Yesterday we looked at what we can learn about sin from Psalm 51. Today, we’re going to examine forgiveness and repentance. I promise it’ll be a little more positive than yesterday.
Once you’ve learned to call your sin what it is and recognized how serious it is, then you can move on to dealing with it. First, cast yourself on his mercy. Look at vs. 16: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” Under the Old Covenant, there was no sacrifice available for adultery or murder; there was no animal you could bring to “make up” for it. The only thing David could expect was the death penalty. All he could plead was God’s mercy, his unfailing love, and his compassion, which he did in the first verse. In the same way, that’s all we can plead when we come to him asking for forgiveness.
Second, know that he’s forgiven you. In Christ, he's promised that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We can know, even better than David did, that our sins are covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and when we ask, he will forgive and restore.
And we can see how good this is by contrasting it with the way some people “forgive.” Have you ever known anyone who keep mentioning how you messed up, never letting it go? They say that they forgave you, but in a heated argument they bring it up again? I promise you, our Savior’s not like that. He's promised that once we’re forgiven, it’s forgotten.
Third, resolve, by his grace and strength, to do better. Take note from the Psalm what was going to occur after forgiveness and restoration. His tongue would sing God’s praises, and he would teach sinners to turn back to the Lord. In other words, the relationship between David and his Lord would be restored, and “righteous” sacrifices would again be offered on the altar. But we can’t offer righteous sacrifices until our hearts are right with him, and part of that is repentance—turning away from sin.
By the way, that term is something we need to grasp if we’re going to understand our Bible. John MacArthur defines “repentance” as “changing our orientation and in so turning to seek a new way of life.” There’s a sense in which it’s once-and-for-all when we make a commitment to Christ at the moment of salvation, and there’s a sense in which it’s a day-by-day, actually moment-by-moment, turning away from the sin that’s cropped up again in our lives.
The good news is that once we we’ve done this, we can know true cleansing. The deeper we let the surgeon’s scalpel of the Holy Spirit cut into our hearts in order to slice away the rot of sin, the deeper we’ll know the freedom of forgiveness.
And for your contemplation, here's "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" by Chris Tomlin:
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your grace and mercy. My sins, my chains, my guilt is gone. In you I know true freedom, for you have washed me and cleansed me.