Date: April 7, 2013
Bible Text: Psalms 51 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
If you have your Bibles, please turn in them to Psalm 51. We believe that when a person is born again, has had the second birth, that that person can never again be a lost soul. We believe that the Lord keeps whom He saves. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish…” Philippians 1:6 reads, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…” You see, once we are truly saved, we are kept by the power of God. But some people believe that because we believe in eternal security, it doesn’t matter whether or not you sin. You’ve “got God where you want Him.” You can “sin all you want.” But a person who thinks this way is terribly wrong. Not being able to lose your salvation certainly doesn’t mean that you have nothing to lose. You have much to lose. If a Christian sins, he always suffers. Suffering follows sin just as surely as night follows day. You will suffer.
In Psalm 51, David says, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest…” This is a great picture of repentance, and without repentance you will never be right with God.
“…Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.”
As most of you know, this psalm was written after David’s terrible sin with Bathsheba. Some would say, “Well, he’s just human.” No. God points out that this sin was wicked. He was what we would call today a “Christian.” He was called “a man after God’s own heart.” He was a saved man. He was a child of God. Yet he committed terrible sin. Let’s look at what sin does to the Christian. Look at verses 1 and 2 again. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” You see very clearly that David felt dirty. David felt like he needed a bath. I’m sure that he bathed in a beautiful marble tub, that he had oceans of water and probably perfumed soap. He wore kingly garments. Yet he cried out to God, “Wash me, cleanse me.”
And so my first point is that the child of God who sins soils his soul. Our sins can make us dirty. Have you ever been out in a field working? I’m not a farmer, so I’d relate more to working in a ditch on a really hot day and getting really dirty. You just want to take a bath. You just feel filthy. That’s what sin does to Christians. You want to do something about it because you feel dirty. That’s one way that we know we’re saved. A sheep may stumble into a puddle, but he doesn’t like it. When a hog finds a mud puddle, he loves it. A child of God lapses into sin and loathes it. A child of the devil leaps into sin and loves it. If you are saved and you sin, your sin makes you feel dirty. Sin soils the soul.
But, second, sin saturates the mind. David said in verse 3, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” Again, this is repentance. A child of God cannot sin and forget it. Before we were saved it was very easy. We would sin and go on, and it wouldn’t really bother us. We would forget it. But after we are saved, it hurts us. We can never have peace until we get rid of the sin because it saturates our mind. This is the reason that some Christians have mental problems. Now, no Christian should have a mental problem. But you might point at one and say, “Look at how nervous he is,” or, “Look, he doesn’t have any peace.” That’s because of sin. His sin is ever before him. A child of God in sin is always more miserable than an unsaved person. When God saved you, He did not fix you up so that you could not sin; but He fixed you so you could not enjoy it. The most miserable man on earth is a saved man out of the will of God. “My sin is ever before me,” David wrote. Now, physically, a clean wound will heal, but a dirty one will not. It will just fester and become infected. Guilt is a dirty wound, and it will not heal until it’s cleansed. I don’t care how your heart is broken, if you keep it clean, it will heal. But on the other hand, I don’t care how many psychiatrists you go to, if you don’t keep clean, you’ll never forget your sin. They can’t help you. It will fester.
But, third, sin stings the conscience. Verse 4 says, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned...” You see, David realized that his sin was not only against Bathsheba, his wife, and the nation. David realized that his sin was against God. He knew that there was a barrier between him and God, and he wanted to make it right. Do you know the difference between a slave and a son? A slave fears the master’s whip; a son fears his father’s displeasure. David is not just thinking about punishment but the fact that he hurt God. You can tell that as you read this psalm. He sinned against God. That’s another way you can know you are saved. You don’t really worry just about being caught. You realize that sin has broken fellowship with God. When you sin, not only do you break God’s law, but you break God’s heart. Again, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” No one would want to commit adultery in public. But David said, “I did this in front of you, God. I did this evil in your sight.” If we would only remind ourselves of what we say we believe, we wouldn’t be the sinners that we are. God sees everything we do. So David is now conscience-stricken.
But, fourth, sin saddens the heart. Look at verse 8. “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” Now down to verse 12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” He’s a very unhappy man. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” He doesn’t say, “Restore unto me my salvation,” but, “the joy of thy salvation.” While a Christian cannot lose his salvation, he certainly can lose the joy of his salvation. We see a lot of that. The reason we have sad and unhappy Christians is that there is sin in their lives. It’s the only reason. Sin and lack of joy are Siamese twins. If you want to take a test to see if you are backslidden, take the joy test. If there’s no real joy, then there is sin. Now again, I’m not saying that when you are right with God you have to have a silly grin. I’ve heard preachers say that often. “You should be smiling all the time.” Well, it doesn’t say you are going to have a silly grin. You may have sorrows and tears, but you will always have a deep, abiding joy. A Christian right with God will be full of joy unspeakable and full of glory.
You’ve heard the story about the Roman emperor who had a famous Christian in his dungeon and wanted to know how to hurt him. So he called his advisors and said, “How can we make him suffer? Shall we confiscate all of his goods?” The advisors talked to each other and said, “You can do that, but according to his doctrine it won’t do any good. The only thing that matters to him is his riches in Christ, and we can’t take them away.” And the emperor said, “Okay, let’s cast him into solitary confinement.” Again his advisors talked, and they said, “We can do that also, but according to his lifestyle, he’d like that because he talks about a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and he loves to have fellowship with him.” “Well, then we’ll cut off his head.” Of course, nobody wants his head cut off; it’s physical pain. But they pointed out to the emperor that this man believed, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” “Yes, the pain would hurt, but he believes he would be in a better place.” Well, the emperor said, “How can we make him suffer?” And his advisors got together again and said, “Let’s make sure we get him to sin. That’s the way he will suffer.”
If the devil wants a Christian to suffer, he’ll not do it by taking away his own goods. He’ll not do it by throwing us in prison. I think we could grow in Christ in prison. I really believe so. But when we sin, we suffer. Sin takes the joy out of your life. Take the joy test. If there’s no joy, then there is sin. If there is no joy, then you’re not in this Book the way you ought to be. If there’s no joy, you are not praying the way you ought to. If there’s no joy, you are not witnessing the way you ought to. If there’s no joy, there’s probably some bad habit, or maybe you are mistreating a Christian brother. Take the joy test.
But, fifth, sin sickens the body. Verse 8 says, “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” Now David is using poetic language here, but what he is saying is that it seems like his bones are crushed. The sin had brought so much pressure upon him that it seemed like he was physically sick, like his bones were crushed. He was miserable physically because of his sin. Keep your finger there in Psalm 51 and turn to I Corinthians 11:30. Sin can bring such pressure on you that you get physically sick. Every doctor will agree that the mind can make your body sick. I don’t think anybody here would disagree that some people, maybe many people, in the physical sections of the hospital are there because of mental or psychological reasons. We know I Corinthians 11:30 reads, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” For what cause? Sin. Some were sick; some had died. What was the cause? Sin. We are a unit. We can’t say, “My body is one thing, and my soul/spirit is another.” What affects your soul will affect your body. Proverbs says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Sin will do the same thing to you physically that sand will do to machinery. It will wear you out. When you are resting in the Lord, you will just be more healthy. Now I’m not saying that everyone who is sick is in sin. We all get sick, and if the Lord doesn’t come before that, we are all going to die. It’s a matter of fact. And some of God’s choicest servants suffer physically the most. But I think it would surprise us if we could know how much of our sickness comes from sin. David said, “It’s like God’s hand is crushing me.”
Again, verse 8 reads, “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” Sin soils the soul. He cries out, “Wash me.” It saturates the mind. “My sin is ever before me.” It stings the conscience. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” It saddens the heart. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” And it sickens the body. “That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”
Then, sin sours the spirit. Verse 10 reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” When a Christian sins, his spirit gets wrong. We’ve experienced that. He becomes critical. He becomes harsh. He becomes a fault-finder. No food on the table looks good when you have a sour stomach. Nobody likes to eat more than I do; but if you have a sour stomach, you don’t want to eat. And a person who is not right with God will always be one of the most critical people around. He’ll have a mean spirit.
We see this illustrated by King David right here. Remember after his sin with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet (his pastor) came to him and said, “I want to tell you a story. There was a man who was very poor and he had only one little lamb. He nurtured that little sheep, and he loved it and took care of it; it was very special to him. Then there was another very wealthy man with huge flocks and herds. But when the wealthy man had somebody come to eat, he took the poor man’s little loved sheep. And he killed it and cooked it to feed his guest. King David, what should we do about this man?” And David jumped up and said, “That man will pay fourfold!” He was angry. He was very quick to judge the sin. And we know what Nathan did. Nathan pointed at him and said, “Thou art the man.” The little lamb was Bathsheba. David had all that anyone could want, but he took the soldier’s wife. He had sinned much worse than taking the lamb. This is so obvious and is seen so often. He wanted to harshly judge another.
When a person always judges others, when a person is always critical, pointing fingers, he is backslidden. Mark it down. If you find yourself critical and finding fault, you are backslidden. The youth pastor can never please you. The teacher can’t please you. Or, if you are the teacher, the students and the parents can’t please you. You and your children withdraw from the mainstream. You say you don’t want to be hurt, but in reality, you are living in sin. We’ve all heard about the man who was asleep and some prankster came and put limburger cheese on his mustache. He woke up and said, “It stinks in here!” He went outside and said, “It stinks out here!” Then he went and smelled some flowers and said, “The flowers stink!” But who was it? The problem was with him. Of course, the problem was his. You watch the person who always wants to point out wrong. He has a sour spirit. David said, “Renew a right spirit within me.”
But, next, sin also seals the lips. Look at verses 14 and 15. “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips: and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” David had lost his testimony because he had allowed sin to get into his life. When sin gets into your life, praise dries up. I heard about a deacon who always said, “Amen.” I love when people say, “Amen.” But after a while, this deacon just stopped. The pastor went to him one day and said, “You were such an encouragement when you were saying, ‘Amen.’ It was just like saying ‘sic ‘em’ to a dog. Why don’t you keep on going?” And the man said, “Pastor, when the bulldog has you by the seat of the pants, you don’t want to say ‘sic ‘em.’” It’s hard to say “sic ‘em” to a dog when he’s chewing on you. He had a wrong spirit.
If you want to know if you are right with God, ask yourself, “Is it easy to praise?” Do you want to praise God? Do you love to come to church? Is it easy for you to tell people about the Lord? Do you like good Christian fellowship? I’m convinced people don’t talk about the Lord because they don’t have joy. Or, they even see themselves, rightfully so, as hypocrites. Andrew Murray used to say there are only two classes of people: soulwinners and backsliders. When a man is right with God, he doesn’t have to make himself witness; he wants to praise God. You may say, “A lot of these things are true in my life.” Then either you have never been saved or you have to get sin out of your life.
Now let’s turn the tide for the rest of the message. We’ve looked at all the sad things that sin does to us. What can a Christian do about it? A Christian has a soiled soul, sin saturating his mind with wrong thoughts, sin searing his conscience, sin saddening his heart, and sin sealing his lips. Psalm 51 not only shows us what sin can do, but it’s also a description of how a Christian who has sinned can get back right with the Lord. It tells how fellowship can be restored. I want you to see it by looking at some words that start with the letter “C.” The first word is “confidence.” Understand that God loves you and will forgive you. Have confidence that God loves you and wants to forgive you. Notice verse 1, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Notice the confidence that David had in God, that God was a God of lovingkindness. God was a God of tender mercies. David knew that for great sin there was great grace. I’m so thankful that even though we are great sinners, God’s mercies go far beyond our sins. We can start with a confidence that we can never exhaust God’s grace and mercy. As much as I believe that we will reap what we sow, I believe that God loves us and, when we are repentant, wants to forgive us.
Remember when one of the disciples came to Christ and said, “How many times should we forgive a brother?” He suggested the number seven because seven was the number of perfection. He thought, “Of course, if I forgive somebody seven times, that’s enough.” But Jesus said, “No. Seventy times seven.” Nobody is ever going to sin against you 490 times. But the whole idea of the account is that if he does and if he comes and sins against you 491 times, you are to forgive. If God expects us as frail human beings to forgive each other 491 times, then He will do it. You see, you may feel discouraged. You may be sitting here feeling that God is through with you. God has washed His hands of you. I want to tell you, yes, God does not let you get by with sin, but God loves you. And not only does He love you, but He wants to use you. God put Psalm 51 in the Bible to give you confidence that He is willing, not only willing, but wants to take you back now.
So number one, we have confidence. Number two, we see “confession.” All the confidence in the love of God is not enough if there is not confession. And this, I think, is paramount. This is something people don’t seem to see. I’ve preached more than one sermon totally on repentance, trying to teach what it is and show the importance of it. If we don’t repent, we’re not saved; and if we don’t repent as Christians, we cannot be right with God. Look at verses 2-5, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Notice again “me” and “my.” “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” MY sin, MY transgression. Many are never made right with God because they never really confess their sin. They make excuses.
Remember in the Garden of Eden after Adam sinned, God came to him and asked what was wrong, and Adam said, “The problem is the woman that Thou gave me.” What he was saying is that it was her fault, and in reality, it was God’s fault. That’s what you do. But notice David. He didn’t blame Bathsheba, even though Bathsheba could have been blamed greatly. She was at fault, yes, but he didn’t blame her. He said, “It’s me. It’s my sin.” David acknowledged, “My sin, my iniquity, my transgression.” One thing that God will never accept for sin is an alibi. You must come with an honest, open confession. When God asked Eve about her sin, she said, “The serpent beguiled me. Satan made me do it.” No. God will not accept that.
Turn to Ephesians 2:3. If we sin, it is no one else’s fault but our own. David not only acknowledges that he is a sinner by practice but, also, by nature. We read, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me.” He speaks of inbred sin. Now he is not saying that he was born of adultery or out of wedlock. But he had a sinful nature. Ephesians 2:3 says, “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” We’re born liars. We’re born selfish. Put a one-year-old in a room full of toys. Maybe there’s a hundred toys there, and he grabs one or two and plays with those one or two toys. Then you set a second one-year-old in there and take a toy that the first one has paid no attention to and give it to the second child. I guarantee you the first one-year-old will go to the second one, grab the toy, bop him in the head, and take it. Why? Because we are born selfish. Every one of us is selfish by nature. We don’t have to teach our children to lie; we have to teach them not to lie. We don’t have to teach our children to steal; we have to teach them not to steal.
Some think our problem today is society. As Christians, we like to argue about the community. The community has nothing to do with the way our kids turn out. You take a newborn child and put him on an island and have him raised by machines, if that could be done, and I guarantee you as soon as that child could lie, he would lie. As soon as he could steal, he would steal. Something’s wrong inside. David said that and confessed he did wrong. One of our problems is that we have never really believed as David and Paul that “in me dwelleth no good thing.” We always want to look good. I have said so many times, if we want to lose a member, or if we want to get somebody mad at me, all I have to do is put my finger on his sin. Just touch it. We don’t want to say, “In me is no good.” Listen, I don’t care how long you have been saved, that old nature has not improved one little bit. You have a new nature, but there’s not one sin that any one of us is not capable of committing if we take our eyes off Jesus Christ and put ourselves in a compromising position. David confessed his sin.
The third word is “cleansing.” Verse 7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” This was a ceremony in the Old Testament looking toward the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As I understand it, they would take a vine-like plant, and dip it in blood and sprinkle it on the priest. Now the New Testament’s counterpart to this Old Testament verse is I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Amen. Cleansing through the blood. And that brings us to verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Notice the true confession and the cleansing—they go hand in hand.
So many times we don’t know what it means to confess our sins. To admit your sin is not the same as confessing your sin. For David to admit his adultery would not be confession. Confess means “to say with.” Say with God, say with Christ, agree with God about my sin. Look at Psalm 51. He was agreeing with God that he was a dirty sinner. A lot of people admit their sin, but most Christians never repent of their sin. And I believe this is a pivotal problem. We talk about revival, but we’ll never see revival until we repent of our sin. Verse 17 reads, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” That’s repentance. Repentance means a change of mind. It’s taking sides against our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Last of all, there will be a “consecration.” Verse 12 says, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…” Verse 13, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” I’ll tell you why we don’t see more souls saved. You say, “We see more souls saved than probably 99% of churches.” Maybe. But would you say we see the souls saved we should? Would you say you see the souls saved you should? I’ll tell you why we don’t see the souls saved we should. It’s because many of our members are not right with God. The greatest argument for Christianity and the greatest argument against Christianity is the life of a Christian. The greatest argument for what we preach is some Christian living a biblical life, and the greatest argument against what we preach is some Christian living in sin. David knew that. David said, “When I get right, sinners will be converted.” David knew he got in trouble in the first place because he wasn’t doing what he should. He wasn’t going to war; he wasn’t in God’s will. And he said, “I’m getting the sin taken care of, and I’m going to be consecrated.” “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.”
Just because a Christian cannot lose his salvation doesn’t mean he has nothing to lose. You’ll suffer. But praise God, David shows that we can get back to God.