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On Forgiveness

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 ESV

We continue our exploration of sin with a look at the attributes of forgiveness. The key to forgiveness of sin is confessing it before God, humbly repenting, and not repeating it. When we confess, we admit guilt and acknowledge our sin. Repentance takes confession a step further. When we repent, we are asking for forgiveness and committing to a change of direction. Both confession and repentance are acts of love.

Psalm 51 provides a model for confession and repentance. In David’s song we see how we, too, can be cleansed and restored. The Psalm begins with David’s plea to God for forgiveness (v 1-2). He appeals to the Lord’s mercy, compassion, and love. As is common in Hebrew poetry and song, a similar idea is repeated using different words. Taken together, David’s three verbs for wash, his three nouns for sin, and his three acknowledgements of God’s character communicate a deep and total cry for God and complete confidence in His cleansing power.

In verses 3-6, David admits what he has done is wrong. He had sinned against God and others. David is aware of his wrongdoings and takes responsibility for them. No excuses. No justification. Just confession. In verses 7-12 David asks the Lord to cleanse him and restore their fellowship which is the source of true joy and sustainable strength. David closes the Psalm with a promise to lead others to the same path back to God.

Christian literature is filled with stories of people appearing to help a Christian in need, then never being seen again. Are such beings real people? Are they angels? Both are documented in Scripture – people and angels sent by the Lord to render guidance, aid, correction, or other provision to those in need. King David had sinned grievously but had not confessed his sin to God. That is, not until God sent the Prophet Nathan to call the King to account. Ultimately, David received Nathan’s rebuke and confessed his sin. Here is the question: Would we?

If God sends someone or some circumstances into our lives, our first response should be, “What are You saying to me, Lord?” Perhaps God is saying nothing in that instance, but perhaps He is. Our attention should be immediately drawn to Him and to His purposes.

Do you have a regular routine of confession and repentance? What is God asking (pressing) you to confess right now? Walk soberly today. Be aware of what God may be saying to you through people and events. Let your attention always be drawn to Him and His purposes.

Prayer Of Application: Have mercy on me O God. I confess my sin and repent. Forgive me, I pray. And restore to me the joy of your fellowship.

h/t to Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point) and The Moody Bible Institute (Today In The Word, @KelliWorral).

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