Text: Psalm 32:1-6
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away with my roaring all the daylong. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality ebbed away as in the heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and the guilt of my sin I did not cover up; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you, you pardoned the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore, let everyone who is pious pray to you at this time when you may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
Everyone wants to be happy. Not everyone looks for happiness in the same place. Many try to find happiness in sinful pleasures, such as sexual relationships. Sin, however, never leads to happiness. Sin ends in messed up lives, with the sinner feeling guilty, depressed, restless, and irritable--anything but happy.
I remember watching a film of a live counseling session that was presented in my college psychology course. The woman was sad, depressed, moody, and feeling guilty as a result of her sexually immoral lifestyle of living with a man she was not married to. I was shocked when the secular counselor advised her to change her opinion and accept her immorality as being all right so she would not feel guilty any longer. His cure for a guilty conscience amounted to nothing more than accepting sin and telling the woman not to feel guilty.
That counselor’s cure for a guilty conscience was as effective as telling a blind man, “Just start to see again and you won’t be blind.”
Perhaps you are burdened with a guilty conscience, which is why you are reading this sermon that is entitled: “What Is The Only Cure For A Guilty Conscience?” If so, you undoubtedly are not happy but wish that you were. Your guilty conscience, however, makes happiness impossible. No person with a guilty conscience feels happy. To find happiness, a cure must first be found for the guilty conscience. Secular psychologists, such as the one I described, have no cure for a guilty conscience that leads to happiness. There is only one cure for it. Let’s discover what it is.
Our text is the first six verses of Psalm 32. It is entitled a maskil, which means it is a didactic poem that teaches an important spiritual lesson for life. It teaches us about a guilty conscience, repentance, confession of sin, and the blessedness of forgiveness. The blessedness of forgiveness is its theme.
David wrote Psalm 32. Its contents lead us to believe it is a parallel psalm to Psalm 51, which David wrote after his sins of adultery, murder, and impenitence. He had brought Bathsheba, the wife of a soldier named Uriah, to his palace, where he had made love to her. He impregnated her. To cover up his adultery before it became known, he brought Uriah home from the front lines. He intended Uriah to go home and make love to his wife, Bathsheba. Everyone would then think the baby was Uriah’s. Uriah, however, being a noble soldier, refused to go home while his commrades were on the front lines fighting and could not be home with their wives. David even got him drunk to entice him to go home to Bathsheba. When that scheme failed to work also, David sent him back to the front lines with sealed orders for Joab, the general. Uriah was to be put in the midst of the heaviest fighting. The rest of the army was to retreat, leaving Uriah where the enemy would surely kill him. Joab did this. After Uriah was killed, David married Bathsheba to cover up his sin. She then bore him his son nine months after their adultery.
For about a year David remained impenitent, deceitfully hiding his sins of adultery and murder. Then the Lord sent his prophet Nathan to convict David of his sins. It was only then that David finally confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Throughout the year of his impenitence David was anything but happy. He was miserable. He described his physical and emotional state: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away with my roaring all the daylong. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality ebbed away as in the heat of summer.”
While David had been covering up his sin, his conscience was eating him alive. His guilty conscience was damaging his health. He felt himself wasting away. Down to his very bones he felt tired, exhausted, worn out. His life juices evaporated like moisture in a summer’s dry heat. His life’s vitality and his vitality for life had ebbed away. Emotionally he was irritable, literally going about roaring like a lion. We would say he was biting people’s heads off and snapping at them. He no doubt was groaning within himself at the same time. The reason being, the Lord’s hand was heavy upon him day and night. His conscience knew that the Lord was very displeased with his adultery and murder. The commands of God, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” plagued him. The synonyms David used for his sin in this psalm reveal that his conscience saw what he had done as a rebellion against the Lord, a terrible missing of the mark of the Lord’s commandments, and depraved acts of iniquity that were all twisted and wrong. Being guilty, the Lord’s threat of punishment that hung over him burdened and tormented him continually. He had no peace of mind or rest for his soul.
Only after Nathan confronted him with his sins did David repent and confess them. After such a long time of being miserable and unhappy, he finally broke down to admit his wrongdoing. He wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and the guilt of my sin I did not cover up; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ ”
Being brought to the point of finally confessing the sin is the first step toward curing the guilty conscience. More than one story has been told of a murderer whose conscience had been eating him alive. The murderer covered up his crime, hid the evidence, and kept silent. During that time, however, he was tormented day and night by the knowledge of his crime. Finally, the burden of guilt became unbearable. He had to get it off his conscience and tell someone. He then confessed the murder of which he was guilty.
We may not have gone so far as to commit murder. We have committed other sins, however, that are just as displeasing to the holy Lord who hates sin of every kind. Perhaps we have committed adultery in the past. Maybe we engaged in sex before we were married. Maybe we have told lies to cover up whatever wrong we did. Whatever our sins have been, guilt can weigh heavily on our conscience, tormenting us day after day, making us miserable, restless, and unhappy.
If so, there is but one cure for our guilty conscience. It is not trying to convince ourselves that our sin is acceptable and we should stop feeling guilty about it. The cure is to repent of our sin and confess it. David learned this lesson. He wrote this psalm to teach us the same lesson. He wrote, “Therefore, let everyone who is pious pray to you at this time when you may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.” The time to repent of the sin that is plaguing our conscience and confess it in prayer to the Lord is now. David said the pious, godly persons will confess their sins while they still have the time to do so, before the mighty waters of the Lord’s judgment begin to roll over them when it is then too late.
Whatever our sins, now is the time for us who are pious, godly individuals to repent and confess them to the Lord. We cannot hide our sins from the Lord any more than David could, or Adam and Eve could. He knows all about our sins. He knows everything about us and everything we have done. David wrote in Psalm 139: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You truly know when I sit down or when I rise up; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You thoroughly examine my pathway and my lying down, and you are very well acquainted with all my ways.”
When the sinner’s conscience has been tormented by guilt so that he grieves over what he has done and fears the wrath of God, he is close to being saved and finding the only cure for his guilty conscience. For as soon as he repents and confesses his sin, he receives the Lord’s forgiveness of his sin. David is an outstanding example of this. He wrote, “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you, you pardoned the guilt of my sin.” As soon as David confessed his sins, the Lord forgave him. When David told Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord,” Nathan assured him, “The Lord has also taken away your sin. You will not die.”
Having received the Lord’s forgiveness of his sins, David wrote, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” The Lord’s forgiveness of his sins made David feel blessed. The Lord had literally lifted his sins from him. The Lord had covered his sins so they could not be seen. The Lord did not count his sins against him. The Lord’s forgiveness made David feel blessed, literally happy. The Lord’s forgiveness had cured his guilty conscience. He at last found comfort, peace, and hope. He would not perish in his sins but enjoy eternal salvation and life with the Lord.
This blessed forgiveness is offered to us as well. Christ Jesus says to us: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Psalm 32 invites us to put our name in these verses that state: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity...” We can enjoy this blessedness of forgiveness, because the Lord’s word assures us, “If we keep confessing our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.” Like David, as soon as we confess our sins to the Lord, he forgives us.
The Lord is willing to forgive our sins because of the perfect life and innocent death of Jesus Christ. The Lord has literally lifted our sins from us and laid them on the innocent Jesus. The Lord has covered our sins with the blood of Jesus, so they are removed from his sight. Because Jesus paid for our sins with his death on the cross, the Lord does not count our sins against us. Because of Jesus, we are fully pardoned.
This forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ is the only cure for our guilty conscience. The Lord’s forgiveness makes us blessed and happy, for we know we are reconciled to God. The threat of his eternal punishment is lifted from us. We enjoy the comfort of his peace. We have his promise and the hope of everlasting salvation and life.
When we try to cover up our sins, we end up miserable with a guilty conscience. When the Lord covers up our sins with the blood of Jesus, our conscience is cured and we end up happy. Take up the Lord’s invitation, then: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest...and you will find rest for your souls.” Amen.