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Sermon - Psalm 51:4


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Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge" (Psalm 51:4)

A couple was married for 15 years and sadly began having more than the usual disagreements. They did want their marriage to work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they each planned to drop a slip in a "Fault Box.” The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach to the problem: She wrote, "Leaving the top off the jar"…  "Wet towels on the shower floor"… "Dirty socks not in hamper…" and she went on until the end of the month. After dinner at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband read her notes and reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. His notes were all the same, the message on each slip was: "I love you!" Husbands often don’t forgive in that manner, but God does.

While on the Cross, Jesus Christ experienced every sin that you and I have ever committed. He knew everything, and upon all our mistakes, each of our actions based on selfish motives, every unforgiving thought you and I have ever had, the words “I love you” are written over them in red. He died for what you think and do, with God’s intention that the word “Forgiven” will also be written over every sin.  Your part is to acknowledge your need and then trust in the One who died for you. Forgiveness is based in His love. God does not count our sins against us when we have faith in the Lord, and when we do, He fills us with His Holy Spirit and we begin to forgive.

Forgiveness. It’s what we all need most and strangely, it’s the hardest for us to give or receive. We can become very religious and not forgive or be forgiven. Yes it would be great if we could all forgive others, but we really need to be forgiven before we can forgive. Yes we have hurt other people, but when David, the shepherd boy who became a king, sinned so terribly that he ruined life for himself and the people around him, he said this truth to God: “Against You, You only, I have sinned” (Psalm 51:4). He had taken another man’s wife and to avoid being caught he made a deal with a soldier to have the husband killed in battle. That’s terrible, and you may have done terrible things as well. But the forgiveness needed is more than just in relation to people. You need to find forgiveness from God Himself. And we need His help to forgive. We may not like the life God gave us and if so, we may need to forgive Him as well. It’s OK – He has broad shoulders and He understands.

David was not able to do ANYTHING that would satisfy God. Going to the Temple and offering sacrifices wasn’t enough. David said to God about his religious acts: “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.” That’s Psalm 51:16. He finally saw it and placed his trust in the Lord, saying: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Something has to become different inside us before we can be forgiven and begin to forgive.  David saw that he had done something terribly wrong and he also knew that he couldn’t undo what he had done. The sins we have committed are in the past and we cannot go back and change them. Even worse than the hurt done to people was David’s recognition that “Against (God), (God) only, I have sinned and done what is evil in (His) sight.”

There’s nothing to say. You can’t change it, except for one thing: “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). And in Romans 5:8 we find that “God demonstrates His own love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus cried out from the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We really don’t know what we are doing. Humanity is a race of helpless, unforgiving, unloving creatures who don’t know how to make it right and even if we could, we would probably still get it wrong. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all You who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30). Come to the Lord Jesus Christ. He did what we can’t and His Work is done perfectly. We are to – believe.

Even if you and I died on a cross it wouldn’t save our souls or help anybody else. But His death on the cross offered salvation to the world. What you and I couldn’t do, Jesus Christ, God the Son did for all! God reaches out to humanity through Him and gives us – everything!  When He died, all in humanity died. He returned to life and we are given the privilege of being alive with Him – forever.  Our sins can stay in that tomb and never come out, through simple faith in the Lord. When we come to Him, we find LIFE like never before.

All this is the “grace of God” offered to everyone right now. “Grace” means “unmerited favor” – We didn’t deserve it, but He did it for us anyway. Grace has its expression in faith. We believe in Him and what He has done. Decades ago, I was reluctantly in a sales career, but I tried very hard to succeed. I had a good year followed by a very bad one. I owed a lot of taxes on the good year’s income but was not earning enough in the bad year to pay those taxes. As soon as I received the notice in the mail from the tax people, I went right to their local office, asking, “What can I do?” They were surprised to see me there because people apparently don’t typically go to them when they owe money. But I did and they were 1) very nice to me, and 2) they came up with a plan that enabled me to pay the debt.

God went even further. He paid our debt in full. When we go to the Bank of God we find that He has deposited enough in our account to pay – everything. He is our Creator and He makes all the rules. Our situation is just what it’s supposed to be – We are part of God’s plan for this generation, this world. We may or may not like the way we are, but He has wonderful intentions for all of us. We owe Him – everything – He says “Trust Me… I love you.” Our Lord is holy and just like David pointed out in Psalm 51, you’ll notice that from God’s perspective, we are not holy and just.  But He is touching each one of our hearts, saying, “Come” to Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for your sins. You will find His forgiveness and you will begin, in Him, to forgive.

Here’s what David learned and then expressed in Psalm 51: We need God’s mercy and He will blot out our sins. We can be washed and made clean from sin. Our sins are really against God Himself. He is just and blameless but we were born in sin. He is able to create in us a clean heart. We can know the joy of His salvation and be upheld by His spirit. We can be changed to the extent that others will be drawn to Him because of us. Our religious acts are not enough to save us. When at last we see our need, our hearts will break because of what we have done. He is pleased when we simply accept Him and place our trust in Him. Then interestingly, He will accept our religious acts.  That’s Psalm 51, and note that Jesus said to a certain religious man centuries later: “You must be born again” (John 3:3, 7). We need to be completely changed and have a new start.

God said through the Apostle John, “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). He said through the prophet, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). He’s the only one who can do it. We have all broken the Law of God, but He is the Governor, the King who pardons and He has the power to change everything for the good. Do you want to be forgiven and become able to forgive? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by offering a simple prayer to the One who loves you.

I am lost, Lord, and cannot forgive.  I haven’t even wanted to forgive. You can do what I can’t. I come with my unforgiving heart to You. I surrender anger, hurt, mistrust and feelings of betrayal. I am Yours. Forgive me and help me to forgive. I place my faith in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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