One of the most beautiful sinner’s prayers is found in Psalm 51. David, the man after God’s own heart, is praying in response to having committed adultery with Bathsheba and consequently murdering her husband when she got pregnant. His sin reminds us that none of us are above sinning, no matter how close we are to God. His prayer shows us that we can be made right with God, no matter how far away we feel we are.
In verse 3, he started out, “I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins” (GNT). Each one of us knows ourselves better than anyone. If we are honest with ourselves, we can point out our own faults and know where we are broken inside. Too many of us spend a lifetime trying to cover those up and pretending like we’re fine. When we forget or hide those things, we open ourselves up to walking into sin and failure.
Verse 7 says, “Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” None of us are capable of removing our own sin or healing our brokenness. David trusted God’s forgiveness to be absolute, and we should too. When God forgives us, our sin is gone. We too should let it go and quit living in the shame of our past failures. The stain of our sin is gone. If God has forgiven you, you should forgive yourself too. Your freedom is found in forgiveness from God and self.
My favorite part of this prayer comes from verse 10. David prayed, “Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me.” David didn’t like his brokenness. Instead of trying to live with it and defeat it over and over again, he prayed God would heal it. God is more than able to heal our brokenness and create something new in us. Remember, when Jesus forgives us, our old life passes away and all things become new, including our heart. Trust the work that God has done in your life and live in the freedom He gave you.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
It’s been my experience that there are different types of being sorry. The first type is one we’ve all been guilty of. It’s the “sorry I got caught” sorry. You’re forced to say you’re sorry because you were busted, but the only thing you’re really sorry about is that you got caught. There’s also the “sorry” sorry. That’s when you do something and do truly feel bad about it. You may or may not apologize with this one because there’s no accountability. Then there’s the “sorry after I got caught” sorry. With this one, you got busted, but that triggered the true sorry response. You realize you got out of control and apologize for it.
In II Samuel 11, David should have gone off to war, but he didn’t. He stayed behind and sent someone else to do the hard work in the war. Then when the final battle was to take place, David would go lead that charge, and take credit for the whole victory. While he stated behind, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. He sent for her and slept with her knowing she was married. When she told him she was pregnant, he sent for her husband to come back from the war hoping he would sleep with her and would think the baby was his own. When that plan failed, David had him killed in battle.
David sent for the woman, married her, and that was that. Well, at least until the prophet came and called David out. David broke down. He had a “sorry after I got caught” sorry moment. In that sorrow, he wrote one of the most heartfelt repentant prayers in Psalm 51:7-10. “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”
David recognized right away that his sin was a heart issue. He also knew that even though he was guilty of adultery and murder, God could forgive him and restore him. He recognized that God responds to us when we truly are sorry for our sins and aren’t just offering lip service to him. He wrote in verses 16-17, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” The type of sorry we are over our sins matters to God. He’s looking at our heart more than our words.
How long has it been since you looked at the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5? To me, they’re a measuring stick of where I am in my growth. I have to ask myself, “Is my life producing these fruits?” Paul told us that a life controlled by God’s Spirit would produce those fruits. If I’m not producing them, then I’m not being controlled by God. In that same chapter, he also described the fruits of the flesh. These describe what a life that is not controlled by the Spirit looks like. It’s important to look in the mirror often to see what your spiritual life looks like.
Each morning as I get ready for the day, I stop and look in the mirror to fix my hair and to make sure I look presentable before going out in public. The same thing should happen for us as believers. We should look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word to see what we look like. If we don’t like what we see, we need to make adjustments just like we would to our physical appearance. If you had bags under your eyes you could either cover them with make up (this doesn’t solve the problem) or get more rest.
Too many times when we look in our spiritual mirror and see something that doesn’t look right in our lives, we try to cover it up. We want to appear to others as having it together when really the problem is one of the heart. David tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. He didn’t want others to know he had committed adultery, so he brought her husband home from the war. When he wouldn’t sleep with his wife, David sent him back to be killed so he could marry her and make it look like they got pregnant on their wedding night. He went to a lot of trouble trying to cover up the physical actions of a spiritual problem.
David had quit being led by the Spirit and was being led by his fleshly desires. He reaped the fruit of that choice. Since he wouldn’t look I hope a spiritual mirror, the prophet of God came and held it up. When he did, David recognized the spiritual problem. Instead of continuing to try to cover it, he dealt with the spiritual problem. In Psalm 51:10 he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. (NLT)” He realized he needed s change of heart to change his ways.
We are not so different from David. We have fruit we are not proud of and we try to cover it up. You may not have a prophet come knock on your door to call you out like he did, but the problem still has to be dealt with. If you look at the fruit in your life and know you need to change, don’t try to cover the problem up. Deal with it at the source. Pray like David did that God would give you a clean heart, that He would put a right spirit in you and that you would live a life that is led by His Spirit. When you do that, you will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Ever since we moved into our house, my wife wanted to renovate the living room. She hated it because it was dark and out dated. I fought her on the renovations because I liked the room and also because I knew what renovations would entail. I knew that once we started, it wouldn’t end with a simple paint job and floor change. Once we began, it would set off a chain of change for the foreseeable future and I wasn’t ready to do that. With the help of friends, she finally convinced me to let go of my fear and embrace the renovation. I saw in the process how God wants to renovate our lives.
God desires for each of us to undergo the process of renovation in our lives. He wants to take out old ways of thinking and replace them with the mind of Christ. He wants to remove the hard parts of our hearts and put in a heart of flesh. He wants to give us fresh insight into His Word, but we have to be willing to submit to the renovations. We have to quit fighting God on the changes He wants to make and allow Him to do His work. Psalm 51 is all about renovating David’s life. In verse 10, he surrendered and prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” The first step of renovating your life is submission to God’s will and design.
The next part is counting the cost. In my living room, I allowed the cost to keep us from renovating. It was more than I was willing to pay because the outcome was unsure. Once I let go of the purse strings, the work began. The same is true in our personal renovation. We have to understand that there is a price to pay in renovating and we have to let go of the fear that keeps us from releasing God to do in our lives what He wants to do. It may cost us time, relationships, location or money, but in the end, we will receive more than we lost. Renovations in our lives increase our ability and usability.
The last thing I learned is that you have to be patient in the process. It wasn’t long into ours that my wife said, “We’ve made a mistake. We shouldn’t do any more. What if we keep going and lose a lot more money?” She was right. In the middle of the process, we lost sight of the vision. We questioned the renovation and almost gave up. We decided to see it through and love the outcome. In the Message, Philippians 1:6 says, “there is no doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish.” It might get messy and you might lose sight of what God is doing in your life, but be patient. God will complete the work in you and it will be more amazing than you can imagine and worth the cost.