When we come to church each Sunday there are three sets of people generally in attendance. I’m talking about three sets of Christian people that attend. You’re saved but you come from diverse backgrounds.
First there’s the group of people that was raised in a Christian home and in church every Sunday. I’d call you the “First Cousins of Jesus.” Your legacy is that you cut your teeth on church pews, your diapers were changed in a musty church bathroom, and the worst thing you did was shoot spitballs during Sunday School. Or, if you were real mischievous you rolled the Youth Pastor’s yard.
Then there’s a second group of Christians that are in church today. This is the group that while growing up you attended church three times a year. Easter, Christmas Eve, and whenever there was a funeral. You weren’t in that “First Cousins” group because you did some pretty wild stuff. The kind of stuff that was just short of making the nightly news. If you were in that group you know it! Very respectfully, I’d identify this group as “Christian Heathens.”
Then there’s a third group of Christians here today. And the rest of us here are delighted you got saved because you were the axe murders and drug dealers and the Nephelim gone wild! Perhaps the kindest characterization of what you used to be would be the word “Reprobate” or “Infidel.” You never went to church—it didn’t matter if it was your grandmother’s funeral—you didn’t darken the doors. You robbed banks, sang in nightclubs, and gambled away fortunes and nobody thought you would ever get saved but at the last fleeting moment you made a commitment to Christ. These are the people that get to give their testimonies on primetime television and wow the masses.
I don’t know which group you once occupied (And I’m certainly not going to admit the camp I belonged to!) but I suppose you’re wondering what point we’re going to make from this introduction.
When it comes to salvation I wonder if some of us don’t comprehend how fortunate we are to be pardoned of our sins and the profound love it took for Christ to take our place on the Cross.
If you are in that “First Cousins,” group and you were raised in church, it’s probably harder to comprehend God’s love and mercy. But if you were in one of the other two groups you’re probably more aware of how wonderful God’s grace and pardon are.
(Transition) Regardless of which group you came from everyone here has a common past—we were all sinners! Isaiah 53:6 says: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (NASU). The Bible says, everyone here was “born in sin and conceived in iniquity” (PSA 51:5). But that’s what makes Psalm 32 so wonderful.
This is one of my favorite Psalms because David proclaims the blessedness of the one whose sins are forgiven. And he does this in a unique way. He uses three expressions for sin and then he uses three expressions of how God pardons our sins. Here’s what I mean:
David called one category of sins transgressions, which indicates “rebellion against God”; another he simply called sin, which describes “knowingly missing the mark”; and the third category he called iniquity, which speaks of a “vile perversion.”
Those terms cover the entire gamut of our sinfulness—major and minor. But then after showing us three categories of sin he uses three expressions to show how God pardons our sins.
And David says God “forgives” our sins. That means He lifts and removes the burden of our sins. And he lifts and removes them “as far as the east is from the west” (PSA 103:12).
Then David says God covers our sins. And that means God “shrouds the evidence of our sins to where they cannot be seen by His eyes.”
Thirdly, David says God treats our confessed sins as being cancelled. And that means God annuls the charges of sin against us. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross wipes out our sins! Imagine that. God wipes out the incriminating evidence against us!
Our transgressions, sins, and iniquities are forgiven, covered, and cancelled! Isn’t that wonderful! No wonder David said: “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.”
(Transition) To really understand how blessed we are to be pardoned from sin we need to understand what sin did to us. When Adam sinned, man was instantly cursed with four consequences:
The Consequences of Sin
1. Sin defiled man. God created Adam morally and physically perfect—he was flawless. But when Adam sinned every part of his being was polluted. Theology calls this “total depravity.” That doesn’t mean man is as wicked as possible, it means nothing about us is left untouched from sin. We were corrupted body, soul, mind, and spirit.
I know secular men don’t consider themselves to be morally polluted. They think they’re basically good. But God says in Romans 3:10: “there’s none righteous, not even one.”
2. Secondly, sin severed our unbroken fellowship with God. Adam had the incredible opportunity to walk with God daily. I can’t imagine what it was like to converse with the Creator and discuss the secrets of the universe, but that’s what Adam did. Unfortunately, sin has temporarily robbed us of that unbroken fellowship.
3. Thirdly, sin incurs God’s wrath. Because God is holy He hates sin. And His holiness won’t let Him ignore it. God warned Adam before he sinned: “In the day you eat you shall surely die.” And that’s precisely what happened. Sin brought God’s judgment of sickness, pain, evil, and death. And eternal death awaits those that remain in sin.
4. And fourthly, sin incurs shame and guilt. Many people today are so spiritually dulled that they seem to have no conscience or remorse for their sins. But I believe most people can relate to the sense of shame and the weight of guilt that sin levies on the conscience.
If you’re sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction you’ll never feel good about sin. Hurting others, slandering people, stealing, lying or disobeying God never leave you feeling good about yourself. Sin brings guilt.
That’s the penalty of sin; and it’s terrible. But that’s where the wonder of Psalm 32 emerges. When we accept God’s pardon He takes our transgressions, sins, and iniquities and then forgives, covers, and cancels them! And that’s the greatest miracle that happens today.
(Transition) But in order to receive that miracle we have to let God deal with our sins. The problem is people don’t always deal properly with sin. And that’s what I want to ask you. What is your response when you “miss the mark” and disobey God? How do you deal with sin?
The Danger of Concealing Sin
Unless an angel has slipped in among us, everyone here is guilty of sin. Occasionally, everyone “misses the mark” and falls short of God’s commands. That’s why 1 John 1:8 says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Since that’s the case, what do you do when you entertain an impure thought or say something you shouldn’t say or commit a sin—regardless of how insignificant or egregious it is?
The Bible tells there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle sin and it’s important that we do it right, otherwise, there are going to be problems. And the worst way to handle your sins is what we do so frequently. We try to conceal them.
But listen to what Solomon said about that in Proverbs 28:13: “He that conceals his sins shall not prosper.” When you try to conceal, ignore, or devise a plan to deal with your sins you cannot prosper!
Some people believe if they ignore their sin long enough God will eventually forget about it. But let me assure you that God doesn’t do that. This is the reason David wrote Psalm 32. He wanted us to understand the consequences of unconfessed sins.
It’s likely that David wrote this Psalm as it concerned his adultery with Bathsheba and the murdering of her husband Uriah. You would think this man “after God’s heart” would immediately repent, but he didn’t. Scholars say David waited nearly a year before he confessed his iniquity. And look how his dereliction affected him. He said in verse three:
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. (4) For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (NASU).
David was miserable as long as he concealed his sin. And look at the extent of his misery. It wasn’t just his soul that suffered, his body wasted away, his emotions were besieged, and this warrior that slew a lion, bear, and giant was drained of his energy. He suffered spiritually, emotionally, and physically!
And this wasn’t coincidental. The press and pain of God’s hand was directly responsible for creating David’s discomfort. Look again at verse four. David said: “day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.”
There’s a reason God gets involved with our sin and disciplines us and it’s because He knows the dread of sin. Romans 5:12 says: “sin brings forth death”; Romans 6:16 says: “sin brings forth death”; and Romans 6:23 says: “sin brings forth death.” To state it another way: “The wages of sin is death!”
That’s what sin will do to you. It isn’t neutral; it’s not benign; sin is a destructive force that never stops attacking. You can’t outwit or outmaneuver them! Alcohol, drugs, sensual flirtations, pornography, and stealing can ruin you beyond your imagination.
Sin can destroy your health, wreck your thinking, ruin your finances, and completely overpower you. Nobody but you may know your sins but if you conceal or ignore them long enough they will destroy you! “He that conceals his sin shall not prosper.”
(Quote) Some years ago a physician said: “Half my patients don’t need medical treatment, what they need is the forgiveness of sins.” The noted psychiatrist Karl Menninger once said if he “could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75% of them could walk out the next day.”
(Transition) When we fail God He simply wants us to be honest with Him and confess our sins. Jesus took our place on the Cross as the penalty for sin and He’s waiting for us to repent and accept His pardon for whatever we’ve done. And what will Christ do with your transgressions, sins, and iniquity? He forgives, covers, and cancels!
Jesus is our Pardon for Sin
It’s amazing that so many people know how to master various parts of life but they don’t know how to handle their spiritual life. They’re able to work Wall Street or manage corporations or program computers or even design master plans for cities, but they don’t know how to handle their sins.
They believe living a good moral life and helping others is enough to gain God’s favor; or they subscribe to that Unitarian belief that teaches there are many ways that lead to God; or they’re self-proclaimed atheists and don’t believe anything exists after death.
There’s a really frightening passage in Proverbs 14:12 that says: “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end leads to death.” Can you imagine living in a way that you honestly thought you would spend eternity in heaven only to discover you were wrong . . . traveling a direction that, from outward indications, appears right and with no indication of impending danger, only to discover it terminates with eternal death? That’s what happens when we ignore the Bible.
Do you know how Solomon characterizes people that make themselves as God and dispute the Bible’s claims? Proverbs 26:12: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (NASU).
The Bible defines a man “wise in his own eyes” as somebody that is convinced his understanding is indisputable—that everyone else, including the Bible—is wrong. Solomon left clear instructions how we should handle the advice of people that contradict God’s Word. Proverbs 14:7 says: “Leave the presence of a fool, or you [too] will not discern words of knowledge” (NASU).
Folks, there are many “reasonable sounding” voices in the world. There are voices that say “this is the way” or “this is the answer” or “this is the antidote for your situation.” But just because a statement has a ring of appeal doesn’t mean it’s right!
God calls us to carefully calculate the consequences of our choices. That’s one of Solomon’s main points whenever he writes. Proverbs 14:15: “The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps” (NASU).
The word “step” here symbolizes the smallest unit of life. And Solomon says that a wise man will calculate the outcome of every choice—even the most insignificant one—because choices have consequences.
Now let’s stay focused here as I ask you again: How do you handle your sin? Are you doing the same thing David did by concealing them or have you taken a different route?
You can’t assume the role of a victim and blame your sins on somebody else. You can’t invoke an “excuse clause” to justify your sins. God has provided a way for the forgiveness of sins and it’s simple. It’s to repent and accept God’s pardon!
(Illustration) During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, George Wilson robbed money from a train and killed the security guard. The court sentenced him to death. Several years later President Jackson intervened with a pardon but, amazingly, Wilson refused the pardon! Because this had never happened the Supreme Court ruled on whether someone could refuse a presidential pardon. Chief Justice John Marshall handed down the court’s decision: “A pardon is a parchment whose only value must be determined by the receiver of the pardon. It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives to it. George Wilson has refused to accept the pardon . . . We cannot conceive why he would do so, but he has. Therefore, George Wilson must die.” (Author unknown.)
That’s the way it is with us and the sentence of death that sin has issued against us. God has granted us a pardon and offered to free us from sin’s consequences, but God’s forgiveness can’t simply be granted, it must be accepted. And that’s your responsibility.
(Transition) And there is incredible peace and joy that come when you confess your sins and realize Christ has removed them “as far as the east is from the west.”
The Blessing of Confessing your Sins
Do you remember the despair and misery David said his unconfessed sin brought him? It tore him apart. But look what happened when he took the correct course of action and confessed his sin because here comes relief.
Verse five says: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin” (NASU).
When David simply admitted his transgressions he found that God instantly forgave him. He was completely exonerated and the record of his sins was forgiven, covered, and cancelled—wiped out!
That’s why David could say: “blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! (2) How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (NASU).
Confessing your sins to God means you’re going to be free clear down to the depths of your soul. And there’s no greater feeling than the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven and your heart is right with God. There’s nothing more comforting than living with the peace of mind that God’s pardon supplies.
The last time David began a Psalm with the word “blessed” was Psalm 1 when he said: “blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night (NASU).
The man that walks righteously and averts wickedness is blessed. But in Psalm 32 David applied the word “blessed” to the man that errs but then finds God’s pardon. In other words, there’s grace to bless when we obey and there’s grace to bless when we stray! And the blessing comes by confessing our sins and repudiating them.
(Illustration) Go back with me to 1995 and what has been called the “Trial of the Century.” We know this as the O. J. Simpson trial. This was a courtroom drama better than Hollywood could have ever scripted. The prosecutors presented the facts of Simpson’s blood being at the crime scene, on his white Bronco, and in his master bedroom back home. They produced a glove that forensic experts said was smeared with the blood of Simpson, Nicole Brown, and Ron Goldman. Simpson’s hair was found on Goldman’s shirt and a cap left at the crime scene. But then the defense team made its case why the incriminating evidence was insufficient to convict Simpson. If you followed that trial you probably remember exactly where you were when the jury returned its verdict and Simpson was declared: “Not Guilty” of killing his wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. “Not Guilty.” Those are powerful words. Besides those two exonerating words from the jury the most remembered statement that still echoes from that courtroom came from defense attorney Johnny Cochran after Simpson tried to stuff his hand into that bloody glove. Cochran said: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
This is how America’s justice system operates, but it’s not how God’s courtroom operates. As a matter of fact, nobody stands before God innocent of sin; nobody stands before God “Not Guilty” of the charges. Romans 3 declares that the whole world is guilty before God. We’re all convicted of sin and charged with the sentence of death. In other words, the glove of sin fits.
So what’s the answer when we stand before God at His Judgment Seat? Is it a slick lawyer to manipulate the evidence or a stacked jury to furnish a convenient verdict? Get that out of your mind because they don’t exist in God’s courtroom. In fact, there’s no lawyer at God’s Judgment Seat. It’s just you, God, and the unfiltered facts of your life. God is keeping meticulous and precise records of your every thought, utterance, and action. And you’ll answer for them.
You can’t wait until you’re in God’s courtroom to make your case. You need to prepare in advance—now! Just as Johnny Cochran had his quip, indulge me: “When you make a mess, you must confess.” That’s what Psalm 32 is all about. “When you make a mess, you must confess.” Confess and accept God’s pardon.
I love what the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 55:7. “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (NASU).