Christ’s Righteousness in a Violent World

Christ’s Righteousness in a Violent World

Psalm 51:10-19. Today, we look at the rest of Psalm 51, David’s Psalm of repentance. As we look to the reading of God’s word, if you would join me in prayer. God, indeed, you are a helper. And by your Holy Spirit, we ask that you would open our minds that as your scriptures are read, as your word is proclaimed, that we may be led into your truth and taught your will. Father, that you would help us to see a further horizon. Lord, that we would know the goodness and the greatness of all that you have brought forth to us, fulfilled in the personal work of your son, Jesus. For as in his sake, that would you pray. Amen. Beginning in verse 10, Creating 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 hold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguilt, O God. O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise. For you will not delight and sacrifice or I would give it. You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrived heart. O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure. Build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then will you delight in right sacrifices. In burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will be offered on your altar. The word of the Lord, you please be seated. As we looked at last week in a moment of great sin, King David pulled the pin on the Grenade and he blew up his life. He blew it up in a catastrophic way. Now, when we do something wrong, we sometimes try to put it in a better light. We say something like, Hey, it’s not like I killed anyone. Not so with David. His is truly catastrophic. The only thing left on his making it look a little better is like, Well, at least I’m not Hitler. But that’s about it because everything below him is much better. Sometimes we see this and we think that’s pretty far out there.

How can we relate to something like that? This man, after God’s own heart, he commits adultery and then murder. Remember, it wasn’t just Uriah he killed. Because of David’s scheme, some of his other faithful soldiers were killed along with Uriah. He then quietly tries to clean up his loose ends and thinks that’s the end of the matter. But God had different planets. The Bible is unlike any other ancient writing. It does not whitewash, it’s heroes and heroines. The only hero of this book is God himself. And this is good news for us because the only way that you and I can clean up the loose ends of our sin is if God does cleaning. God’s word, it levels a playing field for all of us. What we see in our sinful hearts is differences of degrees, but not kinds. We can’t look at David and go, Oh, I would never do that. Because Jesus said, if we’ve lusted, we’ve committed adulry. If we’ve hated, we’ve murdered. You see, when you’re standing in a septic tank up to your arm pits or to your neck, does it really matter how far in you are? It’s still a septic tank.

It’s gross. The stench of our sin, it reaks. And because of our polluted and sinful hearts, it separates us from the Lord, and we need the Lord to wash us and to restore us. David was powerless to undo what he had done. He could not cleanse his own heart. Joy was outside of his reach. This has a bit of a side note. You think about the people who struggle so much with the idea of God’s sovereignty, of predestination. Often what people are offended by the biggest complaint is it seems unfair. As you look at Psalm 51, you do not get the sense of God’s unfairness by David. There is a human powerlessness that Psalm 51 highlights. In a bulletin, I asked this question, When your awareness of your total dependence upon the Lord collides with your desire to be the captain of your own ship, what happens to your heart? Those two things come together. This is why we really do try and self-atone for our sin. Usually how that looks is if I feel bad enough, long enough, then I can come back to God. That’s a means of putting ourselves in control. Think about that.

When you do something that you know you’re convicted of, it’s like, Well, I’m just going to go away for a while and just going to feel bad. Then somewhere along the line, I can come back before the Lord. It’s self-atoning. It’s you controlling, to the best that you can, your ability to come back before the Lord. I mentioned last week that guilt at its center is a religious problem because it is an affron to God’s commands. The big three, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, do not give us a way to remove our guilt and our shame. They give us this another form of self-atonement. Something like, Well, just try harder. Well, do better so you can work out your bad karma through reincarnation. Well, just try to do enough good to tip the scales in your favor. It’s trying to control this forgiveness, this cleansing. It can’t be done. Christianity is unique. It stands alone because God became a man to atone for human sin. Jesus plunges Himself into the septic tank to rescue us. There’s no self-resque for David. He lays Himself out before the Lord and is entirely dependent on God’s mercy. A renewed heart, a renewed witness are far beyond his reach, and that’s exactly what he needs.

And in this renewed heart, we see following after his confession, in the first two verses, we hear David’s urgent cry of the Lord, and he speaks of, My transgressions, my iniquity, my sin. Then this is covered with these three other words. He asked the Lord for this three-fold renewal, blood out, wash, cleanse. To highlight this in verse 10, it begins then with this word create. Creating me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Create. In the Old Testament, this word create, this Hebrew word, is used exclusively of God’s creative work. You know this from the very beginning. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, creating something out of nothing. When it speaks of men and women making things, it is men build, they fashion. They fashion, they build things that already exist. They make what is already there. But God alone creates from nothing. David is powerless to create a clean heart to renew his soul. And then he goes on, he says, Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Commenting on this verse, Stuart Perrone, he says, This phrase expresses a holy fear of the man whose eyes are open to the depth of his iniquity and sin.

Lest at any moment he should be left without the comfort of the Holy Spirit, who is the only source of every good thought, of every earnest desire, of every constant resolution. It is the cry of one who knows like he never knew before, the weakness of his own nature, the strength of temptation, and then the need of divine help. You hear that come through. Then he says, Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold within me a willing spirit. Now, no doubt sin removes joy from our hearts. We all know that. When we are sinning and doing things we ought not, joy is removed. It is also true that a lack of joy leaves us into sin. It’s both and. When David was lounging on the roof around and he’s looking around, and his eye fell upon the beautiest, best heb’e bathing, his heart was not satisfied with joy in God. It’s true of all of our sin. At some level, all of our sin is giving up joy found in the Lord and finding it in something else. Now, what exactly was going through David’s mind? We don’t exactly know, but it’s easy enough to fill in the kinds of things that we would be thinking because it’s common to all of us.

It’s lonely being the king. Pressure, responsibilities, nobody understands what it’s like. I just need a little me time right now. That young woman will fill up a little of what’s lacking in my life. Yeah, she’s married, but I’m the king. Nobody’s going to know. I’m like an emotionally dried up sponge, and she’s going to provide some fresh water for my longings. Look, we can justify every sin we commit, and we do with something like that. We find a way to justify it. Every is reaching for what is an immediate joy that God, we think, is somehow not providing for us now. So we feel justified in taking it because God is withholding it from us. Ideology is finding joy in something else that we think will give us life. Jeremiah tells us in Chapter 2:13, that this indictment against Israel, For my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living water, and they have made cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. We give up the fountain of living water to make for ourselves little broken water holes filled with mud to give us life apart from God.

That’s why David says, Restore to me the joy of your salvation. That is a work of God. In the first half of this Psalm, we see words of sin are mentioned multiple times and God only once. In the second half, God is mentioned six times and sin only once. As one writer notes, sin disappears as God appears. God must do to remove. Remember, this is a psalm that’s constructed for public worship. As we come in worship, our joy is restored. As we bring our hurts, our longings, unfilled expectations to the Lord here together, the Lord attends to our joy. Joy, as you know, is more than human happiness. It can be found in the deepest suffering. There’s a paradox of Christian joy. It is found in the midst of sadness and affliction. It’s in the hard places that it gives proof to its power. I read somewhere, Joy comes easier, the more often you’re joyous. From Juliana Schmeman, she said, Joy is not lighthearted laughter, it’s an effort. A daily exercise of seeing the beauty of one’s life through thick and thin, of singing hallelujah on a happy day as well as on a day of one’s dying.

This Christian joy comes from the Lord, and we allow him to to ravage our renewed hearts. Then this gives way to a renewed witness. Verse 13, Then I will teach transgressors your way, and sinners will return to you. Now, this is not some presumptuous running to the mic and start instructing others. That confession where you make yourself the hero of your own confession, where it’s, I was lost, but now I’m found. Almighty God picked me up and set me on the rock. I’m here today to tell you all of my story by the grace of God. The words are right, but the spotlight puts it all here. Even in our confession, we can make it about us. David is not doing that. He’s a broken man. The story is really the story of a merciful God who redeems his people. Those who know their sin and their heart’s condition, they will be instructed by what they see in David’s life. Because they know their own depravity, they know their own sinfulness, that I, too, can go there. I, too, can be redeemed by the Lord. You see, if David is the gold standard and he could mess it up and mess it up this bad, there’s hope for you and I.

My sin is the same as David, though it may differ by degree. It’s the same sin. And then David goes on, he says, Deliver me from bloodguilt, O God. O God, of my salvation. And my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. The righteousness that David is singing about is God’s righteousness in justifying sinners. We see this in the words of 1 John 1, there the apostle says, If we confess our sins, he is faithfulful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteason. Righteousness. Notice the apostle says that God is faithful and just. He doesn’t say what we think, God is faithful and merciful, but faithful and just. That we’re just as the same root as righteousness. Why is that important? How often have you come to the Lord with the same sins time and time again? At some point, you expect His mercy to come to an end. But we’re told that He’s faithful and just. He’s righteous. It’s His righteousness that’s been given to us. Jesus interceding for us. So when you come one more time to that thing that keeps tripping you up. And Jesus says, Father, this sin I’ve paid for, my righteousness covers it.

I have paid the debt. It is canceled. He is justified. She is justified because of his finished work. That leads us then in the verse 15, Oh, Lord, open my lips and my will declare your praise. Even this is a work of God. The Lord acts, Open my lips, and we respond, declare your praise. This is declaring the praise of God. It’s a part of our witness to God’s grace and His mercy, which flows from a renewed heart. Now, some wrongly think verse 16 is speaking against the sacrificial system, which makes verse 19 sound a little strange. But he goes ahead and he speaks in verse 16. He says, For you will not delight in sacrifice or I will give it to you. You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. Then we look at verse 19, he says, Then you will delight in life, sacrifice in burnt offerings, whole burnt offerings, and bulls will be offered on your altar. I appreciate Calvin’s remarks in bringing this together. David had nothing to present which could purchase God’s favor. He said, The Jews, when they presented their sacrifices, could not be said bring of their own to the Lord, but rather must be viewed as borrowing from Christ the necessary purchase money of redemption.

The author of Hebrews makes so clear to us that all of this points forward to Jesus, that He can come offering these sacrifices based on what is yet to be the sacrifice of Christ, that He can stand in the presence of God for this system which is temporarily in place until the Son of righteousness would go on. Our guilt and our shame, as I said, are a religious problem. Verse 17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrived heart of God you will not despise. Sin is a violation of God’s command. Auth. And when we stop trying to hide from Him, and we stand exposed in our shame, in our guilt, and we own it, that is a broken and contrived heart. The Lord forgives. He breaks the power of sin. He removes its penalty. He cleanses us from its stain. Last week, I mentioned that self-absorbed people don’t repent, they resent. Resentment is the opposite of contrition. There’s no witness to the Lord if we are self-absorbed. We use the Lord even as a way to put the spotlight back on us. Think about when we are upset with someone, we often look for further ways to be offended by them.

So something happens and then we start going back through our memory to recast everything to work against that person who offended us and to recast ourselves as the victim. Well, not only do they wrong me, they never really appreciate me to begin with. Everything that I’ve done, they never ever really reached out to me now to think about it. They never really cared for me, and on and on it goes. But when you truly repent to the Lord, we keep seeing wrong within ourselves. We see the layers of our own sin to where we say, Not only did I wrong you, Lord, I’ve never really appreciated all that you’ve done for me. I’ve never really reached out to you, except when I was in trouble. I’ve never been really concerned with the things that you’ve been concerned about or seen your care for me, and on and on it goes. Because our hearts now look inward. We see what’s in our own hearts. A renewed heart leads into a renewed witness to the Lord. A byproduct of our confession and contrition is that we are less offended by other people. Something had happened to us that, yeah, they really blew it, but I’ve blown it too.

It completely changes everything. You’re starting on a platform of equality of sin. I’ve done that. Maybe not that same thing, but I’ve done other things. And there’s a willingness then automatically to step towards someone who’s wronged you rather than away. Croatian theologian, Mirs Lov Wolf, he said, Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans, even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah long without overcoming this double exclusion. Psalm 51 is good news in this way. It’s good news for David, it’s good news for us. It removes this double exclusion. It says that those who have wronged me are within my community of sinners, and I am not outside of it. That allows people to be able to be reconciled. Because if they are removed from me because of their sin, I can’t be reconciled to them because I’m not one of them. There is a true democracy to our sin. No one is outside of God’s reach. I certainly am not beyond the pale of what they’ve done. I am a sinner forgiven by grace.

They have the opportunity to be a sinner saved by grace. You can then step towards them, not away. Forgiveness is often the hotel suites where there are two rooms adjoined, there’s two doors. Forgiveness is saying that I’m going to open the door on my side. I can’t control if you open yours, but I’m going to keep mine open. If you open yours, praise God, we can enter into reconciliation. But when you’ve closed the door on your side, either because they are not worthy of my forgiveness or I am excluded from who they are, they can never be opened. As Christians, that cannot be. There can be no impediment to our willingness to forgive even the greatest wrongs because sin is a religious problem. It begins with God. We’ve sinned against Him. He has made Himself right with us through the personal work of His son. In the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, we have a long list. Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob, the father of Judah. And on it goes. And then we read, Jesse was the father of David, the King. David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.

You could have named her. Name Tamar, name Ruth, name Rehab. But she’s just the wife of Uriah. It’s Bathsheba. Why is she not named? Because it’s highlighting David’s sin. David, the King. David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah. Solomon is seven or eight down on the list of sons, and yet the Lord’s plan of redemption included him in the direct line of the Messiah. The genealogy Jesus is not sanitized. It’s a long list of sinners. That is good news of the Gospel because you and I blow up our lives, and there’s nothing that we do that He can’t redeem. Yes, David suffered the consequences of a lot of things in his life, to be sure, but he did not suffer the ultimate consequence of separation from God. He was restored. He was renewed. He had fellowship with his creator. He had fellowship with God’s people. And in that, that renewed heart, that renewed witness, his story is now brought into ours. That we, too, can come as a forgiven people, confessing our sins, receiving forgiveness from God, extending that to others who have wronged us. That is the joy of what God has made us for in reconciliation with Him.

There’s nothing you could do that is so far out of His reach that you cannot be forgiven. There is no one so great that the Gospel doesn’t lower you down. There is no one so low that the gospel doesn’t raise up. Brothers and sisters, that is the joy that has been given to us. I tell you, we are in a joyless world who just screams to find every little bit of broken cisterns they can piece together with the muddy water of the now to fill their lives with broken and trivial things, with a longing because we’ve been made for the Lord. That’s what we have to bring. To bring the peace of God into the world, the Son of Righteous, the Son of peace. That has been given to us now as that task, as a forgiven people to go and to offer and to extend that. That Jesus would be glorified and receive the reward of his suffering. Pray with me. Father and D, we are so thankful that you forgive us, that you cleanse our hearts, that you renew our spirits. Father, that you restore joy to us. And we pray, Father, that we, indeed, would be a joyful people filled with your spirit.

And Father, we pray that even as others have wronged us, that you would enable us to forgive. And some of us, Lord, that is a herculean task. But Father, it is up to you. It’s Your power. We pray for that. And we pray, Lord God, that as we go into this week that we would be able to do so as a forgiven people, filled with Your joy, even in the presence of sorrow and affliction, that others would know its power. And we pray and ask this all through Jesus, our risen Lord. Amen. Can you please stand together as we sing Forgiven.

Disclaimer: Automated Sermon Transcription