Written by Victor Stanley Jr.

 

Here’s the problem, I was a gangster, and this means that you didn’t just speak to me any way you please. There’s a level of fear and respect that was accorded to me based on my position in the streets. So, when my homie D’s grandmother started chewing me out in front of her building it wasn’t going to fly. I was 19 or so, and I don’t quite remember what I had done to upset her, but whatever it was she was letting me have it. Of course, as I said, you don’t just talk to me any way you want, and I had to remind her of this, so I very kindly said to her, “Shut the ‘F’ up, who do you think you’re talking to?”

Obviously, she was very taken aback by this, and was speechless. When she did finally say something I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of, “The devil is in this boy.” I walked away to my car with D fussing at me for being so harsh with his grandmother. Now it was either later that day or the next day when I realized I had crossed the line, and in an attempt to right my wrong I went back over to D’s building to apologize to his grandmother. When I arrived his mom and her boyfriend were there as well. Now her boyfriend Trey was a big guy from the Bronx, he worked with us in our drug operation and he was not to be messed with. I remember apologizing to D’s grandmother and her saying that she had already forgiven me. She then told me I had to deal with her daughter, D’s mom. I then apologized to D’s mom who said that she too forgave me. Unfortunately, after saying that she forgave me she looked over at Trey and told him, “Trey, kill this negro.” I managed to get away, and weeks later Trey would again attempt to shoot me, but I narrowly escaped again.

 

Psalm 32:1-2

Forgiveness and blessing are precious and wonderful things. Forgiveness relieves us of our guilt, it cancels out our wrongdoing, and it restores broken relationships. However, the question is this: How do we obtain Blessing? And, what does this forgiveness produce in us?

In this passage David says that a person is blessed—and this word blessed is important—if their transgression is forgiven, their sin is covered, and their iniquity is not counted against them. This is a threefold process when it comes to our wrongdoing, and in order to understand it we must look at these three categories of wrongdoing. Transgression, sin, and iniquity are presented here, and they are forgiven, covered, and not counted against a person.

 

Transgression

What is transgression? Well, let’s look at some similar words: progression, regression, and digression. To progress is to move forward, to regress is to move backward, and to digress is essentially to move sideways. These words are always referring to a person’s position, whether spiritual, physical or mental, meaning the movement can take place when we’re walking or driving to a destination, discussing a specific topic, or working toward a spiritual pursuit. In any case there is a fixed point, concept, idea, or goal that is wanting to be reached, and a person can either move toward it (progress), away from it (regress), or get off track (digress). So then, what is it to transgress? To transgress is to rebel against something, to break away from it to offend, that is to attack or assault, a thing. In the other three words (progress, regress, and digress) we see that a person is still on the path to that fixed point or goal, but when it comes to transgression we see that a person has more than digressed or gotten a little off track, rather they have set him or herself against the goal; that is, they are in hostile rebellion against the goal or idea. Transgression then communicates that we are enemies of the one against whom we’ve transgressed, namely God.

 

Sin

Now sin is a broad term we use to mean any act we commit that goes against God, any moral failure. However, in this passage the Hebrew word used means to miss the mark, it actually carries with it the idea of digression. This is to say that we have gotten off track when we sin, we have failed to live up to the standard set before us. A set of rules and guidelines have been laid before us, and we have not met the expectation to which those rules and guidelines call us.

 

Iniquity 

Here we have the effects of the first two, that is, iniquity is the guilt that sits on us because of our transgression and sin; It also carries the meaning of punishment. Because we have transgressed and sinned we are guilty and deserving of punishment.

But of course, you all know this, this is basic Sunday school that is taught to children. Although, knowing something is not the same as believing it.

Let’s look at how God deals with each of these three; transgression, sin, and iniquity. David says that God forgives transgression, covers sin, and erases iniquity. To forgive is to carry something away or take it away, to lift it up to a higher position. I believe this can be looked at in two ways: First, God carries our transgression away from us, he takes it away, but Secondly, he carries us away from it. He actually lifts us up out of our rebellion and places us in a higher position, namely the heavenlies as we are made citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, no longer enemies of God, but sons and daughters adopted into His family. To be forgiven can mean to be exalted or elevated, we are elevated out of the bondage of our insurrection and placed into freedom.

And so, our sin is covered, our failure is no longer seen, it is concealed, better yet it is blotted out. The darkness of our sin is masked by the light of Christ’s righteousness, His light pierces the darkness of our souls and removes it, renders it obsolete.

Thus, our iniquity no longer is counted against us, no guilt remains, and in the absence of guilt no punishment can be exacted against us. A judge does not declare a verdict of “not guilty,” and then sentence the person to prison time. No, when a person is declared not guilty then they are set free, no punishment is exacted.

Again, you know all of this from hearing sermons at Church. Although, knowing something is not the same as believing it.

BLESSED!!!! Proclaims David, blessed is the person who has received this forgiveness, is covered in this righteousness, and been relieved of the guilt. They have received more than a reprieve, rather it is a pardon, not a stay of execution, but rather the gift of life has been given. Blessed David says, happy, joyful, prosperous, fortunate is the person who has entered into these things.

Now this is just my introduction, so get comfortable. These first two verses lay the foundation for the rest of the passage, everything else in this passage is understood by working out from these first two verses. The end of verse two says, “and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” This seems like an odd end to David’s opening statement, I mean, he says blessed is the person who is forgiven and covered and so on, but he also says blessed is the person in whose spirit there is no deceit, or guile in some translations.

The entirety of the first two verses actually hinges on this statement; when David says “in those whose spirit there is no deceit,” what he means is the person who acknowledges their sin, who does not try to hide it or justify it. The person who does not deceive him or herself by denying his sinfulness has his transgressions forgiven, his sin covered, and his iniquity not charged against him. This blessing, then, only comes through repentance, that is, a change of heart and mind. The Apostle John makes this clear in his first epistle, 1 John 1:8-9 says: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, [but] if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The blessing is in the forgiveness, yet to attain it requires repentance.

Here we see that we call people not to obedience to God, but rather humble repentance before their Lord. This is important as we often make the mistake of teaching morality rather than transformation, and what we end up with are people who are morally good, to an extent, yet they are hopelessly lost because transformation of the soul has not taken place by living a life of repentance; We must live lives marked by constant repentance day in and day out. It is a life that recognizes the deceit, distortion, and confusion present in our own thinking and behavior, and upon coming to this realization we throw ourselves down before the throne of grace crying out to the Father to daily renew our minds and change our hearts.

The Apostle says that if we confess God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us; John goes on to say in 2:1 that if we sin we have an advocate with the Father, namely Jesus Christ. David goes on to say in Psalm 51 that what God will not despise are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Contrition is repentance, and repentance is more than just being sorry, it is a change of heart and mind that redirects a person’s path. Through this attitude and posture of repentance, we then enter into the blessing of those who are forgiven.

 

The thing is, you know ALL of this. Although, knowing something is definitely not the same as believing it.

 

Psalm 32:3-5

There is a weight that sits on us when we have done wrong. You have all felt it, the burden of guilt when you’ve done something wrong, the nauseating feeling in your stomach as you carry that guilt around trying to forget it or justify your actions. Or the torpidity that comes with shame, the fear of having to show your face before those who know you’ve done wrong. It sits heavy on our frames and causes our shoulders to sag and our backs to become bent, its weight causes us to sink into the ground so that our feet drag the asphalt as we walk around with darkened faces riddled with guilt and shame attempting to hide ourselves from those we think are judging us as all our insecurities and self-conscious assaults to our character beat us down night and day.

We live in a culture stained with depression, low self-esteem, suicide, and self-deprecation. Our failures and perceived inadequacies bring us low and torment our minds dragging us down into hopelessness. David says he wasted away as he refused to acknowledge his sin, groaning and roaring all day unable to escape the heavy hand of the Lord that sat upon him convicting him of his sin.

See, we know that certain things are right and other things are wrong, all of mankind knows this. Yet, in our refusal to acknowledge God and our sin we have begun to call wrong right and right wrong. In our attempts to justify ourselves we have become fools with depraved minds and futile thinking (Romans 1). David says in verse 2 of this Psalm that blessed is she who does not deceive herself into thinking she has no sin, yet we live in a culture that has not only denied its sinfulness, but has actually called its sinfulness righteousness. And we see the results of this, lawlessness made legal, guilt and shame turned into honor and pride.

The Church is no better, we have substituted moral legalism for the life of faith, we have shirked personal responsibility for our sins and instead attributed it to demons and ancestors pointing to the devil and generational curses and sin as the culprit. Romans 1 makes clear that mankind and our society have been given over to wickedness in its rejection of God’s goodness, and it makes clear that the culprit is us, we are personally responsible for our actions and our sin.

David says his strength was dried up, or another way of translating it is that his vitality was changed, it was stripped from him. But he doesn’t attempt to justify his sin, he doesn’t change the moral standard in order to acquiesce to the culture of his day; he doesn’t point to devils or demons as the impetus behind his actions, and he doesn’t lay blame at the feet of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob calling out their sins as the cause of his iniquity. No, what does he say? He says, “I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity…” He acknowledges HIS sin, that’s personal, that’s specific to him, that is on his shoulders. He also does not cover his iniquity, as I said, iniquity relates to guilt, meaning he doesn’t attempt to hide his guilt. He is saying that he is to blame, him alone, he failed, he transgressed, he is guilty. But by the grace of God he takes action, he says that he will “confess his transgressions to the Lord,” and in His mercy God forgives the iniquity of David’s sin, he takes away the guilt.

We live in a world, in a nation, in a society, and in a town run ragged by sin. Numerous people come to us with baggage, baggage that causes them to waver in their walk with God, baggage that drives them to doubt Christ, baggage that results in them becoming numb to the influence of the Spirit. How do we get them to let go of this baggage, to cast their burdens upon Jesus? There’s a song I learned as a child that communicates this simple truth, and it is a simple truth. Ronald Reagan once said this, “They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy answer—but simple.” We too offer simple answers, the song I learned as a child offered a simple answer:

Cast your burdens upon Jesus, He cares for you

Cast your burdens upon Jesus, He cares for you

Higher higher higha higha higha higha higha higha

Lift Jesus higher

Lower lower lower lower lower lower lower lower

Push Satan lower

Cast your burdens upon Jesus, He cares for you…

This simple little song conveys a deep truth, and one that we have to understand if we are to truly walk in faith.

The burdens of guilt and shame, of worthlessness and insecurity, must be placed upon Christ, and to do that begins with acknowledging our sin to God; our own personal failures and shortcomings, our wrong thinking and bad behavior, and in doing this God removes our guilt. I struggled for a couple years with wondering if I was actually worthy of God, I’m not. However, my sense of worthlessness came from believing that I had inflicted to much pain and suffering on others to truly be forgiven; I couldn’t forgive myself, and many people couldn’t and still can’t forgive me. Yet, when I finally stopped trying to justify my actions, when I stopped blaming my upbringing, my culture, society, outside forces, my ancestors, and so on, when I recognized my own faults in my life, and confessed them not to myself or friends or family, but truly confessed them to God, I began to see the burden of guilt removed from my life. Certain struggles I was having began to subside, bad behaviors I couldn’t shake started to change, wrong thinking was righted.

David’s bones wasted away, his inner man groaned, his strength was depleted, his whole being mind, body, and soul were plagued by his sin and his refusal to recognize it, yet in his confession to God he finds rejuvenation. Acknowledging and confessing sin is not the remedy to our ills and struggles; however, it is a first step. Drug addicts must first acknowledge that they are addicts before any further steps to recovery can take place, a failure to do this prevents any forward progress because the core issue is being ignored. Our core issue, our friends core issues, those whom you teach and disciple’s core issues are transgression, sin, and iniquity; rebellion, wrongdoing, and guilt.

You may say to me, “What about a young man or woman who was molested as a child and now deals with the pain of that and all the symptoms that come with it?” I use such a strong example to make a difficult point: That man or woman has to first acknowledge his or her sin before healing can begin, and this is a hard truth to accept. But here’s the thing, if they do not first recognize that they are sinners, that they too hurt people and violate people, that they have wronged many and have rebelled against God, and that despite all of that God still had mercy on them, then they will never be able to extend that same mercy to those who harmed them. In this they remain a victim controlled by the actions of their abuser long after the abuse has ended, their abuser is still inflicting pain and hurt on them, and this waters plants of bitterness, insecurity, anger, fear, and many more negative emotions. Jesus provides an understanding of this in Matthew 6:14–15:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Trespassing is to actually violate a boundary. We must forgive that we may be forgiven. Recognizing our own sin and the mercy of God in His forgiveness leads us to forgiving others their sins against us and others. I have no easy answer on how to convey this truth to those who are hurting, but it requires putting compassion into practice. What I do know is this, the recognition, acknowledgment, and confession of sin to God removes guilt and arrests many of the dark storms of the soul. It is the charge given us by Scripture, David makes this plain in the next few verses.

Ah, but surely you are aware of all of these things. I mean, you KNOW all of this. Although, knowing IS NOT the same as believing.

 

Psalm 32:6-7

Here David urges those who are godly to offer prayer to God. Are you godly? Are your friends godly? What is godliness? Godly is an adjective used to describe a person whereas godliness is its noun form, now I’m playing a semantics game here, but I would argue that we need to move from one to the other. That is, we need to move from an outward display to an intrinsic quality, from something that describes us to something that is us. An adjective, godly, describes something, a noun, godliness, is a thing. We cannot merely act godly, behavior is an easy thing to fake, rather we must possess godliness in our being, and all those who possess godliness are called to “offer prayer to God at a time when he may be found.” But when is this “time when he may be found?” Two answers arise, and both are important to our spiritual growth.

First, God can be found at all times, thus the time when He can be found is right now, for He can always be found at the present moment, and so we are commanded to pray without ceasing, Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). This is not hyperbole, it is telling us that a pattern must be set for our lives, our faith should be built on a life of prayer, prayer during trouble, prayer during good times, prayer when we feel distant from God, prayer when we feel close to Him, prayer when the pain and suffering is unbearable, and prayer when you are engulfed by His love. Why? Because God can be found in all those times, and we are to offer prayer to God at a time when he may be found.

Your central focus in building up others in the faith should not be discipleship, it should not be intimacy with God, it should not be theological knowledge, or biblical practice, it should be prayer. All of these other things are birth out of prayer: a good disciple builds his or her life on prayer; the beginning of intimacy with God is in that still quiet place where we commune with Him through prayer; theological knowledge is understood through seeking the mind of God through prayer; and faithful biblical practice can only be maintained through the power of the Holy Spirit by petitioning Him in prayer. You ought to, no, have to, rather, you must make prayer the beginning, end, and center of your ministry to family and others.

Now, I said that two answers can be arrived at when dissecting the phrase, “at a time when He may be found.” See, the phrase implies that there is, or will be, a time when He can’t be found. David says in the second half of verse 6 that “surely in the rush of great waters they shall not reach him.” So, the time when God will not be found is the time during the rush of great waters. This is surely symbolic of the flood during Noah’s day; it represents judgment from God, for when the final judgment comes it will be too late to cry out to God, the Apostle Luke gives us the words of Christ in Luke 17:26-30:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)

Our faith looks forward to the coming glory of the Lord, yet with His return also comes the Final Judgment; this is why it is called the great, fearful, and terrible day of the Lord. The prophet Zephaniah, in Zephaniah 1:14–18 says:

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

And Amos says, in Amos 5:18–20:

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

When this day comes God shall not be found, only darkness and sorrow shall be present. Prayer then has to be the tendons and ligaments of our faith, now. There is an urgency and an immediacy to the necessity of prayer in the life of the believer; we must call each other to participate in the fullness of the spiritual life here and now, to commit ourselves to prayer and holiness now, for a time will come when petitions to God will fall on deaf ears, when judgment will be poured out and the time to enter the salvation of the Lord has passed. This is why David says “BLESSED!!! Is the one whose sin is forgiven. For to escape the wrath and destruction that will be poured out on the Day of the Lord is nothing less than a blessing.

But what is it that we find when we offer not only our words, but ourselves to the Lord in prayer? David says in verse 7 of Psalms 32 that in God we have a “hiding place,” “preservation,” and “deliverance.” What is the significance of each of these three, and how do they play into this idea of blessing we have been talking about?

 

Hiding Place

What do you think of when you think of a hiding place? I think of security. When we were kids many times when we became afraid or got scared we would hide under the covers, in a closet, or maybe behind our parents’ leg clinging tight to our mom’s skirt or our dad’s pant leg. We seek a hiding place when we need security, when we need protection, when we need safety. It is in these hiding places that we find an escape from the troubles of the world.

 

Preservation

David says that in this hiding place we are preserved from these troubles. To preserve something is not merely to keep it safe or protect it, but it also means to prevent its decay. The troubles we face in this life not only cause fear and distress at times, but they also pierce our souls and weaken their integrity, wearing us down and causing our inner being to decompose. The people in our lives do not simply suffer under the weight and burden of sin and guilt, but their souls are darkened and worn down by the maladies that plague them. The have family issues, strained relationships with friends, the difficulties of school and work, inner struggles, they seek purpose and meaning in their lives, but they face a world that mocks their faith and morals. It is a society that challenges their worldview and tests their resolve. They follow a God, the one true God, who at times feels distant, seems silent, seems unjust, appears to lack goodness, and it feels like He doesn’t care about them. It’s a God who they feel hands down punishment more than blessing; the troubles of this world come like a monsoon, relentless and unbearable. They need, we need, a place to hide, some place where the torrent can no longer rip away at us; a place where we will be preserved, where we will be delivered from the typhoons that crest the horizon of life’s journey.

 

Deliverance

In the hiding place we are protected and preserved, and as a result we are delivered from the troubles of the world. David says that God “surrounds [us] with shouts of deliverance,” (Verse 7). These are shouts of praise and thanksgiving proclaiming the faithfulness of the Lord. Some of you may say,  “But it does not feel like I am being delivered, it feels like my troubles don’t end, that deliverance never arrives.” My response is neither tactful nor sensitive, it is simply a question: Why do you think God is supposed to work on your timetable? The Psalmist says in Psalm 130:1-8:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

 Furthermore, David says in Psalm 30:4-5:

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Listen, the Israelites waited 70 years to be delivered from their captivity in Babylon; they waited 40 years in the desert before entering the promised land; they spent 400 years in slavery in Egypt waiting for God to set them free. It is never a question of IF deliverance will come, but rather WHEN deliverance will come. And here’s the difficult thing to accept, deliverance may not come in this life. Yet, in the world to come we know that we will receive our inheritance, the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:3-9). Until we receive deliverance, in this life or the next, we wait on the Lord, and we look forward to the joy that comes when a new day dawns.

The spiritual life we call others to, in which we now participate, is one that makes prayer its foundation, and Christ its hiding place and refuge. This life, the life in Christ, finds its preservation and sustenance in the arms of God, and knows that deliverance only comes through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Psalm 32:8-9

We must tread carefully here. In these two verses God Himself is speaking and He makes a few things clear. The first thing that stands out is that He says that He will instruct and counsel us. This idea of being taught by God is too often used to add credibility to supposed personal revelation while discarding the authority of those from the past and present who are wiser and more studied in the faith and Scriptures. I am writing this study right now, is it not possible that God is instructing you through me? Many of you teach or preach, is God not using you to instruct and counsel others? What of the great theologians, philosophers, saints, pastors, and priests of the past and present? Did God not use these men and women? Were none of them led by the Spirit? Were none of them wise or devout or pious or committed to the faith? If you place no value on the wisdom and teaching of the great men and women of old, then WHY should anyone place value on what you have to say?

Yes, God Himself will teach and instruct us, but God Himself has also appointed some to be “apostles, [some] prophets, [others] evangelists, [and still others] shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Now listen to what I am saying, I am saying that God’s instruction and teaching comes through people who have steeped themselves in prayer and the study of the Scriptures, people who have sought out the wisdom of other godly men and women both living and dead. What I am not saying is that the Spirit does not reveal truth to us personally. The Spirit definitely reveals truth to us personally, but your personal experience does not trump the authority of Scripture and the tradition of the Church.

Scripture is the first authority, then comes the tradition of the Church—by this I mean the historical interpretation of Scripture, and the practices of the faith as handed down through the centuries, there is wiggle room in this because of various traditions, but the boundaries are not as wide as you think. Finally comes personal experience, but again, personal experience is subject to the first two. If your personal experience does not line up with the plain reading of Scripture, and it falls outside the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy, then your personal experience needs to stay personal. It does not need to be taught or conveyed to a larger group of people as normative or authoritative, because frankly it is neither of those things.

Many will find some of these statements problematic and disagreeable, please feel free to reach out to me for further discussion on this issue by leaving a comment in the comments section below.

What is important in all of this is understanding that you, that we, are vessels being used by God to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. God also says that He will counsel us and keep His eye upon us. To counsel is to advise, through the Spirit God advises us and watches us closely to see if we heed His word. So, He teaches us, that is He provides us with knowledge; He instructs us, meaning He shows us how to apply this knowledge, how to put it into practice; and He counsels us, advising us as we journey through this life. We are called to do these same things with those whom we lead.

God goes on to say that we ought not be like a horse or mule, having to be coerced into obedience. God does not want those who, by force, are made to love and obey Him. No, He wants those who have chosen to do so as a result of being transformed. How many of us are guilty of legalism? I imagine everyone’s hand should go up, myself included. We are quick to tell others, even unbelievers, how they should and should not behave; don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, don’t watch this, or say that, or go there, or listen to this. What is the purpose of us doing this? Do we simply want to create morally good people? Did Jesus not criticize the Pharisees for their legalism? The Pharisees placed strict moral standards on the people that they themselves did not keep, thus making themselves hypocrites; this is not what we want to be or become. We do not call people to morality, we call them to holiness; we do not call people to obedience, we call them to transformation.

Being morally good is following rules for fear of consequence or simply to get along, or even to achieve some type of self-attained goodness. Holiness is to be set apart, it requires a change from common to uncommon, from vulgar to sacred. Holiness is the outcome of transformation. I was a drug dealer that obeyed my parents, they’ll tell you themselves, I was very obedient at home, but I was not transformed internally. I obeyed in order to avoid any conflict or trouble with my parents, not because I actually believed in God or Christian morals. We are not here to call people to moral obedience, we are here to proclaim Christ and the transformative power of His death and resurrection in all those who place their trust in Him.

See, once a person’s heart, mind, and soul is transformed everything else follows. As they work out their salvation in fear and trembling, the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in them cultivates a love for God and His law. It is in this that right behavior and right thinking come to fruition. We do not want people who are like horses having to be forced into acting right, we want people who, by the grace of God, have been transformed and now walk in His ways.

Psalm 32:10-11

These last couple of verses speak for themselves. I have mentioned several times how the troubles of this world, the pain and suffering we deal with, the burden of sin, the weight of guilt, and so much more torment and disturb us. I spoke of how these things grieve our souls and cloud us with darkness, yet, we belong to the light of the world. Is it surprising then that the wicked suffer many sorrows? We are wrapped up in the love of God if we trust Him, and it warrants shouts of joy, gladness, and rejoicing.

Blessed, says David, are the ones whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered, and whose iniquities are not held against them. D’s grandmother, his mom, and her boyfriend were not able to truly forgive me, and as a result my troubles compounded. I refused to acknowledge my sin and it continued to weigh on me for years to come. Many were my sorrows.

Let us then be challenged, and challenge others, to acknowledge our sin that our burdens may be relieved, that through confession our guilt would be removed. Let us encourage each other to seek God through constant and fervent prayer, here and now, and that through this we might enter into that hiding place where preservation and deliverance is found. Let us make sure to be disciplined in sitting under the teaching and instruction of the Lord and those through whom He teaches us, heeding His counsel and living according to His word, never being like stubborn mules. All of this so that our upright hearts may be filled with gladness and rejoicing as we experience the blessing of the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come; Glory to Him forever and ever, Amen.

 

Of course… I imagine that none of this is new to you, you know all of these things. Although, knowing something is not the same as believing it… Do you believe?