What do you do when you’re sure you’ve crossed a line where God will not forgive you? “Not this time, and not for this,” you think. Let me tell you on the basis of God’s Word, if you genuinely seek His forgiveness and want be in relationship with Him, you can.
Some people ask, “But what if I’ve committed the unpardonable sin!?” If you had, you wouldn’t have the desire to come back to God. That question itself is strong evidence you haven’t.
But how do you reestablish your relationship with Him when you’ve knowingly made some devastatingly bad choices? There’s a way, and Psalm 51 points to it.
I love Psalm 51. David, who wrote so many of the Psalms, had strayed so far away, he’d slept with another man’s wife, then had the man killed. Could God forgive him? Could God still love him? Where does someone like David begin? Where do any of us begin?
First, you can’t play games with God. You can’t feign remorse, sorrow, or repentance. You know He sees right through that—right? But like David, if you genuinely want to find His forgiveness and be restored to a right relationship, here’s the way. Remember it by three “Cs.” The first is something you need to have. The next two are what you must do.
“Confidence? Where am I going to get confidence?”
You must begin with the confidence that God still loves you. Then believe you can be restored and know God is willing to restore you. You’ll find that confidence in Psalm 51, where David pours out his heart to God in sorrow and genuine repentance:
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions" (v. 1).
For a multitude of sins, David says God has a multitude of tender mercies. How could he know that? Is he just hoping this is so?
First, every word of Scripture is inspired by God. Surely the Holy Spirit reminded David that one of God’s chief characteristics is (in Hebrew) His hesed, His lovingkindness. The Ryrie Study Bible tells us hesed is used 250 times in the Old Testament. It means God’s loyal, steadfast, faithful love. God and His child are in a love relationship.
Next, God Himself had said so. In one of His meetings one-on-one with Moses, God described Himself to Moses and specifically mentioned characteristics He wanted Moses to note:
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness [lovingkindness] and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Exodus 34:6-7a
Another translation gives it this way:
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…’ (NASB)
Verse 7 continues that God will punish the guilty. But note that He tells us who He is by starting with His mercy and grace. That’s significant.
I press this point because you must get it through your head, then into your heart: this is who God is. If He handed you his business card, beneath His name it might read
Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to Anger. Abounding in Lovingkindness.
David knew he was a sinner. But he also knew God was lovingkindness personified. If you don’t start with that confidence, you won’t believe God can and will forgive you when you ask.
In contrast, there’s someone else out there doing just the opposite: Satan. If you've sinned grievously, the devil will make sure you know it. He’ll tell you God is finished with you, there’s no hope for you, God has cast you off. That’s a lie. There's nothing you can do to make God stop loving you. Remember that, and don't listen to the devil. Jesus said he’s “the father of lies” (John 8:44).
David had confidence that God is a loving father. God loves you today. I don't care what you've done or how many times you've failed—you’ve probably not committed sin in the same magnitude as David. Even if you have, you can say with David, “O God, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies….”
For great sin there is great grace. That’s the confidence God wants you to have.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightiest be justified when Thou speakest, and clear when Thou judgest.
David continues with genuine confession (Psalm 51:3-4). No excuses—no blaming his childhood, home environment, or falling in with the wrong crowd. He took sole ownership. When you confess, don’t make excuses. God knows the truth.
David not only admitted he sinned, he realized: “I've sinned against You.” God doesn’t accept excuses or alibis. David could have said,
“It wasn't my fault. My wife wasn't showing me the love I deserve.”
“Bathsheba was bathing where she shouldn't have been.”
“I just had a weak moment.”
“God, you know all of us are human.”
But “confession” means “to agree with.” In this case, to agree with God. David admits, “O God I’m guilty. Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” That’s honest confession. When we try to cover it, God uncovers it. But when we uncover it, God covers and forgives it.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin….7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51
From sin’s penalty: David asks “Wash me, purge me, blot out my transgressions.” When God blots them out, He just erases the record. It's gone. Buried in the grave of God's forgetfulness (Micah 7:19). Never to surface. If it ever gets brought up again, it’s either Satan or your conscience, but it’s not God. He blotted it out.
From sin’s pollution—He cleanses you. You're not just patched up. You're clean, whiter than snow.
If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us [hallelujah], from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
How much? All. Don’t believe the devil when he says “Yeah, but not yours—yours is a biggie.” No, it says all. “Wash me” takes care of the pollution of sin.
From sin’s power. When David says “purge me,” he means a clean-up from the inside-out, dealing with the power of sin. Not only does he take away the penalty, and the pollution, God literally purges you on the inside.
This is God's triple detergent. You don't need to carry a load of condemning guilt any more more. You can be can whiter than snow.
This is glorious. What a mighty God we serve. If you’ve been intimidated by Satan, come to the Lord with honest confidence, after confession and know that cleansing. You can be forgiven.
The times are growing dark, but they are gloriously dark because the light of Christ shines brighter in the darkest of times. Standing For Light & Truth is written to challenge Christians to stand for God's light and His truth. In this book, you will learn the causes of America's moral darkness and the destiny of those who turn away from the light. Pastor Adrian Rogers offers insights and guidance to help us know how to live with godly integrity and to shine His light in a world growing dim. "Praise God! It is growing gloriously dark. Before long our Morning Star will appear. Jesus Christ is on His way." -Adrian Rogers