Summary: A sermon for those who have sinned greatly and who don't think that there is hope for them.
"The Fact of Forgiveness"
Psalms 130:4 "But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared."
I. The Torment of unforgiveness
a. The depths v. 1a
Out of the depths - The word rendered "depths" is from a verb - עמק ‛âmaq - which means to be deep; then, to be unsearchable; then, to make deep; and it would apply to anything low, deep, or profound, as the ocean, a pit, or a valley. The word used here occurs elsewhere only in the following places: Psa_69:2, Psa_69:14, where it is rendered "deep," applied to waters; and Isa_51:10; Eze_27:34, where it is rendered "depths." The word, as used here, would be applicable to deep affliction, dejection, or distress. It would be applicable
(a) to affliction - the depths of sorrow from loss of friends, property, or bodily suffering;
(b) sin - the depths into which the soul is plunged under the consciousness of guilt;
(c) mental trouble - low spirits - melancholy - darkness of mind - loss of comfort in religion - powerful temptation - disappointment - the anguish caused by ingratitude - or sadness of heart in view of the crimes and the sorrows of people - or grief at the coldness, the hardness, the insensibility of our friends to their spiritual condition.
What can guilt, shame and fear do to us? There was a song that I heard several years ago that the Cathedrals recorded that said;
"As a child, I foolishly, turned God away,
Not knowing, the heartbreak, a sinner must pay,
But God, in His goodness, has let me return,
To share with, His children, this lesson I learned,
So with pleasure, and promises, Sin took control,
Leaving me dying, with nothing to show,
Gone were my loved ones, and my dearest friends,
Only a Saviour, could love me again.
Sin will take you farther, than you want to go,
Slowly, but wholly, taking control,
Sin will leave you longer, than you want to stay,
Sin will cost you far more, than you want to pay.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
In the Prison Fellowship newsletter, Jubilee, Charles Colson told of a young boy who became excessively fearful during the great New York blackout of 1977. When his parents questioned their son, he confessed that at the exact moment the lights went out, he had kicked a power line pole. As darkness engulfed the city, he thought he was to blame and would be punished.
b. The desperation v. 1b-2
These are the words of a broken man. A man who has come to the realization of what he has done and the seriousness of what he has done overwhelms him.
c. The declaration v. 3
If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities - If thou shouldst observe, note, attend to, and regard all the evil that I have done. The Hebrew word means properly to keep, to watch, to guard. The word, as used here, refers to that kind of vigilance or watchfulness which one is expected to manifest who is on guard; who keeps watch in a city or camp by night. The idea is, If God should thus look with a scrutinizing eye; if he should try to see all that he could see; if he should suffer nothing to escape his observation; if he should deal with us exactly as we are; if he should overlook nothing, forgive nothing, we could have no hope.
Who shall stand? - Who shall stand upright? Who could stand before thee? Who could hope to be acquitted? This implies
(1) That the petitioner was conscious of guilt, or knew that he was a sinner;
(2) That he felt there was a depth of depravity in his heart which God could see, but which he did not - as every man must be certain that there is in his own soul;
(3) That God had the power of bringing that to light if he chose to do it, so that the guilty man would be entirely overwhelmed;
Numbers 32:23 "But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out."
Luke 12:3 "Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
(4) That he who urged the prayer rested his only hope on the fact that God would not mark iniquity; would not develop what was in him; would not judge him by what he saw in his heart; but would deal with him otherwise, and show him mercy and compassion.