Failing Bravely

Jeff Forgiveness, Sin

Will you say these words with me? These are bible words, inspired words, human words…words reserved only for the redeemed.  You need to say them as often as necessary and as confidently as you can.  Read them carefully.  Read them out loud, and then read them out loud again as you recognize that they convey what is, perhaps, the most powerful reality in your life.  Take it slowly and let each of the words linger for a moment.  Here they are…

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” – Psalm 32:5

When David speaks here of his sin, he uses a word that indicates that he knows he has come up short against God’s standard.  David is open and honest as he confesses that he has acted in a way that simply does not arise to God’s expectation or command.  He knows that he falls short, and he says to God that he is willing to acknowledge this.  We should appreciate the fact that he doesn’t blame anyone else – not his upbringing, not the devil, and not anyone who may have tempted him.  He stands alone before God and admits without reservation that he has come short of the glory of God.

David also mentions his iniquity to God.  Apparently his conviction runs so strongly that he cannot use only one word to communicate what he has done.  His actions were not only sin, they were iniquity. This word translated means that David is aware of a moral uncleanness that colors all that he does.  He refuses to minimize his wrongdoing, and he  confesses that his whole being is stained with sinfulness.  How refreshing that a saint of God – even the man after God’s heart – can look in the mirror of truth and declare himself – not flawed or merely imperfect – but, thoroughly sinful in what he had done.

The final word that he employs in his confession is the word translated as transgressions.  Before we criticize David for being too hard on himself by using yet another painful word to describe his actions, let’s remember that it is the Holy Spirit who was inspiring the struggling king to write down this confession. Don’t take the teeth out of it. David was processing his inner angst for his act of rebellion against his God. He called it transgression, and this is what we most often think of when we make our own confessions to God.  We have crossed a line with Him.  He draws a boundary that we determine we don’t approve of, and we willingly step over that line in disobedience.  In those moments we essentially dethrone Christ in our hearts and try on the King’s crown for ourselves in the very sight of God.  We do not merely break a rule, we demean the One who has established parameters for our lives.  We diminish the holy character of God and exalt our own desires above His.

So David has really committed some act here that has broken his own heart.  Healthy confession is a daily essential for the Christian, and I love the fact that the most significant phrase of the verse does not focus on what David has done, but on what God has done.  David confidently declares that God “forgave the iniquity of {his} sin.” There we have it.  David could not undo the past.  What had been accomplished in his failure was an irretrievable act, and he had made his open, honest confession to God.  David would not grovel, do penance, run from God, engage in self flagellation, assume he had been rejected, or wallow in false humility by continuing to bemoan his sinfulness.  The one who had a heart for God was assured that he was fully forgiven.  Mercy had won.  Truth had rushed in and removed the residue of guilt.  Grace had devoured accusation. This is great theology for this Old Testament believer.  He instinctively knew that God did not desire sacrifices or offerings from him because He had witnessed something much more precious and essential -God had David’s broken heart and that provided opportunity for Him to get in there and cleanse it. David failed and, when he knew this to be true, he failed bravely. His confidence in God’s grace was greater than his regret over his personal failure. David’s sin had abounded, but God’s grace abounded all the more. David got up from confession that day and bravely walked in true friendship with his God.

Keep your heart in this same condition.  Broken.  Genuine.  Confessing. Brave. You will be one who experiences the thrill of grace in the midst of the throb of your falling short.  I’ve never met anyone who regretted their repentance…but I’ve known myself what it is to postpone the inevitable, and tarry too long before making confession.  That’s a miserable place to be.  Go ahead and welcome God to wash you, and then receive what is a treasure reserved for the redeemed: glorious, instant restoration.

God doesn’t do probation. He traffics in full pardons.

Ps 32:5
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
ESV