“I wish I had heard this and applied it before I wrecked everything.” That’s the hard reality that hits home for many when talking about placing Guardrails in our life.
Over the last 12 years I’ve talked with many women and men who have experienced the heartache and pain of unfaithfulness. Some who’ve been the unfaithful one. Others who were the ones left hurt and wondering how and why. Sexual immorality and temptation go hand in hand and everyone is susceptible Christians, Pastor’s – even men after God’s heart named David. Sin is a savage. It wounds, breaks, hurts and destroys everything and everyone it can. There are several questions that we want to address in light of this reality. What happens when we fall? How do we respond when we’ve been betrayed? Is there any hope for me – for us? What do we do when we go off course and find ourselves wondering what to do now?
King David provides us an example of Biblical confession. In Psalm 51 we read David’s response to being exposed by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba and subsequently attempting to cover up his sin which eventually led to murder. Pretty significant wreckage existed in David’s life. David’s sin was serious and caused significant harm, but his response to conviction was right. In verses 3 and 4 David prays to his heavenly Father and says, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” David didn’t make excuses or rationalize his decisions. He didn’t blame anyone but himself. He owned his sin. He acknowledged WHO he had sinned against. He confessed – which means he agreed with God that he had fallen. Confession is essential. You must take responsibility for your actions and their consequences.
David’s response didn’t end with confession. In verse 7 David continues his prayer: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Repentance is too often us simply saying, “I’m sorry.” But being “sorry” is a cheap imitation for real repentance and will lead us back to the same situation. We lack the “sorrow” in our “sorry.” Moving from being simply sorry to feeling actual sorrow is a step in the right direction, but it cannot stop there. We cannot just leave things confessed and with contrition in our hearts. Contrition should lead to change. Repentance is a change in thinking which leads to a change in behavior. David desired to be clean from his sin, and to move towards a restored fellowship with God and man. If you’re still entangled in sin – walk away. Better yet, run away. Don’t pretend to be right with God while continuing in what He has clearly called sin. Turn away.
While confession and repentance may come quickly, restoration with those we have wounded by our sin is a process. David first sought restoration with God: Psalm 51: 10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” If you’re guilty of adultery or other forms of sexual immorality – do not despair! Through the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ forgiveness is offered freely. See 1 John 1:9. Not only does God remove the sin and stain from us, but he creates in us a clean heart. He gives us His righteousness. Because we have HIS righteousness, our heavenly Father sees us as blameless in His sight. (Ephesians 1:4-5) This gives us permission to let go of the guilt and live in victory. Jesus does not condemn us, so we should not condemn ourselves. We are free to leave our life of sin! (See Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery) Often times the guilt is overwhelming. The one who tempted us into sin begins to condemn us. If you’re drowning in guilt take some time and read this article. There can be freedom.
What about those who I’ve hurt?
When David said, “Against you only have I sinned” he wasn’t saying that he wasn’t responsible for hurting others. This was his acknowledgement that his primary offense was to a holy God. His sin hurt others and the consequences of that sinned followed him for many years. Though he was free from the guilt and penalty of sin, he was not free from the consequences. Adultery wounds marriages and families. It leaves those we love feeling betrayed and discounted. Forgiveness from our heavenly Father comes freely and immediately. Forgiveness from our family and friends may take time.
Taking a step toward restoration and healing can be scary and seem impossible. There is so much to address in this area that it needs a dedicated post or two. Tomorrow on the blog we’ll talk about specific steps to restoration and healing. Plus, we’ll have a story of unfaithfulness, heartache, grace and restoration that you do not want to miss. Check back tomorrow, or SUBSCRIBE so you get all the entries by e-mail.