Summary: We need acknowledge our sin for what it is and let this bring us before God, we need to realize that only God can forgive and restore, and that we do this right now--there is no need to wait, for God is waiting for us!
There is a story about the late American President Calvin Coolidge going to church on a Sunday when his wife was unable to attend with him. When he returned from the service in the afternoon she wanted to know what the pastor preached about. Coolidge told her, “Sin.” Thinking that this wasn’t much of a description of the sermon, she pressed her husband for more details. And being a man of few words with his wife, he responded, “Well, I think he was against it.”
Last week we looked at how as Christians we face opposition—and we looked at from the point of view of opposition we face from the outside. And knowing that the Lord has cut the cords of the wicked is both a relief and an encouragement during those moments when we feel the weight of that opposition particularly hard. As God’s people we can expect to suffer for God’s sake. But our passage today, Psalm 130, is placed after this one to remind us that while we do face outward or external opposition, we also face inward and internal opposition. To address any tendency any of us might have toward self-righteousness, we are told by Psalm 130 that we must also confront our own “iniquities.”
“Out of the depths I cry”
I think this psalm can be divided into four sections. Let’s look at verses 1 – 2 first. Our psalm begins: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” What a powerful image! What an incredible way to begin a prayer to God. You see, the word that we translate “depths” in this verse describes the “chaotic forces that confront human life with destruction, devastation, and death.” These chaotic forces are the sin that the psalmist is struggling against. What a powerful image of the sin out of which the psalmist cries to God for mercy! Verse 3 “makes it clear that the destructive forces confronting the psalmist are to be traced in part to his or her own sinfulness.” The psalmist is saying—crying!—“Lord, please hear me, please listen to me! I cry to you out of the depths of my sinfulness! I realize how much I have failed you! My sin is killing me and I need your help! Please hear me and listen to my cry for mercy!”
Psalm 32—a very similar psalm—gives us another striking image of the effects of sin on us. Here the psalmist confesses: “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” These words describe what our sin feels like until we bring ourselves to confess it—a weight that drags us down. It’s as though the sin is consuming the psalmist. He can barely stand it. It’s all that he thinks about.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever found yourself groaning away all day long—feeling the weight of things you’ve done wrong, and feeling your sin almost consume you? Have you ever found yourself crying to God out of the depths, out of the deepest part of your heart and soul? I suspect that most of us have at one time or another. Most of us wouldn’t be here today unless at some point we have come to God and cried to Him out of the depths.
My bigger fear is when someone no longer feels the sting and weight of sin, when their conscience, through a lifestyle of sin, becomes immune. Oswald Chambers once said that “sin enough and you will soon become unconscious of sin!” In the same way Alexander MacLaren says: “There are certain diseases of which a constant symptom is unconsciousness that there is anything the matter. A deep-seated wound does not hurt much.” That situation is much worse. The person doesn’t even realize how serious their sin is.
We’ve all heard of the disease leprosy. Well, one interesting thing about all forms of the disease is that it eventually causes peripheral neurological damage, or nerve damage in the arms and legs, which causes sensory loss in the skin. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation. Can you imagine getting injured because you can’t even feel that you’re being hurt? Sometimes, unfortunately, sin can be the same way. People are becoming more and more injured and can’t even feel it anymore.
Psalm 130 reminds us of the importance of taking sin seriously. It reminds us that we’re better off feeling the effects of sin. Sometimes churches are even afraid of using this dreaded “s” word, but we must use it. It tells us that there is something wrong with us that we can’t fix. It tells us that we’re wholly inclined to do things our own way rather than God’s way. So if you’re one of those people who no longer feels the weight of sin, my prayer is that God will awaken you to your condition before you sustain any more serious injuries.