Foundations: What Every Christian Ought To Know

February 6-10


What Happens When a Christian Sins?

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. – Psalm 51:1 (ESV)

Years ago Sports Illustrated ranked the 10 greatest comebacks in world history. Among those making the list, the following names are to be specially noted:

1. Michael Jordan, 1995. Made his first triumphant basketball comeback after having quit basketball in 1993. 5. Muhammad Ali, 1974. Seven years after being stripped of his title and his boxing license, defeated George Foreman in Zaire to win back the belt. 8. Japan and Germany, 1950s. They were the former Axis Powers that rose from the ashes of World War II to become industrial superpowers. 10. Jesus Christ, 33 A.D. Defied Jewish critics and stunned the Romans with his Resurrection. It was the greatest comeback of all time. And He’s been specializing in comebacks ever since. (

Biblically, we could perhaps add King David to that list. Psalm 51 was written to reflect David’s desire to get back right with God. It represents genuine brokenness and repentance. The psalmist had been made to see his great guilt, and his first act is to cry out for mercy. There is no attempt to excuse his sin and there is no effort to vindicate his conduct. David simply wanted to experience the steadfast love of God, the mercy of God, and to be restored.


In Psalm 51:4 David says, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” How has the sin in your life, even your sin committed against others, been primarily a sin against God?


Praise God for His holiness and steadfast love. Ask God to begin any spiritual restoration in your life that needs to take place.


Sin Brings Damage to Your Life

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! – Psalm 51:2 (ESV)

An old farmer plowed hard for many days with an ox and mule yoked together. The ox told the mule that they should play sick and rest. The mule declined saying, “No, we must get the work done for the season is short. But the ox played sick and the farmer brought him hay and corn and made him comfortable. When the mule came in from plowing the ox asked how things had gone. The mule said, “We didn’t get as much done but we did ok, I guess.” The ox asked, “Did the old man say anything about me?” “Nothing,” said the mule.

The next day the ox played sick again. When the tired mule came in he asked how it went. “Ok, but we sure didn’t get much done.” The ox asked, “What did the old man say about me?” The mule replied, “Nothing directly to me, but he had a long talk with the butcher.”

Our actions have consequences. Sin has damaging consequences. Pastor Jim shared 7 ways sin brings damage to your life: It darkens the soul; dominates the mind; dishonors the Lord; denies the truth; diminishes your joy; distances us from God; and discourages the heart.


Which of the 7 ways Pastor Jim shared has most affected your life? How has your sin affected the lives of others?


Praise God for His ability to rebuild your life and the destructiveness of sin. Ask God to bring healing where it’s needed and protection in your life where you need it.


Sin Can Be Dealt With Through Jesus: Acknowledge

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. – Psalm 51:3 (ESV)

A serviceman wrote about a bit of unintended comedy he witnessed in the army. It happened during a company inspection at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. An inspection was conducted by a colonel. Everything had gone smoothly until the officer came to the man standing next to the soldier who recalled the incident. The colonel stopped, looked the man up and down, then snapped, “Button that pocket, trooper!” The soldier, more than a little rattled stammered, “Right now, sir?” “Of course right now! Was the reply. Whereupon the soldier very carefully reached out and buttoned the flap on the colonel’s shirt pocket.

It’s easy to point out sin in other people’s lives but not always as easy in our own lives. In Psalm 51 King David is acknowledging his own sin. David said, “I know my transgression.” This also means he “made known” his sin. He knew that he was a sinner, and he did not seek to cloak or conceal that fact. He was willing to make acknowledgment of it before God. There was no attempt to hide it.


Until you acknowledge your sin there is no way to experience the forgiveness of your sin. As long as you minimize or deny your sin, grace, and truth can’t cleanse you and begin the restoration process. What sin in your life have you not been completely honest with God and yourself about?


Ask God to make you aware of any sin that you are minimizing or denying in your life. Confess those sins to God.


Sin Can Be Dealt With Through Jesus: Ask for Forgiveness

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow… – Psalm 51:7 (ESV)

John went to visit his old grandfather in a secluded area of Georgia. After chatting all night John’s grandfather made a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. However, John noticed a film on his plate, and questioned his grandfather, “Are these plates clean?” His grandfather replied, “They’re as clean as cold water can get them. Just finish your meal!”

For lunch, John worried that the plates had dried egg on them and asked, “Are you sure these plates are clean?” The old man said, “I told you those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now I don’t want to hear any more about it!” Later that afternoon, as John was leaving, his grandfather’s dog started to growl, not letting him pass. John yelled, “Grandfather, your dog won’t let me get to my car.” The old man shouted, “Coldwater, go lie down!” [Reader’s Digest]

David knew he needed a thorough cleaning from his sin. The idea of the psalmist here evidently is not that the mere sprinkling with hyssop would make him clean, but he prays for that cleansing of which the sprinkling with hyssop was an emblem, or which was designed to be represented by that. The idea was that the sin was to be removed or taken away completely, so that he might be free from it and that the soul might be made pure. Martin Luther translated this “Unsin me with hyssop.”


Jesus’ blood on the cross paid for your complete forgiveness. What are you telling Jesus about His sacrifice if you continue to live with the guilt and shame of your past sins that He died for?


Thank God for the blood of Jesus that washes you white as snow. Ask God for a thorough cleansing from your sin.


Sin Can Be Dealt With Through Jesus: Act Upon that Forgiveness

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. – Psalm 51:13 (ESV)

John Bunyan said of Christians: “When all their garments are white, the world will count them His.” The skeptical German poet Heinrich Heine said to Christians, “You show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.” The authentic life that speaks the gospel with a spirit of loving sacrifice will be eminently convincing. (Matthew Kratz, Hope that Stands in the Storm)

In Psalm 51 David declared, as the result of his own painful experience and his own experience of grace he would teach others how to get right with God. He would show them the evil and the bitterness of sin in itself; he would show them the dreadful consequences of sin; he would show them the nature of true repentance; he would show them what was required in order that sin might be forgiven; and he would encourage them to come to that God who had forgiven him.


What are the lessons of God’s forgiveness that you could share with other people living in sin?


Thank God for the things you have learned about Him through His forgiveness. Ask God to help you live out and share a life of redemption that would point others to Him.