Please join us today, Tuesday, August 3, as we continue our weekly Community Chapel “Summer Series” podcasts with a reflection on Psalm 51 by the Rev. Dr. Cyril Guerette, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies & Theology (Undergraduate) at Tyndale. His message is entitled “Cancelling Sin”.
Along with his work at Tyndale, Cyril is also Lead Pastor of The Groundswell Church in Burlington. He is an award winning musician and a founding member of the Fluid Young Adults advisory board. He has been serving as a pastor and professor for 17 years and lives in Waterdown with his beautiful wife Maegan and their four children.
I found in my life that the Psalms are probably the most important tool in my prayer life, and when I look around our culture today, Psalm 51 stands out to me as a particularly important Psalm that helps me understand that my God is a God of forgiveness.
I think about our culture, and I think about cancel culture. I look around and I see Dr. Zeus, Gina Carano, the host of the Bachelor, even at points Governor Cuomo, and so many names we could get into, that have seen themselves in the face of cancel culture, and in many cases, their lives being written off and then no longer having a voice, and worse yet, being the recipients of just constant barrages of attacks and, and, and it's a lack of forgiveness itself that has got me worried. I look at our culture, and I almost feel like the famous hacker group Anonymous. Their slogan is almost what I hear coming from the mass of humanity, especially on the internet. If you remember that Anonymous, as slogan says, we are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget, expect us. I think it's amazing that they use the word Legion, we are Legion because if you remember those words in the Bible is actually coming from the multitude of demons that Jesus is gonna cast out, right. And they say that we are Legion. The idea that the Legion does not forgive and the culture we're in is is not forgiving, is something that really hits hard, because I think we've all, you know, had things we've been ashamed of.
We've all fallen, we've all sinned. And I'm so thankful that our God is not a God who wants to cancel us. And so there's times in my life when I am ashamed of something I've done, I turn to Psalm 51. It's something that's really powerful for me the fact I that God gave us an example of someone who's done something, probably woefully beyond what most of us have done. And yet God forgives David and actually God will use, and this is Psalm 51. It begins with for the Director of Music, a psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. I think about that, this is after a very evil and heinous act. David has committed adultery, he's actually committed murder. If you remember, he puts Uriah at the front lines. And this is very problematic in our culture, David may be considered guilty of rape. And there's a lot of big questions about this. Back then, obviously, he was the king he be able to do what he wanted. And what he was guilty of for sure was adultery, he had taken this married woman. And then he ended up putting the husband into a place where he would be murdered. This is a huge betrayal of trust that has happened between him and a good friend, he has put this woman in a compromising position. And he gets confronted by a prophet of God, Nathan, who comes up to him and gives the story of a farmer who is rich and takes the lamb of a person who only has one lamb. He has a whole flock and he takes this one lamb. And then David says what will happen, then David says, I will take that I'll punish him. And then and Nathan points out and says, you are that man, like you've taken this one woman from this man, and you've committed this adultery. And what's interesting is David, as king, could've said, "Well, I'm King, I get to do what I want." And yet David, the reason that David is a man after God's own heart is because he recognizes his sin and he confesses it and this Psalm is a confession of a sin. He says, Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion. blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight. So you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge, surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me, yet you desired faithfulness, even in the womb, and you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
We are all sinful from birth. We are born into the situation. And we all have to say, God You are right. You're right in your judgment. What I've done is sin. And this is really important. Stop pretending. This is such an important lesson I've learned. Stop pretending. Call it what it is. You have hurt God. When I sin, it's so easy to try to cover it up, to try to hide it, pretend it wasn't, to rationalize it to myself. But I have a freedom here, just to say to God, I've sinned against you. I've hurt you. Now for David, he says only against you have I sinned. You can say, well, what about Uriah? What about Bathsheba? Well, he's the king. And in many ways, he is the law, right? So a lot of people say I, you didn't do anything wrong, you're King, you are the law. But he knows he's not, he knows even as king he is subject to God. And so he says, I am wrong. Then he continues on "cleanse me with hyssop" in verse seven, "and I will be clean, wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones that you have crushed, rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."
I love this, God was always a God of forgiveness. It didn't just come with Jesus. He was always forgiving. He was always loving. This is what God's, God does. And He, He cleanses, He hides his face from sin. I love this. The internet never forgets, the internet never forgives. But God forgives. And not only does he forgive, he offers you a chance to have a pure heart, isn't that amazing? You can be recreated, to restore joy. This is what he's clamoring for, this is what he's asking for. And we know that Jesus changed everything. You know, in in David's day, it was difficult, you had to do sacrifices, all sorts of things. But the promise, that forgiveness, that David is asking for, is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus does this for all of him. And he creates a clean heart. He washes away sin. He doesn't hold it against you. Think of all the times we've seen this, the woman who was caught in adultery, prostitutes, tax collectors who were stealing from the poor. And Jesus offers a new heart, Christ within, a Holy Spirit, He gives joy, a new type of joy, a joy that can live through all of this. And what happens when when David receives, as he says, then I will teach transgressors your ways. So the sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, Oh God, you who are my Saviour, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You did not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, oh God, is a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart. You God will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole, then bulls will be offered on your altar.
See, our response to this forgiveness that we receive, is not to attack others and condemn them. It's, it's to help others see God, to sing praises, to help them see what you've done, what's been done for you. To to offer a broken heart. You hear this? God wants a broken heart. He wants you to confess this. So this is what I want to say. Something I've learned in my life through this Psalm. Repent. Repent, let go of the secrets. We hold on to so many secrets. The secrets are killing you. They're eating you up inside. Don't be like Shaggy, and say "It wasn't me. It wasn't me." It wasn't your parents fault. It was in me before I was born. It isn't a circumstance "Oh I've had these circumstances." You have a choice. Circumstances led David to do some horrible things. But he had a choice in the process. He didn't make excuses and say, "Oh, I need this or that she was really beautiful or, or What was I supposed to do? I'm a king and I need..." No, no excuses. They are useless. I, this is something I think God is calling us to church. Don't fool yourself. Your sins cannot be hidden. They will manifest, they will hurt you. It is not better to push them down, to pretend. So all of us here gathered as a Community at Tyndale, we need to confess, we need to open them up. And we need to accept the consequences as well. I mean, this doesn't mean you have to tell everyone. Right? It means you know, you need to make it right. Now David accepts guilt here. And and I want to point out that this is really amazing that David writes a Psalm for singing for the congregation. He actually opens up his heart to his entire nation, and admits his sin before them, because he writes a song for them to sing that that is now sung to this day. And yet to think about it, he when he's writing the song, he is tarnishing his legacy. He recognizes that he will now be remembered for a heinous crime, a heinous sin against God. It is recorded for all of human history. And he writes it down because he realizes it's the right thing to do, he has to do it. And he gets remembered because he is open about this. He gets remembered as being a prophet. He is remembered about being a great king, he gets remembered as being the, the great, great, great progenitor of the Messiah. Part of all this was his willingness to face his own darkness and then put light on to it, right, because God wants a broken heart. He needs a broken heart. When it says a David is a man after God's own heart. It's because his heart was broken. He was honest, he was truthful. He admitted that his heart was ugly and wrong. And that allowed God to heal it. To use him, despite his brokenness. Actually, because of his brokenness, he's able to be used. If you hold on to the sin in your heart, it'll harden. A hardened heart is exactly opposite of a broken heart. This is what happened to Pharaoh, a hardened heart, to hide your sin will doom you. It will always end in tragedy.
A broken heart can overcome tragedy, and lead to a feel good turnaround story. Let's remember this contrition is not self flagellation, beating yourself up. Conviction is not condemnation. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Condemnation is actually what we do to ourselves. When we push it down, and we don't deal with it. We just keep condemning yourself. We live with it still, it's repressed, it hurts us. We start to resent ourselves, to hate ourselves. We need to be people who are in touch with our hearts. When God has convicting you of something, you have a sense of uneasiness. You won't have peace until you let it go. He won't have rest in your mind until you bring it to God. So I just want to say, let's ask Jesus what it is, what is it in my heart, that is uneasy and restless? What do I need Lord, and then act on it right away. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Confessing brings freedom it brings relief. I felt it in my life, when I just poured out to God, it allows me to be free and you know, accept the consequences. Sometimes it's gonna sting. But it's gonna sting much less than if you suppress it. And God may discipline. You know, discipline is not fun. But the discipline's actually to help you. It's helped to restore you. It might hurt. But it's the same way the dentist hurts when you are going to the dentist, right? Yes, it involves pain, but there's way less pain in the long term. God wants to soften your heart. Let him do it, the easy way. Open up, decide today, no more secrets. Don't let them eat you up any longer. Be free. Ask yourself, is there anything I haven't confessed? And be willing to actually confess it and maybe you confess it to someone you really trust, confess your sins, one to another, it says. Let this out of you. Let God do his work. Don't try to clean yourself up. Ask God to clean you up. Only God can give you joy. Stop saying it's hopeless. Start hoping God can release you from everything, from addictions. God can do it. I've seen it. In my own life, he will free you, you know that he can bring you a sense of peace. Let it out. And then you know what, let God know about it. Let people know about it, surrender it. Start talking about forgiveness, start talking about the things that God has freed you from, and and let's be able to recognize it.
We can actually talk about forgiveness in a world that is actually craving forgiveness, because it's so unforgiving. And people who disagree with you vehemently, just you know, show them love. Because you will be able to talk about forgiveness in a way that is able to show them something that they are craving, that God offers, talk about your story, admit your weakness, point to God. Just imagine if we were a Community in Tyndale were, where saved by grace wasn't just a slogan, it was a way of life, where people would see us increasing in mercy and joy all together. God will never cancel you. Jesus will never cancel you. He actually says in John 6:37. All those the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. He will not drive away. He wants to live, or help you live in forgiveness. You can step into the light, allow the darkness to fade away. You, Psalm 51, pray it, use it and claim it because God is not a God of cancelling. He is a God of forgiveness, and he will allow you to live a life of freedom.
Lord, allow us to pray your Psalms in a way that opens our hearts to be softened. Make us people who show a path of forgiveness because we were forgiven. Amen.
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