I was talking to a young friend the other day. This six year old girl was very proud of her goodness. She loves being a “good girl.” It makes her happy when people appreciate her good behavior. She asked me why some people were bad and did bad things. I shared with her that everyone has done bad things, we have all lied, had mean thoughts, and other things. I told her only Jesus had never done anything wrong. She considered this and told me a secret she had kept, a lie she had told to someone. I could see this lie had weighed on her sweet heart. She was sad to have done it and she was so happy that I didn’t end my friendship with her over her misbehavior.
I think that like my little friend, many of us want to think we are “good” and other people are “bad.” But the truth is we are all sinners, we are imperfect. King David thought he was a really good guy, until Nathan the prophet pointed his sin out to him. He had sinned horrifically. The sins he committed would make the headlines of every trash rag out there. He lusted after a married woman, got her pregnant, and murdered her husband. But when Nathan showed him his sinfulness, he responded with remorse. You can read all about it in 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. He wrote this psalm in response to his great sin. Verses 1-6 read,
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”
We are all sinners because we are broken and imperfect. We were born sinners because that is the nature of man. But we do not have to remain in that faulty state. Like David, we can turn to our God, He is merciful. He doesn’t have to be merciful and forgiving. He chooses to be merciful and forgiving because He loves us unconditionally. Only God can make us righteous. Only He can remove the stain of sin from our souls. Giving all our money to the poor won’t make us good. Healing a million lepers won’t make us righteous. It is God who we have sinned against. Any hurt we have done to any person is a sin against the Lord. He loves that person we hurt. He created that person. If we love God, we show it by loving the people He loves.
No one else can judge us, no one else can condemn us, and no one else can forgive us. Because everyone has sinned. Everyone has missed the mark of the image and nature of God, except God, our Savior Jesus the Christ. But by Jesus’ blood we are made clean, we are made righteous. Verses 7-12 read,
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Hyssop was the plant used to sprinkle blood on the penitent who offered sin offerings and burnt offerings to The Lord. When God covers us with Jesus’ blood we are washed whiter than snow, no blemish, no blot of sin, just a pure clean new soul. God promises to make us as pure as snow is white. It is a gift, not a wage. We can’t earn it, we accept it. Isaiah 1:18 says,
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
Not only does God completely remove our sin no matter how awful, from us and create a new heart that wants what God wants within us, He chooses never to bring our sins to mind. They do not exist to God.
David was a man after God’s own heart. He had a friendship with The Lord. He was gifted by God in so many ways. He worshipped with abandon. He wrote amazing songs and poems to the Lord. He prophesied. He was anointed with The Holy Spirit. He truly was a friend of God’s. When he sinned with Bathsheba, God didn’t end their relationship. He didn’t say, “I gotta stop hangin’ with ya, Dude. I’m taking my Holy Spirit and leavin’ ya.” He disciplined David. And because of that discipline, David became a better king, closer to God than before. And though his son died, God gave him another son, a son who would become king after him, who would be wise and who would build the Temple of the Lord. God gave David his son Solomon who would be a great legacy.
Believer, God doesn’t leave you when you sin. Can you imagine having to get re-saved whenever you sinned? You’d have to get saved a hundred times on some days. God doesn’t restore our salvation, He restores our joy over His salvation. When we sin and realize it, it hurts us to know we erred. When we repent and realize that God loves us enough to forgive every transgression we are overjoyed and grateful. That joy shows in our lives. That love cannot be contained. We are compelled to tell people about the love of The Father, the goodness of Jesus, and the jubilation of The Holy Spirit. Verses 13-15 say it this way,
“Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.”
We want to tell everyone who they are missing out on. God doesn’t want lemmings who follow rules. He doesn’t want us to blindly follow the rituals or mindlessly utter prayers. He wants each of His beautiful children to know the exultation of life with Him. He wants us to see we are missing Him and need His wonderful mercy and magnificent grace. He wants us to know Him. Verses 16-19 say,
“For 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.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.”
Jesus is not fire insurance. He lived for us, He died for us, and He rose from the dead for us. The only thig it takes to have a relationship with Him is our repentance (remorse and sorrow for our sins) and our submission to His authority over our lives. No thoughtlessly spoken or heedlessly repeated prayer will save anyone. God doesn’t want that. It is our broken and contrite heart that makes us cry out to Jesus for salvation that He wants. And when we give Him our broken heart, He makes it beautiful and clean. He aligns it with His. It is not the ritual that God wants, it is the love and gratitude behind the ritual that He appreciates. He doesn’t care if we look religious, good, or bad to the world. He cares about our soul, the truth of who we are in the heart.