Reflections of the Pastor

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me.” [Psalm 51: 1-3 (ASV)].

          The burden of unconfessed sin is heavy and destructive. In the verses before us, David admits to the bitterness of his guilt. He pleads for God to deal completely with His sins.

          First, he asks God to “blot out my transgressions.” Guilt is the initial by-product of sin. Guilt haunts our conscience because we know we have done what we ought not to have done. We did not sin out of ignorance, but out of a personal choice we made in our hearts and minds. So, the first step in removing one’s sin is a plea for its consciousness to be blotted out.

          Secondly, he asks God to “…wash him thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Observe that the terms “iniquity” and “sin” are singular in number. This stands in sharp contrast to the multiple “transgressions” confessed in verse 1. The Psalmist is admitting to the fact that the sin that contaminates his life is more that acts he has done. There is a deeper issue at stake. He recognizes that deep in the recesses of his heart and mind, sin has a disposition or attitude that ever resists the will of God.

          Here lies the real culprit that takes us down into destruction. Many persons are willing to admit their mistakes and even ask for forgiveness when they are exposed. But acknowledging the nature of rebellion against God that still remains in our hearts is far more difficult. It is not just a matter of asking forgiveness. The “iniquity” and residing “sin” must be washed thoroughly from our hearts. It must be cleansed from our being.

          This deeper cleansing is something only God can do. The first step is to acknowledge that this residue of sin remains in one’s heart. Here our confession is not, “I have sinned”, but “I am a sinner!” We are not asking for forgiveness, but for divine cleansing.

          As amazing as God’s grace is, there is yet another benefit. The Psalmist pleads with God for his broken bones to rejoice once again. Sin affects not only the spirit of an individual, but the physical body health as well.

          The Psalmist is familiar with this issue. In Psalm 6:2, he pleads, “…heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.” In Psalm 22:14 he declares, “…all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” In Psalm 38:3 he says, “Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.”

          If we would spend more time with God over our sin issue, we would spend less time with the doctors and on medicines.

Lord, give us hearts to seek You for health’s sake. Amen.”

—written by Rev. Ivan L. Schwenn, Pastor, St. John’s UM Church in Tucson, AZ-Sept 2002—

   Rev. Ivan Schwenn, Posted October 23, 2022