Someone said to me, “Being a Christian must get easier as you get older.” I laughed.
As I get older, I realize the important advice of: “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.” Those who get older and retain their determination to walk closely to God will struggle with increasing attacks from Satan and increasing battles against sin.
Walking closer to God does not make sin go away. David was called a “man after God’s own heart” but he was very aware of his sin . . .
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
Being someone wholly dedicated to God does not mean becoming sinless. It means being aware of sin yet also knowing what God has done with it. David sinned greatly, but he also confessed his sin. He wrote this too . . .
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah . . . .”
God also inspired him to say this . . .
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:1–11)
I need to realize my tendency to sin yet counter that with God’s full salvation. When I was a new Christian, my mentor challenged me to study everything in the Bible I could find about sin. it was devastating to read about the moral depravity of humanity and how everyone falls short of the righteousness God requires. The Old Testament says . . .
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
The New Testament agrees . . .
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one . . . .’ (Romans 3:10–12) “There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22–23)
Rising up to God’s standard is impossible. I need Jesus Christ because without Him I fall short and am polluted by sin. This is not only about what I do, but about what I am.
David says this is true, but he also knows that God is merciful. Forgiveness and cleansing is for those who confess sin, agreeing with Him and from the heart. It is for those who can acknowledge guilt and depravity, the falling short of anything we consider righteous. It is standing with God against myself. It is saying with David . . .
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1–2)
It is also declaring and believing that through the merits of Christ’s righteousness and shed blood God is faithful and just to forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. This is the good news, the gospel.
Jesus, I do need to hear the gospel every day. It keeps me aware of at least two things: I am a sinner — and I am saved by grace. I often fail, but I am also forgiven and cleansed, renewed and adopted into the family of God — because Your blood was shed to set me free and give me new life.