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James Merritt - Planting Your Feet

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    James Merritt - Planting Your Feet

Well, we're in a series that we're calling "Fault". And we've been talking about those times when things go wrong in our relationships, whether it's our relationship with God, our relationship with each other. And what we've been saying is, is that whenever there is a rupture in a relationship, whenever there is a fracture in a friendship, somebody is always at fault. There's no such thing as a no-fault separation. There really is no such thing as a no-fault divorce. And the problem is, too often, whenever a relationship breaks down, what we do is, we try to find the blame or fix the blame rather than trying to fix the problem. We said, "That's not the way to do it".

Well, today, we're going to look at the last step that we've got to take if we're gonna be totally free from our fault. And I'll tell you why that's so important. David wrote a psalm, and he wrote a psalm about how he found the way back to redemption and restoration and reconciliation because of something happened that was his fault, and it caused an unbelievable earthquake in lives that almost killed an entire kingdom. So if you brought a Bible or an iPad or a smartphone or a tablet or whatever, I want you to turn to the Book of Psalms. It's the biggest book in the Bible. It's almost in the middle. You can't miss it. And I want you to turn to the 32nd psalm.

Remember, now, psalms are songs. And I want you to turn to Psalm 32. And here's what David is doing. In this Psalm, David is looking, in effect, in the rearview mirror of his life at a terrible sin that he had committed in the past, and it was his fault. And the ghost of guilt, from the time that David blew it, from the time that David messed up, the ghost of guilt had haunted David 24/7 until he finally made things right with God and with the people that he hurt. So what you're really looking at today in Psalm 32, this is a good way to look at it, this is kind of an X-ray of a forgiven heart. This is an X-ray of what someone looks like when they're totally right with God, and they know it. And they're totally right with other people, and they know it. This is a X-ray of a heart of someone who said, "I'm the one that broke it, but with God's help, He helped me to fix it".

And so this what we're gonna be looking at this morning. Now, in case you don't know the story, in case you're here today and you don't even know who David is or don't remember his story, let me just kind of give you a quick review. Many of you will remember it. David had committed adultery with another man's wife, and he'd gotten her pregnant. And rather than doing the right thing because he'd done the wrong thing, he doubled down and did another wrong thing. So he has her husband murdered to hide what he'd done. Well, that fault caused a relational and emotional and a personal earthquake that left behind unbelievable damage. It cost an innocent man his life. It cost a newborn baby boy his life. It destroyed a marriage. It shamed a king. And it broke God's heart. And David was totally in the wrong. It was all David's fault. It was completely him.

Now, at this point in his life, David would have been a prime candidate for this series that we're in, because remember, we said the first step you've got to take if you want to fix what you've broken, you've got to confess. You've got to confess your sin. All right, David had done that. He had confessed his sin. Then we said the second thing you've got to do is, you've got to repent of your sin, and by God's grace, you've got to turn away from it. Well, guess what. David had done that. But now what David does is so important. David tells us how to plant your feet on the solid rock of forgiveness and turn the sadness of a fault into the gladness of forgiveness. And this is what I want you to take out the door. And some of you, you're gonna be so glad you came this morning, 'cause I know where some of you are living right now. Listen. You will only act forgiven, that's the key word, you will only act forgiven when you accept the forgiveness that God has applied.

Now, let me tell you who I'm talking to this morning. There's some of you in this room, and you blew it. It's your fault. You're divorced, and the divorce was your fault. You're the one that messed up. Whatever it was that broke down the marriage, you know that you're primarily responsible. Your spouse did not want the divorce. You insisted on the divorce. You look back, it's one of the greatest regrets you have in your life. And you've confessed before the Lord how you blew it. You've repented of it. You've turned away from that sin. Maybe you've even gone to that ex-spouse, and you've asked that spouse to forgive you of your sin. But you still struggle with the guilt of this. You still don't feel forgiven.

All right, maybe it's some other type of sin in your life. It can be a sexual sin or a social sin or some other kind. Maybe it's a financial sin. I don't know what it is. But you've taken these two steps I've talked about; you've even walked out the door and you've said to yourself over the last two weeks, "I don't understand it. I've done what you've asked me to do, pastor. I've confessed. Matter of fact, I've confessed this to God 1,000 times. And I've repented. I've honestly turned away from it. Why do I still feel guilty"? Or here's something I hear from so many people all the time. "You know, I know God's forgiven me, and I know that the other person's forgiven me, but I just can't forgive myself". Well, how do you get past that? How do you do that?

And I'm gonna show you today how to do that once and for all. There are three steps you need to take. Some of you really need to hear this. Number one, you've got to recognize your sin. We got to go back, let's go back to the basics. You've got to recognize your sin. Listen to what happened. Even though this is a song about a fault and a failure in David's life, it's not a song about sadness. It's a song about gladness. It begins with the words, "Blessed is the one," and it ends with the words, "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice". Now, I don't know if you know this or not, but the word "blessed" in the Hebrew and the Greek language literally means to be happy. I have found in my life, the happiest person in the world is a person whose conscience is clear and whose fault has been forgiven. Well, David is a happy guy.

You say, "But he committed adultery". He did. "He had a man murdered". He did. "He cost a baby boy his life". He did. "Well, how in the world could David be happy"? Because even though he had done wrong, God had made him right. Even though he had gotten filthy, God had cleaned him up. And the reason why God had made David right is because he admitted he had been wrong. Now, if you know David's story, you'll know this. If you don't, let me go back, tell you one part I didn't share. When David first did all of this, he gets Bathsheba pregnant; he has Uriah murdered. When David first does all this, he tries to cover it up. He hid it. He didn't say anything. And if you know his story, that really didn't work out too well for him.

As a matter of fact, he tells about it in verse 30, Psalm 32:3. He says, "When I kept silent", that is, when I didn't say a word, when I didn't confess my sin to anybody; I tried to cover it up, I tried to hide it, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand", that is God's hand, "For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was dried up as by the heat of summer". David finally realized, you'll never get clean until you come clean. Let me say that again. You'll never get clean until you come clean. And David was not put on the freeway of forgiveness until he finally recognized his sin for what it really was.

Let me tell you what I mean by that. Now, let's go back and listen to these first two verses. By the way, read this slowly and carefully 'cause every word's very important. David said, "Blessed", this is a guy that's happy. "You want to be happy," David said, "then you be like me". "Blessed is the one whose transgression", keep that word in mind, "is forgiven, whose sin", keep that word in mind, "is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity", keep that word in mind, "and in whose spirit there is no deceit". So David says, "Understand just how deep your faults go". You've got sins that you commit, and you've got transgressions that you commit, and you've got iniquity that you commit.

Now, the question is, why does David go into such depth about sin's depth? Why does David go so deep into just how deep sin really is? Because David understands something you need to understand. You'll never understand, A, just why you need to be forgiven, B, just how costly forgiveness is, and C, how desperately we need to have it, unless you understand how deep your sin really is, how deep your faults really are, and how numerous your faults really are. So David says, "If you want to be forgiven and live forgiven and know you're forgiven and go to sleep forgiven, you've got to plant your feet on the solid rock of honesty and get honest with God and honest about yourself about your faults". So David said, "First thing I did was, I recognized my sin". Everybody got it?

Step two. Once you recognize your sin, then you realize God's forgiveness. Now, in case you're feeling real bad right now, some of you are probably thinking, "Gosh, I knew I was bad, but I didn't know I was that bad". Right? Or some of you may be saying to your husband right now, "I told you you were that bad". Okay? Here's my point. Listen. This is not a song of sadness. This is a song of gladness. Oh, yes, David was sad over his faults, but he was even more glad over his forgiveness. And here's what I want you to watch. David says, "Look, for every type of fault that we have, God has a solution". For every way that we do wrong, for every fault we have, God has the perfect remedy. For every spiritual sickness that you have, God has a spiritual cure.

So let's go back. So what about the times that we trespass, when we go into forbidden territory, when God says, "You shall not," and we do it anyway? What about those times when we do what we should not do? How does God handle that? Verse 1. He said, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is", say that word with me, "forgiven". "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven". Now, this is important. The word "forgive" literally means to carry away. That's what the word "forgive" literally means. And it means that you lay the blame on somebody else. All right, here's a great Biblical illustration of that. Have you ever heard the term "scapegoat"? Everybody heard the term "scapegoat," right? Okay. A scapegoat is somebody that takes the fall for somebody else. You may not know where we got that term.

Let me tell you, it comes literally out of the Bible. Back in the day when Jewish people used to make sacrifices for the sins of the people, once a year, they would all gather together, all of them, the whole nation would gather together, and the high priest would bring out a goat. And the high priest would lay his hands on that goat, and he would confess all the sins of all the people, all the transgressions of all the people, all the times that they had crossed over into God's forbidden territory. He would lay his hands on that goat, and he would confess all of the sins over that goat. He would literally, figuratively, rather, he would lay all the sins of the people onto that goat. Then they would release that goat and send that goat out into the wilderness, never to be seen again. David says that's what God does with all of our transgressions. He carries them away.

Now, you know how God does that ultimately and eternally, right? Jesus is the ultimate and the eternal scapegoat. And when God allowed His Son to be crucified on the cross, He took all of our iniquities, He laid them on Jesus, and when Jesus died and came back from the dead, He carried all of them away. All right, got that. All right, then he says this. "Blessed is the one whose sin is", what's that word? Covered, all right? "Whose sin is covered". Now, this is what's so ironic to me. And I'll tell you, when David wrote this, he probably was crying and laughing at the same time, 'cause this is what's so ironic. When we try to cover up our sin, God will reveal it. "Be sure," the Bible says, "your sin will find you out". Be sure. When we try to cover up our sin, God will reveal it.

But guess what else happens. When we confess our sin, God will conceal it. Isn't that strange? If I try to cover it up, God says, "I'm gonna uncover it". And God says, "Once you uncover it, I'll cover it". Remember the phrase, "out of sight, out of mind"? Let me tell you this. Listen to this. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, His blood covered all our sins. Harper's asked me this before. Harper says, "Pop, is there anything that God can't do"? And of course there are some things God can't do, right? You know, God can't create a rock so big he can't pick it up, because, you know, God's omnipotent. God can do anything. You know what I told Harper one time? I said, "Harper, God can't see our sin through the blood of Jesus Christ". Can't see it. Absolutely, totally, completely covered up. It's out of sight and it's out of mind. That's what God's Word means when it says God forgives our sin.

Now, this is so important, I don't want any of you to miss it. When God forgives our sins and God forgets our sins, we should too. I'm gonna say that again. When God forgives our sins and God forgets our sins, we should too. Now, listen carefully. Watch this. "When we remember what God remembers, we are guilty". In other words, God remembers our sin. God says, "You did it. You were wrong. You need to confess up to it". You go to God and you say, "God, you're right. I remember exactly what you remember. We are guilty". All right? When we remember what God remembers, we are guilty. Now, watch this. When we remember what God forgets, we feel guilty even though we're not guilty. When we remember what God forgets, we feel guilty even though we're not guilty. Everybody got that? All right, now watch this. When we forget what God forgets, we are not guilty and we won't feel guilty. When we forget what God forgets, we're not guilty, and we won't feel guilty.

See, the reason why sometimes we feel guilty even though we're not is because we keep trying to remember what God has already forgotten, and we keep trying to uncover what God has already covered. There was a man that went to see his doctor one time, and he said, "Doc, you got to help me". And the doctor said, "Well, what's wrong"? He said, "I'm suffering from amnesia". He said, "Really"? He said, "Yes, I've got this bad problem with amnesia". He said, "Well, what should I do"? Doctor said, "Just go home and forget about it". Now, that's exactly what God does with our sin. When you come to God and you confess and you repent, God says, "Okay, go home now and forget about it, 'cause that's exactly what I'm going to do. I forgive and I forget". And then David says this in verse 2. He said, "Blessed is the man against whom the Lord", what's that word? "Counts no iniquity". Star, you'll love this. You're a CPA, and we both majored in accounting.

That word "count" is an accounting term. It literally is an accounting term, and it means to charge something to someone's account. Remember I told you last week or the week before, sin is a debt that we incur. Well, here's what God does. When we come to God and we confess our iniquity, when we confess anything that we've done wrong and however the way we've done it, what God does is, He says, "You know what? I'm gonna wipe that debt off the books". And the reason why God can do that is because he's charged all of our sins to the account of Jesus.

So here's what David's trying to tell us. As deep as our faults go, God's forgiveness goes even deeper. Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. And David said, "For everything we've ever done against God, do you know what God's done with it? God's carried it away, God's covered it up, and God's canceled the debt". Can you just give the Lord a hand for that this morning? I mean, that's just great news. Think about it. Everything you've ever done, everything, I mean, everything. God says, "Hey, I carried it away, covered it up, canceled the debt". We need to realize God's forgiveness. Here's the problem. Some of you are sitting there and you're saying, "I get that. I understand that. I have heard that. But I'm still on a guilt trip, because even though I know God has forgiven me, I still haven't accepted it".

Now you need to take the third step, and this is it. This is the step. You've got to receive God's grace. Now, watch how this works. Listen to verse 5. Here's what David says. David say, "I acknowledge my sin to you". Okay, I confessed it. "I didn't cover my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.'" That was repentance. He said, "I'm turning away from this". "And you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah". Now, do you know what the word "Selah" means? It means pause and think about that. Stop and think about that. "You forgave the iniquity of my sin". Now, watch this. This is gonna be, this'll be worth the whole price of the trip this morning. This is the longest verse in this whole Psalm, which tells us it's probably the most important verse and the very heart of what David is saying. Because what David is doing is, he's giving testimony of two things: just how forgiven he is and just how forgiven we are.

Now, don't miss the progression. Watch what David says. David says when we acknowledge our sin, when we uncover our iniquity, when we confess our transgression, God completely forgives everything and totally washes away the dirt of all of our guilt, because here's what you're gonna find out. When we conceal our sin, guilt will imprison us. But when we confess our sin, grace will free us. Now here's what happens. Watch this. When you take your sin basket, and it's full, maybe at the end of every day, like mine, "Man, my sin basket, Lord, it's full again". And every time you take your sin basket to God and you dump it all out, God fills that basket with His forgiveness. No matter how dirty you are, when you get into the shower of God's grace, you are completely, immediately, and permanently clean.

And here's what I'm telling you. If God has forgiven you, you must forgive you. I'm gonna tell you why. If God has forgiven you but you don't forgive you, you just insulted God. Because what you really have said to God is this: "I'm better than You are. I've got a higher standard than You do". And I'm gonna tell you, if you want to slap God in the face and insult the Deity of Heaven, you dare tell Him that your standards are higher than You, you know what God says to you? "You know how high My standard is? My standard's so high, I allowed My own Son to be crucified for you. So don't tell me about how high your standards are. My standards are so high. My standards are infinitely higher than you are. And if I have forgiven you, don't you dare insult Me by not forgiving yourself. Don't you dare insult Me by not forgiving yourself".

If God has forgiven you, you must forgive you. You must do that. You must start thinking like a forgiven person, acting like a forgiven person, talking like a forgiven person. Now, watch this. Suppose you're sitting there and you're saying, "Well, pastor, I'm kind of like David. I sinned against someone, maybe like David did or some other type of sin". And let's suppose that you go to God and you confess that sin and God forgives you and you accept God's forgiveness. You say, "But here's my problem. I went to the person that I did wrong, and I asked their forgiveness, but they refused to forgive me. They said they would not forgive me".

So what do you do when you go to someone that you asked forgiveness from, you go to someone, you confess, you're trying to make things right, what do you do if they want to hold on to their grudge and they want to hold on to their bitterness? All right, listen carefully. At that point, their problem is no longer your problem. At that point, their problem is no longer your problem. And don't you ever let anyone keep you on the freeway of guilt when God has put you on the exit ramp of grace. Don't you ever let anyone keep you on the freeway of guilt when God has put you on the exit ramp of grace.

Now, you may be here today or maybe at our Mill Creek campus or you're listening, and maybe you've confessed over and over again. And you're saying, "Look, I know in my head God's forgiven me, but in my heart, I've not forgiven myself. And why do I keep having these guilt feelings? Why do I keep getting convicted? Why does this thing keeps coming up in my mind"? All right, let me help you and we'll be done. At that point, I want you to always remember this. If you're still on a guilt trip of something that you've confessed, that you repented of, and that you know in your heart God has forgiven you of, if you're still on a guilt trip at that point, remember this: you are no longer dealing with God. Now you're dealing with Satan. Now you're dealing with a totally different spiritual being.

I want you to listen to this. You need to write this one down. "Satan will accuse you of sin that God has already forgiven". Satan will accuse you of sin that God has already forgiven. God's spirit will only convict you of sin that you've never confessed. God's spirit will only convict you of sin that you've tried to cover up. Let me tell you why. God never digs up old dirt. God never digs up trash that has already been buried.

You know, one of the great things about living in America is the Constitution. One of the greatest, maybe the greatest document outside the Bible that really has ever been written. Unbelievable foresight that our forefathers had writing the Constitution. Well, you probably know this, but the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution gives us what is known as the law of double jeopardy. And what the Fifth Amendment basically says is this: that once a person is found innocent of a crime, he can never again be tried for that crime, even if you're guilty. If you go before a jury of your peers, and they pronounce you not guilty, even if later on it comes out you're guilty, you're not guilty. You can never be tried for that crime again.

Listen to this. There's also a law of spiritual double jeopardy. Once God convicts you of sin and once you confess that sin and repent of that sin, you receive forgiveness of that sin, and God makes a promise. "I'll never bring that up to you again. I'll never throw that up in your face again. As a matter of fact, I not only forgive it, I will forget it". The best news of all is, we have the right to have our sins forgiven and forgotten because of the cross of Jesus Christ. I have the right even to say to a holy God, based on his character and his Word, "You can never bring this up to me again. Because of the blood of Christ, it's been forgiven and forgotten".

And that's why David says this in verse 6. "Therefore, let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him". Here's how David closes this whole thing. When David cried out to God, God forgave him. And the same God that forgave David will forgive you. So if you're listening today and you're sitting there and you know it's your fault that caused a relational earthquake, and it separated you from God and it separated you from others, here's the good news today. Through Jesus Christ, anytime you're ready, you can plant your feet on the solid rock of God's grace; you can plant your feet on the unshakeable ground of God's forgiveness, and you can know that, once and for all, you can go to sleep with a clean, clear conscience, because all has been carried away, all has been covered up, and every debt has been canceled.
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