Message by Andrew Krayer-White at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, April 25, 2021
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Hi Church, it’s good to be with you. My name is Andrew, I’m one of the pastors here. As some of you know my wife Kristen is a nurse. She works three days a week, twelve-hour shifts. So, on most of her workdays she doesn’t get home until after I’ve put the kids to bed. Since I get home around 4:30PM and we put a premium on spending time with our kids, and not a lot of time in the kitchen, quick meals, palatable for a four-year old and almost two-year old are ideal in this season.
Trader Joe’s has a seafood Pallela that my kids were into. Ya’el likes the shrimp and calamari. Noah likes the mussels. And it only takes a couple minutes. A few weeks ago, I made this for dinner for myself and the kids. We got showered up after, brushed our teeth and read our story, said our prayers and went to bed. Everything was great. Until 11 or 12 when we woke up to the sound of Noah crying in his crib. I went into his room he had thrown up his dinner. It’s was gross. It is also embarrassing to say this wasn’t the first time this had happened. A few weeks before, he did the same thing. When I put the Paella on the grocery list again, Kristen asked, didn’t that make Noah sick? I responded: I don’t think it was the Paella. I was wrong. I got to do several loads of laundry, took a few more showers than intended, and a lot less sleep that night than I had planned. I was very sorry.
We’re in a series called seven words to change your life, and today we’re looking at that word: “Sorry.” Of all the words we’re going to look at in this series, sorry is probably the most difficult for many of us. Whether it’s pride, or stubbornness, or we just don’t think we’re wrong, sorry can be difficult to say. But, as with all the other words in this series, for many of us, God can use our sorry to change our lives.
Before we get any further into this, I want to make a distinction. Simply saying sorry doesn’t really count if we don’t mean it. If you’ve got kids, you know what I’m talking about. One kid pushes or hits the another, and what do you do? You tell your child to say you’re sorry. Which is kind of silly, you’re telling them to say something that isn’t actually true. Nine times out of ten or 99 out of 100 they’re not at all sorry. We just want them to say it to make the other child feel better and they don’t swing back. Kristen calls me on this all the time and I’m arguably an adult. I’ll say, or do something I shouldn’t have done, and then say, “I’m sorry.” But I say it in a tone that clearly conveys I’m not. I just don’t want her to be angry with me anymore.
In a sense that’s the distinction that the Apostle Paul makes in 2 Corinthians. Between legitimate and illegitimate sorrow. Godly sorrow, Paul says brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. Paul’s saying there’s a way of being sorry that is real and true. We know it’s real because it leads to change. And there’s another kind, that’s just sorry for getting caught or having to deal with the consequences. My sorrow for feeding Noah the Paella is the kind that leads to change, I won’t do that again…at least not a third time. That’s the kind of the big idea we’re going to look at “When we’re truly sorry, it will lead to change.”
What I want to do in our time together is look at Psalm 51. It was written by David, and it is a remarkable prayer of confession and petition for forgiveness. In other words: it’s David saying sorry to God. Following the process and prayer that David lays out, our focus is going to be primarily on our vertical relationship with God, rather than the horizontal relationships, of saying sorry to one another. I’ll explain a little more about why we’re taking this approach as we work our way through.
I know some of you who know the back story for this Psalm, but we also have so many in our community who are newer to the bible I want to start there. If you’ve got your bibles open to Psalm 51, chances are that right above the Psalm your bibles probably say something like: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. The broader story which David is responding to in this Psalm is found in 2 Samuel 11-12. In 2 Samuel, we’re told that one evening King David, found it difficult to sleep so he went up for a stroll on the roof of the palace, maybe to get some fresh air, stretch his legs. We don’t know. What we do know is while up there he caught sight of a beautiful woman bathing on her roof. He sent his servants to find out who she was, which they did. “King, she is Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Uriah was one of David’s Mighty Men. A courageous loyal soldier and servant. Perhaps in other seasons of his life, things would have gone no further. But not this night. David sent for her to be brought to him, slept with her and sent her away like some commodity to be consumed and discarded. Sometime later she sent word back to David to let him know she was pregnant. Rather than coming clean, he tried to cover it up, which eventually led to orchestrating the murder of Uriah her husband, and eventually a confrontation with the prophet Nathan. God spoke through Nathan. David was cut to the heart. Psalm 51 is the result. We don’t have time today to unpack the entire Psalm but let me encourage you this week, maybe even in the weeks to come, as a next step to make this prayer a part of your spiritual rhythm.
Verse one begins
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
If you’ve got your bible open before you, take a moment and underline the words mercy, and steadfast love. The place that David begins his sorry is with the recognition of who God is. He begins with God’s character. That he is a God of mercy and steadfast love or maybe your translation says unfailing love. If you’re a regular bible reader you might pick up on the fact that David’s prayer is so rich with echoes of other scriptures. Some scriptures inspired his words, others were inspired by his words. When David prays of God’s steadfast love and mercy, the words I encouraged you to underline, they come from somewhere. It comes from God’s very own mouth. In Exodus 34:6 when God gave Moses the ten commandments on Sinai, God delivers his first self-description in scripture.
That is, this is the first time God describes his own character, what he is like: “The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” David isn’t just crossing his fingers and hoping that God is loving and merciful. He knows that God is, because God has promised and He would be. Tim Mackie is an American Theologian, he runs something called the Bible Project, if you haven’t checked it out yet, bibleproject.com is an incredible resource to grow in your understanding of scripture. Mackie referred to this passage in Exodus as the John 3:16 of the Old Testament, that is, it is the most quoted passage in the Old Testament. It’s not always word for word, but parts and pieces of God’s self-description pop up everywhere. It shouldn’t surprise us that it shows up here in David’s desperate prayer.
We’ve got to fix our minds on this. It’s got to be our starting point in the same way it was for David. God is a God of steadfast love and mercy, and because He is a God of steadfast love and mercy you and I, we can approach Him, even in all of our sin and rebellion. God’s love makes sorry possible. Some of you might be thinking Pastor, you don’t know what I’ve done. Sorry might work for other people but not me.
You’re right I don’t know what you’ve done. I’m not going to pretend to. What I will point out is that David was an adulterer and murder, and in all his brokenness, not in pridefulness and presumption, and certainly not dismissing the significance of the wrong, he still brought it to God. Whatever it is, whatever you’ve done, the good news for you today is you don’t need to get cleaned first to come to God. We can come to God in our mess, trusting that He is a God of steadfast love and mercy, just as he says he is.
David continues “2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4
The problem we face, is that we are so often unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge our sinfulness. Saying sorry, requires an awareness of my sin. Without awareness, we can never get to the next step of confession. So we can never appeal to God for forgiveness. Verse three, as we read David says, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” You’re probably thinking of course he was aware of his own sin. He committed adultery and murder how do you miss that? But in 2 Samuel 11, David wrote to his general Joab, after receiving word of Uriah’s death. ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another.” David had orchestrated Uriah’s death. He had Joab send Uriah to the fiercest part of the battle. Then pull back the troops around Uriah and let the enemy overtake him and slaughter him. David didn’t say, my sin devoured him. He blamed it on the cruel nature of war. He denied his sin. Of his affair with Bathsheba, can’t you picture him saying to himself, “I’m the king. I work really hard I deserve to relax every now and again. I deserve a beautiful companion, to bring me comfort at the end of a long day. The man who was described as one after God’s own heart, had become as hard hearted to his own sin as any enemy he ever faced.
Maybe you’re the exception and you can clearly see and discern your own desires and your intentions apart from God. Your heart never grows cold or callous to sin. But my guess is that the majority of us are no better than David. For the rest of us normal people, our hearts apart from God will justify just about anything. They’ll say, I know why that’s sin for others, here’s why it’s not sin for me. I need this, I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. Sometimes we’ll even convince ourselves, God has given me this, how dare you try and take it from me.
It’s by God’s grace, fueled by God’s love that the prophet Nathan showed up on David’s doorstep and exposed the wickedness of his sin. Maybe you didn’t catch that, it is a gracious gift to know how terrible we are. In God’s love for us he leads us to an awareness a of the horrific nature of our sin in order that he can expose it, deal with it, and remove it. Be it the Nathan’s in your life, the Holy Spirit speaking to you in God’s word or maybe in that still small voice.
Whatever mouthpiece he so chooses, it’s out of God’s love for us that he doesn’t leave us in our sin but brings us to awareness. I hope you see what a dangerous time we’re living in. We are so quick to be offended and so quick to attack anyone who holds a view that differs from ours or ours, much less to allow them one to speak into potential areas of sin in our own life. We have to be so very careful that we don’t place ourselves in echo chambers. When we do we run the risk of isolating ourselves from the very gracious word of God that can calls us to repentance.
Think about it, If the goal is holiness, what does it hurt to let our defenses down long enough to ask God, in all humility, God is this word from you? I don’t want to go much further down this tangent, but this is why commitment to a local faith community is so important. Because if we’re all just free agents, we’re going to keep switching churches, podcast and you tube channels, and ignoring God’s call to repentance every time we hear something we don’t like.
Perhaps you’re listening to this this today, and your eyes have been opened to something that before you didn’t think it was a big deal. You didn’t think God cared about it. But all the sudden, you can see it. Pastor, what do I do with this?
We acknowledge it. We own it. Saying sorry requires confession of my sin. We say this is on me and God I’m sorry. David says “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.” These are the words of a man broken over his sin. The you, you alone, is kind of a biblical way of conveying the strength of emotion or feeling. Moses, Moses, Absalom, Absalom, Saul, Saul. In the “You, you alone have I sinned against” David is lamenting his sin against the merciful God that has done nothing but love him perfectly his entire life.
Some of you hear the David’s confession and you’re thinking that’s not right. I appreciate you’re lamenting your sin against God, but it wasn’t just against God. Clearly you sinned against Uriah, you sinned against Bathsheba, you sinned against your people.
How dare David say, against you and you alone? Maybe the best way to understand it is hyperbole. What the David’s words tell us is that as terrible as our sins and their consequences might against each other, they pale in comparison to the offense against God. This is why we’re focus on our vertical relationship with God first, rather than our horizontal relationship with one another. Because if God allows us to see the depths of our sins, and we truly, earnestly confess them to God, it will necessarily impact the way we engage with one another.
1 John 1:9 is our memory verse this week. It says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
That’s where David is, he’s aware of and confessed his sin, and now he’s counting on our merciful God to forgive him. If we had time to walk through the Psalm in its entirety, you’d see David talks about his sin or rebellion using three words: sin, transgression, and iniquity. And yet in eight perhaps, nine different ways, David uses metaphors to speak of God’s forgiveness. In a very literal and intentional way David shows us that God’s forgiveness is so much greater than my sinfulness. I want to look at just one of David’s metaphors as we wrap up.
In verse 10 and 11, David says “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. I said earlier David’s prayer is filled with echoes from other scriptures and this verse is no exception. The echo goes all the way back to the creation story. Remember God’s story begins with creation, he created this world good. Humanity sinned, what did God do, He cast them out of the Garden, out of his presence. In essence David’s praying God don’t replay that story with me. I know I’ve sinned do not cast me from your presence. At the same time, he’s recognizing I can’t fix me. To paraphrase what he says earlier in verse 5: I was born broken. David recognizes whatever has to happen, it’s got to be outside in. His prayer here is I can’t do this. Give me a willing heart, a willing spirit that can. Maybe this is where you identify with David the most. There’s something in your life that keeps coming up again and again and you feel powerless against it. You’re thinking Pastor I’ve confessed it a million times – and nothing’s changed. Don’t forget the good news of this passage God’s capacity to forgive is always greater than your sin.
So many of us stop with forgiveness but that’s not the end of the story. In Ezekiel 36:26, God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Whether God had David’s prayer in mind when he promised this, we don’t know. We do know, that promise, the very thing David was crying out for – a new heart, and a new Spirit has been fulfilled. It was fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrificial death on Calvary and the Outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. When in God’s grace we become aware of our sin, confess it, ask God for forgiveness, we are made a new creation and filled with His holy Spirit. Because of Jesus we’re more than forgiven sinners, we’re new spirit empowered people. Do you see the difference? A forgiven sinner without power, can’t help but return to sinfulness. A new creation is no longer bound by those desires but driven by different desires and longing and filled with the Spirit to follow them. We are empowered for evangelism, service, justice, empowered to grow in love and holiness, and yes even empowered to go from our confession to God, to now confessing with clear eyes and humble those areas where we’ve wronged our friends, family, co-workers, yes even our enemies, and empowered to live differently.
This is why I said at the outset that when we’re truly sorry, it will lead to change. Not because of something we do, but because of what God can do when we come to him and say sorry.
From Series: "Seven Words That Will Change Your Life"
Words have power. Even the simplest words can change the trajectory of your life. Words like Help can set an addict toward recovery. Yes can open doors to new dreams. Sorry and Thanks can heal families. When you use these small words, God can do big things in your life.