Jesus’s Beautiful Forgiveness
In a previous discussion, we were dissecting Psalm 32 and analyzing the stages of sin. There’s no more miserable state to be in than the mire of unconfessed sin. This might leave some of you asking, “Is there a way out of the mire of sin? Is there any hope for a filthy sinner like me?” Well, the answer is a resounding, Yes! Radically, thankfully, fortunately, God has provided a way out — because with God there’s always hope. And that hope is Christ and his shed blood for us. With Jesus, there is grace, there is forgiveness. Our God is not only a God of love but he’s also a God of unlimited forgiveness. In him is found a fountain flowing with continual pardon, mercy, and grace. When you recognize his conviction, confess your sins to God, and ask for forgiveness, you can begin again with a clean slate. And fortunately for us, God’s forgiveness and grace never runs out — it’s everlasting, eternal.
We have a God who is full of second chances and who is always quick to renew those who come before him with a repentant heart. That’s exactly what we find in verses 5–11. Verse 5 begins, “I acknowledged my sin to you . . . I will confess my transgressions.” (Ps. 32:5) Here we see the opposite of grief, despair, and the misery that is found in unconfessed sin. Here we see forgiveness and the joy and peace that it brings.
Rather than silence (Ps. 32:3), Jesus wants to hear us. (Ps. 32:5) God already knows your transgression, the things you’ve hidden. He knows the sin you’ve tried to repress in the deep corners of your heart. (He is God, after all!) Our Father wants to hear the brokenness, to hear the conviction, to hear the confession of our hearts. He wants his children to come to him in contrition and cry out for cleansing. King David recognized this, as he states the actions of confession: “acknowledged,” “did not cover,” and “confess” (Ps. 32:5), repeated from verse 1: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” When we accept the conviction from the Holy Spirit and admit our wickedness and brokenness, God covers our sin and removes our filth. It’s eradicated and erased.
David examined his life and realized that true rest and lasting joy can only be realized when sin is forgiven and completely removed. You too can be joyful in knowing and recognizing the amazing promises that are given to those who experience confession and restitution with God.
The Deliverance of God
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. (Ps. 32:6–7)
God delivers us from our sin and trouble. He is that great Hiding Place (Ps. 32:7; 119:114), that Refuge (2 Sam. 22:3, 31, 33; Ps. 2:12; 5:11; 7:1; 18:30; 28:8; 31:1–5), that Fortress (2 Sam. 22:2; Ps. 18:1–2), and that Strong Tower (Prov. 18:11; Ps. 61:3) to which we can always run. Charles Spurgeon eloquently delineates this for us when he says:
Observe that the same man who in the fourth verse was oppressed by the presence of God, here finds shelter in him. See what honest confession and full forgiveness will do! The gospel of substitution makes him to be our refuge who otherwise would have been our judge. (92)
Our God is a God of justice and we will certainly feel the consequences of our sin. But what a joy it is that the same God and Judge of our souls is also the great God and Father of love, in whom we can find peace, safety, and refuge.
Using the imagery employed throughout the Psalms, our Lord and Father acts as a great shield for us, providing protection from all harms for those that confide in him. Trouble can do us no harm if we are near to God. Rather, it will only benefit us to know that God is allowing these circumstances, these jolts, these trials, to get us to see himself more clearly — to refocus our gaze upon the Savior who loves us.
The Guidance of God
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Ps. 32:8)
When we acknowledge our filth and confess our need for help from God, he promises to teach us, to watch over us. What a precious promise it is to know that the very God of the universe, the Creator of all the galaxies, and the Sustainer of the stars and heavens cares for us and guides us. When we think we can handle our lives apart from dependence on God, when we think we can smooth out the rough spots in our lives without repenting of our sins and acknowledging our wickedness before God, that’s when we’ll fall. God promises to guide us with his eye. (Ps. 32:8) Mr. Spurgeon explains:
As servants take their cue from the master’s eye, and a nod or a wink is all that they require, so should we obey the slightest hints of our Master, not needing thunderbolts to startle our incorrigible sluggishness, but being controlled by whispers. (93)
We need to be as that watchful apprentice looking to his master, waiting on beck and call for our next assignment. We need to be so close to God that all we require is a whisper from him to obey. In my circumstance, I was far from him, and I needed a lightning bolt (or more literally, a car wreck) — I needed that harsh jerk on the reins, as it were — to get my attention.
God is our great overseer, who overlooks everything and, in his providence, allows the right things to come into our lives at the right time. You know, I have no idea what your situation is or what circumstances brought you to this point in your life, but this I do know and must press upon you: don’t continue hiding your sin and ignoring the conviction and relinquishing the guidance of God. He’s right there, and he wants you to confess, to obey, and be restored!
The Compassion of God
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but 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! (Ps. 32:10–11)
I love in verse 10 where it states that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” Not only deliverance and guidance, with Jesus we have infinite compassion — unending mercy, boundless love, inexhaustible grace that completely surrounds us. Under the wing of his forgiveness, we are surrounded and wholly immersed in the love and mercy of our Savior. Again reflecting and meditating on the masterful words of Mr. Spurgeon, as he comments on verse 10:
[The one who has faith in God] dwells in an atmosphere of grace, surrounded with the bodyguard of mercies. (93)
There is fathomless grace to be found at the foot of the cross. And when we come to him in penitence, ready to receive his forgiveness, we are again swallowed up in the lovingkindness of our God. He loves those that seek him, those that come to him for restoration and renewal. The psalmist says, “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.” (Ps. 25:6)
God’s forgiveness is a certainty, a truth on which we can forever rely. His goodness, kindness, and faithfulness have been promised my dad preached a message on being prepared for whatever might happen in the coming year, whatever life might hold. Little did my dad know that the very next day, I would challenge that very message.
I was saved when I was sixteen years old, while visiting The Anchorage Camp in North Carolina. After experiencing tremendous growth after I got saved, I slowly began to slip back into the sins that plagued me and overwhelmed me and haunted me before I was a believer. Gradually, though, Satan began to get a hold of my heart again. I felt miserable inside, dissatisfied with where I was in my life, and completely downtrodden because I understood (now with the Holy Spirit’s convicting grace) that it was my own doing that brought me there.
So on the 5th of January, 2009, I began my normal routine. I was driving to work, borrowing my brother’s truck (that wasn’t normal — he was in Kansas at the time, visiting his then-fiancée, now-wife), when all of a sudden — bang! A head-on collision going 40 MPH, with no braking. The truck was totaled, the other vehicle was totaled, and the ambulance brought us both to the emergency room, primarily (miraculously) for precautionary measures. Somehow, only by the providence and grace of God, no one was injured. During that drive, though, while I was still in shock, I was only thinking, “What have I done? How did I get here, this far away from God?”
There’s not a trace of the accident today and it’s only by God’s grace I am where I am today. All the little things that God worked out, and now I’m able to proclaim to you the forgiveness and tremendous power of the gospel! God forgave me of my sin and he used this incident to turn my eyes back to him. It was his way of getting my attention. It was God jerking the reins, pulling on that bit and bridle (Ps. 32:9) to get me back on his path.
Sometimes we need that. I need that often. We stray so quickly from what God wants, from what Jesus did, from what the Scripture says. Then, when the adversity and heartache strike, we think that it’s God who’s left us, when, in reality, it’s the other way around — it’s we who’ve left God. That’s what I realized lying on a gurney in the back of an ambulance: I had fallen away, and yet, graciously, Jesus was still there, by my side.
God’s Eternal Presence
God promises to “never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) He will never forget you. He will always provide a way out, even if that way out requires you to suffer at first. God is always with us, but sometimes he allows things to happen to turn our hearts back to him. Perhaps that’s you. Maybe Jesus is trying to get your attention; maybe God’s pulling on those reins in your life. Or maybe God is pointing out something you’ve held onto for far too long. For instance, that bitterness that resides in the back of your heart, or that secret sin that you keep holding onto, or that greed or envy you feel for your friend or peer, or that pride you keep feeding.
No matter your situation, regardless of your circumstances, God wants you to see that there’s forgiving grace waiting for you. His mercy and love will pardon your sin and absolve your guilt. With God, there is freedom from sin, freedom from the dread and the grief and the shame. Yes, with God, there is always hope, there is always forgiveness! As C. S. Lewis so notes, “The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not.” (133) Though we fail and falter often — everyday even — God does not. He never fails, he never falters, he never wavers in his loving, gracious disposition towards us. His love is relentless, his grace overflowing, and his forgiveness unceasing.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Ps. 32:11)
The gospel is a joyous thing. Experiencing the cleansing and the forgiveness of God through his grace and mercy is cause for everyone to “shout for joy!” Christians can rejoice in the unrestrained favor and forgiveness of the Almighty Father. God has provided a way to be renewed, to be made whole again, and to be released from the mire of sin, and all that’s required is repentance and penitence. Humbling acknowledging our desperation puts us in prime position for the hand of grace, the eyes of mercy. Love and forgiveness are waiting for you — they’ve been there all along. This is Jesus, our Advocate, our Substitute, our Deliverer. This is beautiful forgiveness.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).
Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988).