Continuing with the answer to Boston’s fifth question to himself, “Why the Lord suffereth sin to remain in the regenerate?”, let me pose the dilemma once again, but in different terms. Are we not to strive against sin? Do we frustrate God’s “plan for our life” with our lack of conformity to or transgression of his law? Yes, we are commanded, “be holy as your Father in heaven is Holy.” However, with contentment in God’s sovereign will, we understand that his plan for our life is secret and most often contrary to our striving. Apart from the example of Christ, there is no other figure in scripture that can be better used as a model for our life than David. Christ as our archetype, the perfected being, and David is our prototype, the being which contained flaws which are used to refine him and us.
God used David’s sin to refine him first. When we think of David, the image of his faith and courage when he battled Goliath comes to mind. However, what is most practical to our faith is David’s battle with sin. Goliath was a pushover, compared to David’s pride. Today we would say that David had “a problem with women.” Self control was not one of his strengths. To humble David, God would use a most violent means. You know the story, David committed adultery, had the woman’s husband murdered, and then took her as his polygamous wife. David was riding high on his sins. The depth of David’s sin correlated directly with the height of how God glorified himself through that sin. In Psalm 51, David’s lament over sin, we are taught what God desires from us. We are told that all of our work and sacrifices for God bring him no joy like a broken and contrite heart and spirit; that heart being broken by the realization of our sinfulness. God received more Glory from David’s humbling than all of his kingly exploits. God used a man he titled King of Israel, a type of and shadow of Jesus, and an example to us, to show us the power of his healing and restoration. Temporal punishment was not avoided. David would suffer the sickness and death of the son born of his sin, but would eventually receive from Bathsheba, a son who would be heir to his throne, Solomon.
David had little reason to pray when he was living in unrepentant sin. Don’t we find that we pray less when things are going well for us? Sickness, poverty and oppression drive us to our knees; but when God makes us aware of our sin and his longsuffering with us, are we not brought to the edge of despair. Some of my most heartfelt seasons of prayer have come as a result of my own transgressions. In the Presbyterian Order of Worship, the prescribed method of liturgy in our Church, we have two steps that are often breezed right through without much thought for what is intended. The Confession of Sin and the Assurance of Pardon usually only take a few minutes. The sermon lasts thirty or forty-five minutes. We treat our confession of sin and God’s assurance of pardoning them as just something we have to get out of our way before the main event. Hence the description of most modern Presbyterian worship services as, “three songs and a lecture.” The regulative principle of worship is designed by God to use each phase of our worship service to Glorify God equally. Even our sin can be used to accomplish this mission by spending more time recalling them, reflecting upon their heinousness, and then receiving the full assurance of our Father’s pardon. I suppose we get out what we put in. If we spend little time thinking about our sin, we have less to be sorry for, and if we spend little time convincing ourselves that God has pardoned our sin, we have more reason to doubt that pardon.
God loves to hear his children pray and make supplication. If God gave us all that we asked for we would be a disaster. We do not know what is good for us. Just as my children asked for many things, I knew, or at least I thought I did, what was good for them. Children tend to appreciate their parents more when we get them out of things than when we get them things. When a child is in trouble or hurting, the parents love, concern and safe harbor is irreplaceable to them. Usually their own bad judgement landed them in their unwanted circumstances. God comes to our recue when our sin results in unpleasant circumstances. The greater the sin the worse the circumstances and the more heroic the rescue. The value of God’s forgiveness is increased by the depth of sin. Many sins pardoned, brings more opportunity to see God’s Glory. More sins blotted out of justice’s debt book by the blood of Christ increases our indebtedness. There is an economic principle that can be applied to our sin. The law of supply and demand proves that the more demand for forgiveness the more valuable it becomes.
We are certainly to ask God to remove our sins. Christ even asked the Father to “remove this cup from me,” referring to the coming events of his suffering and the wrath he would withstand, but with the condition that the will of the Father be done. We, rather than frustrate God’s plan, fulfil his plan even in our sins. We should pray with confidence that God is removing our sin but he is doing so in HIS good time. While our sins remain we must use them to draw on God’s mercy and his love of showing it.