God can wash us and make us whiter than snow; he can blot out all our iniquities; he can recreate a pure heart and spirit in our lives. He can restore to us the joy of our salvation (12). He can make us new people. This is the miracle of his grace.
1 John 1:9 is clear: if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Every time.
Last, we make restitution to those we have hurt (13-19). David vowed to “teach transgressors your ways,” from his personal experience, so that “sinners will turn back to you” (13). He would “sing of your righteousness” and “declare your praise” in worship (14-15). He would lead the entire nation to “righteous sacrifices” as their godly king (19).
In other words, he would make restitution to the nation he has so injured. In fact, David wrote this psalm for public use by the people, not just private use in his worship. So that all would know of his sin, his repentance, and God’s grace.
We make restitution–not so that we can earn God’s forgiveness, but in gratitude for it; not so that others will forgive us, but so that we can help those we have hurt. By grace, as God has been gracious to us.
What do we do when others sin?
One last question: what do we do when others sin?
First, be honest. Nathan was honest with David, and David with the nation. Be honest with your feelings. Sin is a tragedy, and grief describes the way many of us feel when it affects us. In grief we go through periods of denial, anger, numbness, depression, and confusion before we come finally to acceptance and health. Be honest with your feelings.
Second, be humble. When Billy Weber resigned at Prestonwood many years ago, the next week a chapel speaker at SWBTS began by referencing the affairs which were in the papers. Then he pointed his finger and said, “There but for the grace of God go I. And there but for the grace of God go you.” He was right.
Third, come to pardon. Biblical forgiveness is not to excuse behavior, to pretend it didn’t happen, or to ignore it. It is to pardon, as when the governor pardons a criminal. The governor doesn’t pretend the crime didn’t happen, he chooses not to punish as he might. We come to the place where we choose not to punish as we might.
And we do this for our sakes, not just for theirs. We must eventually pardon those who have hurt us, even if they don’t ask us to or won’t admit their sin. We must release our anger and hurt, for the sake of our own hearts and souls. Be honest, don’t excuse, admit your pain and hurt and anger, but we must come over time to pardon as God does.
Fourth, guard your own soul. Learn again the truth of Scripture: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). You are not the one person who can sin without consequence. Sin will defeat and destroy you, given the chance. Guard your own soul.
Stay close to God in his word and prayer, so close that the enemy has no foothold in your life. Stay accountable to people you trust, so they can tell you when they see something wrong and help you stay right.
Last, trust in God. He is still on his throne.
Now, where does this message find you? Understand that time in church is no substitute for time with God. Church activity cannot keep your soul from sin. What you are in private is what you are. If you have sin to deal with, do it while you can.
If right now you’re thinking your sin won’t hurt anyone, that there will be no consequences, that no one will know, that you can handle it, you’re being deceived. Turn to God now.
If you know someone whom you suspect may have issues like this, pray for them and try to help them. Ask God to guide you, do this with honesty and humility, but don’t let the cancer of sin spread.
All the while, know that God is still on his throne and his grace is greater than all our sin.