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Have You Ever Become a Sinner Before God?
This is a strange question, is it not? Perhaps you will say, “Of course I am a sinner before God. Nobody is perfect. I have sinned in many ways. I have done things which I should not have done, and I have neglected to do things which I should have done.”
You are very honest. Your answer is not wrong. But the question was stated differently. The question was, Have you ever become a sinner before God? To be a sinner or to become a sinner before God are two entirely different things, as can be seen in the life of David. King David had committed some terrible sins. He had committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. He had also been responsible for her husband's death. By doing these things, David had sinned against God, but it took some time before he became a sinner before God. Instead of confessing his sins, David tried to cover his wrongdoings before God and man. It seems as if he succeeded in doing so for almost a year.
David did not have an easy life during those months. God's hand lay heavily upon him, and his moisture was turned into the drought of summer (Psalm 32:4). David's mouth was closed, but his conscience pricked him such that he lost all his joy until he found the place of sorrow and repentance! Then as a guilty sinner he bowed low in the dust. Wholeheartedly he confessed his crimes before God and man. In short, David then became a sinner before God.
Now we ask this same question once again, Have you ever become a sinner before the Lord? There is guilt in our lives, but have we ever become guilty before God's presence? Our sins make us worthy of everlasting punishment, but have we ever realized and accepted this? Have we become sinners before God?
In this article we would like to see what the Scriptures say about this topic. We shall return again and again to the story mentioned above, the story of David's repentance after his sin with Bathsheba.
1. Everyone needs to become a sinner before God.
This is clear from David's situation. If David had not been humbled in the dust, he would have continued in his perverse ways. There would have been no room for a comforting word, and the Lord Jesus would not have been precious to him. When his heart was broken, however, David heard the message of forgiveness. As soon as he cried out, “I have sinned against the LORD ,” he received the assurance, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Do we see then how important it is to become a sinner before God in the spiritual sense of the word?
Let there be no misunderstanding; becoming a sinner before God is not the basis of being saved. However, it is the way in which a person is made fit for Christ. Those who have seen a goldsmith make the setting of a ring in which to fit a diamond will know what we mean. The setting cannot be too large or too small; it has to be precisely the same shape as the diamond. In like manner, a lack, a sorrow and an empty place in the heart of a person, a deep and hearty realization of his lost state before God, make him a fit subject for the Person of the Savior. No one will ever learn to know Christ and appreciate Him, except he become a sinner before God. Otherwise the shell of the Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46) will remain closed for us.
2. A wonder is necessary in order to become a sinner before God.
King David is an example of this truth. There was guilt in his life, but he was unwilling to admit it. He did not want to lose his good name. The great king of Israel was ashamed to humble himself before his subjects. He hoped that no one had seen what had happened and that no one would ever discover the truth. He acted as a hypocrite while sitting on his throne or while worshipping in the temple. if God had not laid him in the dust, David would have remained in this sad condition. A wonder had to occur in his heart before he became a sinner before God.
It is this wonder which everyone needs. It is a wonder which God works in us without our cooperation. It is God alone who does that, for no man has the willingness or the ability to make himself a sinner before God. Does this take away from our responsibility? Of course not, but this truth shows our utter need of God's grace to work in our lives. A minister is not able to make someone repent, and no angel can make this wonder take place. However, God can do it by His sovereign will and power. It is reserved for Him to take away our stony heart and to give us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
3. God uses means to work this wonder.
King David became a sinner before God when the prophet Nathan came to him and told him about the rich man who had taken the one little ewe lamb. David became very angry at the rich man's behavior and said, “This man must surely die.” Then Nathan stretched forth his hand and said, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). It was only then that David ' surrendered. He became a sinner before God.
The Lord used Nathan in the case of David. He also uses ministers and the preaching of the Word today. God does not use nature as a means. When we go on our knees in true repentance, it is not the result of a nature walk in the woods or through the fields, although it can happen there. It is always a result of the power of God's Word and Spirit. Saul of Tarsus became a sinner before God when Jesus called to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4). It is not the outward call that makes a person a sinner before God, no matter how sincere and earnest that calling may be. But it is the inward calling by Word and Spirit that makes the Word of God lively and powerful in the heart of man (Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63).
4. Such a person does not just become a sinner, but he becomes a sinner before God.
What do we mean by this? When Judas had betrayed the Lord Jesus, he, too, became a sinner. He realized the terrible deed he had committed, threw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, and said, “I have sinned!” (Matthew 27:4). But David, as we have mentioned already, added something more, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). In what does that consist? Judas saw only that he had done evil; but David had done that which was evil in God's eye. Hear him cry in the psalm which he wrote at this period of his life, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Psalm 51:4).
This is not merely a minor detail, but it is of great importance. In the saving convictions by the Holy Spirit, it is not only the conscience that is wounded, but then the heart is shattered, softened, and broken. We come to see against whom we have sinned, namely, against a holy, righteous, and good-doing God! It is precisely this that makes sin so unspeakably loathsome, bitter, and malicious.
5. Becoming a sinner before God means that a person begins to see himself as a sinner.
In Psalm 51 David does not speak about other people. He does not speak about Bathsheba, although the sight of her had tempted him. Neither does he put the blame on Satan, although the devil must have rejoiced. David accepted full responsibility for his mischief: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). It is also remarkable that David wrote this psalm to be given to “the chief musician” and to be used in the public worship of Israel. He did not hide his sin any longer! Since he had become a sinner before God, he had no desire to portray himself differently before man.
There are people who are always disturbed about something, but it never concerns their own lost state for eternity. They are agitated about the sins of worldly people, such as abortion, drunkenness, e t c , and also about the sins of people in the church, such as superficiality, hypocrisy, and the like. These are tiresome people. But even worse, they are in great danger of going lost eternally. He who by God's grace truly becomes a sinner before God receives self-knowledge. The publican in Luke 18 was not looking at anyone else when he cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (verse 13). Later such a person will grieve about the sins of others, but that is not our subject matter at present.
6. Such a person begins to see his sinful nature.
The sin, or rather the sins, which David committed in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah, led him to see his sinful nature. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). David looked not only at the outside of his life; God made him to see the inside of his heart. By the light of the Holy Spirit, David came to see that he was a sinner, not just because he had committed one or two sins, but because he was born a sinner.
There are people who are always disturbed about something, but it never concerns their own lost state for eternity.
This is an essential part of true conversion. In a man-made conversion, one is concerned with his sinful deeds and tries to repair them as much as possible. In a genuine conversion the Holy Spirit goes deeper. Usually He begins His saving work in the heart of man by pointing at his actual sins. He convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). We begin to see what we have done in thoughts, words, and deeds. And let us not forget, we also begin to see what we have omitted; the sins of omission weigh just as heavily as the sins of commission! Was it not the language of the Samaritan woman to the people of Sychar, “Come, see a Man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29).
But there is also discovery. Then we do not only learn what we have done, but also who we are and remain in ourselves. There the Holy Spirit goes to the root of our depraved existence. Then it is not just the fruits that are not good, but then we are discovered to the deepest fountains of our lives; the darkest hiding-places of the heart are illuminated, and the very bottom of the soul is exposed. We are not sinners because we sin, but rather sin because we are sinners. And we have no excuse! God created Adam and Eve perfect, but man has depraved himself wilfully!
7. A sinner before God learns to agree with God.
This is another essential point. When David became a sinner before God, he expressed a great desire, “That Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4). He accepted his punishment from the bottom of his heart.
Here is a tender but important difference from the anxiety, fear, and terrors which belong to the common convictions of God's Spirit. When a person is convicted in a special, saving way, he not only begins to fear and tremble, but he learns to how. God does him no injustice, not even if He would cast him eternally from before His countenance into outer darkness. Oh, no, do not think that such a person starts to think and talk lightly about hell! Be careful when people do that so freely. A sinner before God does not even dare to say that word at times. But the Lord does work a sweet, quiet, and unconditional bowing in his heart and an approval of everything God does. When the uncircumcised hearts of people are humbled, they accept the punishment of their iniquity (Leviticus 26:41). Then the Lord can do no wrong, and we would like to remain lying at His feet.
8. A sinner before God asks for forgiveness and cleansing.
I f we read Psalm 51 attentively, we see that David is concerned about the guilt of his sin and the power of his sin. He prays that God would remove His guilt, “According unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (verse 1; see also verses 9 and 14). At the same time he prays that God would cleanse his heart and renew his life, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (verse 2; see also verses 7, 10, and 12).
Is this also our prayer? Some people are interested only in having their sins forgiven and receiving a free ticket to heaven. Others are always busy with sanctification. They have nothing to do with the justice of God, the guilt of man, their need of justification. They want to be like Christ, without asking themselves whether Christ is their Savior. They take that for granted. Christ, however, is given for justification and for sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). He has been appointed as Savior and King. Those who want to serve Him as King should first seek Him as Savior. And those who seek Him as Savior should at the same time acknowledge Him as King. A sinner before God makes use of Christ both unto reconciliation with God and unto renewal of his life.
9. Becoming a sinner before God is not something that takes place only once in the life of a child of God.
When David wrote Psalm 51, he was already advanced in years. His heart-felt repentance, reflected in this psalm, was not the beginning of his life as a believer. As a young man he began to fear the Lord. The chapters which deal with his early years give ample illustration of this fact (read for example 1 Samuel 16 and 17). Should we assume that David had never felt sorrow and shame about his sins until he fell into sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)? This can hardly be true. Psalm 51 is not a testimony of David's first repentance. It rather shows an ongoing process and the deepening of his spiritual life. Becoming a sinner before God is a life-long affair, something that is repeated time and again.
There is a song: “A sinner, one made free, O Lord, and now a sinner no more,” but that is not according to Scripture. We could actually say that every time God grants a new measure of His grace to a person, He first brings him to experience his guilt again. In the last chapter of 2 Samuel, we find David on his knees again. This time it was not carnal lust, but carnal pride that caused a downfall in his life. David remained dependent on God's grace until the hour of his death.
10. A sinner before God cannot rest outside of communion with Christ.
Some may now think that a child of God can live as he likes. if grace is the first and the last word, why should we strive to lead a holy life? Anyone drawing this conclusion has not understood this article. if a person becomes a sinner before God, he cannot indulge in sin. He mourns about his sin, begins to hate sin, and wants to flee from it. He feels distressed because he cannot get rid of his sin by himself. Therefore he turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, to Him who shed His blood to save His people and who sent His Spirit to reign over His people. A sinner before God cannot live in sin, whether open or secret. He can rejoice only when he lives in communion with Christ.
It is precisely David who portrays this truth in his life and in his writings. His psalms are full of Christ. He has spoken about the coming Savior, about His birth, His death, and His resurrection (Acts 2:25-31). David looked forward to Him and rested in Him, as we can see from his last words (2 Samuel 23:1-5). A sinner before God cannot rest apart from Jesus. When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and discovers to him his sinful nature, He has one ultimate objective, namely, that Christ be exalted in the hearts of His chosen ones. The Holy Spirit continually works to accomplish that end (John 16:14).
For that reason, becoming a sinner before God has nothing which makes us worthy before God. On the contrary, it makes us feel our unworthiness. It is not the basis of salvation, but it is the way in which each one who is taught by God shall be led in order to come to the knowledge of the Savior. Therefore the question once again is: Have you ever become a sinner before God?
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van maandag 1 november 2004
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van maandag 1 november 2004
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's