Praying Your Guilt

July 10, 2016

Bible Text: Psalm 51 |

Series:

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Brent Paulus. My family and I have worshiped here for about nine years together. I’m normally the one doing the finances here. So if you’ve ever gotten a reimbursement check from me, that is how you are normally seeing me in that context.

This morning I’m thankful to be able to direct us to God’s word together. We are going to be continuing our series that we began last week, for the summer, in Psalms. We’re going to be looking at Psalm 51.

Last week Brian led us through Psalm 77 - Praying Our Troubles. One of the main takeaways that Brian shared that ministered greatly to me was “When prayer and meditation seem to make trouble worse, keep praying.” So this morning we are going to look at another situation in life that can often lead us to stop praying and stop seeking the Lord’s face, and that’s the issue of guilt. I also appreciated last week that Brian began by sharing something that someone said a long time ago that “All of scripture speaks to us, but the Psalms speak for us.” So we are going to look at Psalm 51 today as a way to speak for us and what we can do and how we can speak when we are experiencing guilt.

If you have your Bible, you can turn to Psalm 51, and if you have a pew Bible from one of the chairs around you it’s on page 474. We’re going to read that together.

Read Psalm 51
1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

This is God’s Word!

So this Psalm is actually a response to a situation we see in David’s life from 2 Samuel 11 and 12. So we’re going to look here as an example, a case study for us, at David’s situation of guilt. Those of you that know this story well, if you know anything about David’s life, this is a well-known story in David’s life. David commits adultery with Bathsheba, a married lady of somebody else. And then he starts having incredible guilt and remorse about the situation and responds in a certain manner. First, we are going to look at an example how not to respond to guilt. And then we will look at how he responded later through this Psalm 51 passage.

In 2 Samuel, we see David respond in the following ways:
1) Disguise – He brings Uriah home from War and tries to get him to go to his house with Bathsheba
So the first thing David did after that adulterous relationship, he starts to disguise the guilt of his sin, his transgression.
So he wants to disguise that. He brings Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, home from war hoping that it would appear as though Bathsheba’s pregnancy, which happened because of his adultery, is actually Uriah’s child.
Therefore, publicly, he would not be held guilty for this sin. But we see that Uriah refuses to go home and stay at his house, because he doesn’t think it’s right for all of the rest of Israel’s army to be fighting in battle and for him to enjoy being at home. So he doesn’t do that.

So David has to take another step.
2) Manipulate – So he moves to manipulation. Then he causes Uriah to get drunk. He has a big party at his house and invites Uriah, they celebrate, and Uriah gets drunk, and David is hoping that once again, that if Uriah is drunk, he will actually forget the value he has to stay and not enjoy the pleasures of home. But he doesn’t. Uriah still does not go home. So David is stuck again. Now, he can’t get Uriah to go home, and he still has a pregnant Bathsheba situation.

3) Conspire – So the next thing he does is to conspire. He sends Uriah back to the front lines of battle intentionally knowing that would likely be the end of Uriah’s life, and if that wasn’t even enough, he tells the commander of Israel’s army to actually withdraw the troops from the front line. Basically sacrificing Uriah’s life at that point and time. Problem solved, right? That should be the end of the situation. Uriah’s gone, the adulterous affair has still transpired, but Uriah is gone.

4) Celebrate – Then, as a way to take a next step forward, he actually celebrates his adulterous sin and transgression by marrying Bathsheba. Which would have appeared to most people as a really noble thing to do, right? He takes this now widow and marries her and brings her into his household. Really noble act, right? Except we know all the other back story and realize that the way David was dealing with his guilt was disguising it, manipulating it, and conspiring against it, and celebrating it.

I don’t know about you, but it seems like David went to a lot of work to keep his sin hidden and bury his guilt. Over and over again he is trying to take another step, another step, another step, which only leads to more and more situations to feel guilty about—to hide his sin, to bury his guilt. But the harder he tried, the more guilt he had.

Now, most of us don’t have a situation probably quite like David’s. Whether the initial situation, but certainly not a situation where we are committing murder like he experienced here. But we have experienced guilt at some level. Guilt is something that as humans we naturally experience and deal with and have to get over.

Maybe it’s regret over not living up to our standards in a work or education setting, maybe it’s remorse over some ways we behaved in a failed relationship, or maybe it’s guilt over a previous or on-going sin pattern in our lives. Guilt is something we all face at some time in our life.

So we don’t want to respond to this guilt that we have in the kind of way that we see David doing. We actually want to respond, how we see him doing once he is confronted by Nathan the prophet. And we see that prayer here in Psalm 51.

Praying your Guilt - Psalm 51
So we’re going to look at this morning, praying our guilt. We’re going to take the situations that we experience when we feel and experience guilt and remorse, and how we can actually turn that in to prayer.

I. Confess Our Guilt (vv. 1-6)
II. Help for Our Guilt (vv. 7-12)
III. Transform Our Guilt (vv. 13-19)

I. Confess our Guilt - Verses 1-6
The first step David has to do after this denial and after disguising and covering this all up. He has to admit that he is actually guilty.

(1) Admit our need(1-2)

So we see this in verses 1 and 2.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

David’s finally admitting that he actually has an issue. David’s finally realizing that he has something to confess and he has something that needs help. That’s our first step, too. We’ve got to admit that we have a need for our guilt.

(2) Be aware of our sin (vv. 3, 5-6)

David knows what his sins were, and cannot let them go. (v 3)

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

And we experience this, right? Whenever we have a sin situation in our life, it’s really, really difficult to forget about that. Particularly, the greater and more disgusting the sin or transgression is, the harder it is to forget and move past it. So David’s acknowledging and he cannot forget and he cannot move past this. So he is aware of his sin.

David understands he’s been a sinner since his creation (v 5)

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

So when he came on the earth he was born with sin inside of him. Actually, when he was conceived. His very identity as a fallen human being is that of a sinner. So he is aware of his sin being all throughout his entire existence.

Finally, David realizes he’s not even pure in heart (v 6)

6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

He knows that his heart is not right. He knows that God can teach him that wisdom in secret places of his heart, but he does not here. So he needs a pure heart.

(3) Understand our sin (v 4)

The next step of confessing our sin we see from David here is understanding our sin. And it’s important to realize what sin is and what sin isn’t. We see in verse 4.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it actually feels to me that David didn’t just sin against God. Like, if I had been Uriah, I would feel in both situations that I was sinned against. But this is only true because Uriah and Bathsheba were created in God’s image. If Uriah and Bathsheba were not created in God’s image, there would be no sin against them. Any decision we would make as human beings would not be sinful if we are not made in God’s image, because we could all decide to do what’s best for us at any given time.

All wrongful actions against another person are sin because they are God’s image bearer (Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31, Matt 22:39). We see that Jesus unpacks this for us in Mark 12 and Matthew 22, when he refers to the first and second greatest commandments. “The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength… Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law depends on these two things.” If you only had to love your neighbor as yourself, it’s only a sin if you do something to your neighbor that you don’t like. But here’s the problem: when you are made in God’s image, anything you do against somebody else made in God’s image is wrong, it’s sinful action.

We also see this when Jesus unpacks it in the Sermon on the Mount. Wrongful, sinful behavior is not just actions towards somebody, it’s actually wrongful thoughts about somebody. So the two sins that David committed here, adultery and murder, Jesus actually talks about these in Matthew 5:21-30.

Not only is it sin to commit murder, it’s also a sin to become angry with somebody. Not only is it a sin to commit adultery, it is actually wrong to even have lustful thoughts toward somebody.

So the point and emphasis of understanding our sin: it’s only sin as long as we have the right view of God. That God created us, that God created every human being. That every human being’s life is equal in value and importance to God as our own lives are.

Secondly, that sin is actually not just wrong behaviors, it’s actually wrong thought processes. And this isn’t good news for any of us!

If you go back to when Jesus is having a conversation with the rich young ruler, the rich young ruler unpacks that he has basically kept all of God’s law. And he is still asking God, “How do I have eternal life?” He’s kept all the Ten Commandments. God is saying you also must give all your goods to the poor. This is important because we must understand that not only do we have to not commit sins of commission against somebody—not have wrong behaviors toward somebody—we also must go out of our way to love them extensively and treat them how we want to be loved. Not only do we have to have that right behavior positively towards people and doing the right thing, always for their benefit and good at our own sacrificial detriment—but the right ways, the ways we think about each other in feelings and emotions, are also just as critical.

So— bad news for all of us. We’re all guilty of something. Even if you kept every commandment in the Old Testament, it’s still probable that you have been guilty. Because you probably haven’t in rightful action toward people in need, always responded out of the right kind of love to them.

I’m pretty sure none of us have kept all of the commandments given in the Old Testament. Certainly the Ten Commandments. But even if we did, when we see this passage in Matthew 5 where Jesus is talking about right thoughts and feelings towards people are equally sinful as wrong behaviors, we’re all guilty.

I’m sure all of us had a wrong, lustful thought at some point in time, or wrong anger towards somebody, or thought about somebody in a way that we didn’t want to be thought about. And that’s a violation of God’s love. It’s important to understand that’s the degree of sin that we face; that’s the degree of sin that David faced, and he understood that sin was against God first and foremost because he created people. So there’s some bad news for you.

The good news. There is help for our guilt.

II. Help for Our Guilt - Verses 7-12

(1) Appeal for Cleansing (vv 7-9)

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

David was in real trouble in this situation, because there were sacrifices for wrongful behaviors for certain actions in the Old Testament. You made sacrificial offerings to cover those sins. There was no sacrificial offering for the acts of murder or adultery. So David’s destiny in this situation was actually death. And he appeals in this 2 Samuel 12 passage to that. He basically knows that death is coming. Nathan tells him you actually have been forgiven in God’s eyes, and you will be pardoned. Now he did have other penalties to that. His son that was conceived with Bathsheba actually did die. So he had tremendous remorse and regret and punishment for that transgression. But he was not ultimately held responsible for that.

David then makes an appeal here in verses 7-9 and even in verse 1, on the basis of God’s mercy and love.

David knows that he’s toast because he has broken laws that are not redeemable by sacrifice. His only hope is that he can appeal to God’s mercy and love in a powerful way to step in on his behalf. And we have that same opportunity.

Christ’s sacrifice is our same appeal, based only on the merit of God’s mercy and love for us.

So even though we know that it is impossible to keep all the laws, particularly when you start extrapolating it to not only how we act, but how we think, we must have some way to find mercy and grace for us. And that appeal is towards God’s mercy and love that is steadfast and sure and promised to us. So the first thing that we can do when we face and come across guilt is that we must appeal to God’s mercy and love as the basis and need for our forgiveness for the removal of that guilt to stand rightly before God again.

(2) Seek Transformation (v 10)
The second thing we need to ask for is to seek transformation.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

David understands that he not only needs to be made clean in God’s eyes for the penalty and consequences of his sin, he actually needs to become a new person. He needs to become the kind of person that won’t want to commit adultery again, commit murder again, conspire again, he won’t even have anger again, and won’t even lust again.

Create in me a clean heart
Renew a right spirit within me

He’s asking God to give him a new heart and a new spirit within him. And we must ask for the same thing.

So the next step after we confess our sin—be aware of our sin, and know our sin. We appeal for God’s righteous mercy to purify us and make us clean before him. We have to ask God to then change us. To actually become the kind of person that he has made us to be.

The third thing:
(3) Request Preservation and Restoration (vv. 11-12)

11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

David understands that the consequences of his sin were separation from God forever, and he is pleading with God, “Don’t cast me away. Don’t take your spirit from me.” Not only, “Save my life,” but “actually, as I live, still allow me to be in your presence. Still allow your Holy Spirit to minister deeply into my life.” And we can ask for this same thing. We can ask God to cleanse us and take away the guilt of our sin. We can ask God to change us, and we can say and plead to God, “Please allow me to remain in your presence. Please allow your Holy Spirit to continue working and moving in my life. Restore me. Uphold me. Cast me not away. Take me not away.”

So again the first two things we need to look at: Knowing our sin. Being aware of our sin. Confessing our sin. Appealing to God for cleansing, for transformation, to become a new creation. And requesting that God would preserve us and restore us.

III. Transform Our Guilt - Verses 13-19

Finally we can ask God to transform our guilt. And this is the part of the passage I’m most excited about. We see in verses 13-19, David says:

When we find ourselves in the situation of guilt, when we realize that God has provided in his mercy and love for us, cleanliness, restoration and abundant life with him still, we then can take that and begin to teach others.

(1) Teach others (v. 13)

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.

David believed the good news was so good, and he saw how that changed and would return sinners like him back to God. He actually believed that as he shared the good news with others, the worst kind of sinners: adulterers and murderers like himself would turn back to God. So he was committed after this point to actually teach sinners his ways. So the transformation that happened from his guilt, actually led him to teach others.

(2) Praise God freely and loudly (vv. 14-15)

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

These are impactful words that David is saying. “Because of the good news that you’ve given me, because of your steadfast love and mercy to me and your forgiveness that you have granted to me, I will praise you unashamedly, loudly, and openly.” And we do some of that, right? We just experienced a lot of that with the last three or four songs that the worship team led us through. And we sang a lot about the work that Christ has done for us. His steadfast love and mercy to us through Christ is available to us. We too must walk in that kind of free and open praise and sharing that with others. Part of that comes along with the teaching we see in verse 13. And as believers that have been pardoned by God’s grace from the guilt we experience—from the transgressions we commit, the sins that we commit—we ought to be praising and living a life of praise always before God.

(3) Live a life of Repentance (vv. 16-17)

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

We must remain broken, humble and repentant always realizing the need for mercy. David is saying that. Sacrifices are not enough. God didn’t place us here for sacrifices to be enough for God. What God is requiring of us is a broken and contrite spirit. The kind of spirit that is always saying “God, I’m gonna mess up again. I did mess up again. God, I need your help. I need your grace; I need your mercy and love to fill me and change me and make me new. And I can’t do it on my own.” Broken, humble, repentant spirits. We must live a life of continual repentance before the Lord,for the things that we’ve done and the things we are going to do.

(4) Ask God for blessed, repentant communities (vv. 18-19)

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

So we don’t live in the kind of community where we want walls built up. Maybe some people do, but it’s not quite consistent to how we live today. We don’t offer right sacrifices or whole burnt offerings, today. But what this verse is telling us is that David is now pleading, “God, not only do I want you to change me, to transform me, to make me new, to make me clean. I want to be surrounded by people and in a community, and an environment and a world that live like this.”

So one thing that we can do when we start encountering guilt in our own lives over a sin that we’ve committed, is we can actually ask God for blessed, repentant communities around us. We can ask it for this church, for your family, for this community, for the world. Communities full of people delighting in the good news of God’s grace and mercy to them.

So not only must we figure out ways to deal with our guilt, to understand it rightly, to have it dealt with and to seek forgiveness from it, our guilt must actually be transformed into making us missional people. People that teach God’s truth and God’s ways to the world around us. People that are continually praising God for the good things that He’s done. People that are constantly in a place of repentance, realizing their need for God’s grace and mercy always. And the kind of people that are praying and asking for God’s blessing to be very prevalent in the world around us. Our guilt can be turned into praise, ministry, and prayer. And I think that’s God’s point. I think that’s what he’s trying to tell us here in Psalm 51. That when we find ourselves in places of guilt, turn it into ministry.

The bad news is we’ve all committed some sin. You’re guilty before God for something that you’ve done to someone. Maybe an action, maybe in thought. Probably in both. Christ has come and you are no longer guilty when you believe, in faith, in Christ’s work on the cross for you. You are no longer guilty for that sin. That’s good news. It’s great news! It’s the best news.

It’s not all the news. We can actually become a new person through Christ. The kind of person who no longer does and behaves in the kind of ways we did before. That we’ll not have to feel guilty again about the same kind of behaviors that we just incurred. We can then also experience heaven here on earth. It’s not something we have to wait for. So the good news of the gospel, is not just pardoning of sin. It’s not just that God makes us a new creation. It’s that we can experience God’s presence and his fullness in the here and now.

We just studied Genesis together, and we saw the beautiful life that God came to provide, with Adam and Eve and fellowship with him in the garden. We can experience that with Christ because of his work on the cross for us. This is the good news. So that, again bad news—we’ve sinned. Good news—cleanliness, restoration, new being, community walk in fellowship with God.

And that must then compel us to go out. To teach God’s truth to people, to live as praiseworthy people, constantly giving God’s praise. To living as repentant people and asking for God’s blessed, repentant communities around us.

Conclusion

When we find ourselves in a place of guilt, realizing that we have not lived up to the standards of loving God or others as we ought, we must begin the process of confession, asking God for His mercy to be shown to us, pleading for God to give us a new heart and to allow us to remain in his presence, and believing by His grace through faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, that he does provide all these things to us. Then we must take this good news and rejoice and proclaim his wondrous deeds to a world of guilty people, and teach them God’s ways, so that we can have blessed, repentant communities.

In a minute here we’re going to have communion. Del will come and lead us in communion. I’m so thankful we are doing this together every week. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to practice this message. To take whatever it is that you’re feeling guilty about today. Whatever ways that God has directed you to say, “God, I’ve sinned against you. In some way I’ve thought wrongly about somebody. In other ways I’ve acted wrongly toward somebody. In other ways I’ve completely neglected people in need.” We can take this time this morning during communion and actually pray and ask God to help us in these ways. To cleanse us and make us new kinds of people, and then to actually be the kinds of people to share this good news with the world around us. So I’m going to close us here in prayer, and as I pray, I’m actually going to pray in the kind of way that I’ve been praying as I’ve been reading through this passage. And I hope it’s a helpful tool for you. You can actually practice it here with me as I pray. I’m going to give a pause to fill in the blank for whatever this is, whatever the guilt you are experiencing this morning, no matter how terrible it may seem, God can forgive you. He’s waiting to forgive you. So as I pray this, fill it in your own mind and heart as you pray it back to the Lord, whatever that is, and then follow along with me. Let’s pray:

God, I admit before you my sin of ________ (fill in the blank). I acknowledge that this sin never leaves my mind, and the weight of it is always with me. I understand that while this sin has an effect on others, ultimately my sin is against you, as people were made in your image and are precious, beautiful, and valuable to you.

God, I realize that the only way I can be free from this guilt is to be made clean in your eyes. I know there are not enough good things I can do to cover up my sin. I appeal to you on the merits of your steadfast love and mercy, through the work of Christ’s death on the cross, to forgive my sin and remove it completely from me so I can once again experience life with you that I was made to enjoy both now and forever. Will you please give me a new heart? A heart that wants to follow your ways, to believe the truth of your word and obey it all the days of my life? I can’t do this on my own, but you are the creator, and I believe you can and know that you will.

God, help me not to keep the good news of your desire to remove our guilt, restore our fellowship, and give us new desires, to myself. Help me to teach other guilty people your ways, to always be praising you for this great news, and to remain broken and repentant before you. And God I ask that Fulkerson, Niles, Michiana, the nation, and the world would be blessed with the knowledge of you, the repentance of sins, the renewal of their desires, and right relationship with you that everyone was made to freely experience.

And I pray that for all of my friends in this room today. Thank you for this opportunity. We ask these things only on the merits of Christ’s work for us. We pray them in Jesus name, Amen.