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HOW TO GET RID OF
STUDIES IN PSALMS By Al Sanders
Published in 1982 by Biola University as a ministry of the Biola Hour 13800 Biola Avenue La Mirada, California 90639
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physician's office. Smith is the doctor. Dale comes in for a diagnosis of his illness. As Smith does all of ,the routine checking, he is obviously mystified as to the basic sickness. Finally, pondering over the problem, he asks Dale, "Have you had this illness before?" Dale, obviously in pain, responds immediately with a groan, "Oh, yes, Doctor, I've had it many times!" Unable to make a proper diagnosis, Smith simply enjoins, "Well, sir, I'm sorry to have to tell you, you have it once again." The routine serves as an illustration of a sickness we all have over and over again. Man is con– stantly beseiged and beset with the greatest of all diseases: sin. As a matter of fact, ever since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, we've been plagued with the same difficulty. Sin has blighted the human race. Unfortunately, in these days, some people gloss over iniquity rather lightly, calling it simply a mistake, or perhaps not even willing to recognize transgression as an immoral impurity- falling short of .the Almighty's standards! The fact remains that sin is basically a slap in the face of God. There is nothing, absolutely nothing pretty or clever about it whatsoever. The other day we were discussing the subject of our sins with a friend. This individual was concerned because she thought as a believer, when we stand before the Lord's judg– ment seat, our sins will be revealed not only to us, but also to everyone else as well. We assured her, based on our understanding of Scripture, that she needn't worry because the revelation would simply be for our own benefit and any selfish works would be consumed. She responded by saying, "Oh, that wasn't what bothered me. I just wanted to make certain that at the time of Christ's judgment of believers, when everyone's sins are made known, I'd be standing near someone who had a really interesting past." Well, she was be– ing facetious, yet, somehow things that intrigue people most today are those items of gossip, even what is base, immoral and impure, which is sinful in the sight of God.
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amazing to realize is that David, the King of Israel, was an absolute monarch. He not only had his wives, bQt also many concubines. What eastern king would have even thought twice about any wrong in what David did? Even today, there are individuals who think lightly of taking other men's wives. Ever since 1974, our country has been occupied with the sub· ject of "Watergate." Realizing what David did, murder as well as committing adultery, his monarchy was also tarnished by a genuine scandal. Restoring Fellowship With God Every student of Scripture certainly loves Psalm 51. Every scoffer or critic knows all about it and points the finger at God's man, David. But the wonderful thing is that every devout believer can come to this particular portion and realize the God-ordained way of getting rid of guilt. Fellowship with the Lord can only be maintained through confession, cleansing and re-commmissioning. The fact is that David committed a terrible deed. But there are multitudes of others who have continually commit· ted in their minds things which could be considered far worse. This doesn't mean that David's failure was excusable. David was judged and condemned by God and bore the life-long scar of this degradation. Yet, we need to ask ourselves if we're so ready to find fault with others that we fail to see the sin in our own lives. Have you ever thought of it in this way? Without question, the greatest sin is to be conscious of none. Perhaps the reason we're so apt to point our finger at others is a subconscious hope that we can relieve our own minds about what God has said concerning transgression of His law. Guilt plays a tremendous part in much of the mental and physical illness so prevalent on every hand. One noted Lon– don psychologist, with the facts to back him up, asserted that fully 70 percent of the people in mental hospitals co'uld be released rather quickly if they could somehow find
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know, if you were God for ten minutes, I wouldn't even want to be here." You see, humanly speaking, we know absolutely nothing of mercy apart from that which has been showered upon us by God Himself. Think of this multitude of mercy for our multitude of sins. The Lord isn't a penny-pincher. He pours out His mercy liberally without being paid any price whatsoever. Old Billy Bray, the coal-miner evangelist who worked among the Methodist churches many years ago, had it right when he said, "God has given me both vinegar and honey; but thank goodness He's given me the vinegar with a teas– poon and the honey with a ladle!" He compared it to when he would come home from school in the afternoon. Being hungry, his mother might give him a piece of bread with some butter on it. But then on another afternoon when he'd come home, asking for something to eat and feeling famished, his mother might give him a piece of bread, put some butter on it and top it off with her good homemade strawberry jam. Lick– ing his lips, he concluded, "That's what I call loving kindness." You see, God isn't just kind to us, but He shows His gracious love in super abundance. Sin Is Like A Debt The second part of this verse includes the earnest re– quest, "blot out my transgressions." You see, sin is also like a debt. I remember how we felt the other day when we made our last payment to the bank on a loan that had been taken out. I went in to pick up the piece of paper and oh, how good it felt to know that the debt had been paid; the slate was wiped clean. In some circumstances however, we're not always sure th~t the obligation has been completely cared for. A friend of mme _has a teen-age son who somehow had gotten into trou– ble with the law. He wasn't a bad boy, but just happened to be at the wrong place at the right time. As a result, his name
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This word "throughly" also means repeatedly. In the first chapter of I John a wonderful assurance is given. We know that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to keep on cleansing us from all iniquity. He does it repeatedly. "Wash me throughly" has a literal transla– tion from the Hebrew as "multiply to wash me." In other words, constantly, keep it up. The Psalmist begins with iniquity. This might be as the thoughts which go through our minds, while sin might be looked at as the very deed itself. We need cleansing for both. Often we only think evil thoughts, yet they're often far worse than the actual deeds committed by others. Notice the dif– ferent words in this Psalm which are used to designate our stepping aside from the love of God. We find "transgressions" in verse one, "iniquity and sin" in verse two, "evil" in verse four and they are repeated again in verses three, five, nine and fourteen. No matter how dark the pic– ture, if we allow God to cleanse our hearts, using the search– light of His Word, He'll carefully make certain that all sin, every vestige of it, is removed. In James I :23 and verses following, we're told that many of us are just like a man who will go to his mirror, look at himself, and then go away forgetting all of the things wrong with him. Certainly none of us can see the sins of omission, much less, sometimes because of a seared conscience, the sins of commission. This is why we so desperately need the Holy Spirit.
True Cleansing Comes Only Through The Blood Of Christ
It is only through the power of the blood of Christ that we can be cleansed from our sins. David earnestly petitions, "Wash me throughly." God will not do the job half-way. I saw an interesting commercial advertised on television for a product called "Grease Eraser." Suppose those annoying
before the Lord and acknowledge our failure. It's true, He's seen them before, but if we want to be relieved, to get rid of our guilt, we'll have to say exactly the same thing about our sins as God says about them. Now, this is exactly what the word "confess" means. We are to say the same thing about sin that God says about it. We Need To Acknowledge Our Sins Individually Missionary statesman Dick Hillis once related about how the people over in China wash their clothes. He was referring to the many poor people living out in the country without electricity or any modern devices. He said that the women would take their clothing down to the riverside, placing each article on the rocks and there pound out the dirt and wash them in the stream. He used an illustration when I was a Biola student about 25 years ago. He spoke of an imaginary Chinese woman who brought her bundle of clothes, all tied up in a handy knapsack, about her neck. She simply took them in that state and, without opening the bundle, doused them in the water up and down a few times. Then she carried them home. Dr. Hillis asked the Biola students, "Do you think her clothes would be clean?" The answer was obvious. His apt point was that, when we come to God with our sins, we often present them all to Him as a neatly wrapped package, asking for His forgiveness on them all. What we really need to do is to acknowledge them individually. We are to lay them all out before Him. This is what confession really means. And you know, quite frankly, one of the greatest things for mental help and positive therapy is just this. The first thing required is to present our sins in this very fashion to the Lord. I'm sure we're all amazed with the scandals which have rocked our government. We still recall how certain public of– ficials steadfastly avowed that they were innocent- that is until their backs were against the wall. Only then did they
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confess because they had no other place to go. And generally they only confessed those things with which they had been caught "red handed." Why are we so slow in wanting to lay out things before God which He already fully knows? This reminds me of the church deacon who went astray and got drunk. A group of his fellow leaders in the church were hastily called together and sought to restore him to fellowship. After the matter was investigated they had him lead in prayer. He began rather piously, "O Lord, Thou who didst make heaven and earth; Thou who didst form man out of the dust; Thou who didst love us with an everlasting love; better than anyone else, Thou dost know how easy it is for all of us to go astray. You know the pressures that we all face. " As he went on intoning his prayer, waxing even more elo– quent, one of the rather exasperated but godly fellow deacons stopped him short with the query, "Brother Harry, why don't you just tell God you sinned and got drunk? Lay it out for Him!" He was exactly right and this is what "acknowledge" means. Covering It Up Won't Bring Peace The second part of this verse presents sin in the singular tense. I'm afraid it's all too easy for us to sear our conscience. Maybe you've heard of the Indian who was asked if he could explain what his conscience was. He thoughfully replied that his conscience was like a three-cornered sharp instrument in his heart. When he did something wrong, and knew it was wrong, it began to turn around fast and those sharp points hurt in his heart. But that wasn't the end of it. He further ex– plained that the more he did the deed and tried to overlook it those sharp corners began to wear down. Finally, after repeated involvement, no longer was his conscience bothered. The fact is that we can all sear our consciences before the Lor~. How sad that we would allow such a thing to take place and It so often does. You remember, Adam and Eve tried to blame God for their difficulties. That was the height of folly!
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written, that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings and mightest overcome when thou art judged" (3:4)1 Sin always strikes at the heart of God. Notice verse four: "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight; that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest." David is not trying to pass over the trouble he has caused to those whom he has wronged. He knew that he had sinned against himself, against his family, against Bathsheba, against Uriah, even against the little helpless baby that was born from his illicit union, for the child died. David certainly also sinned against Israel. Basic– ally, however, his sin, as is all sin, was against God. When you get right down to it, any sin is a slap in the face of God. Some time ago our newspapers carried an article with a Miami dateline about a woman who had married a man to save him from a prison sentence. It had been passed against him for earlier having shot and paralyzed her. The woman was pushed to the courtroom in a wheelchair. Now, her plea was entirely different. She asked that her husband be sent to jail. He had refused to care for her and even brazenly flaunted other women in her presence. The judge had earlier put him on 17 years' probation, ordering him to support the woman whom he had crippled as his wife. The man had already pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit murder. Well, his wife, who had become incapacitated because of his deed, found that her husband really didn't do what the judge had demanded. So, he was sent to prison for 15 years. As the magistrate passed sentence, he pointed out, "You got the break of a lifetime. You shot this girl, paralyzed her and put her in a wheelchair. You've kept out of jail on her account. You owe a debt to this community. But most im– portantly, you owe a tremendous debt to God." What a wise judge he proved to be. This is exactly what David is saying. When we sin in any way whatsoever, no matter who else is in– volved, the sin is still against God.
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cannot overlook even one of them! David readily admits, "I have done evil with the Almighty watching." The literal translation of this is, "When Thy eye was fixed on me, with the Lord watching, I fell terribly!" You see, the virus of sin lies in its basic opposition to God. For a thief to steal in the very sight of the judge is certainly the highest form of im– pudence. Yet, in a sense, this is exactly what often takes place in our lives. To injure our fellow man is sin, mainly because we thereby violate the law of God. We Were Born With A Sinful Nature Many years ago, while I was at home as a boy, I can recall hearing about a friend of our family, a man who was married with children, who had gotten involved with another married woman. My parents had spoken of the fact that this wasn't the first time he had done so. He just seemed to have a continually wandering eye. But they were rather shocked at how lightly the individual's mother had passed off the entire problem. She spoke of her son (who we'll call Freddie) in this fashion, "You see, Freddie just can't help it. He was born too handsome. Women simply can't resist him." How foolish can a person be? One thing is for certain. All of us have been born, not necessarily too handsome or too beautiful, but without question, we've all been born in sin. This was David's entire point. In the fifth verse he clearly testifies, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Make no mistake, he's not talking about some wrong rela– tionship which might have involved his father, Jesse, and his mother; nor is this merely poetic language. It is a clear and concise statement of fact. I think the Amplified Bible characterizes it even more meaningfully when we read the words, "Behold, I was brought forth in a state of iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me; and I, too, am sinful." . . ~he fact that David uses the word "shapen" - shapen in m1qmty- reminds us that no baby has to be taught how to lie,
and greatness of our Lord. Verse six declares, "Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom." Let me pause long enough to point out that whenever we find the word "behold" in Scripture, we should realize that it's God's "STOP, LOOK and LISTEN" sign. It means He wants us to pause and marvel at what He is about to suggest. What He desires more than anything else is that we remain true not only to ourselves, but also with ourselves. This inward truth is im– perative and it's a commodity which so often is lacking. I'm sure you've heard such comments as, "Well, to tell you the truth" or "Honestly, now" or "the fact of the matter is". When I hear those kinds of things I begin to wonder about some of the other things the people may have been sharing. Were they really the truth, or just some manipulated exaggeration? This reminds me of the father who had to scold his boy for some things he had done wrong. He insisted, "Now, son, I want to hear your answer and I want to hear the truth." That confused the lad who responded rather sheepishly, "Well, dad, which one do you want? My answer or the truth?" Too often do we try to fool ourselves into thinking that we've misled God. Listen, it doesn't work in that manner. There's absolutely no way that you can have His wisdom if you're not truthful with the Lord. Fooling Yourself Won't Alter The Situation Consider for a moment a doctor who examines an in– dividual suspected of having cancer. Suppose the physician finds the disease but he doesn't tell the individual about the spreading diseas'e which, if it goes along unchecked, wi_ll surely cause the patient's death. Such medical treatme_nt ~s deplorable and inexcusable. But how far worse and foohsh it would be for a doctor who examines himself with the same purpose in mind. Discovering he has cancer he tries to make
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better stores throughout the United States. It is called "Le bon Chretien." Translated, that simply means, "The Good Christian." And the way it originally got its name is from the fact that farmers who grow it claim that it's never rotten at the core. Say, what about your inward parts-your intellect, your feelings, your emotions, the seat of your mind's judgment? Are you truthful with God, yourself and with others? Do you know the wisdom of the Lord as far as your own !ife and leading are concerned? If not, then perhaps there's a need to confess some sin and be willing to find God's truth for your own need. Truth is whatever God says about anything. That's why we must keep it very carefully in mind. And wisdom, as someone has said-it may have been Mark Twain-"is what we learn after we think we know it all." Never can we come to a final settled conclusion concerning the truth of God's Word. Purging Ourselves Of Impurities After the confession there is always the need for cleans– ing. Verse seven declares, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." In the Old Testament the women were told on occasion, in fact they were commanded in the making of passover bread, to purge out every bit of the old leaven, leaven being a symbol of sin. Webster's definition of this wrod "purge" means to cleanse by separating and carrying off whatever is impure, heterogeneous or superfluous. And that simply suggests that we are to rid our lives of everything that commends itself to the flesh. In German, Martin Luther literally translated this verse, "Unsin me with hyssop ." In other words, take away my bent to evil. What is hyssop? Well, there are some very interesting passages of Scripture concerning it. The first, of course, deals with the Passover in Israel when the children of Israel were to slay the sacrificial animal. Then, in accordance with God's
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hooks. With great pain and agony they jammed them into their bodies so they might carry, with these fish hooks weighing down the flesh, the statues of their gods. It was almost more than we could bear to see. In no sense is this what David has in mind. The purging is not on our part. It's what God does for us. David is asking the Lord to wash him and the cleansing is performed by the Almighty Himself. And I can assure you, the purification that comes isn't with Dove soap, partially soap and partially cleansing cream. The Lord's washing is not even with Ivory, which is 99.44% pure. That's not sufficient for soul-cleansing. God does it with the perfect peerless blood of His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Whiter Than Snow Listen to David's words, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." The reference here is to being ceremonially clean as far as the perfect law is concerned. The washing, of course, is the reality of cleansing which comes experientially. We have absolutely no more right to blame God if there's sin in our lives than we might blame soap for all the unclean people in the world. The difficulty is that we fail so often to apply the perfect provision which has been made available for our lives. It's interesting, too, that the Psalmist uses the simile of snow. You remember Isaiah 1:18 avows, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool." I remember when we lived in Chicago just after being married 34 years ago. It was our first opportunity to see what snow really was. Nothing was ever so white as that first fallen drift. But it didn't take long in the city of Chicago before the coal smoke and the mud of the automobiles would make certain that white turned black, or at least a dirty brown. But the snow David's talking about here is an enduring purity. When God cleanses us we are
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blood? Why is that necessary? Why can't God just expunge or cleanse with water, or some other substance? Several years ago I was commissioned by the Lockman Foundation to read through the New Testament of the New American Standard Bible, which incidentally, I believe is one of the finest trans– lations of the Scriptures available today. The New Testament is now completed and is available on cassettes. It was a thrill– ing experience to read aloud the Bible. But again and again I've been reminded, especially in the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, of all the blood which had to be of– fered, with the animals slain. The reason for this is that this means of worship all pointed toward the one perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ who came as the peerless, impeccable Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Someone may still say, "But why is that necessary? Why all the blood?" Listen, the reason is that sin is so deeply im– bedded in the human race, in us personally, that it cannot be cured by anything less than the death of the innocent One. The old life has to die. God doesn't improve it. There's no way this can be done. The gospel song has it correctly, asking the melodic question, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but the blood of Jesus." You see, a right view of sin will always give us a right view of God. No snow is so white in the eyes of saints and angels as a soul who has been cleansed from sin in the sight of God. The Promise Of Joy And Gladness Now, the result of this cleansing is even more exciting to con– template. Just stop to realize for a few moments what the Lord has done for us. In verse eight, David anticipates, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Make me hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast broken may re– joice." In essence he's declaring, "Say something to me, God. I can't hear you." You know, it may be that in your own life
there seems to have come a coldness between you and the Lord. It could well be that sin has separated you and your God. The heart that seems weighed down, the body which feels at times physically crushed, can be made to experience joy and gladness once again. Why ought it to be as David has suggested here, that we should be made to hear joy and gladness? Let me underscore the word made. Actually, these are the two things, joy and gladness, that all individuals most definitely want. We might use our more common synonyms of contentment and satisfaction. This is what the Psalmist is talking about. Well, very simply, the problem is because of the sinfulness of the flesh. We so often long after the things of the devil and the things of this world. In this way we lose sight of the fact that the only way we can find joy and satisfaction in this life is through the power and the presence of God's Holy Spirit. You remember, recorded earlier in this book, David had written that God, as the Good Shepherd, actually made him to lie down in green pastures. Here again one would ask the question, "Why would God have to make us to lie down in those fields for which the sheep are constantly searching?" The reason is that so often we go off on our own, trying to find that which satisfies, not realizing that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can completely and entirely satisfy apart from a knowledge and a right relationship as believers with the Lord Jesus Christ. Are We Deaf To God's Voice? I'm sure you've read ecology reports in newspapers and magazines on how this world is constantly being surfeited with an over-abundance of noise. As a matter of fact, sounds have increased to such a tremendous pitch of ascending decibels that our young people are actually going deaf far earlier than their time. Many predictions have been made that by the time most young people reach 40 years of age they'll
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have a hearing less advantageous to them than today's generation of 65 year-olds. And you know, what's true physically is often true spiritually as well. There are a lot of people who have become absolutely deaf to the things of God's truth. Unfortunately, many of them, in earlier years did listen to His voice, but now a coldness has swept over them. Oh, the prayer of David should be the concern of our hearts that He would make us (if necessary even force us) to hear joy and gladness. Only in this way can we find the satisfaction He so definitely wants to give us, and which we so desperately need. Notice that word "joy". And while you do, be sure to keep in mind that it's not the same, nor is it even synonymous with the term "happiness." There is a song, I think it was written by George Gershwin, that seeks to encourage, "Come on, and let's get happy." What the lyricist is talking about is that we should surround ourselves with friends, money, social prominence, anything that would make us happy. But you see, joy isn't conditioned by outward circumstances. Joy For The Despondent At the rock of Gibralter, standing at the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea, there are two currents which flow in that great body of water. There is a current which comes from the Atlantic Ocean and flows into the Mediterranean. Then too, there's a current flowing out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic. Both of these strong forces are in the same body of water, constantly running contrary to each other. Yet, they still exist in that great vastness. Think of that illustration in connection with your own life. It may be that all about you things are dark and foreboding. You are besieged and beset with problems and perplexities. You may not have any of those items which would make you want to sing, "Come on, and let's get happy." But with the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior you
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hindering you in your fellowship and service. They cause you to be depressed. Do you have anything that makes you im– mobile? Sometimes the "broken" aspect is necessary so that as the pieces are knit together it gives God the time and op– portunity to speak to our hearts. True conviction of sin normally will carry both physical as well as the spiritual effects. David certainly knew exactly how this worked and how the results came to him. Joy and gladness are really the certain and inalienable rights of the in– dividual whose sins are forgiven. They are his positive posses– sion when fellowship with the Lord has been unbroken. It isn't something that comes as the pastime of the ages. Actual– ly, it's the perfect privilege of all who know the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. And I'll tell you one thing, there's never going to be any kind of a trace of headache the morning after when these broken bones finally come to know joy and gladness once again through the power of God's Holy Spirit. Are We "Audience Sweeteners?" One reason why we should want joy and gladness in our lives is because these things are infectious. I was amazed a year or two ago to meet a man who has a most unusual oc– cupation. He's what is known as an "audience sweetener." That's right, an "audience sweetener." You see, what he does after a comedy show has been completed on video tape or film, is go into a small studio with all of his electronic mechanisms. He has an endless variety of tape recorded sounds of laughter, applause and the like. The laughter can be anywhere from a few voices to a thunderous guffaw. He watches the comedy program, which may or may not have any audience reactions on it at all and he puts in the sounds where he thinks they'll be effective. The philosophy behind this is that when the program comes out over the television screen, if you hear other people laughing, then you think surely the joke or sequence must be funny and you start
laughing, too. Sometimes these laugh tracks are played in front of a studio audience. They're not even aware of the fact that they're hearing it come out over a loud speaker system. It sounds for all the world like other people in the studio with them. It's all done just to get the audience into the feeling of laughter. So, you see, joy can be infectious. And as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should want to be "audience sweeteners" as it were, making the sounds of rejoicing. Too often we are hypocritical in the sight of the Lord and before others. Guilt Can Be Removed Now, as we look at verse nine in Psalm 51, we find another petition David makes. He seeks to have the guilt and the stain removed from his life. How we need this, too. He says, "Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine in– iquities." Have you ever stopped to realize that if God can't see our sins, then we can't see them either? In this way, the guilt can be completely removed. There's an old story you've probably heard before. Doubtless it's apocryphal but it does illustrate a point. It con– cerns a man who is greatly disturbed because his wife has been nagging at him constantly. He commisserated to his friend, "You know, whenever my wife gets mad and upset at me, she always gets historical." His friend laughed at him and corrected, "You've got that a little mixed up. You don't mean that she gets historical, you mean that she gets hysterical." The brow-beaten husband affirms in response, "No, I mean she gets historical. She keeps throwing up the past to me." Well, unfortunately that may be true in certain homes. But God never does that. When our sins have been confessed and when they've been completely cleansed thereby, God's face can no longer see them. It's really tragic, I think, that we're so anxious to se~ ~r at least to hear about the sins of others. I don't know why it is that people have such a morbid curiosity about the trans-
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gressions and iniquities in which others have become in– volved. If you don't believe it, if it sounds like an exaggera– tion, just take a look at.the headlines in any gossip magazine. This is why the Bible warns us that we should rejoice not in the sins of others, but rather to rejoice in the truth of God. So, as we come asking for cleansing, we can have the confident realization that the guilt has been completely removed. God no longer looks upon sins now confessed and cleansed. David is praying, "Blot out all my iniquities." There's been a familiar commercial on television con– cerning a certain paper towel company. In 30 amazing seconds it's shown to be superior not only in soaking up all liquids, but also it goes on to scrub without the towel falling apart. I'm not here to vouch for the product, but listen, God's cleansing does far better than any product man may develop. His isn't just a paper towel cleansing, it's absolutely and amazingly a means of complete cleansing for our hearts and lives. No Need To Dwell On The Past If God can't see our sins, why should we? Why the mor– bid desire to keep dwelling on the past? These things have been confessed and cleansed! We need to realize that it's simply an insult to God to claim that He can't do anything about our sins. That's in essence what we're saying when we keep bringing up the past. I've so often talked to people who have asked God for cleansing but they still bear the terribly oppressive feelings of guilt. They might say something like, "Yes, but you have no idea of the things that I've gotten involved in." Generally it's something that has an immoral, sexual or monetary background. Look at the third word from the last in this ninth verse of Psalm 51, the word "all." Let me ask you, is there any sin God can't cover? Remember, He's both willing and able! The question is, are we ready to bring our sins to Him?
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us, we may feel God ought to do something about it in others. Haven't you questoned, at least to yourself, "Why doesn't God change her?" or, "Why doesn't God change him?" In actuality all the while it's really we who need the changing. The older I get the more convinced I am that one of the greatest temptations of the devil, and one of his most successful, is to become critical, finding fault and being cynical about things and others. Perhaps you've heard of the chronically critical man who went by the taxidermist shop. He saw in the window an owl which had been placed on a perch. Immediately and in his usual critical attitude, he began telling his friend what was wrong. The taxidermist evidently wasn't a very good crafts– man because the owl was obviously stuffed all wrong.The feathers were ruffled unnaturally, and the very stance of the bird on the perch was incorrect. Then, all of a sudden, the bird blinked and flew away to another part of the shop. Chagrined, the critic shut up and walked on. Let's not always be finding fault. Let's not always be looking at others, think– ing that they should change when we're the ones needing the touch of the Lord. We should be praying, "O God, create in me, give me, place within me, a right spirit." Do you ever feel you need your batteries recharged or renewed? I've a business friend in Atlanta who told me the other day, "If I can just make it to 2 o'clock Wednesday after– noon, then I've got the week licked. I'm closer to Friday than I am to Monday." What he had in mind was the fact that it seems too long between Monday morning and Friday after– noon with the anticipation of the weekend and two days without pressure. Maybe life has become a thing of drudgery for you. A few years ago I read an interesting comment in the "Dear Abby" column. It seems an individual had written, perhaps rather facetiously, to inquire, "How can one get the spark!e back in his eye so that he can enjoy again some of the experiences of earlier youthful days?" "Dear Abby"
thoughtfully wrote back, perhaps not fully realizing what she was suggesting, and pointed out, "Why, to get the sparkle back in your eye, you'd have to be born again, going back and starting life all over again." Well, she was right, although she may not have realized the spiritual truth in her statement. We need to have God create, to go back and make out of nothing once again, that clean heart. You can be sure, He's not going to make over an old one. Asking For That "Right Spirit" In Our Hearts Modern science is very adept at implanting heart pacemakers, by-pass valves and even transplanting hearts. We're thankful for these advancements and achievements, but no development is nearly as good as the original heart with which we were born. So, the picture is that sin has destroyed this perfect relationship with God. We've got to call on the Creator, who originally made things out of nothing, that He might once again put that right spirit within our hearts. Do you have a right spirit? That simply means, are you able to evaluate things for what they really are? In the original Hebrew, the word for "right" here means that which is erect, that which is made to stand up. We all realize that there are certain things today which aren't correct or upright. They aren't straight! The lines are crooked and the involve– ment of people who have steadfastly proclaimed things to be correct has actually been shown to be erroneous, and many times grossly so. This is why we need to have this renewal, and it's the renewal God has graciously promised to us. Sometimes there's no way to make restitution. David's sin, you remember, caused him literally to put Uriah to death. It was murder! After the deed was done, there was no way David could make restitution to Bathsheba's husband. He was dead. You just can't unscramble a scrambled egg! So here, he has to ask for the c,reation of what was not there at
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all or what may have been only in a sadly feeble state. And remember, God's the only one who can do it. Fellowship With God Depends On Confession Perhaps one of the greatest problems facing people with mental difficulties is the terrible feeling of loneliness. This comes not only to those who are up in years, but also to young people as well. Life has tricked them, as it were, and they have the impression that they've been left out of the mainstream. In verse 11, David prays, "Cast me not away..." Literally, he's saying, Don't reject me." There is a realization that the only way to find contentment and satisfaction in life is to be made in union with God. And that can only be consummated when we come as believers, con– fessing our sins and seeking the cleansing which God alone can give. Being "cast away" suggests a coldness and a finality. It bothers us when it happens in our own lives, and yet how often we treat the Lord this same way. See how desperately alone we would be if first of all God had cast us away from His presence. What if He didn't want to see us any more, and even went so far as removing the Holy Spirit from our presence? Fellowship With God Cannot Take Place In A "Dirty House" First of all, don't ask of the Lord to dwell in your life if your house on the inside is dirty. I remember some of the houses we've been in over the years through Bible conference ministries, particularly up and down the Pacific coast. Some of them are very beautiful, but I.can remember several where it was evident that the household wasn't really concerned about how things appeared. First things must come first. David had come asking for cleansing. And now he comes for the assurance that he'll not experience loneliness - even beipg in a crowd of people, even
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The Holy Spirit's Ministry Of Deterrence There's another important aspect to the ministry of the Holy Spirit today.I am convinced, thoroughly convinced, that the only real deterrent in the world today is not the United Nations, nor is it NATO nor is it the Strategic Air Command. But rather, it's the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. When He is finally taken away, when His restraint is removed from believers, because they'll have been raptured to Glory, then this world will see tribulation such as no mind could possibly fully conjecture. Speaking of the Rapture, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day (that is the day of Great Tribulation) shall not come except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God sitting in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." And then in verse seven of the second chapter we read that "the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only He who now letteth will let,until he be taken out of the way." This refers to the Holy Spirit who will no longer keep His restraining hand of righteousness upon this old world. This will certainly usher in the terrible time of tribulation upon the earth. Walk In The Spirit Now, we have some tremendous responsibilities as believers. God has given us the Holy Spirit, but He hasn't done so frivolously or without some directive purpose. Gala– tians 5: 16 reminds us that we are to walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Again, in Ephesians 5, there's a similar testimony which reminds us that we are not to be drunk with wine wherein is excess, but we are to be fill– ed with the Spirit of God. And this is the privilege each of us has as believers.
Let us not be cast away. God isn't going to remove His Holy Spirit from us if, by faith, we have received Jesus Christ as Savior. But we can be put on the shelf. We can grieve the Spirit of God. We can certainly quench Him so that His in– fluence is diminished and minimized. At times perhaps we can feel the ultimate coldness in our own spirits with our in– dividual relationship to the Lord. This is why David goes on to pray in the 12th verse, one of the most familiar petitions of the entire chapter, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit." Now those words, "free Spirit" could perhaps be best translated a "willing spirit." We'll talk more about that a little later. Think for a moment about this aspect of restoration. It means to go back to the starting point. I've been interested to see how nostalgia seems to be back in and so popular. People are saving old Coke bottles and even posters 30 or 40 years old. There is a great interest in the revival of old radio pro– grams. Just think of all the things being brought back again. Old cars are certainly in. My wife told me that some of the clothes she kept in her closet long enough, she can now wear again. (I like that.) Furniture, antiques are coming back in. In fact, it's hard to find qualified people willing to restore them, there are so many people interested in antiques. It's even popular to try restoring our physiques. But of all the products on the market intended for restoring these different things, there's absolutely nothing which can restore our souls. That is, other and apart from the prayer of confession and cleans– ing which David offers here. Notice that he's saying, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." He's not talking about the assurance of salvation. He is not talking about the understanding of salvation, but rather the satisfaction that comes from it. No doubt, the ma– jority of those in our listening audience know and love Jesus Christ as Savior. But what about your personal relationship to Him? I wonder, h~s the sparkle gone out? ls the j.oy miss– ing? You know, if you truly received the Lord by faith, then
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God will never take away His Holy Spirit from you. Doubtless you have the realization of salvation and are eter– nally secure in that confident understanding. But, still, joy can be missing in your life. When you get right down to it, joy is the one commodity Christians uniquely possess and should show to the outside world. It's one dimension that the world is lacking. Joy Will Not Come Before Forgiveness Make no mistake; you can never have joy without first of all having forgiveness. The one absolutely cannot precede the other. There's no other order to be experienced what– soever. It's forgiveness first. So, if you need joy in your life, follow the pattern God, through His Holy Spirit gave to David. This came as a result of his great sins of murder and adultery. If he could be forgiven of those, so can you find cleansing and release from your guilt and shame. Now we see here the joy of Thy salvation. It's not my salvation, my church's, my mother's or my wife's salvation, but it's God's salvation and His alone that can bring joy and satisfaction. There are so many things on every hand that can depress us. Just look about anywhere in the world and see the multitude of perplexing problems facing every aspect and avenue of our existence.The thing in mind, however, is does the knowledge of salvation excite you and bring you true and lasting contentment? It can if you look to the Lord for the blessed truth. How can God restore that which He didn't take away? Oh, He does it by His Spirit in love and faithfulness. And the only way to have comforting evidence that we are His children is by doing that which we know to be pleasing to Him. This is why David prayed, "And uphold me with a will– ing spirit." Now, that we need to be upheld shows a definite weakness. Even the strongest of us experiences times of being overwhelmed. Let's not be so quick to condemn David for
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so often completely overwhelming. In his distress he cried out, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." The wonderful and assuring part of it is that God never despises a contrite heart. If you come to Him in this manner, He'll never turn you aside. There's Restoration For the Backslidden Robert Robinson, author of the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" fell into sin. It wasn't long before he lost the happy communion with the Savior which he had once enjoyed. The very song he had penned became distasteful to him. In his declining years he wandered into even deeper byways of iniquity. But you can't keep going in this direction without a day of accounting. Robinson, as a result, became deeply troubled in spirit. Hoping in some way to relieve his mind, he decided to travel. In the course of his almost aimless wandering he became acquainted with a woman who was a dedicated Christian. As they talked, she soon realized he was extremely well informed on spiritual matters. Hoping to help him out of his morose despondency, she showed him a copy of her favorite hymn and asked what he thought of its message. To his utter astonishment he found the song to be none other than his own composition. Bitterness again welled up in his heart. He tried to evade her question, but she continued to press for a response. Suddenly, he broke down and began to weep. With tears of remorse, built up over the years, streaming down his cheeks, he explained, "I'm the man who wrote that hymn many years ago. I'd give anything to experience again the joy I_knew then." Although greatly surprised, the faithful Chris– tian counseled and assured him that the streams of mercy so prominently mentioned in his song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," were still flowing in abundance. He was deeply touched, and as history records, Robert Robinson turned his wandering heart back to the Lord.
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away in 1950 that I was truly able to have compassion with others in the similar loss of their loved ones. And this is what the Bible means when it assures us that God wants to comfort us in all our tribulations so that we may in turn comfort others in the future who may have to go through similar difficult trials and hard experiences. Is God's Truth Apparent In Your Life You know, there may be one reason to explain why some people don't become Christians today. I think it's simply because the teaching of God's truth so often isn't being related out of true personal experience. Perhaps you've heard of the very pious substitute Sunday school teacher whom most people in the church knew to be nothing more than a hypocrite. The class was his one opportunity to show off his questionable knowledge. During the course of the lesson he asked, "Boys, why do you suppose people say I'm a Christian?" There was obvious silence. Finally, one little fellow who probably didn't realize what he was saying responded by declaring, "Well, sir, maybe it's because they don't really know you." Would this be an evaluation others could make of us? What has God brought us as a vital experience in our lives? We're to teach God's ways, not our ways. Too often we may get the erroneous idea that the experience of discipling others belongs to the preacher, the evangelist, the Bible teacher or the Sunday school leaders. The greatest blessing for any life, and certainly the greatest joy that can come to heaven, are when transgressors have seen the light of God's truth. God Can Bring Victory From Defeat Now notice the abundance of personal as well as divine pronouns. I want to teach Thy ways. Throughout the entire chapter we find this situation of personal, intimate fellowship
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536,870,912 people would be reached for Christ." Can you imagine it? That's more than half a billion! And keep in mind, that's if just one person did it to one other person and the force was multiplied in that way as souls were won to Christ. Think what would happen if 10 of us did it, or 50, or even 100. This is disicpleship not by addition, but by multiplication. That's the only way the job can get done. The greatest danger facing us today is that because of sin, men turn away from Christ. Nathan had to tell David, you remember, as recorded in II Samuel 12:14, "By this deed (the evil deed of taking Bathsheba and having Uriah killed) you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme His name." The greatest detraction of the gospel actually comes from Christians who live sub-normal spiritual lives. Are we really willing to teach God's truth to those who need to know the way of righteousness? God Must Exact Judgment For Sin Verse 14 pleads, "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, 0 God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness." Now the allusion here is to the guilt of sin. It clearly shows the necessity of shedding blood or taking innocent life to atone for iniquity. In Genesis 9:5, 6 the law of capital punishment is firmly established. I'm surprised how many people say that capital punishment is contrary to God's law. It's not whatsoever. It predates the Ten Commandments and has never been set aside by the Lord. I think we've taken too light a view of sin. Consequently there may be a conscious or subconscious desire to overlook the penalty. Maybe we're like the unknowing old dowager who said she beleived in capital punishment, just as long as it wasn't too severe. Listen and mark it down well, God must exact judgment for sin. Years ago, Albert Barnes wrote these words "We cannot . ' mdeed by penitence recall those whom we have murdered. We cannot restore purity to those whom we have seduced.Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66
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