Psalm 51: 10-17, “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 uphold me by Your generous Spirit, Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.”
The heart is where the action is in all of physical life, and yes, the physical heart, centered in our torso, operating at the direction of the brain which sends those electrical instructions and stimulations to the muscles of the heart, pumps blood in a rhythmical, steady way throughout our body. As the blood courses through our body, it carries food and nourishment, it carries oxygen, it picks up trash and waste and delivers that to the organs of cleansing and purification. Without the heart doing its job, our physical life is dead.
The spiritual heart is also where the action is in all of spiritual life, and it is the center of our spiritual life. Without the spiritual heart doing its job, our spiritual life is dead.
But, both with our physical lives and our spiritual lives, there is one more important, most important, fact: God numbers the days that our physical heart pumps blood and sustains our physical lives (Psalm 139: 16b). God also opens the spiritual hearts of men to heed the Gospel of Jesus, to know Truth and to believe Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 16: 14), and by this process, the Lord, the Lord only, adds people to the church (Acts 2: 47b). Therefore, both with the physical heart, and the spiritual heart, God is in charge: he defines how long we will live physically, and he opens our hearts to heed the Gospel of Jesus. Yet, there is one distinction both in physical life and in spiritual life and that is the matter of free will: one can choose to preempt God by suicide to end physical life, and one can choose to heed or reject the Gospel of Jesus.
So what is really going on in our hearts, all through our lives, is the war of good and evil, the war of choice (the exercise of the right and power of free will) between the Gospel of Jesus and the plan of Satan to bring evil to the seed of Adam (see Genesis 3: 15).
We see this so vividly in Psalm 51, where David is in repentance, for his great sin with Bathsheba and Urriah, before the Lord. In this Psalm 51, King David is confessing his sin, acknowledging that is against God, and God only, that David has sinned. In his confession, and repentance, David confirms this central truth, this foundational truth, of life, that the heart is where the action is, the fountainhead of where things happen in life.
Let’s look more closely at Psalm 51: 10-17, just this part, which is the plea of King David after repentance.
Foundationally, in Verse 14, King David proclaims that God has authored David’s salvation: David refers to it as “Your salvation”.
Then, notice in Verse 10, David asks God to bring him cleansing and renewal. Notice that the renewal of a steadfast spirit comes after the cleansing of David’s heart.
And see in Verses 16-17, that even while under the law, David had learned the lesson of King Saul, his predecessor (I Samuel 14: 22-23) that sacrifice was meaningless in the face of disobedience, that what God was really after, in order to have obedience, was a clean heart, one broken from loyalty to the world and sin, one contrite and repentant before God.
Then notice in Verse 11 that the renewal of steadfastness is accompanied by the presence (not just an occasional visitation) of God in David’s life, showing us the application of the principle (James 4: 8) that as we draw near to God – and surely, after such sin, King David was rushing to get back to God – He will draw near to us.
Also notice in Verse 11 that the renewal of a steadfast spirit in David was also accompanied by his cry for the commitment of the Holy Spirit to King David, for all the things that the Holy Spirit is empowered to do: guidance, conviction, companionship, mentoring, comforting, etc. David knew that he needed the Holy Spirit as his ultimate accountability partner, in order to maintain a cleansed heart, a steadfast spirit, because he knew the conseqences of bad choices, in the exercise of free will, in his life!
Then, in Verses 14 and 15, history is written of the result of such cleansing, such purification, of David’s heart: His lips sing of God’s righteousness and his mouth praises God! This passage reminds us of Jesus teaching us that out of the fullness of our hearts do our mouths speak, or sing (Luke 6: 45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”).
Now, finally, we see where this lead David, where it leads us when we get our hearts purified, our hearts in the right place: Verse 13: “Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.” [And I would say “other” transgressors and sinners, like you and me.] You see, David’s conviction,
confession, repentance and cleansing of heart, by which he received God’s mercy and forgiveness, by which David’s heart was mended, by which he was washed thoroughly from his sins, added another chapter to the testimony, the history, of his life.
This new chapter – even for a King disgraced (imagine today with Twitter, Face Book, Internet Blogs, TV, even film in Hollywood,) by such public and grievous sin – further empowered David to teach and evangelize and disciple others, to bring them through the same process. [And I do not recommend that you go and sin more that grace may abound all the more – see Romans 6: 1-2.] Without this sin, David would have been almost “perfect”. God did the same thing here that he did with Joseph (and we cannot find the imperfections in the record of Joseph’s life), as reported in Genesis 50: 18-20): God took what the enemy intended for evil and made it into something good. This is confirmed for us in the New Testament, in Romans 8:28, “and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Many Christians don’t like to talk about the stories of David’s gross sins of adultery and murder. But this testimony of David is preserved by God in Holy Scripture for a reason, that we should learn from this testimony – indeed, we are among those other transgressors and sinners, Verse 13, that David has taught through his testimony the ways of God, and has helped us in making the choices of conversion to God. You see, all so many centuries later, God has still been making good out of what Satan intended for evil in David’s life. What has facilitated God in making such use of David’s sins: it is because David loved God (Romans 8:28) and therefore, obediently believed, acted and spoke, unto conviction, confession and repentance. In David’s brokenness with his sin, God cleansed David’s heart, renewed his steadfastness not to sin again, and put him back into the battlefield of life, the battlefield of good and evil. And everytime thereafter that David gave his testimony, he could not ignore the story (and his audiences may well not have let him ignore) the story of the beautiful Bathsheba, and the covetous king, covetous even to sexual harassment of a kingdom subordinate by way of adultery with his close friend’s wife, and the murder of his brave and close friend, General Urriah. And out the ash heap of that testimony arose newness of life, as God faithfully and justly (I John 1:9) ministered mercy, forgiveness, healing, cleansing, renewing, strengthening. In these ways, God ministered hope to David, and even today that story, even from the Old Testament, ministers hope to us. Hallelujah!!
Matthew 5 gives us such divine instruction about the heart, spiritually: In Verse 8, Jesus testified that the pure in heart are blessed because they shall see God! Yet in Verse 28, Jesus showed us what impurity of heart looks like: “. . . whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That impurity of heart is not just temptation, which is the beginning of the sin cycle, but rather that impurity of heart, that staining of the heart, that adulterous lust, is the result of the sin cycle described in James 1: 13 – 15, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor (and I would say, ‘therefore’) does He Himself (not) tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
So, where are you in your heart: is your heart cleansed, is it purified? Have you done the work of purification of your heart (see James 4:8) to rid yourself of double-mindedness about sin and righteousness?
Do you need to do some of that work today, at the foot of the Cross? David gave us the example, and it started with conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment. Will you receive God’s
conviction, today, for areas of sin in your life? Will you have the courage to lay it out before God, to confess your sin, and to trust him to cleanse and purify your heart, to heal and renew and strengthen you? Will this be the day of new beginnings for you, with your testimony enlarged, and strengthened, to be used by God, even in spite of your sin, to teach the ungodly and encourage them to choose conversion to God, to reach the double-minded believers and get them solidly on the rock of Jesus? Do the work today, but look ahead and see how God, who created you for his purposes, who numbered your days before you were conceived, who has called you according to His purposes, who wants you to love Him, will, if you will love Him like David even unto embarrassing obedience, take that which Satan intended for evil, and make it good, not just for you, but for those who would learn from you, who would follow after your example and teaching!!
Let us pray, and if anyone wants personal prayer with me, please just come forward, just come from your seat and we will pray together.
God bless you and amen+