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Food For Your Soul
The Expository Teaching Ministry of Dr. D. Richard Ferguson 

Spreading & deepening delight in Christ

Psalm 32 Part 1
It’s So Good To Be Forgiven!

Favorite Psalms part 16
  
  What does God require of you after you have sinned? And what all does true confession involve? The first 30 minutes of this message will show you how to confess in a way that will bring real, lasting change in your life and give you victory over stubborn sins. The rest of the message is designed to help you enjoy your forgiveness. And I recommend sticking around for the Q&A at the end, as some important questions were asked.
  
  


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The Righteous Repent

Let’s begin this morning at the end of the psalm.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. 11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The psalm ends on a note of exuberant joy because of all the benefits that come to the righteous. The psalmist is one of the righteous, and so he is really happy. But the wicked do not get those benefits.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked.

Proverbs 13:15 ... the way of the unfaithful is hard.

A life of sin brings multiplied problems and woes and sorrows and, ultimately, destruction. But God’s love surrounds the righteous and the upright in heart.

So, that is really good news for some people and terrible news for others. Which are you? Are you among the wicked, or are you one of the righteous? Most people, presented with that question, will say, “Neither - I’m in the middle. I’m no saint. I’m not righteous and holy. But I’m certainly not wicked. I’m just ... average. I’m semi-righteous.” I think most people would put themselves in that category, even though that category does not exist. Throughout God’s Word there are always only two categories of people - the wicked and the righteous - nothing else. So I can assure you, you are in one of those categories. But which one? When you read some wonderful promise in Scripture and then you see that it is only for the righteous, do you wonder if it applies to you or not?

The Criteria for Being One of the Righteous
 
Not Sinless Perfection

What are the criteria for being one of the righteous? Does it mean you never sin? No.

James 3:2 we all stumble in many ways.

The psalm was written by David,[1] and he includes himself as being one of the righteous in this psalm, but he also talks about all his sin and iniquity and transgression in the psalm. So clearly being one of the righteous does not mean sinless perfection.

Not the Kind of Sins

Does it have to do with the kind of sin you commit? That is what most people believe. If you commit the big ones - murder, adultery, stealing, violence - things that would land you in jail - then you are wicked. But if you just do the little ones - worry, gossip, selfishness, complaining, pride - those are not such a big deal and can be overlooked. Nowhere in Scripture will you find anything even close to that kind of thinking. And again, that theory runs aground on the example of David. David is famous for committing adultery and murder, yet God forgave him and called him righteous, but God did not forgive the Israelites for the sin of grumbling and put thousands of them to death for committing that sin. The man who is held up as the primary example of a righteous life in the Old Testament committed adultery and murder, and the great example of a sinful, wicked generation was put to death for the sin of complaining. So it is not an issue of big sins vs. little sins, or sins that hurt others vs. private sins in the heart.

Not the Frequency of Sin

So what is it? Could it be the frequency of sin? I have heard preachers say that if you are truly saved, then yes, you will sin from time to time, but it will not be the pattern of your life. You will not be characterized by sin. Sin will be the exception rather than the rule. I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible either. That is not what the Bible says. Jesus taught us to pray on a regular basis, “Forgive us our sins.” We are constantly sinning - constantly falling short of God’s perfect standard - every hour of every day.

So if both the righteous and the wicked commit sins, and do so frequently, and they commit the same kinds of sins, then what is the difference? That question is really a two-part question. First, what is the difference, if any, in the behavior of the righteous and the wicked? And second, how does a person become one of the righteous?

How To Become Righteous: Faith

Let’s start with that second question - what makes a righteous person righteous? The answer is in verse 10.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.

The opposite of being wicked is trusting in the Lord. And in the next verse they are referred to as the righteous. The things that will make God look at you as being righteous, even though you continue to commit sins, is faith in Him.

Genesis 15:6 [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

So whether you are a good person or bad person is determined 100% by whether you have faith in God. Those who trust Him are considered righteous, and those who do not are considered wicked - no exceptions.

If you think you become a Christian or earn your way to heaven by reforming your behavior, going to church, reading your Bible, praying, doing good deeds - if you think that, you do not have the slightest understanding of what Christianity is, and you are not one of the righteous. It is through faith alone that we are saved.

What is the Difference in Behavior? Repentance

However, what about our behavior? Does that matter at all? Is there any difference between the way the righteous live and the way the wicked live? And if so, what is it? The answer is in verse 5. Verse 5 describes what is different in the behavior of the righteous compared to the behavior of the wicked.

5 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 forgave the iniquity of my sin.

How could David be considered righteous after committing sins like murder and adultery? Simple: he repented.

“That’s it? He didn’t have to do anything to pay for his sin?”

Nope.

“He didn’t have to show a track record of six months or so to prove that he had changed?”

No.

“Didn’t he at least have to say a couple ‘Hail Mary’s’ or pray through some rosary beads or do some kind of penance?”

No. He didn’t even have to follow the Pope on Twitter.

“Didn’t he have to carry out some kind of religious ritual or ceremony?”

No. When David was first confessing his sin to God he said this in Psalm 51 (by the way, if you want to learn how to confess your sin to God and how to interact with God in general after you have sinned, read Psalm 51. If you don't know about that psalm, it needs to be bookmarked in your Bible. It is the most beautiful and profound model of how to confess your sin to God and ask forgiveness that has ever been written.):

Psalm 51:16 you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

David did not have to do anything to make up for his sin. He just confessed it, and asked God to forgive him, and God did.

Confessing, Not Just Admitting

“Are you saying the only difference between the behavior of the wicked and the righteous is the righteous admit to their sin?”

No, that is not what I’m saying. I am saying the difference is confessing, not just admitting. And those are not the same thing. There is a lot more to confessing than just admitting. David uses three different terms to describe the confession in verse 5.

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”

He stopped hiding his guilt, and he called it what it is - sin, iniquity, and transgression. It is possible to admit you have done something while refusing to acknowledge the evil of it.

“Yes, I said those things, but I didn’t mean it.”

“Yes, I did that, but I don’t know what happened, because that wasn’t what was in my heart.”

Very often people will confess the action (because they can’t deny that), but they refuse to acknowledge any evil source of that action in their heart.

Confess the Heart Issue

Jesus was very clear that all sin takes place in the heart. That is the only place where sin takes place. Evil actions are only evil because they are expressions of evil heart attitudes.

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person.

So many people never get anywhere in dealing with their sin because they only deal with it at the level of action. They just try to pick the bad fruit off the limbs instead of cutting down the tree. All sin takes place in the heart. When you confess, if you do not confess something about sin in your heart, you are not confessing. There is no such thing as a sinful action that is not connected to something evil in the heart.

If your problem is over-indulgence in something, and you try to deal with the problem by just restricting your behavior, it will never work. You have to deal with the sin of coveting in the heart. If the problem is you can’t control your tongue, and you keep saying hurtful, harsh things and you try to deal with it by just keeping your mouth shut, but you never deal with the sins of anger or selfishness or pride on the inside, you will never change. All sin originates in the heart, and if you have not yet discovered the heart sin that is behind your evil action, then you cannot confess it because confession requires acknowledging the whole truth, and if you don’t know what the heart problem is, you don’t even know the whole truth.

If all you do is say to your spouse, “Honey, I’m sorry. I was short with you and yelled at you, and I was wrong” - if that is all you say, then get ready to say it again the next day and the next day because nothing is going to change. A much better confession is something like this: “Honey, I’m sorry I snapped at you. I did that because my heart is just greedy for comfort and leisure. I’m so greedy for leisure and laziness that anything that seems to interfere with it makes me react.” Or maybe, “I’m sorry I yelled. My heart is so full of pride and self-importance that I just act like I’m more important than everyone else. And so if anything doesn’t go my way, I get mad.” True confession goes way beyond just admitting that the action was bad. It also acknowledges the heart issue that caused it.

Rejecting the Sin

And it does not just acknowledge it, but it rejects that sin. The New Testament word for confession literally means “to say the same thing,” or “to agree.” True confession involves agreeing with God’s way of looking at that sin. You have to feel the same way about it that God feels. If you admit to having done it, and you acknowledge that yes, it is evil, but you still love that sin in your heart, then it is still not true confession because you are not agreeing with God. God hates that sin. If your heart still loves it and clings to it, you are agreeing with God in words, but not in your attitudes.

That is why it is such folly to say, "I'll just sin now and ask forgiveness later." If you ask forgiveness later you will not get forgiveness unless you truly repent, which means your attitude will have to completely change. If you love the sin right now so much that you are willing to just knowingly rebel against God, what makes you think that your heart attitude will be different in the future? If anything, you will probably be even more in love with the sin. Every time we enjoy the pleasures of sin we train our soul to love it even more. So the "sin now and ask forgiveness later" technique backfires, because the "sin now" part makes genuine repentance that much more unlikely.

It is not true confession unless the attitude of your heart is against that sin. And one way you can tell that is not the case is when you find yourself making excuses. When you admit to doing something wrong, but it always comes out with a bunch of words of justification (Yes, I got angry, but you have to understand, I was so hurt by..."). Any time you include excuses in your apology, what you are doing is defending the way your heart is. You are saying, “My heart is really ok. Yes, I said some bad things, but that’s because I was having a bad day, and you should have realized that but you didn’t, so forgive me for reacting exactly the way any reasonable person would react.” That is evidence that you are not rejecting the sin in your heart. You are defending the condition of your heart.

When you truly agree with God about your sin, your whole being will declare war on that sin. You will hate it and reject it and take whatever steps you can possibly take to get it out of your life. If you say, “I’m sorry; I repent,” but there are steps you could take to fight the sin and you are refusing to take them – that is not true confession and it is not genuine repentance. And God will not forgive you even though you are admitting the sins. True confession identifies the root sin in the heart, tells the whole truth about it, and rejects it.

Be Thorough

Another symptom of false confession is when the sin is understated. Notice how thorough David is in describing his sin. Instead of trying to clean it up and save face a little bit by understating the issue, he does the opposite. He goes out of his way to describe every aspect of his sin. In the opening statement he uses three different words to describe his evil: transgression, sin, and iniquity. He uses the same three words in verse 5 where he describes his confession.

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”

Transgression

Transgression has the idea of rebellion against God’s will. All sin is a departure from God's will. And that is its deepest and darkest characteristic. That is the worst thing about sin - the fact that it is movement away from God. The thing that makes sin evil is not that it hurts people. That is secondary. Most people think the severity of sin is measured by how many people it hurts. And so they cannot understand why some things are called sin even though they do not seem to hurt anyone. That is a man-centered view. Measuring sin by how many people it hurts implies that people are supreme and they matter more than anything else.

The measure of evil or good is not people; it is God. God’s will is good. Anything contrary to it is evil. So transgression is any departure from God’s will or movement away from God.

Sin

The second word is sin. That refers to acting wrongly, or missing God’s way. Taking a path in life that is different from the way God says is best.

Iniquity

The third term is iniquity, which refers to crookedness - a lot like our word perversion.  It takes God’s way and twists it or perverts it to something else.

David says, "God, my heart rejected Your will, I've gone my own way, I am twisted and perverse in my soul." He covers every angle because he does not want to hide anything anymore. He wants every ounce of poison in his soul to be dealt with. Martin Luther once said, “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners.” If you want to be forgiven, you had better confess real sin, because God only forgives real sin. God will forgive only what you confess, so it is not in your interest to understate the issue.

So who are the righteous? They are those who trust God. And they trust Him so much that when God says, “This is the right way,” and they find their heart going the other way, they reverse course and agree with God’s way.

So what is the difference between the behavior of the wicked and the behavior of the righteous? Confession and repentance.  The wicked sin and cover it up. They hide it - make excuses for it. They blame others for it, or blame circumstances, or even God. They try to just make up for it, or try to cancel out their guilt by doing some good deeds. Or they might apologize for it to get the people involved off their back, and then once it all blows over, they go right back to that sin because they still love it. Or maybe they will even resolve to change - within reason. They are not going to take any drastic steps, but they might pray about it a little, read a few Bible verses, make a resolution. Those are the responses of the wicked.

But if you are righteous, you will confess and repent. Instead of your soul continuing to cling to that sin, your whole inner man will turn against it. You will find the heart sin, come totally clean about it, and declare war on it - to the point where you will do whatever you possibly can to be rid of it. Jesus talked about gouging out eyes and cutting off hands - extreme measures to get that sin out of your life.

Confess Just to God? Or Also to People?

Now, one other question before we move on: When you confess, do you just confess to God, or also to people? Who all needs to be involved?

As Wide as the Circle of Offence

If we just take a glance through Scripture we see both, right?

James 5:16 confess your sins to one another

So there are times we need to confess to people. Which people? Well, definitely the people you sinned against, right?

Luke 17:4 and if your brother sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

In order to be forgiven he needs to come not just to God but also to you and say, "I repent." So the rule of thumb is that your confession should be as wide as the circle of offense. If I am in a meeting with 20 people, and I fly off the handle and lose my temper, I need to confess to all of them. If the sin is public, the confession must be public. If the sin is private, public confession might not be appropriate.  It would be impossible for all of us to confess all our sins to everyone.

Any Confession That Will Help Protect Against Future Sin

So that is one principle - confess to the people who were involved with the sin or who were hurt by it or who know about it. The other principle is this: if confessing to people will help you fight the sin, do it. Some sins are impossible to escape as long as they remain secret, but if they are brought into the open, and you know that you will have to confess again if it happens in the future, that can be a tremendous help in fighting enslaving sins. There are sins I commit in my own mind that no one sees or knows about, but I confess them to people who are close to me – my wife, my accountability partner, the elders - people who can help me. Any time I realize, “Ok, if I confess this, there is a greater chance that the sin will come to an end in my life than if I keep it secret,” then I need to confess it. If I don’t, that just shows that I am not serious about fighting that sin. I care more about my reputation than I care about righteousness.

When Job described his innocence, one of the things he mentioned was the fact that he did not hide his sin from people.

Job 31:33 if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart 34 because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside ... 40 then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley."

Clearly he is talking about confession to men, because it is an issue of being afraid of what they think. And Job says, “I didn’t do that. I didn’t keep my sin secret. I confessed freely to people.”

Privacy

This is hard because our culture worships privacy. The result is superficial relationships, where we only expose the most obvious or innocent looking information about ourselves. Privacy will do two things for you. It will save you the embarrassment of people knowing the real you. And it will prevent you from ever knowing the deepest and most profound joys of love. And not only that, but we do all kinds of harm to others when we pretend there is nothing wrong with us. You get a whole church full of people all pretending they have their act together, and someone new comes in and he sees that and says, “Wow, I certainly can’t let the truth about me get out.” So now he is doomed to shallow, phony relationships. And eventually everyone starts thinking they are the only ones who sin, and they get paralyzed with discouragement. They can’t get help, because they can’t admit the truth, and pretty soon everyone is on their own. No one can get any grace through the church, because everything is top secret. The righteous are a community who are honest and open about their sin.

The Righteous Rejoice!
 
It’s So Good To Be Forgiven!

And when you live like that - repenting of your sin - you will be showered with God’s blessing. Look at verse 1.

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The word blessed means having reason to celebrate. It means things are good for you, your life is in great shape, and you have a lot to be happy about. There are two different words translated blessed, and this one is the stronger one. A very upbeat way to begin the psalm. Now look at the last verse in the psalm.

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The psalm begins and ends with jubilance. And it is a psalm about sin - about how to deal with your sin. It is a psalm all about repentance and confession of sin. This is a happy topic!

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Four Aspects of Restoration

The first three are metaphors that describe what it is.

Carrying

He starts with the word forgiven.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven

This particular Hebrew word literally means to lift up or carry or to take away. It is a fascinating word to study, because whenever this word is used, if the sinner is the subject of the sentence, it means to be guilty. When God is the subject, it means to be forgiven. If you carry your own sin, you will die. For example, this word is used in Exodus 28:43. There the priests are required to wear the priestly garments in the Holy Place lest they bear guilt and die. That word bear is this same word. If they carry or bear their own guilt, they die. But if God carries or bears it, that means you are forgiven. He takes away the guilt, takes away your culpability, takes away the punishment you deserve - actually makes you innocent.

Not Just Guilt Feelings

It is not just that He takes away the guilt feelings. You understand that guilt and guilt feelings are two different things, right? It is possible to be guilty of doing something wrong but you don’t feel guilty at all. And it is also possible to feel guilt feelings when you haven’t even done anything wrong. Guilt is an objective reality. It means you actually deserve punishment for doing something wrong - regardless of how you feel. Guilt feelings are an emotion that may or may not always match up correctly with actual guilt. This word is not talking about God just lifting the weight of the guilt feelings and making you feel better about yourself. It refers to removal of actual guilt - which is an inconceivable mystery.

You want to talk about the paradoxes and mysteries in the Bible that are hard to grasp? People struggle with the Trinity - how can God be one God but three distinct persons? People struggle with free will and divine sovereign control - how can God let us make free decisions and still see to it that His purposes are accomplished? People struggle with the origin of evil - where did it come from? But one of the most mind boggling mysteries of all is this one - how can God remove actual guilt? If I rob a bank, a judge can waive the legal penalty, but the reality is, I am still guilty of doing the crime. A counselor or a drug might help me no longer feel any guilt feelings, but the actual guilt is still there. But when God forgives, he takes away the actual guilt, so that I am in no way culpable for that sin anymore.

Jeremiah 50:20 at that time" declares the LORD, "search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

God takes away the actual guilt so that it is gone!

Covering

So that is the first metaphor - picture the sin and the guilt just being lifted up and carried away by God, never to be seen or heard from again. The second metaphor is the word covered.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

When we sin, there is a certain amount of shame connected to that. And when that shame is exposed and people see it - that is painful. There are times we will do just about anything to keep people from seeing the full picture of our shame. There are things about us that are so ugly, if they were ever exposed we would be absolutely horrified. We would never want to face those people ever again. We need to have our shame covered.

But if we try to cover it, it doesn’t work.

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

If you try to cover up your own sin, God will expose it. But if you bring it into the open through confession, God will cover it, and then it will be covered indeed, and you will be blessed.

Forgiveness is not just a matter of having the punishment waived. It is mainly a matter of your relationship with the person you sinned against. As long as they are still looking at you through the lens of that sin, they have not forgiven you. If you did some horrible thing in your past, and there are people who just always think of you as the person who did ___, that means you are not really forgiven. If that sin colors how they look at you and how they feel about you - what emotions they have toward you - then you are not forgiven.

When God forgives your sin, He not only takes away the guilt so you no longer have to suffer the penalty, He also hides it from His eyes. He covers it, so that when God looks at you, that past sin plays no part in how God feels or thinks about you. It does not matter what you did - how severe the sin - how much damage it did; once you are forgiven, it plays no role whatsoever in the way God thinks about you or feels about you. Nor does it have any impact on how God acts toward you, which brings us to the third metaphor.

It Doesn’t Count

2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity

That means God does not credit what you did to your account. It doesn’t count. It is not on your record, which means it has no impact on the way God treats you. He does not deal with you according to that sin, because He is not counting it against you.

Old Testament and New Testament

This word translated count is the same word as Genesis 15:6 – Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Paul quotes this verse in

Romans 4:6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."

I hope you don't read things like this in the Old Testament and think, "Oh, that doesn't apply to me because that was for Old Testament Jews, not for me." When you read something in the Old Testament about how to think about your own sin and guilt, and how forgiveness works - according to Paul, the things David says in this psalm are still true today. Some things have changed from Old Testament to New Testament, but not this. These aspects of sin and guilt and forgiveness and restoration are the same for us as they were for David.

When you genuinely confess, if you have faith in God, then God will not count your past sin against you, which means God has a way of counting that is governed by more than just my actions.[2]

No Deceit

2 blessed is the man ... in whose spirit is no deceit.

No more living in the shadows trying to cover up your sin. No more lies. No more trying to keep your story straight, or trying not to be found out. Once you are forgiven you can just be totally honest with what you have done and who you are. There is nothing to hide anymore, which is such an incredibly liberating thing. Alexander Maclaren: “God’s kiss of forgiveness sucks the poison from the wound.” It is so good to be forgiven!

Repeated Sin

But I know some of you have a nagging question.

“What if I keep falling to the same sin over and over? Will God still forgive me?”

It depends. One possibility is that your confession is not real confession. In that case, no - God will not forgive.

But what if it is true confession? You are doing everything you know to do to fight the sin, but you keep stumbling. Again and again and again and again, to the point where you think God must be sick and tired of hearing your prayers of repentance. You are sick and tired of hearing your own prayers of repentance. Does God still forgive?

What does God require of us when people sin repeatedly against us?

Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.

God requires that we forgive one another unlimited numbers of times. Do you think God requires more of us than He is willing to do? Are our hearts more gracious than God’s? If He requires us to forgive innumerable times, and He requires that we keep no record of wrongs, you better believe God keeps no record of wrongs that you have repented of, and there is no limit to how many times He will forgive. No limit! God is more ready to pardon sin than we are to receive the pardon. We resist it because we love our sin, or because of pride, or fear of exposure, or whatever - but oh, the blessedness we receive if we will just let all that go and humble ourselves and repent.

Conclusion: Imagine Non-Forgiveness

Will you do that right now? Just pray and ask, "God, is there anything right now that I should confess? Anything I have rationalized? Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and motives and attitudes and affections. And expose the wicked ways inside me, and lead me into righteousness." Let go of sin, come clean, confess the whole truth about it, reject it in your heart, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ to carry all that guilt away.

And for those of you who have already done that - you confess your sin to God as a way of life - I would like to urge you this morning to celebrate your forgiveness. Imagine what it would be like to not be forgiven. What if God were still holding all your past sins against you? You might be one of those people who is way too hard on yourself. You might be mired in self-condemnation. But not even the most self-condemning person in the world holds himself responsible for all his past sin. Not even a fraction. If we could feel the weight of all our guilt, even for one second, we would probably die under the weight of that much guilt. It would crush us to powder.

Imagine never having a fresh start - ever. Every single new sin is just added to the pile. You could never wake up and say, “OK, today is a new day,” or, “this is a brand new week,” and feel like you are getting a new start. Imagine what it would be like if the guilt you feel right after the sin stayed that strong for the rest of your life - for every single sin. And God just kept getting madder and madder at you. All of that would be reality if not for forgiveness.

Spurgeon: “Brethren! unless my sins are taken away by the Lamb of God they remain. Unless they are laid upon Christ, they crush me. Unless they are covered by His expiation, they lie there before the Throne of God, and cry for punishment. Unless His blood has wiped out the record that is against us, the black page stands for ever.”

But if you have repented, it is all forgiven.

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

"But how do I know for sure if I've been forgiven? Is it possible to know for sure?”

Yes it is. You can tell when it happens.

"How?"

David will answer that for us next time.


Benediction: Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  

1:25 Questions

Are you one of the righteous or one of the wicked? Why?

What gets in the way of genuine confession the most in your life? (Excuses, fear of exposure, love of the sin, pride, inability to discern the sin in the heart, etc.)?

Is there a sinful behavior in your life that appears from time to time and you are not sure what the underlying sin in the heart is that causes that sinful action? (Hint: It will have to do with loving something evil or failure to love something good).


[1] The superscript of this psalm says it is a psalm of David, and when Paul quotes this psalm in Romans 4:6 he attributes it to David.
[2] The Catholics mocked the idea of justification as "legal fiction," but God declaring a person to be right with Him in spite of sin is not fictitious at all.