Psalm 51:1b-2 …blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Imagine playing for a school team. The coach schedules a Friday night practice for a critical upcoming game, but you’ve been invited to an awesome party that you don’t want to miss. You rationalize that you know everything that will be covered in the practice and you will be ready to compete on game day. So, you make up a little “white lie” and tell the coach that you have an urgent family obligation and can’t attend. Unfortunately, a team member finds out you were at that party and not long after the coach finds out. Your position on the team may or may not be affected, but there will most certainly be consequences. One key consequence will be a relational breakdown, and any rational person knows that there is only one solution to overcome this – repentance. “Coach, I am so sorry; please forgive me”.
Today’s scripture recounts the words of King David after the prophet Nathan comes to David and confronts him about his adultery with Bathsheba and his related murder of her husband (2 Samuel 12). Psalm 51 is a wonderful example of the humility and honesty that the Lord seeks from his children. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51: 1-2).
There is a teaching among some Christians in which they believe that we cannot sin and therefore there is no need to ask God for forgiveness. This comes from 1 John 5:18 which says that “anyone born of God does not continue to sin”. The challenge is that this scripture seems to contract another verse earlier in the same letter that says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction? It becomes easier if we look at the original Greek words. The word “does” in 1 John 5:18 is “poie” and refers to “practicing”, and in context it means that he does not habitually abide in sin. In contrast, in 1 John 1:8 the word “have” in Greek is “echō” and it means to “wear or possess”. So, while it is a fact that we possess sin, we don’t have to practice it as a lifestyle.
When we recognize we have a sinful nature, we’re separated from God, and if we accept Christ as our saviour and the payer of our debt of sin, then all our sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9). If that is the case, why do we need to ask for forgiveness after that? The answer is positional forgiveness versus relational forgiveness.
When we sin, we do not lose our position as a child of God, but there is a relational breakdown. For our own sake, it is important that we recognize our sin, confess our sin, and ask for forgiveness. Why would we ask forgiveness of other people when we do wrong, but not ask God for forgiveness when we sin against him? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
Make repentance and confession of sin a regular part of your life. Prioritize your relationship with your heavenly Father in heaven and enjoy the peace that comes from a humble repentant life.