I said, “LORD, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”
The Psalmist speaks what is true. David, when confronted with his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12) likewise spoke when he said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13; see also Psalm 51:4).
It is the humble of heart that trembles at the Lord’s word and acknowledges that any goodness and righteousness does not at all belong to self. This is not an easy word to swallow, as all of us have the innate tendency to justify ourselves, even against God Himself. To not do so is to go against our human nature.
Yet this is exactly what Christians do. They struggle with their sinful flesh, with the world, and with Satan himself. They despair of themselves, however weakly, and look to Another for help.
Again, the Psalmist cries out, “Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless” (Psalm 108:12). There is none other that can deliver but the Lord.
We, however, want the quick fix, the immediate “recovery,” the cessation of struggle, and the trials to end, esp. with ourselves. We devise ways of helping ourselves to ease the pain. We try to escape, if even for a bit, from the cold hard reality in which we live (i.e. movies, books, food, etc.). We deny that we are that bad off or that there is nothing that we can do. Yet deliverance does not come by avoiding the truth, but facing it—head on.
Yes, it is true, our words and our actions, our silence and our inactions, these demonstrate our disobedience to the God of gods and Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17). Out of our own hearts come “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
It matters not if we consider our sins to be small or large. Before God, sin is sin, regardless of our “interpretation” of them. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) the Bible says. And “The Scripture has confined all under sin…” (Galatians 3:22). Being confined under sin, whether thought of as large or small, or grand or minute, judgment is our lot before God.
But Scripture has confined all under sin “that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” In other words, confined under our sin and not able to save ourselves, it is God who does the saving—through faith in Jesus Christ—of those who believe. Thus is salvation of faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And what does this mean? This means that yes, your sins are damnable before God. But Jesus Christ bore your sins and became damnable before God for you. This is nothing but Gospel. And it shows God’s abounding love for you. Because of Jesus, the Father’s condemnation has been placed on Jesus, no longer yours to bear.
Jesus’ death does indeed save you. It also shows you the enormity of your sin. But seeing your sin more clearly, as it is in truth, against God Almighty, you also see Christ more clearly. Because of Jesus, you are no longer in your sin. Because of Jesus, you have nothing but peace with God (Romans 5:1). Thus do you, as God’s people, acknowledge the greatness of your sin before the Holy and sinless God, and rejoice in His abiding mercy unto you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
“The main knowledge and true wisdom of Christians, then, is this: to regard as very serious and true these words of Paul, that Christ was given over to death, not for our righteousness or holiness but for our sins, which are real sins—great, many, in fact, infinite and invincible. Therefore you must not think of them as minor or suppose that your own works can remove them. Nor must you despair on account of their gravity if you feel them oppressing you either in life or in death. But you must learn from Paul here to believe that Christ was given, not for sham or counterfeit sins, nor yet for small sins, but for great and huge sins; not for one or two sins but for all sins; not for sins that have been overcome—for neither man nor angel is able to overcome even the tiniest sin—but for invincible sins. And unless you are part of the company of those who say “our sins,” that is, who have this doctrine of faith and who teach, hear, learn, love, and believe it, there is no salvation for you.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p35).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for looking at and interpreting Your Holy Word through my eyes that I justify myself before You. With the prophet, I also cry, “I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5). Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). For Christ’s sake, grant me your unmerited forgiveness and help me to hold on to nothing but Your righteous Word of deliverance. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.