Create In Me A Clean Heart
We live in a fallen world in a fallen body. A world broken with pain and heartaches. A world inundated with sin. Believers have been separated from sin to righteousness, yet we struggle with sin and fail sometimes if not often. Unbelievers are called unto repentance from their sins. Sin is the root of all our predicaments.
Every now and then a scandal breaks making news headline. Apart from those making the headlines, numerous, equally scandalous, go unnoticed; they occur in “secret places”. However, though removed from the public eye, God sees all that is done in “secret places”. (Ps 139:7, Heb 4:13)..One of such scandals took place in the palace of an ancient king. The story is narrated in 2 Samuel 11 through to 12. David commits adultery with Bathsheba. She takes seed and in an attempt to cover up, David connives with his army general, Joab, to assassinate Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. The plot was well executed. Uriah is dead, David marries Bathsheba. Done and dusted! No one knows what has transpired. But wait, though done in secret, the Bible tells us an “Omnipresent eye” was watching:
But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.(2 Samuel 11:27b).
God, displeased with David’s sin, sends Nathan, a prophet to confront David. After the “charge sheet” has been read out to David; Scripture records “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; You shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Fast forward to Psalms 51 and David penned his prayer of repentance on a musical note.
The effects of David’s sin on his relationship with God and himself can be seen in Ps 51:8-12. His joy was gone. He senses a gulf between himself and God. Spiritually, unrepentant sin separates humanity from God. Naturally, the first reaction many of us take, when we sin, is to hide and pretend. This also, we inherited from our first parents. Their first reaction when they fell was to hide themselves from God:
…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8).
You see, sin has ramifications. Psalms 51 gives us a picture of the weight of sin. Sin is first and foremost against God; an infinitely Holy God: “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.” (vs4). To be bothered about sin in your life is to be bothered about a good cause.
At this point I will offer three suggestions to undergo a “heart cleansing”
1: Acknowledge Your Sins.
Hiding our sin is a great deception. We must bring our sins before God to be healed and forgiven. The first verses of Psalms 51, i.e. vs 1-3 opens with David acknowleding his sin. In 2 Samuel 12:13, we see this same truth. When Nathan confronted David with his sin, he didn’t debate, deny or justify his sin. He admitted to his sins immediately.
In our age of self-esteem and self-aggrandisement; we will do everything to ignore our sins, cover it up with activity; more activity eventually drowning the voice of our conscience. When we mourn over our sins, we are told not to be hard on ourselves. But sin is ubiquitous. In theology, the universal presence of sin is termed Original sin. Ps 51:5 tells us the origin of sin; “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is natural with us as a result of the fall.
The whole world, without saving faith in Christ, lies dead in sin.(Eph 2). The dispositions of our hearts are evil. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). When Isaiah encountered the holiness of the Lord, his depravity and sinfulness stared him in the face: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(6:5).
When Peter encountered Jesus, his sinful nature couldn’t stand the presence of The Holy One. Falling at Jesus’ knees, he exclaimed: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8). Paul, in deep anguish, I believe over indwelling sin, cried out; “[O] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24). The tax collector who showed up in prayer with the self-righteous Pharisee is also worth mentioning. He, “… standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’(Luke 18:13).
2: Repent: Look To Jesus
“God be merciful to me, a sinner”. This prayer, devoid of eloquence and “empty phrases” got God’s attention. Hear Jesus’ commentary. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified…”(vs14). God hears the prayers of the penitent who looks up to Him in humility and true repentance for forgiveness of their sins: “…a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”(Psalms 51:17).
A renunciation of the presence of sin is probably the worst predicaments that has happened to the human race. Instead of addressing sin as sin; we live in denial, replacing sin with psychological words aimed at drowning and soothing our conscience.
Sin has eternal ramifications and must be treated as such. We must not live in denial of the presence of sin in our lives. We are all sinners from conception and having inherited the consequence of Adam’s disobedience, Scriptures accuses us and places us distanced from the glory of God (Psalms 51:5, Romans 3:23).
Sinner, will you do the noblest thing of your life by acknowledging your sins? Run to the outstretched arms of the Saviour Jesus for forgiveness and remission of your sins. Come just as you and receive pardon for your sins. (Pro 28:13, Matt 11:28-30, Jn 1:12-13).
3: Submit To The Holy Spirit
“Go and sin no more”: I think on two occasions, Jesus pronounced these words to people who have been forgiven of their sins. The woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:11) and the paralysed man who was healed by Jesus (Jn 5:1-14).
When we come to saving faith through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, God requires from us a life of holiness and separation from sin (Eph 1:4, 1 Pet 1:15-17). We are called out of the world not to be friends with the world–lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
This, left on our own is a daunting task, because as long as we live on this side of eternity, our struggles with the flesh and with sin will continue(Gal 5:17, Matt 26:14).
However, despite the struggles, we are not victims of our flesh. We are not left on our own to suffer under bondage of sin. God works in us to will and do of His good pleasure, while we, with the help of the Holy Spirit also work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We need not be overcomed by sin once we have been regenerated.
The Holy Spirit renews and gives us strength to be victorious when we submit daily to Him by taking advantage of the means of grace available to us.
Broken and sinful, we all need grace and forgiveness of sin.
Blessed, merciful, Jehovah, Lord, my sin, You have forgiv’n. Now I’m filled with joy eternal, Now I’m satisfied in faith. O my soul, give thanks with praises, Great is God’s blessings we have. Merciful, He loved, redeemed me, Evil dungeon saved me from.~~Presbyterian Church of Ghana hymn 462, Author:Philipp. Friedrich. Hiller 1699-1769. Scripture:Matthew 18 vs. 27