On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our series “Drilling Deep, Drawing Near,” with a message, “Conversations with God: ‘Lord, Have Mercy.’” The preacher talked about confession of our sin to God, from King David’s confession in Psalm 51, and the tax collector’s confession in Luke 18: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
When we draw near to God, we must remember that we, who are sinners (saved by grace), are approaching a holy God. God is God and we are His fallen creation. He is holy and we are not. When we approach him, it’s good to know how we should approach Him.
Today’s point: We come into the presence of God through Christ, with a humble spirit, acknowledging our sin.
The two main characters in our texts — one high and respected (David) and one low and despised (a tax collector) — were justified before God, when they confessed their sins.
David the king had grievously violated the Ten Commandments by committing the sexual sin of adultery with Bathsheba, a married woman, and then by ordering the murder of her husband Uriah to cover up his adultery.
God sent the prophet Nathan to tell David that the Lord was displeased with what he’d done. David the king had the power to kill the messenger, but he responded humbly to Nathan’s word by acknowledging his sins and confessing them to God.
V1: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”
David as king was used to doing whatever he wanted to do, even adultery and murder, and he didn’t think much about it. He said to his commander Joab, about Uriah’s murder, “Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another.”
But God was not pleased. God is always displeased with our sin.
When David confessed his sin to God, he prayed, v10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” Purity of heart would keep the king from sexual sin. It was a good prayer for him, and it’s a good prayer for us.
And he prayed, v14: “Save me from bloodguilt, O God.” It was a good confession of his murder, and our merciful God forgave. The New Testament calls David “a man after God’s own heart.” David was not proud; he was humble. He acknowledged his sin, and so should we.
In the gospel, Jesus told the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector. One was proud; the other, humble. One bragged on himself to God: “I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers… I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
God was not impressed with the man’s prideful boast, masquerading as prayer.
The other, a hated Roman government IRS agent, stood at a distance, not in the inner temple court, beat his breast, indicating grief at his own sins, and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This man, Jesus said, “went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
When we draw near to God, we should do so, acknowledging our sin because, compared to God, we are not holy. Only Christ makes us holy. In confession, we agree with God that what God calls sin really is sin, and we do not take it lightly.
John wrote, 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
When we confess our sins to God, God is ready, able and willing to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all that contaminates our spirit before Him.
Question: What sins do you need to confess to God? Confess them, and He will hear, heal and forgive.
“We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly… Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.” [Psalm 106:6-8]
May we have humble hearts, willing to freely confess our sins to a merciful God — our prayer for all of us from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.