Sermon series: God Speaks - part 2

  1. God Speaks ... and We Disobey

  2. God Speaks ... and Commands Total Obedience

  3. God Speaks ... to Reveal Our Greatest Need

  4. God Speaks ... and Promises a Savior

Scriptures: Psalm 51:1-6

Connection to unit theme

God has revealed Himself and His holy character and nature through what He has made and through the special revelation of His Word. We knowingly rebel against Him and experience separation from God – the source of life – which is spiritual death.

Introduction idea

Sin makes our hearts hardened and dead. As a result, we carry on in sin by nature and choice. Only as God confronts us and awakens our hearts to the reality of our sin against Him will we seek the cleansing and redemption that only He provides. In this passage, we see David recognizing his sinful heart, acknowledging his sin against God, and calling out to Him for mercy and cleansing. This all occurs after God took the initiative and confronted David in his sin through the prophet Nathan. Seeing the progression in David's situation, we better understand how to apply it to ours if we consider these verses in reverse order.

I. We sin by nature and by choice (vv. 5-6)

David does not here impugn the character of his parents or the circumstances of his conception. Rather he indicates that he is a sinner, by nature and choice, born to sinful parents who were descendants of our first sinful parents. This description of David's sinful character and nature stands in harsh contrast to God, who "delight[s] in truth in the inward being." So, at a root level, our hearts are sinful. It is not that our hearts become sinful as we commit sin. Rather, we commit sinful acts because our hearts are sinful. From this foundation David evaluates his actions and seek the only available remedy.

Application: How many times have you heard a well-intentioned parent or grandparent say of a child grandchild who lives in open rebellion against God: "But he really is a good person." This is contrary to what God's Word says, and what David rightly acknowledged about the condition of his own heart. Unless we see the true condition of our own sin, and that of others, we will fail to pursue the only available remedy.

II. Our sin, regardless of whom it affects, is against Holy God (vv. 3-4)

If you consider the far-reaching effects of David's adultery and murder, it seems that his sin was "against" many – Bathsheba, Uriah, Israel, etc. Ultimately, however, David realized that His sin was against Holy God, the one who is "justified in [His] words and blameless in [His] judgments." God, not the ones against whom David sinned, would be the One before whom David would give an account and face judgment.

It is important not to miss the numbing effect David's sin had upon his own heart. His confession was about one year after his sin. He had managed to excuse his sin throughout this time. In fact, he was ready to put to death the man described in Nathan's story (2 Sam. 12:5), until he heard the dreaded words, "You are the man!" David's sin numbed his heart and separated him from God. God took the initiative to confront David in his sin and call David to repentance.

Application: Do you find it easy to justify sin, viewing it either as a "mistake" or simply an offense against another sinful person – perhaps one who has even sinned against you? Is there some sin you have "excused" in your life that has brought about spiritual numbness? Are you willing to acknowledge that your sin is rebellion against God, and repent and confess it today?

III. The only remedy for our sin and spiritual death is God's mercy (vv.1-2)

The realities God led David to recognize in verses 3-6 are what caused David to cry out for God's mercy in verses 1-2, and later in verses 7 and following. Because David was a sinner by nature and choice, and had actually sinned against the holy and just God, his only hope was for God to show him mercy. David deserved punishment and death. If he got anything else, it would only be by God's mercy. David could not erase his own sin. He, therefore, called upon God to "blot out" his transgressions, "wash" him of his iniquities, and "cleanse" him of his sin. Why did David believe God would hear his appeal and respond in such a way? Because of God's "steadfast love" and "abundant mercy."

Application: How do you attempt to deal with your sin? Do you try to do more good deeds in your life, hoping God will then be pleased with you? Do you simply compare yourself to others, thinking "at least I am not as bad as they are." Will you respond today to God's mercy by coming to Him in repentance and faith?

Conclusion idea

God has clearly revealed Himself and His standard to us, and we have rebelled and disobeyed. Sin separates us from Him - this is spiritual death. If we want to receive forgiveness of sin and spiritual life, we, like David, need God to "blot out" our transgressions, and to "wash" and "cleanse" us.

For centuries, the people of Israel depended on the high priest to offer a sacrifice on the Temple altar to hold back God's wrath against their sin for another year. However, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin (Heb. 10:4). For our sins to be "blotted out," "washed," and "cleansed" it would take a better high priest and a better sacrifice. Jesus Christ was that better high priest. He was that better sacrifice – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The extravagance of God's mercy was put on full display as His Son died a sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross. The immensity of His power was shown as He raised Christ from the dead, giving life and hope to all who would repent of their sin and place their faith and trust in Christ.

If you have never trusted Christ, trust Him today. If you are a follower of Christ but have allowed sin to hinder your fellowship with Him, confess that sin today. Allow Him, according to His great mercy, to forgive your sin and to enable you to walk with Him in faith and obedience.

Randy Mann is minister of education and evangelism at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.