiles your soul. It's pictured as dirtying the soul. Verse 1, verse 2, verse 7, verse 10. And then he says it disturbs the mind.

Look at verse 3: "For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me". His conscience, his conviction is thundering in his soul and is terrorizing him. He's living in hell! Emotionally, psychologically, he can't get his mind off of it! It's there when he gets up in the morning, it's there when he lays down at night. And then he says it depresses the heart. He'd lost his joy. He prays that God would return unto him the joy of his salvation. He lost his joy! He lost his happiness! He thought for one moment of pleasure he lost all his joy! It's like the old evangelist used to say, rip roaring evangelist would say things like "sin thrills, and then it kills! It fascinates, and then assassinates".

That's what sin is doing to David's heart. It's depressing his heart. And sin will dissipate the body. The soul and the spirit and the body are so close together, they catch each others diseases. And there is psychological trauma that produces physical trauma. So he's describing his bones as aching; his bones are stiffening. He's feeling literally physical pain and suffering! It's a byproduct of his sin. It dissipates the body. It's only a year later but I dare say if you had looked into the face of David you would have seen the caressing of sin, the scar of sin! Why? Because the scripture says, "the way of the transgressor is hard"! It was hell for David. Not only that, but it defeats the spirit. Verse 10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me". His attitude was sour and defeated. He's a defeated believer.

And it also destroys a believer's testimony. That's what it did for David. That's why he prayed, "Deliver me from blood guiltiness and then I will sing aloud Your praises". You can't sing, you can't worship, you can't say anything much about the Lord because you've lost your testimony? Why? Because you're living a lie! You're living in unrepentant sin! And guilt will affect you physically. The guilt is just grinding him up. Why is this all true? Because a loving heavenly Father won't allow His children to get away with sin. A loving Father disciplines His own children and there are consequences to sin in our lives.

If you're an unbeliever there are ultimate consequences and there's hell to pay, but if you're an unbeliever... I've heard people say, "Well, no problem for me. I sin all I want to". That's a problem because you're not saved. If you are saved, if you know the Lord, if the Holy Spirit lives in your life, you cannot sin and live the rest of your life unrepentant as a prodigal and not be convicted, and not experience discipline, even death, because there is a sin unto death. God will not allow His children to live in sin.

Here's a thought! God will not condone in the believer what He condemns in the unbeliever. I've seen this through the years as a pastor, as a friend. I've seen people live a lie. Everything looks good on the outside, but inside is the death of sin. And you know, no one likes to admit that they're wrong. We can all understand to some degree, right, David's reluctance to repent? He was so ashamed of himself; he was so horrified by his own behavior; and so he doesn't say anything. Maybe it will go away. Maybe God will just forget about it. And he thinks that if I don't say anything, it didn't happen. But it happened; it happened. But we don't like to admit we're wrong.

I mean in our marriages, we get in an argument... You say, "Pastor, you and your wife, you and Deb get into arguments"? No, not really. We can be heard having discussions from several blocks away from time to time. But why is it so hard to say those five or six words. "I'm sorry, I was wrong. Please forgive me". "I'm sorry, I was wrong. Please forgive me". Why is that so hard to say? Because we're constantly defending ourselves. We're constantly making our point. We want to be right. We don't want to be wrong especially in the sight of God. And in the sight of people. So he doesn't say anything. Maybe we defend ourselves or we make our point.

Admission, by the way, is not confession. Getting caught is not repentance. Regret and remorse is not repentance. Sorry that it happened but it's true repentance; it's genuine contrition and confession, own it and name it because you have to come clean in order to be clean. If you feel conviction kicking in right now, thank God for it. If the guilt turns you to godly sorrow and grace that means that you're God's child and that you are forgiven when you honestly, openly own it, admit it and acknowledge it, and say what God says about it. It's wrong, it's wrong. David's not blaming his parents, he's not blaming his circumstances, he's not saying, well I was stressed out. I've been a king too long or I deserved it because I was the king. No, he said, I've done this great wickedness before God.

And then, therefore, we discover with David the celebration of confessing sin. There's the cost of committing sin, there are the consequences of covering sin, physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, socially. But thank God, there's the celebration of confessing sin. That's Psalm 32. Psalm 51 is the confessing, Psalm 32, written really after Psalm 51, is the celebration. Look at verse 1 of chapter 32 of the Psalms: "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven". Now David is praising God for His forgiveness, "whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, I was groaning all the day long".

I like the way that The Message gives that. It says, "The pressure never let up. All the juices of my life dried up". He was living in a desert; groaning all day long. "For day and night your hand was heavy on me; and my strength was dried up; it's the heat of summer and I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you will forgive the iniquity of my sin.'" And then he said, verses 6 and 7, I love this: "Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found", God may be found today. His Spirit is searching your heart, and if you, like David, feel like you're the man! Or you're the woman! "Oh, how I wish we could turn back the clock", so often. Right?

I wish I could change things for some of you. I wish I could change things for that girl who gave up her virginity so easily. I wish I could change that. I wish I could change the man, the situation that a man would be unfaithful to his wife and tear down his family! I wish I could change that! I wish I could change the fact that some of you, your minds are polluted with pornography and filth and perversion! I wish I could change the fact that some of you aborted a baby. You took the life of a child because you were covering your sin! I can't change it. And you can't fix it, but I know Someone who can. He said, "Wash me, I'll be whiter than snow". He said, "I'll blot out the transgressions". It's a record book of sin. Said, "I'll delete it"! "If you call upon Me I will change your life".

The Bible tells us that all sin, any sin, every sin, whatever the cause or the circumstances or the conditions or the consequences, no matter how small the sin may be or how big the sin may be, how secret it is or how public it is, God says the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanses and covers from all sins! That He went to the cross and died, and Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. And that's the shout of the psalm that David is singing here in Psalm 32, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven"! Happy is the one! He closes it down, verse 11, "Be glad in the Lord"! Are you glad in the Lord? "And rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, the upright of heart". Because He makes us upright in heart! "O Happy Day! When Jesus washed my sins away"! That's what David is saying. That'd be a good place for an Amen right there!
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