How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
—Psalm 19:12-13 NLT
We humans are peculiar creatures. Quite prone to extremes. We can take a very good thing … like loving our children, and turn it into a bad thing, worshiping our children and pinning our own self-worth on how our children are doing. We may discover that a certain medicine or product or food has changed us for the better and then obsess about it until it consumes our thoughts, and we are pushing it nonstop to neighbors and friends. Some of us are so rigid, running ourselves by a highly controlled schedule, that a change in plans rocks our world. Some of us are so laid back we can’t keep appointments and forget to show up for events we actually wanted to attend. We all need help to find balance.
Today, I was struck by the verses in Psalm 19 that talk about “hidden faults.” The psalmist, David, got this one So Right. In the area of confessing sin, just as in other areas of life, we can go to extremes. We may try hard to never think about the concept of sin and excuse every mean and ugly thing we’ve ever done with rationales and explanations that attempt to absolve us from our own bad behavior. That’s one extreme and a dangerous one. We will one day be held accountable for everything we have ever done, and if we have not received Jesus’ gift of standing in for us and receiving the punishment we deserved, we will indeed pay for our sins eternally far from the God whose desire is to love us and welcome us to Heaven.
On the other extreme, we can become overwhelmed with worry about our sins. Martin Luther was in the crowd that obsessed about sins. He went through extreme self-invented punishments for himself and agonized over every wicked thought and intent in his life. When He discovered God’s grace, Luther turned the world upside down with his reformation movement. I once knew a little girl who had the problem of extreme sin obsession. She lived in perpetual worry for a season that she’d leave a sin unconfessed and that somehow that would doom her. She would constantly confess every single thought that might possibly have been a bad one and it exhausted her, bless her!
Where are you on this sin-confession continuum? Are you ignoring or excusing sinful behavior when you should be confessing and repenting? Or are you over analyzing every single thought in your head, always feeling unworthy and helpless?
Oh, there is a better way. David models this for us in Psalm 19. Let’s look at it together, so that we can choose the best way to deal with sin.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” First, we can acknowledge that it is impossible to notice every sin in our lives. None of us can plumb the depths of our own hearts. I know my motives are often mixed. I want to do good for God’s sake, but a part of me still wants to be noticed for my sake. I can’t always discern when pride sneaks in because … it’s pretty sneaky! Obsessing and overanalyzing is a great way to let the accuser of our souls enter to beat us up—and that is not God’s desire for us. Rather, let’s pray along with David: Cleanse me from hidden sins and faults, dear Lord, for I am sure I can’t find them all. Make me clean. I trust that You will.
“Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.” We must also acknowledge deliberate sins. Oh, at times we willfully act in ways we should not, even though we know better. Whether it’s lying to look good or making a snide, unkind remark about another human being … there are times when the sin is deliberate. When that happens, we need to run to the Lord, confess, and ask for His forgiveness. David goes even further. He prays, “Don’t let [deliberate sins] control me!” What a great prayer. When we notice a sinful tendency like gossip or envy or lying, let’s go beyond only asking forgiveness, but also ask God to help us break that sinful pattern.
“Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” The beautiful result of David’s method of coming to God, confessing what we know is wrong, asking for help, and acknowledging that we might not know all our sins but trusting Him through prayer to forgive those as well, leads us to a place of innocence and freedom from guilt. When God cleanses us, He does a very thorough job. We are washed squeaky clean and can move forward without guilt or condemnation in an innocence only possible through His work on the cross and His ability to clothe us in righteousness.
Let’s be free! Let’s not obsess and overanalyze. Let’s quickly bring everything to the Lord, and leave it with Him. Then, we can move on to serve Him again, fully assured that He is capable of dealing with all our sin. After all, God is our Rock and our Redeemer. Today, our prayer is straight from Psalm 19. It expresses David’s heart so well. And mine. And I hope … yours:
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
—Psalm 19:14 NLT
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service
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