Is an unconfessed sin replaying itself over and over in the depths of your conscience?
In His mercy, the Lord sent a friend to confront David. At last, the hidden thing was known, out in the open to be dealt with. Psalm 51 is David's prayer of confession and repentance. Here he accepts full responsibility for his sin, saying, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. . . . Blot out my transgressions . . . for I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight" (verses 1-4).
The only way to eradicate guilt is to acknowledge what we have done, take full responsibility for it, and seek God's forgiveness. If you keep covering your sin-hiding it and pushing it away-you'll never know the relief David found. He didn't blame society. He just looked himself in the mirror and said, "I'm the one. It's my responsibility."
Biblical confession provides the world's only answer to guilt.
I noticed in reading Psalm 51 that, having described sin with great intensity, David went on to describe forgiveness with the same intensity. He asked God to wash him, cleanse him, make him whiter than snow, blot out his transgressions, create in him a new heart, restore joy to his life, and renew his testimony so that other sinners might learn about forgiveness and be converted. "O Lord," he cried, "open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise" (verse 15).
When I was in high school, I worked for a hardware store. One night I realized I had accidentally kept $20 without depositing it in the register.
I rationalized that I'd been working hard and deserved to keep the money, and save my dad a lot of embarrassment. As time went by it occasionally came to mind and I felt guilty about it.
Years later, I became overwhelmed with the guilt of what I'd done, calculated the interest on twenty dollars, and sent $60 to the hardware store owner. I felt a little better; but still, I had not confessed my sin or asked forgiveness.
Sometime later, I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana; and during my pastorate there, the hardware industry had a convention in our city. One Sunday, as I was in the pulpit preaching, who should walk into the church but my former boss, Fred, the hardware store owner, and his wife.
As soon as the service ended, I took them back to my office and said, "I want to ask you a question. Do you remember several years ago getting an envelope with sixty dollars in it?"
"Yeah," said Fred, curious.
"That was from me," I said, breaking down in tears. "I want to ask you to forgive me because I took some money when I was working for you as a fifteen-year-old boy. I put it in my pocket and I took it home, and I never did repay it. I tried to repay it with the money I sent you, but I know that's not the way it's done. So I'm asking you to forgive me."
They put their arms around me and hugged me and told me they loved me and thanked me for the courage to confess my actions before them.
Forgiveness erases the tape and brings an end to the constant, tormenting instant replays of the conscience. Forgiveness brings freedom, and God grants forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. You don't have to live with guilt all your life. You can be liberated. God will forgive you, and I think most people will forgive you, too, if you ask them. But you've got to initiate the process.
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit," proclaimed David in Psalm 32:1-2.
If you've never received the forgiveness of sin and the release of the guilt of your life, you can do it today by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This article was excerpted from Turning Points, Dr. David Jeremiah's devotional magazine. Call Turning Point at 1-800-947-1993 for your complimentary copy of Turning Points.