We are forgiven

Ephesians 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” NKJV

The greatest spiritual blessing of all is God’s forgiveness:  Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” NKJV 

All of us need God’s forgiveness because all of us have sinned, and God is keeping a record of our lives, noting every sin or mistake.  However, when He forgives us, our sins are removed and will never be a part of our record again.  Our sin is no longer counted against us. He does not forgive half of our sins and leave the other half.  He covers them where they do not exist and will never exist again.

Hebrews 8:12 – “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” NLT

For our own peace of mind, we need forgiveness – for peace with others, we need forgiveness – for peace with God, we need His forgiveness.

  1. The Blessed Man

Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” NKJV

“Transgression” is an act of rebellion or disloyalty, “sin” is the act of missing the mark, and “iniquity” is a crooked or wrong act.  These three words overlap to show that the totality of David’s sin had been dealt with by the Lord.

God had forgiven his transgression, covered his sin, and had not imputed his iniquity.  His sins, whether against God or man, intentional or inadvertent, sins of omission or sins of commission, had been taken away.

The word for covered means more than just draping a curtain over sins and hiding them from view.  It means to remove them totally, to completely rub them out.

God’s washing the soul clean from all guilt is one of the most beautiful and meaningful blessings a person can receive. Without this blessing there is none right with God, not one:

Psalm 14:2-3: “The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” NLT

2. The silent man

Psalm 32:3-4: “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.”  NLT

When David tried to hide his sin, he was miserable.  His guilt was hurting him – his conscience was tearing him apart.  He suffered mental and bodily agony day and night – beaten down by his sin! His whole body was wasting away or falling apart from the heavy strain of the load of his guilt.  He was burdened with grief, his vitality/energy dried up like water does in a drought. His body had deteriorated, and his spirit had been immersed in torment and sorrow.

When God’s hand is heavy on a person, He is disciplining“rebuking, chastening, scourging.”

God chastened David – hard: Psalm 6:1-7: “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love. For the dead do not remember you. Who can praise you from the grave? I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.” NLT

Psalm 38:1-8: “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.”  NLT

Sin has a terrible effect that will spread through your whole personality.  It has a mental effect because the mind is stressed with guilt.  It also has a physical effect; the state of the mind affects the state of the body.  It is as if the body is worn out, exhausted like working in the summer heat.

It also has a social effect – the state of our minds and bodies makes us unfit friends, unwelcome company to others.  The main effect of sin is the destruction it brings to our relationship with God.  Sin separates us from God, erecting a barrier between God and us that only the blood of Jesus can break down.  That’s what David’s sin did to him, and that’s what it will do to you and me!

God used David’s pain to turn his mind toward godly sorrow.  Remorse, a hurting conscience, and the inability to sleep were built-in rebukes from God.  They seemed to point divine fingers at him and say “you have sinned, you need to repent.”

God uses these terrible effects to bring us to repentance.

3.  The confessing man

All of us are sinners.  Deep within, we know that we have sinned.  What can we do with our sin?  We can deny it.  We can tell ourselves that we are not sinners.  But denial never erases the fact of sin; it only complicates its existence.

We can ignore it, look the other way and pretend it didn’t happen, we can act like our sin is unimportant.  We can stay busy, thinking that our sin problem will go away.

We can try and hide it, we can blame it on somebody else, we can try to sweep it under the rug and remove it from our view:

Proverbs 28:13 – “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up, then God will show mercy to you.” GNB

Psalm 66:18 – “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” NLT

Or we can confess it, acknowledge it to God and let Him cover it with His grace, like David did!

Psalm 32:5 – “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” NLT

David finally said “enough is enough” – he made up his mind to confess his sin to God.  He acknowledged his sin – this is the first step we must take – we must admit we have done wrong; we must give up pride in self, and quit trying to hide our sin.

It is a natural consequence of shame that we try to hide the deeds that we know are sinful, but it is a waste of time to try and hide anything from God.

Hebrews 4:13“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” NLT

“Confession” is the act of speaking out – we have to make the decision to speak:

2 Samuel 12:13 – “Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.” NLT

1 John 1:9-10: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” NKJV

David’s example teaches us that if we want God’s forgiveness, we must have a spirit that is free from deceit.  This means being honest, open and sincere with God.  It means we are not trying to hide anything from Him (which we can’t do anyway).

It means we freely acknowledge our wrong to Him. Our confession must be thorough, we can’t leave anything out.  Anything else is not confession!

Joel 2:12-13: That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” NLT

Confession is the only real approach to our sin.  We must decide what we are going to do with our sin.  If we deny it, ignore it, or hide it, we will be miserable.  If we confess it and make it right with God, we will find the peace we are seeking.

God, in keeping with His character, sent David’s horrible guilt away.  His prayer was heard, and God forgave him.  In order for God to forgive us, we need to acknowledge that we need forgiveness from God.  This is a hard decision to make unless we are ready to completely condemn and stop the sinful practice.

4.  While God may be found

Psalm 32:6-7: “Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.” NLT

Those with genuine hearts can pray to God for the same forgiveness David received.  God is always present for those who sincerely seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13-14). Those who are right with God can ask Him to be their constant companion and find the shelter they need! But those who seek Him only when they are desperate, only when they can find the time in their busy schedules, those who are not sincere and humble, may find out that God has become unavailable.

God may also be unavailable if we go so deep into sin and are so confused and deceived that we have forgotten how to be acceptable to Him. If we approach God with pride in our hearts with the idea that He owes us something, forget about it.  If we go too long without repentance and confession we might not be able to repent. Hebrews 3:12 – “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” NIV

If you drag your feet and put it off, the time will come when it will be too late.  Our time for finding God is a restricted time, it will not last forever!

5.  The horse or mule

Psalm 32:8-9: “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” NLT

God is warning us to not be like the stubborn horse or mule.  They don’t understand so they have to be reminded (painfully) by having a bit put in their mouth to force them into the way their master would have them go. We will also experience pain if we stubbornly resist God’s will:

Acts 9:3-5: “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads (pricks/prods).” NKJV

A “goad” was a long, extremely sharp stick that was used to get an ox going the way you wanted him to when you were plowing.

You would jab the hind legs of the ox with the goad until the ox cooperated.  Essentially, Saul is the ox; Jesus is the farmer; Saul is dumb and stubborn – yet valuable, and potentially extremely useful to the Master’s service.  Jesus is goading Saul into the right direction, and the goading causes Saul pain, but instead of submitting to Jesus, Saul is “kicking against the goad,” which only increases his pain.

We should not have to be poked and prodded and beat and made to follow God.

Psalm 32:10-11: “Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” NLT

It’s much smarter to be righteous than wicked, because sorrows follow the wicked as morning follows the night.  The two are inseparable.  But God’s lovingkindness, His gracious providential care, will surround the righteous.  If you trust in God, you will know His mercy.

Those who struggle with the thought of forgiveness often find themselves wondering how God can forgive sin over and over again, but He does.

This does not mean our sin is without consequence.  Sin carries a great burden and the end result is never pleasant.  But God does forgive – the righteous have every reason to rejoice because we are forgiven!

Psalm 86:5 – “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.” NLT

When you receive the forgiveness of God, when you forgive others, you must also forgive yourself!  To forgive yourself does not mean that you should forget what you did or said that might have injured another or caused yourself distress.

To forgive yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for what you did or said. To forgive yourself means you are finally willing to let go of the mistake you’ve been holding over your own head. To not forgive yourself means you continue to hold onto pain and guilt! “When God forgives, He never remembers your sins again – so why should you?”

When David repented, he received a new life, a life recreated by God’s grace.  God received him back and began to shower him with His mercies.  When you think about what is to be gained by repentance, why would anyone try to hide his sins?

Philippians 3:13-14: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” NLT

6.  Conclusion

Today, we have the same options that David had!  We can tell ourselves that we are not sinners.  We can deny our sin.  We can ignore it, look the other way, we can try and pretend it didn’t happen, we can act like our sin is unimportant.  We can stay busy, thinking that our sin problem will go away.

We can try and hide it, we can try to sweep it under the rug and remove it from our view, we can blame it on somebody else, we can make all sorts of excuses for our sin, but the one thing God will not accept as a response to sin is an excuse! A confession, yes!  But not an excuse!

Friends, don’t be stubborn, open your heart to God with honesty, no deceit, sham or make-believe.  Repent of your sin, turn from the evil of your life.

If you do not forsake your sin, you cannot and will not be forgiven. Acknowledge your sin, confess it before God, see it as God sees it.

Bring it out in the open before Him, and renounce it. Then accept God’s forgiveness.  God will freely forgive, but you must accept His gift.

Today, will you try to cover your sins, or will you allow Jesus to cover them for all time and eternity through His blood?

Psalm 130:1-5: “From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.” NLT

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