I love the lyrics that David sings in Psalms 51. Keith Green put this Psalm to music in the 1970's, "Create in me a clean heart". As a young man my heart was so moved and stirred by his music. Keith Green's passion and music stirred something in my spirit that made me want to be near the Lord. I could sense Keith's passion to be close to the Lord and I wanted to experience what he had. It was a passion that was alive, not fearing what others thought of him, but going after Jesus with reckless abandonment. The lyrics from "Create in me a clean heart" embodied this idea. "Cast me not away from your presence Oh Lord, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me, restore unto thee the joy of thy salvation"
Before I understood that this was a song inspired from David's repentance to God after sleeping with Bathsheeba, I was captivated by its message. It's message was, Lord more than anything I just want to be near you, I just want to be where you are. Please do not remove me from your presence. Lord make me clean so that I can always live in your presence. This is the joy of salvation. Salvation positions us so that we will never be cut off from the Lord's presence.
Psalm 51:10-12(kjv) "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."
I was meditating on 1 John 2:1-2 yesterday. "Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but also for the sins of the world."
The atoning sacrifice, what does this mean exactly? I looked up the word "atone" and it means to make amends, or to repair. Wow. This puts such a fascinating perspective on the impact of sin. Sin tears our relationship between us and our Father above. Without atonement there is nothing that can repair, mend, heal, or restore this relationship. In Psalm 23 David writes,"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." It is such a good thing to be in healthy relationship with the Lord.
So what is the joy of our salvation? Through salvation our relationship with our father above is mended, repaired, healed. The joy of our salvation is that we have been restored in relationship with the father and that we will never come to the day where we will be cut off from His presence. Salvation is never being cut off from the presence our father above. Indulging in sin in this life is experiencing a foretaste of what being cut off from our father's presence for eternity is like. When we eat of sin's fruit we taste death. We experience death and separation from our father's presence. Sin brings a rift, a tear, a breach between us and God. It serves as a foretaste and as a warning to us.
So what is sin? Many describe sin as missing the mark. Sin is anything that is not pleasing to the father. We were designed and created for the purpose of pleasing Him. One of the most dangerous sins is drifting from the first love of our father above. Coming to a position of apathy where we no longer value His presence. The greatest danger of this sin is we often don't recognize it. It's a gradual transition. Slowly we fade and lose our appreciation for our father's presence. Making time to commune with Him begins to get choked out by the cares of this life.
Sometimes stumbling and falling on our face is God's grace over our life. In the impact of our fall we are shaken out of our apathy. David falls hard in his sin, but he is rocked from his apathy. He cries out to the Lord asking for forgiveness and to be restored. This is very different from Adam. Adam sins and then hides. After David sins he runs to God crying out to not be cut off from his father's presence. Even in David's most humiliating moment, after David utterly disappoints God, David runs back to His father. After David experienced the separation, the tearing away from the Lord's presence that sin brings, David still runs back into His father's arms. No matter what position you find yourself in, always remember this. The right decision everytime is to run back into His arms.
The Lord warns the church in Ephesus that they are to repent of their sin of drifting from their first love in Revelations 2:4-5
"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place."
The irony of this is two verses earlier the Lord is commending the church in Ephesus for the excellence in being hard workers.
Rev. 2:2-3 "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance." "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary."
The church in Ephesus is hard working and persevering, but somewhere along the way they have drifted from their first love. The obvious sins like murder, adultery and stealing are easy to identify. The sin of forsaking your first love to the Lord is dangerous because it is subtle.
I love the humility of David's Psalm 51. Create in me a clean heart. Sinning does not create this kind of humility, many sin and never bother to repent. But this repentance comes from a cry and a desire to be close to our heavenly father. Lord renew me, restore me, I do not want to be torn, separated from your presence. Lord more than anything, I just want to be close to you.
In Ephesians 6 Paul tells us to "be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." As I was praying over our family at Central Assembly this past week, God showed me an image of a man who was very hard working. He had worked hard for a very long time. His hands revealed the dedication and faithfulness to his work. The man's hands were calloused dry and cracked. I began to pray over our family that the Lord would begin to bring His oil of healing. That He would restore the areas that had become dry and that He would remove the callouses.
Lord restore to us the joy of our salvation. Lord renew the passion of our first love. God is wanting to do something very special in our hearts during this hour. Now is the time to examine your heart. Ask God to create in you a clean heart. Ask heavenly father to restore the passion and desire to pray and seek His face. And always keep praying for all the saints.
Jer. 29:12-13 " then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."