Reading: “I acknowledge my transgressions.” Psalm 51:3
When David is confronted by the prophet Nathan, he does not say a word to excuse himself—he freely owns his sin: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). This apprehension of the odious nature of sin and ownership of personal sin is at the heart of repentance. Psalm 51 reveals some very important elements of true repentance.
A sense of defilement (verses 2, 7): “Wash me, … purge me.” The language is suggestive of a man suffering from leprosy. The victim of this disease knew that he deserved to be excluded from society and the house of God. There was a sense of separation and unworthiness and deep-seated guilt that amounted to a feeling of defilement.
A sense of depression (verse 8): “Make me to hear joy and gladness.” A repentant heart feels the weight of sin. The depressing nature of sin makes itself felt in a regenerate heart. Grace and sin cannot happily coexist.
A sense of disgrace (verse 9): “Hide thy face from my sins.” Such was the shame of David’s sin that he could not bear God’s looking on what he had done.
A sense of distance (verse 11): “Cast me not away from thy presence.” A repentant heart feels that sin separates from God, grieves the Holy Spirit, and breaks fellowship with God.
A sense of disorientation (verse 11). A distant Christian is a disoriented Christian. A Christian out of tune with God is out of step with Him and has no direction. David prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
Owning your sin is not only at the heart of repentance; it is at the heart of restoration. Confession of sin is arriving at the same opinion as God about your sin and consequently hating and turning from it.
By delay of repentance, sin strengthens and the heart hardens. The longer ice freezes, the harder it is to be broken. —Thomas Watson