Scripture Reading: Psalms 51 - 53 …
One of the saddest things in today's "religious" climate, where any belief in any "god" is considered acceptable, is that people who don't know the true God who has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible, do not know the God who truly IS love! They talk about God loving everybody, but they have no idea what the Bible means when it says, “God IS love!” (I John 4:16). The Apostle Paul, who knew the true God, prayed this prayer for the believers in Ephesus: "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints ('holy ones' = believers), to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know THIS love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).
There is only one way to understand how wide and long and high and deep the love of Jesus is for those for whom He died, and that is to first know the depth of your sin. Only when you understand that sin is rebellion against God and that the just consequence for sin is exactly the opposite of love ... only then will you begin to understand the greatness of God’s love that required the sacrifice of His own Son to pay your debt and mine. David, one thousand years before Jesus was born, understood His need for such a love when he was confronted with his sin by the prophet, Nathan. Psalm 51 was written after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had arranged events so that her husband would be killed in battle (II Samuel 11-12). He writes, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (51:1-2).
David was conscious of his sin and made no excuses. He confessed what so few are willing to admit today: "Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved RIGHT when You speak and justified when You judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (51:4-5). As he says again in Psalm 53, "Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, NOT EVEN ONE!" (53:3; Romans 3:10). People who never hear the bad news will not long for good news and will not receive the true Gospel of Jesus Christ because they don't think they need it!
We must approach God as David does in Psalm 51, for we, too, have sinned against God. “All have sinned!” (Romans 3:23). We, too, must long for God's cleansing. "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (51:7). This is the consistent testimony of Scripture, as the prophet, Isaiah, writes: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’" (Isaiah 1:18). As the words of the old hymn ask and answer, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"
The question remains: How can sinners approach God in His holiness? Does His love simply ignore or overcome His justice? David understood his need for something more: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me" (51:10-11). This was the Old Testament, and yet David was given wisdom by the Spirit of God to understand that what needed to happen within him must be done by God; that he himself was incapable of transforming himself and making himself acceptable to God.
Oh, that people would realize that today and stop trying all the "self-improvement" methods offered by those who make money off of people's guilt and the burden of sin. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit alone who produces the new birth and He does that only through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! NOTHING ELSE works! NOTHING!!! Jesus said in John 3: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. … unless he is born of water (Jesus is the living water) and the Spirit" (John 3:3,5). "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).
Spiritual life, spiritual rebirth, comes from the Spirit of God. And how do you know where the Spirit is working? "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (51:17). Humility draws near to God in confession of sin and places its faith totally and utterly in the grace, compassion and unfailing love of God towards those who fear Him, who come to Him in faith and who trust in His forgiveness through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, shed once and for all on the cross.
Psalm 52 contrasts those who boast in their evil, who "love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth" (52:3), with those who are righteous, who see and fear the Lord. David writes, "They will laugh at him (the wicked man), saying, 'Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth'" (52:6-7). That may sound strange, but it is ultimately God Himself who scorns the wicked and who laughs at them (Psalm 2:4). They make their stand against God and David rightly says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God!'" (53:1).
As for David and all who know God and trust in Him: "I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of Your saints" (52:8-9). God's love toward us is for the present and for the future. "Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!" (53:6). That day will come and all who KNOW God's love in Christ will share in the joy of His unfailing love!!
"Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love to us in Christ Jesus. I confess my sin and my need for forgiveness and rejoice in Your salvation. You alone are God and I humble myself before You, asking You to fill me with Your Spirit as You continue to conform me to the image of Your Son. Let my life bring glory to You, my God and my Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen"