“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)
This psalm was written by David after Nathan the prophet rebuked him of his sin. He had committed adultery with another man’s wife, had the man killed in cold blood, and then tried to cover his tracks. Even though David was a man after God’s own heart, his heart was deceitful. Psalm 51 is a confession of his sin. He asks God to be merciful and to blot out his transgressions. He acknowledges the fact that sin is ultimately rebellion against God. It is no small matter.
There is a difference in remorse over getting caught and genuine repentance that understands the seriousness of sin. All too often we are sorry because of sin’s consequences and not the sin itself. David knew that he had done evil in the sight of the Lord. He didn’t try to justify himself or make excuses for his behavior. He was guilty of sin, and only the Lord could cleanse his life. Only the Lord could restore to him the joy of his salvation. God wasn’t looking for David to give sacrifice, nor would He be pleased with a burnt offering. He knew that man doesn’t make deals with God. Instead, God was looking for a humble spirit and a repentant attitude. God gives grace to the humble, but He keeps the proud at a distance.
Do you know the joy of forgiveness? A lot of depression in life can be traced back to guilt that is associated with unconfessed sin, wounds that have been allowed to fester rather than heal. God doesn’t just gloss over the sin in our lives, nor does He turn a blind eye to it. He convicts us, exposes our sin, and takes us to the cross of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness can only be found at the cross. We can’t bargain with God and resolve to merely do better, nor can we appease God through service. It is only the death of God’s Son that appeases His wrath. Christ’s sacrifice is the only sacrifice that God accepts. When we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now as believers, we can embrace the joy of forgiveness because Christ embraced the pain of the cross.