Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Gift of Forgiveness (Psalm 32)

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity" (Psalm 32:1–2a).

David’s repentant soul seen in Psalm 32 should stir us to seek forgiveness and find the blessing that comes with it. Only when we are reconciled to God through the forgiveness of sins do we receive the full blessing of God. Many, however, are blinded with their hypocrisy and pride, and even some with a tragic contempt for God. They do not seek forgiveness or even acknowledge that they need it. Despite this stubbornness before God, “there is not a man in existence whose conscience does not accuse him at God’s judgment-seat, and gall him with many stings. This confession, accordingly, that all need forgiveness, because no man is perfect, and that then only is it well with us when God pardons our sins, nature itself extorts even from wicked,” Calvin wrote. Yet, in the meantime, hypocrisy shuts the eyes of multitudes, while others are so deluded with false carnal security that they are either unaware of God’s wrath or they are hardened against it.

Unlike David who took his sin seriously and presented his case before the throne of God, seeking His mercy, unbelievers err on two counts. They make light of their sins and they invent frivolous means by which to free themselves from guilt. They often try to assuage God’s wrath by purchasing His favor. They rely on their own good works to justify themselves. But man cannot purchase God’s mercy, and he cannot be reconciled to God by his own works. Only in Christ is there true forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The righteousness that is imputed to us through Jesus Christ utterly destroys the false righteousness of works.

God cannot be reconciled to those who are worthy of eternal destruction in any other way than by freely pardoning them by His grace. This grace is a gift of God and cannot be earned by fallen man. Therefore, the man who is forgiven of his sins is truly blessed by God, for he gains eternal life through the reconciliation of Christ Jesus. This gift is based on the gracious pardon of God Himself. Because perfect fear of the Lord, perfect observance of His law, and perfect uprightness of heart are nowhere to be found, all that the Scripture says concerning eternal blessedness is founded on the free favor of God, by which He reconciles us to Himself.

David acknowledged that when he kept silent about his sin the weight of his guilt crushed his soul (32:3–4), but that confession brought relief (v. 5). Can you remember a time when you experienced such crushing weight and relieving forgiveness? Remember the gift when you stubbornly hold to your sin.