Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
**I encourage you to read all of Psalm 51 today before reading further.**
The first time I truly grasped the sentiment penned by David in Psalm 51: 4 was also the first time I tasted the freedom that Christ died to provide. But first, I experienced a heart-rending grief; the kind of grief that produced repentance, leading me to a salvation without regret (2 Cor. 7:10).
In all honestly, my heart was not crushed until I truly began to fathom Who God is and to love Him. Naturally, I also had to understand what sin was before I could understand the need to repent. Still, until I truly revered Him, all my understanding of sin was merely intellectual assent. Not until my love for God caused me grief at the damage my sin (even the “tiny,” private ones) did between us did I experience the searing pain of a “broken and contrite heart.” Once I did, I could share in David’s heart-felt plea: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1).
If my sorrow over sin was crushing because of my love and appreciation for the mercy of God, how much more intense was the joy when I comprehended the forgiveness of God through the sacrifice of the Son! How much more passionately do I now worship Him and how ardent my praise and elation at the undeserved pardon I have received now that He has made me aware of sin’s cost — and of His own willingness to pay it!]
What a deterrent that has been to me in my struggles against sin, and how closely do I share David’s sorrow on those sad occasions when I again cloak my heart in deception and take up the deadly ways of the old, worldly self. How strongly I now desire to grow so close to my Lord that the temptations of this world appear stale and tasteless!
As if that priceless freedom from sin borne of a repentant heart wasn’t enough, I also found embedded within the concept a second, almost secret freedom; a freedom in my relationships to others. I found that I was able to forgive more freely not only because of the forgiveness that had been extended to me, but also because of the simple fact that the sin of others has nothing to do with me.
And that, my friends, is where this useful freedom lies. I learned that if sin can be committed against God alone, than I am free to allow God alone to deal with that sin. Even if I am hurt as a consequence, all I need to do is take my pain to God and allow Him to heal it. I cannot claim retribution for sins committed against me for the simple fact that sin cannot be committed against me.
This does not mean I do not recognize sin: adultery is adultery whether it is in action or thought; lying is lying, thievery is thievery, and so on. Nor does it mean that I am never hurt by others. However by understanding that if I am stolen from, the sin is actually committed against God, well… I suppose I find it easier to let go of my grievance when I know that the transgressor is in far more just and stern hands that my own.
At such times, I now feel sorrow for the transgressor; now that I can take myself out of the equation, so to speak. There is no sin which affects me that is worse than any I have committed and afflicted others by; I am a fellow transgressor. And so, instead of anger against a slight, when my mind is rightly focused on the God of my Salvation I find I am freed to pray that the person who hurt me will also experience the grief of their sin, the cleansing pain of repentance, and the joy of being restored to a right relationship with the Almighty God.
Then, perhaps, we can both lift up our voices in praise!