One of the must frustrating parts of living in this world as a believer has to be the fact that we still sin.
We’ve been made new people, we’ve got new desires to do what God wants, but we’re still tempted, a lot, and we’ve still got inward corruption which is very powerful and extremely capable of deceiving us; and as a result we often sin.
What’s worse, we sometimes sin big time.
We as sincere believers can fall into serious sins.
If anyone has any doubts about that, about whether or not we as believers can fall into some serious sins, I’d encourage you to start reading your Bibles. The whole book is full of great saints who struggled with serious sins.
I mean take Noah, now here was a great man.
The writer of Genesis describes Noah like this: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Walked with God. God looked on the earth and everybody was wicked, except the Bible says for Noah. This guy was literally one in a billion. He obeys God when it is tough, builds an ark with everyone making fun, is rescued by God Himself in an absolutely miraculous way from a worldwide flood; and then when things settle down a bit, he goes builds a vineyard, gets drunk, lies down and is somehow disgraced by one of his sons.
Abraham, another outstanding individual.
God chooses Abraham out of the entire world to bless, makes a covenant with him. Abraham actually has angels over for supper, speaks with God as a man would a friend. Yet not once, but twice when put in pressure positions, lies about his wife and allows her to get married to another man.
Lot, now this one isn’t so obvious.
Most of us wouldn’t think of Lot as very righteous, instead we’d probably think of him as a little more pathetic. I mean, here’s a guy who had no impact on the city in which he lived, no impact on his family, and actually ended up committing an unspeakable act with his own daughters. But that’s not the end of the story. Though he was stuck in some serious sin, Peter tells us there was more to Lot than we read in Genesis. The fact is, Lot was a righteous man. He says, “as that righteous man lived in Sodom among wicked people day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds he saw and heard.”
Job, how does Job begin?
“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Even still, readers of the book of Job know, there came a time in Job’s life where he wondered aloud about God’s justice, and complained and questioned His goodness.
Moses, what a godly man! A friend of God, used by God to rescue His people in a miraculous way and bring them into the Promised Land; Moses ending his life, unable to enter the Land himself because he in anger, rebelled against the God he served.
Noah, Abraham, Lot, Job, Moses, there’s no way we can dispute it.
Believers still sin. Sometimes big time. There isn’t anyone besides Jesus who doesn’t sin, and what’s more, even a superficial reading of Scripture makes it clear even the best of us can, because of the power of the corruption within us and because of the deceitfulness of the temptation all around us, fall into terrible, awful, grievous sins.
David’s another proof of that.
It’s obvious David was a godly man – just read the psalms. But there’s also no doubt that David was a major sinner. Just think of his sin with Bathsheba. He broke almost all the commandments in one shot. We’re talking coveting, stealing, adultery, murder, making an idol out of self, despising God’s Word, and living for a long time hiding the fact that he had sinned at all – almost a year in fact as an out and out hypocrite.
There are few better examples of the fact that we as sincere believers can get stuck in serious sin. There are also few better examples of the way God has provided for us to get out. You see, although David sinned and David sinned big time, that sin wasn’t the end of the story for him, and our sin isn’t the end of the story for us.
While one of the most frustrating parts of being a believer is the fact that we still sin, one of the most beautiful things about being a believer is that we know God because of His grace has provided a way for us when we sin and fall to be renewed and restored – and that way is the way David took, the way of repentance – described for us in Psalm 51. After David’s sin with Bathsheba, his confrontation by Nathan, and the restoration of his relationship with God Himself, he was inspired by God to describe the means God mercifully provided to renew the sinning believer’s relationship with Him.
I want us to look together at Psalm 51 where David shows us the pathway to freedom and victory over sin. In this passage we have one of the fullest descriptions of the key elements of repentance. To help us understand the right way to respond when we sin, in the days to come I want us walk through several characteristics of true repentance that we find David spelling out in the passage before us.