Sermon for Jericho Road Church on July 30th, 2017. Notes below:
Note: This message was a part of a topical sermon series heavily influenced by a book by Richard Foster titled “Celebration of Discipline” on the topic of spiritual formation. My strong preference would be to preach expository messages straight through books of the Bible. In addition, I would not recommend either Richard Foster or the book “Celebration of Discipline” and the teaching within it. This was an attempt to create a faithful message out of a poor preaching direction and schedule.
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! (1-2)
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
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.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. (3-6)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. (7-12)
Confessing to a forgiving God
This song of David shows us that confession is a number of things. Confession is a plea for the mercy of God. Confession is an owning up to our sin. Confession is a seeking of restoration and renewal.
This song also shows us the heart of the God we’re confessing to. We see God’s steadfast love in his mercy. We see God’s holiness and justice in his judgement. We see God’s power in his restoration and renewal. We confess to a forgiving God.
Confessing to God in everyday life
Confession is good for our soul. There’s something about exposing the sin in our hearts to the light that frees us. We often so deeply want to keep dark and hidden our sin, out of shame and fear.
God has been speaking to me through this series on the spiritual disciplines, convicting me of my sin. He’s revealed a heart of pride, and a theme of hypocrisy in how I’ve been living.
Have you even been tired, really tired, not just physically but emotionally and mentally and spiritually as well? We probably call it burn out. I’ve felt like I’ve been on the edge of that for months now.
I’m a very busy person, and in a lot of ways I probably pride myself on that. I’m busy at work, and I’m busy in ministry, and I’m busy doing “good” things. But this busyness keeps me, all too often, from what’s really important.
Work can be overwhelming. I have a lot of responsibilities and there’s really no end in sight. Day in and day out, meeting after meeting, I try as hard as I can to do as best of a job as I can juggling everything on my plate.
When I come home from work, I’m so tired that I just want to do nothing. And so I sit in the front room and browse the internet or watch Youtube. For hours. And my wife, knowing I’m a zombie, retreats to the bedroom. And my marriage suffers.
Every Monday I make my way to the weekly prayer meeting. And I sit there, without really participating, because I tell myself I’m just too drained. And so I attend more out of a sense of duty than anything, since my prayer life is hardly existent at all.
I take the week before preaching to try to prepare my message. And so I research and I study and I write notes. And I ignore the fact that, if I’m honest, this is the most I’ve been in God’s word in months.
The theme here is pride. I think I’m capable of doing everything in my life on my own. I don’t need God. I just need to figure everything out and hope that he blesses my good work. And so I don’t ever trust him. I don’t ever ask him. I don’t ever rest.
Confessing this has been a process, just like realizing this was even an issue has been a process. The Holy Spirit has been revealing this to me, ever so patiently, for quite some time now. And so this is new for me, exposing this to the light.
Everything hasn’t magically been removed from me yet. This is still a struggle. I still need God’s help. I need your accountability. But a weight has been lifted. I’m starting to see God differently. Seeing his mercy, his steadfast love, his renewal and joy.
Our hope in Jesus
There’s a seriousness to our sin. There are real consequences. Lives are affected, often the lives of those closest to us. And our sin is costly. My sin, your sin, necessitated the Father crushing his Son. Jesus had to die so that we could live.
And yet, because of Jesus, we have a Father who is eager to forgive. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now know mercy. Because of Jesus, we can now know restoration and renewal. We can now be whiter than snow.