Forgiveness • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 32:11
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We are wrapping up a brief series on forgiveness.
So far, we have seen that God commands us to forgive because we have been forgiven first and most.
Not only that, forgiving others means we won’t react with another wrong when we are hurt, nor will we seek revenge. Instead, we will react in a way that is honorable, seeking to preserve peace whenever possible. We will give room for God to correct the offense if needed, and we will seek by his power and strength to do good to those who have hurt us.
As we saw last week, though, there will be times when we are the ones who are in the wrong. We hurt others by our actions, and when that happens, we need to quickly pursue reconciliation. We go, ask for forgiveness and do whatever necessary to restore the relationship, and then we get back on track.
As we mentioned at the end of last week’s sermon, it is the “getting back on track” part that can be difficult.
There are times when we have asked God to forgive us, and we have sought forgiveness from those we have hurt, but for whatever reason, we can’t forgive ourselves.
There are a variety of reasons why we feel like we can’t let that issue go. Maybe we knew full well what would happen if we did what we did, and so we can’t imagine that God would possibly forgive us.
You might be a perfectionist who thinks you have to always be perfect with no room for error, so you can’t handle the fact that you didn’t get it right.
Perhaps the damage to the relationship seems permanent, and you can’t bring yourself to move on past what you have done.
Whatever the reason is moving forward, the solution is the same.
If you have turned from sin to following Christ, and you have confessed this sin to God and those impacted, then there is one key to forgiving yourself: rest in the fact that God has already forgiven you.
That’s probably common knowledge for you if you have been in church, but don’t miss the impact because of the simplicity.
We are going to look this morning at a psalm written out of a man who realized just how amazing God’s forgiveness was.
Turn over to Psalm 32, which was written by King David.
We don’t know for sure, but it seems like this psalm was actually written out of his confession of his sin with Bathsheba.
For those who don’t know the story, let me recap it for you.
This story is found in the Bible in 2 Samuel 11-12.
In those days, kings would lead their armies to battle in the spring.
This year, however, King David stayed home while his men were out fighting.
One night, as he was walking along the roof of his palace, he happened to look down and see a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop. Her name was Bathsheba, and she was married to one of David’s best soldiers, a man named Uriah.
Uriah was off fighting, so David had his servants go get Bathsheba for him, and he committed adultery with her.
Shortly thereafter, she sent word to David that she was pregnant.
David decides to cover his tracks by bringing Uriah back home. He gets him drunk and tries to get him to go home to his wife, but Uriah wouldn’t do it.
After trying a couple times to get Uriah to go home, David finally has to send him back out to battle.
He gives orders that Uriah be put in the hottest part of the battle, and when it got really bad, everyone else was to withdraw and leave him there to die.
So now, to cover up his affair, David has ordered the murder of one of his best warriors.
Finally, David was confronted by one of God’s prophets and came to realize his sin. Psalm 51 records his confession, if you want a great biblical example.
I bring all that up to set the stage for what we are about to read in Psalm 32.
If, like David, you have confessed and turned from you sin, then God has forgiven you.
If that is true, then, we will see five gifts that come with resting in God’s forgiveness.
If you are still trying to beat yourself up, to pay for your own sin, then you are missing out on what God has done!
As you hear these 5 gifts, I want you to let your soul rest in the true reality of your standing with God.
If they are true of an adulterous, murderous, lying king, then they are true for you today.
Read through this short psalm with me.
Let’s dive right into the first gift God gives when he grants forgiveness:
Look back at verses 1-2.
The first gift we see God give with forgiveness is restored joy.
If you have been forgiven, your life should be marked with a deeply rooted joy!
Did you notice that with this is the clear acknowledgement that you have done something wrong?
In what seems like a paradox, we only recover joy when we are willing to acknowledge that we have sinned.
We see three different words for sin used here: transgression, which is breaking a law, sin, which is falling short of God’s standard, and iniquity, which is an evil action.
Sin is always all three, and God’s forgiveness completely takes care of it, no matter how you slice it.
You are forgiven, your sin is covered, and God doesn’t hold you responsible for it anymore.
How does that happen?
This takes us right back to the key truth of the gospel.
You and I have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards.
We cannot pay God back the debt we owe, so Jesus paid every last bit of it for us.
He took our sin off us and put it on Jesus on the cross, and Jesus was dying to take all my guilt, all my sin, all my shame.
Now, through faith, his righteousness is imputed, or given, to me.
In other words, God charged Jesus for my iniquity and rewards me for Jesus’ righteousness!
But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.
In other words, I don’t earn forgiveness by my righteousness; I simply put my trust in the one who died in my place, rose from the dead, and now lives and gives me his righteousness.
When I do, Jesus’ righteousness becomes my own!
David didn’t know all the nuances of how his forgiveness would ultimately be attained, but he trusted that when he confessed, God took away all his sin.
That message should give us joy unlike anything in this world!
No new gadget or outfit, no degree or promotion, no relationship, no grand kids can ever touch this joy.
You sinned, you were wrong, and the forgiveness of God is so good that he erased it from your record with his own body and blood, which is what we commemorate later this service.
If you refuse to rest in God’s forgiveness, then you are missing out on the joy that comes from knowing you have been declared righteous!
By the way, this doesn’t give us an excuse to do whatever we want. Instead, when you look at the cost of what it took for you to be forgiven, it should lead you straight to your knees and push you far away from sin.
When God forgives, he gives great joy.
Are you joyful?
There is more that God gives, though.
We also see that he gives...
Go back to verses 3-5.
When David refused to confess his sin, he was in physical pain.
The strain of the secret, of the weight of the discipline of God, caused him real, physical pain.
It’s worth noting that this may be a part of the reason your health isn’t what it should be.
Unconfessed sin takes a toll, not only on your soul, but on your physical body as well.
That doesn’t mean that everyone who is sick is hiding some kind of sin, but it is something for you to consider in your own life.
However, what relief comes with forgiveness!
Do you remember growing up and trying to keep something from your parents? Do you remember that tension between you that made you miserable?
Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Tell-tale Heart” comes to mind.
If you remember, the man in the story murdered another man and buried him under the floorboards in his room. His guilty conscience drove him mad to the point that he thought he could still hear the man’s heart beating, so he confessed to the crime.
There is a terrible weight that comes with unconfessed sin, but there is a tremendous joy when that weight is lifted!
David said he confessed and God forgave him, and that weight was gone.
When you are still beating yourself up over something God has forgiven, you are carrying a weight you no longer need to bear.
Jesus carried it for you on the cross, so let it go, and find his relief.
There is a third gift that comes with forgiveness:
David encourages us to get back on track quickly in verse 6.
When you realize you have sinned, confess it and get back into right relationship with God.
When you do, you put yourself back under his protection.
Like I mentioned with our health in the last point, this isn’t a promise that you will never have anything bad happen in life, but it does mean that God will take care of us in the middle of whatever storm we are facing.
Floodwaters will come, but God will keep you above water.
Trouble will come, but God will keep you safe in the middle of it.
When you won’t confess your sin, you put yourself in a dangerous place.
Go back to David’s example. The adultery was bad enough, but then he tried to cover it up, which eventually lead to arranging the murder of a trusted soldier and friend.
When we refuse to come back into right relationship with God, we get farther and farther off the path God has set for us.
If we keep going that way, we will have disastrous consequences.
However, when we turn back, we put ourselves back under his protection and guidance.
Speaking of guidance, that’s the fourth gift God gives:
There is a little confusion about exactly who is talking in verses 8-9.
Some, like the translators of this version of the Bible, think this is still David speaking.
Others believe this is actually God speaking directly, building on what David just said.
Either way, the point is clear: When we are in a good place with God, we are ready and able to hear his voice as he leads and guides us.
Your sin didn’t destroy God’s ability to lead and guide you, even though you disobeyed him.
Confession and forgiveness show that you are willing to follow his leading and guidance, and now you are in a place to follow him.
Like with protection, this is something you don’t have as readily when you aren’t walking with him.
You get distracted, living for yourself, and you stop listening to his voice.
However, when he shakes you like he did David, and you see again just how far off track you have gotten, you seek forgiveness and start walking the way he leads again.
If you are refusing to recognize that he has forgiven you, then you are impairing your ability to obey him in the future.
You won’t listen to him when he says you are forgiven, so how are you going to listen to him when he is leading you to obey him in some way?
Forgiveness enables him to guide and lead you again.
There is one last gift God gives with forgiveness in this passage:
This one sums it all up for us again.
Read the last two verses...
Think about that incredible promise.
If I have trusted that God forgives me based off Jesus’ sacrifices for me, then I have the promise of being surrounded with his steadfast, faithful love.
It isn’t that God stops loving us when we sin, but we do experience his discipline.
Instead of feeling gentle, his hand feels heavy on us like David said in verse 4.
When we turn from sin and turn to following him, we come to know his love in a real way.
David ends the psalm as he began, reminding us to be glad and rejoice.
As we have seen, our “uprightness” is not our own, it is from Jesus.
Jesus’ sacrifice is what gives us the ability to let go of our own sin.
When we confess that sin to God, he forgives completely.
That results in joy and relief. We come back under his protection and guidance, and our lives are marked by an understanding of his faithful love.
Is that how you view forgiveness?
“But Sean, that still feels like I am getting off to easy.”
You are right—it isn’t fair that Jesus would die in your place.
However, his body was broken and his blood was spilled for you.
Are you saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough to cover your sin?
Let’s reflect on that as we prepare ourselves to take the Lord’s Supper together.