“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
(Psalm 32:1-5 ESV)
It’s no wonder that there is little peace in the world we live in today with the way that sin is treated in our culture—that it’s no big deal. There seems to be little groaning over sin, even in my own life, to my shame. Despite the lack of shame over sin, God still does not let us have the peace He intends for us when we fail to recognize and repent of our sin. Our bones may not “waste away through my groaning all day long”, but there is a restless unsettledness that eats away at us, and it comes out in the way we process life and events around us.
Last week, at the Pastor’s Conference at Moody, I heard a speaker say something like, “until sin is bitter, grace will not be sweet”. Wow. That one stuck in my head and rolled around a lot. I see how often I take grace for granted, and I suspect that I’m not alone in that. But we take the grace of God for granted because sin doesn’t seem as bitter to us as it is to God. We appease our conscious with the thought that we’re really not all that bad; not as bad as someone else I know, or as bad as some criminal. But the reality is that all sin has a consequence, and the consequence is separation from God.
While as believers, we know that our sins are forgiven, but when we let unrepentant sin continue and treat it as if it were nothing serious, we make God out to be a liar because He takes sin very seriously. It was so serious that in order for sin to be atoned for, or to be taken away, blood had to be shed—something had to die. Moses was given very specific instructions for the children of Israel in regard to how they were to offer sacrifices for sin. In every case, an animal, and not just any animal, but one that was without blemish or defect, had to die—had to shed its blood in order for sin to be forgiven.
Then God sent the perfect sacrifice to the earth. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins [His own blood], he sat down at the right hand of God, for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:12,14)
God makes a promise to us through the apostle John in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God will always honor a repentant heart. The second term He used to characterize Himself to Moses in Ex. 34:6 is gracious. Grace is unmerited favor. In other words, there is nothing, literally nothing we can do to deserve it. But the only way that it is offered to us is when we agree with God about our sin, (that’s confession), and repent of it, (that means to turn away from it).
The psalmist nails it here in Psalm 32. If we want to know what true peace with God is like, we need to think of sin as God thinks of it, that it is wholly offensive, destructive, and leads to unwanted consequences up to and including death. When we begin to see sin as a bitter thing, we will come to know the sweetness that is found in having our account with Him cleared through the righteousness that is found in Christ Jesus, His Son.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen