Derek looks into the life of David, from Psalm 51, to show us that even godly men such as he were capable of falling into sin. When confronted with sin, David saw his miserable state and his need for salvation and cleansing. He knew his only help was in God, and he was wise enough to humble himself and seek God for it.
It’s good to be with you again, as we continue with our exciting theme for this week: A New Beginning.
In my previous talks I’ve been sharing two facts of vital importance for everyone of us. The first, we all need a new beginning. The second, through the personal revelation of the resurrected Christ by the Holy Spirit each of us can enter into the new creation. I think I need say that second fact again. Through the personal revelation of the resurrected Christ by the Holy Spirit each of us can enter into the new creation. That’s based on the words of Paul. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
You might say to me perhaps, “I don’t know. Mr. Prince how are you so sure about that?” I’ll tell you very simply, it happened to me. At the time it happened to me, which is now more than 40 years ago, I had absolutely no mental knowledge of the things I’m trying to share with you today. I had ceased to be in any sense religious. I made no claim to be a Christian, but through the infinite grace and mercy of God, somewhere about midnight in an army barrack room of the British Army in World War II, I had that personal life transforming encounter with the resurrected Christ. And from that moment onwards, I was a new creation. Primarily I was not religious. I didn’t have any religious language to describe what had happened to me. In fact, I baffled the people round about me, because they saw a tremendous change and neither they nor I really understood what had happened. But that’s exactly what Paul says, “If any person be in Christ, he is a new creation.” A new creation has taken place. It took me many, many months to begin to discover what had happened through that revelation of Jesus Christ. But one thing I knew from that moment onward, I knew that Jesus Christ is alive. And that’s perhaps the most important historical fact you’ll ever come to know.
So in my talk today I’m going to speak further about the necessity of the new creation, and I’m going to illustrate this theme from the experience of one of the great men of God in the Old Testament King David. Now King David was a tremendous man of God. He’s called in the Scriptures “a man after God’s own heart.” He brought countless blessings to his people Israel, and through his Psalms and record of his life, he’s brought countless blessings to unnumbered millions of people all over the earth since that time. But there was a moment in David’s life when he made a terrible mistake. He committed a terrible sin. The sin was adultery - he took another man’s wife. And then, in order to cover up that sin he procured deliberately the death of that other man who was a soldier in his army. So he was guilty of both adultery and murder. For a while David thought that he’d gotten away with it. I don’t know how anyone can deceive himself and yet many of us do that some how God doesn’t know what we’ve done. God had to send a prophet to David named Nathan who made it very very clear to David that God knew all about what he had done that there was nothing secret, nothing hidden from God, and that God held him accountable. And when David was confronted with this message from God through the prophet Nathan, he wrote one of his most moving and beautiful Psalms. Psalms 51 which so beautifully describes the agony and the need of a human soul in such a situation, that I’m going to read the first ten verses, also the introduction. Listen carefully please as I read these words of David to you. First of all the introduction for the director of music, Psalm of David, some how impresses me that out of that terrible experience there came something that was beautiful and edifying that David could actually say was for the director of music, or the choir director, it was to be a perpetual song for the people of Israel:
“For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. [Now here is the Psalm.] 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. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. [I wonder if there is someone listening of whom that’s true, right now ”my sin is always before me. There’s something I can never forget. Take courage there is an answer. I’m going on reading. David speaks to the Lord. He says...] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV)
I want you to notice that last cry of David’s heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” That’s the new creation. For the first time perhaps in his life, David was confronted with the full truth about his own spiritual condition. Up to that time probably he had never really understood the subtlety and the power of sin in his heart and life, and he’d been able to lead a life that was acceptable in the sight of God. But there was something lurking within him that suddenly sprung out in a moment of weakness, and overpowered him and brought him to a condition of guilt and shame. And when David recognized his real condition he also recognized his desperate need of four things, for all of which he was completely dependent upon God’s mercy. And I just want to share with you these four things that David saw he needed.
The first was washing and cleansing. In verse 2 he says:
“Wash away all my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin.” [Verse 7 he says,] “cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (NIV)
He felt so defiled, so unclean, and he knew nothing he could do would cleanse him.
Second, he saw his need for the record of his sin to be expunged forever. This is expressed in verses 1 and 9. Verse 1:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” [And in verse 9,] “hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.” (NIV)
Suppose you knew that a videotape had been made of every incident in your life, and that sooner or later it was going to be played back to the entire universe. How would you feel about that? That’s how David felt. “Blot out all my iniquity erase that tape. Let me never be confronted with it again.”
The third thing that David saw that he need was recreation to be recreated by a sovereign act of God. This he expressed in verse 10, “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” It’s important to see that when we use the word “create” we’re speaking of something that only God could do. And David knew this was beyond his own ability or resources. He was totally shut up to what God could do for him.
And then, fourthly, he saw his need of reconciliation with God. He had suddenly a glimpse of his own inner nature. And he saw, if I may use the phrase, that he had been “born a rebel.” This he expresses in verse 5, “surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” That’s the very moment that his life begun and in view of the furor today about abortion, let’s notice that the Bible says he had a nature that was sinful from the moment he was conceived. His life did not begin when he was born, but when he was conceived. That’s the Bible’s picture of that situation. Furthermore he was a rebel even before he committed rebellious acts. He was a rebel by nature. He says, “I was a sinner from the moment that my mother conceived me from my birth.” In other words, he wasn’t merely faced with the fact of his sinful acts and especially of his adultery and his murder, but he was faced with the fact that he had a sinful nature that he had a rebellious nature, and that he’d been a rebel and he needed, as a rebel, reconciliation with God.
And I want to tell you that there needs to come a moment in your life, as it came in mine, when you are confronted with this fact that you are a rebel by nature, that you’ve been a rebel from conception, that you’ve led a rebellious life, that your attitudes have been rebellious. And that because of those rebellious attitudes, apart from your sinful acts, you need desperately to be reconciled with Almighty God the Judge of the universe.
In my talks throughout the rest of this week, I’ll be explaining how God has made provision to meet all of these four needs which David saw so clearly.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. The title of my talk tomorrow will be: “Cleansing and Acquittal.”