So, You Messed Up...

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When we sin, we tend to hide. But God has called us to repent. Psalm 51 is a model of a sinner's return to God.

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Psalm 51 NASB95
For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.
INTRO: Have you ever messed up so bad that you would rather sell your house and move to a completely different state rather than face the one you wronged? Maybe you’ve messed up and spent months or even years avoiding the issue or the people involved?
I was looking for a good visual of this, and I kept thinking of how my dog acts when she’s in trouble…. Some of you shared pictures of your own “guilty dog”;
(Pic of “guilty dogs”)
These are cute, but if we are honest, this doesn’t even touch how horrible Christians feel when we sin. When we sin and we are convicted or confronted by the Holy Spirit, we feel pretty low don’t we?
There was a practice common in OT times where this guilt led people to put on sackcloth clothes and pour ashes or dust over their heads. This was a picture of this feeling of shame. Essentially it’s like saying, “I am lower than the ground- low as a worm!”
Our problem is that we feel this, but instead of expressing it, we try to hide or run. Right? We actually stop praying and we stop going to church or to life group… We might find reasons to be “busy” or excuses to be distant.
This is what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. (Remember?) They sinned, and their eyes were opened to their sin, so they went and hid and even tried to cover their shame.
I think we are afraid. We are afraid that God will be angry with us. After all, He was angry with the Israelites when they sinned. Even with Adam and Eve, God evicted them from the Garden. God does hate sin. And sin certainly has consequences. But is hiding the answer to restoring a relationship?
Well, this may shock you, but I’m pretty sure that has never worked for anyone, ever.
ILL: If you mess up and wound your spouse, it will not get better simply because you hide or avoid the topic. If you don’t believe me, ask your spouse. Further, just as Adam and Eve could not hide from God- He is omniscient- He knows EVERYTHING! Neither can you or I.
So, what do we do when we’ve messed up? We cannot undo it, but the Bible gives us a way to be restored in relationship. You already know the answer, don’t you? It’s REPENTANCE.
We’ve used that word a few times, haven’t we? To repent means to change your mind about something in such a way that your actions change also. The picture is turning AWAY from one thing and turning TOWARD another. For us that is turning away from sin and turning toward Christ.
And so, today as we look at Psalm 51, what we see is a model of this very act. Let me give you the context:
David is the author of this psalm and it is written following a confrontation where Nathan the prophet confronted David regarding his adultery with Bathsheba and murder or Uriah. Yep, David messed up bad. Now, he avoided the issue for a period until he was confronted, but it was then that the truth pierced his soul and brought him to repentance.
In our time together, I want to walk us through the three steps, or ABC’s of repentance. The message is entitled, “So You Messed Up; Returning to Worship” If you picked up a bulletin, you can make use of the enclosed sermon guide as we explore this together. My hope is that you will see this model and employ it in your own life so that your relationship with God will not be hindered.
Let us learn together.
The first step of repentance is to:

ACKNOWLEDGE the Holiness of God & Magnitude of Our Sin (1-6)

Let me read v. 1-5 again (READ)
Now, I want you to catch a few things here.
David owns his guilt.
Notice how he does not make excuses- “Be gracious toward me… according to the greatness of your compassion
And look at how he names his offenses - iniquity (guilt), sin (wrong-doing), transgression (act of rebellion)
David is well aware of his sin-(3)
I imagine that he kept replaying it in his mind (You ever do that?) He said it’s always in front of me- it impedes me, it casts a shadow on me, it has defiled me; His sin had made him dirty and he could not look at himself and not be aware of this filth.
David yields to God’s holiness.
“Against You, You only, have I sinned” - David is not saying that his sin did not affect Bathsheba or Uriah, but rather that even as it was an offense against man, it was a far greater offense against God, for He is holy and righteous. His law is perfect, and thus to transgress it- especially willfully- is to elevate oneself above God.
Sin cannot but separate us from God. David’s sin was a big deal beyond it’s earthly consequences. It was a big deal because it was an act of disregard for God’s rule and reign.
Thus, David admits that he deserves the wrath of God. God is justified and blameless in pronouncing judgment against sin. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and David knew that it was death that he deserved. (v. 4 - “you are justified...”)
We must deal honestly and openly with the problem. We cannot hide or hope that God will just forget about it. Nor is this about a cheap generic prayer- look at v. 6 (READ) How honest and specific are you when you come before God?
And here is the thing- the same God to whom David appealed to for compassion and lovingkindness is the same God who extends mercy to you and to me.
ILL: In the NT, Jesus tells a parable about a prodigal son- one who messed up bad, but who made the first step to return into the compassionate arms of his father.
That can be you too. When we sin, our first step must be like that of David’s. We must acknowledge the Holiness of God and the magnitude of our sin.
Discuss: Why is it important to understand our sin in light of God’s holiness?
Our Next Step of repentance is:

BELIEVE that God Can Restore Us (7-14)

David asks for God to cleanse him; to change him and to deliver him. Let’s read 7-14 again (READ)
Most of you are probably familiar with the OT Law, which explains how our sins require a blood sacrifice, but when a person is defiled - by disease, or coming into contact with one who is unclean - they must be cleansed. If you were not clean, you could neither commune with man or God. This is why David mentions the hyssop (7) - it is a branch that was used to sprinkle either blood or water in ceremonial cleansings.
That cleansing is what David knew he needed. He knew that no matter how many baths he took, he could not scrub off his sin. No, he needed a Divine cleansing! He needed a Holy intervention that would give him a new heart; new desires. ONLY God can do that!
So he cries out, trusting that God alone holds His salvation and his forgiveness. “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” - a promise echoed in Isaiah as God delivered the message of repentance to Judah through him.
Isaiah 1:18 NASB95
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
Oh what a picture! David knew that God’s forgiveness and spiritual restoration would also restore his joy. In fact, I think David was counting on not just a restoration, but a re-purposing! Let me return and highlight v. 12-14 (READ) Hey, aren’t you glad that God is patient towards us? That He calls us to be made new in Him?
This picture is present throughout the NT- Peter preached in:
Acts 3:19 NASB95
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Also, John taught in
1 John 1:9 NASB95
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Friends, when we come honestly before the Lord- acknowledging His holiness and our sin and placing our trust in Him, He will restore us. He will give us that clean heart, and He will deliver us from the bloodguiltiness of our transgressions. How do we know this? His Word testifies to His faithfulness.
Folks, God’s mercy is greater than your transgressions - Look here- your sin is not so great that God cannot redeem you! . As the song goes, “My sins they are many, His mercies are more...”
Discuss: How can we be confident in God’s forgiveness and restoration?
The final step in repentance is to:


Look with me to verses 14b-19 (READ)
Now, you might be wondering, “How is celebrating a part of repentance?”
Well, the thing is, in our sin, we cannot truly praise God. In our sin, our songs and offerings are vain. You can be loud and put on a good show, but true praise is a reflection of a sincere and humble heart.
Only when we have been restored can we bring acceptable worship to God. This is why David says, (15) Open my lips!
David must have felt the weightiness of that sin which separated him from God. As he pled for God’s forgiveness, he longed to commune with Him - to return to worship.
There is a chorus we sometimes sing, called “I love you Lord” And I tell you this is so dear to my heart
I love you Lord, And I lift my voice
To worship you, o my soul rejoice!
Take joy, my King in what you hear,
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.
That is the celebration and in many ways, a test:
That God would hear our worship and receive it as such.
That when we pray, we can be confident that He hears us because we are surrendered to His will.
That when He looks at us, our cleansed hearts sing truth.
This morning, I want to invite you to return to worship.. If there is sin in your life this morning; perhaps you’ve been avoiding God… maybe you’ve never taken the first step to reconciliation with Him… Won’t you repent and trust in Jesus Christ who Himself paid the penalty for your sin. Come, confess your sins and experience forgiveness and cleansing.
In just a moment, we will take of the Lord’s Supper. This is a picture of our unity with Christ; If you are a baptized believer and have no unconfessed sin, I invite you to join with us in this ordinance. If you need to confess sin and ask for God’s forgiveness, I encourage you to to do that at this time.
My prayer is that you would be restored this morning, and God would open your lips so you may sing “tis so sweet to trust in Jesus...”
Discuss: How is celebration a part of repentance?
[Lord’s Supper]
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