Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 14 March 21:
Psalm 32:1 – “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Guilt. Repentance. Confession. Judgment or mercy and grace. Blessings or curses.
Psalm 32 begins and ends with enthusiastic testimony about the blessings of being forgiven by the Lord and cleansed of all iniquity by the Lord’s redemption. (Psalm 32:1, 2)
The psalmist begins his personal testimony by telling of his intense burden of being racked with guilt over hidden sin, which affected him spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically – “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.” (Psalm 32:3, 4) The first step to receiving forgiveness is having genuine remorse for having sinned against God, a good guilt, or “good grief,” which leads to repentance, rather than the destructive, self-centered guilt of self-pity and victimism.
- Psalm 38:4 — For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10 — For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
- Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
- Psalm 51:17 — The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
In his guilt, the psalmist repented and confessed His sin to the Lord — “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5) With genuine repentance and confession comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes freedom, peace and joy –
- 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.
- Psalm 103:12 — As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
- Isaiah 43:25 — I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more….
- Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” 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.”
However, we must be careful not to use our freedom in forgiveness to drift back into the sins that God abhors and that destroy –
- Galatians 5:1 — For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
- Galatians 5:13, 14 — For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- 1 Peter 2:16 — Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Then the psalmist warns the godly to “offer prayer to [God] at a time when [He] may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.” (Psalm 32:6) The psalmist may have had the great flood of Noah’s day in mind here when he provided this imagery. We must not presume upon God’s grace, delay in repentance, and continue in sin. There comes a time when our opportunity has passed to avoid God’s discipline, punishment and judgment.
- Isaiah 55:6 — “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near….”
Then the psalmist describes two types of people, those who are guided by the spirit and those who are led by the flesh, those who listen to God and those who listen to their own instincts and desires. The psalmist describes those who ignore their conscience (see Romans 1) as animals and warns – “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle…. Many are the sorrows of the wicked….” (Psalm 32:9, 10) Too often we ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which leaves us responding to the consequences of our own bad decisions, like a mule which must be guided by force. How much better is it to listen to the Holy Spirit’s rebuke and to repent than to receive a hundred blows? “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10) Wisdom is being guided by the Holy Spirit and having the internal discipline to obey without requiring external discipline to keep you on track. The key is humility as opposed to pride –
- Psalm 49:20 — Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, is like the beasts that perish.
- Proverbs 11:2 — When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
- Proverbs 29:23 — One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
- Matthew 5:3-10 — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- Isaiah 2:17 — And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The psalmist concludes, “Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:10, 11) Don’t let anything stand in the way of you experiencing the abundance of joy that comes from receiving God’s forgiveness and walking obediently in His grace.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 Mar 21: Listen humbly to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confess your sins today, without delay, turn away from evil, and rejoice in your freedom in Christ.