Working Backwards

Ever looked around and just felt overwhelmed by the craziness, foolishness, immorality, shamelessness, and twistedness of the times we live in? Ever seen a loved one deceived by Satan’s crafty lies and longed to bring some clarity to their reasoning?

Ever just wished you could fix the world? Maybe this verse resonates with you:

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You. (Psalm 51:13)

We all want unsaved loved ones to find the joy and eternal life God offers. We all want foolishness to end, and temptations to cease, and all created things to sing God’s praises.

And this verse says that can happen, and that God can use us to do.

So when is the “then” that the psalmist mentions?

Backing up to verse 12, “then” is when you and I have the joy of God’s salvation in our lives and are allowing His Spirit to uphold and lead us.

Are you rejoicing in your salvation? Do you understand what it is? Are you living in its power and freedom? Not only does salvation bring us near to God, it moves us far from sin. If we’re not moving towards One and away from the other, we’re not rejoicing in our salvation; in fact, we’re ignoring it. As my pastor preached this morning, salvation isn’t just a one-time event; after the event, things change! We’re children of God, and children grow. God’s plan is for us as a body of believers to “grow up in all things into Him” (Ephesians 4:15).

Think about it: if we don’t have God’s joy, how can we share it with others? And how can we have His joy unless we’re being led by Him? And if we’re not being led by Him, we certainly can’t expect to lead others to follow Him.

So what if we’re not? What if we’re not working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12)? What if we’re not purposefully pursuing a deeper relationship with God? What if bits and pieces of “little sins” are creeping into our lives? Or if we’ve messed up completely?

Backing up again, verse 10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” If we’re not living the life God has called us to, then let’s ask God to change us–because He will! He can give us a renewed purpose and determination. He can completely wipe away our sin and make us perfectly clean, however big or little our mistakes.

How can we access that cleansing? Again, back up. Verse 6, and 3-4.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight–
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

We have to be honest with God. Let Him examine every nook and cranny of our lives, and admit that anything He finds that doesn’t look like Him is ungodly and doesn’t belong. Big or small, it’s an affront to His character, and we must choose between it and Him.

And when we turn from our sin and toward God, God turns toward us and sets us in an uninhibited relationship with Him. “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). We can have intimate fellowship with our Creator and Savior and Holy God.

How can we be sure that God will forgive, restore, and use us?

Verse 1 gives us our assurance:

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindess;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.

Because God.

Because God is Who He is, we can be sure He will do what He says.

And what is the final result of all this? Of confessing and forsaking sin, turning to God and letting Him restore us to both a right relationship and usefulness, being filled with His joy and teaching others His truth?

Jumping forward this time, verses 15 and 19 say,

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

God will receive glory, from us and those we impact. Our mouths and lives will declare His glory.

Want to change the world? Let God change you, and see Him work.

And in the end, He will be pleased.

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