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Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation

When a Christian sins, it can be a devastating and discouraging event.  This is because a Christian who sins puts his soul in jeopardy again.  He has traded the joy of salvation in Christ and freedom from sin for "the gall of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity” (Acts 8:23).  When he realizes what he has done, the grief and shame can be overwhelming.  Some sinning Christians are left despondent, and they may even become hardened and fall away.  However, most will try desperately to recover the joy of God’s salvation.

Thankfully, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides continuous grace and mercy for Christians who sin against their Lord.  When Simon of Samaria, who was a Christian, sinned against God, he was told, "Repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).  The apostle John tells us, "If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1John 1:7) and, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).  By the terms of the gospel, the blood of Christ is effective and powerful in taking away the sins of Christians who comply with the Lord’s will.

To understand how a Christian who has sinned may appeal to God for forgiveness, let us consider Psalm 51.  This psalm was written by King David long before the gospel of Christ was revealed, but the process of obtaining forgiveness is the same today under the gospel.  David received forgiveness of his sins in this way (2Sam. 12:13), and Christians may likewise receive forgiveness.

Experience godly sorrow – In Psalm 51:16-17, David wrote, "For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  When a Christian sins, God does not require him to perform great deeds in order to atone for his sin, but rather God simply desires that his heart is properly affected.  If a Christian truly grieves because of his sin, then God is pleased by this.

Confess your sin to God – Consider David’s confession in Psalm 51:3-4 – "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”  David was keenly aware of his sin, and he recognized that what made his deeds sinful was that they offended Almighty God.  Just as David expressed these sentiments in this psalm, so also a Christian who has sinned needs to express them in prayer.

Ask God for forgiveness – Most of Psalm 51 is made up of David’s pleas for forgiveness.  Notice these verses:

"Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (vv. 1-2)

"Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.” (vv. 7-9)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” (vv. 10-14)

Through Christ, Christians may also make such heart-felt appeals to the Father for the forgiveness of sins.

Repent – Just as David turned away from his sinful ways and returned unto godliness, so also Christians must do the same.  This change is indicated by David in verse 13 ("Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You”) and verse 15 ("O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise”).  Such repentance is the product of godly sorrow, just as 2Corinthians 7:10 says, "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Every Christian needs to understand these things, for all of us will need God’s forgiveness again.  John wrote, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1John 1:8) and "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1John 1:10).  Of course, we must avoid sin at all costs, but let us be prepared to cope with any sin we may commit in the future.  Let us not become distraught, but rather be encouraged, for "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1John 2:1), who will restore us to the joy of God’s salvation.

Stacey E. Durham



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