Relief from the Burden of Sin
September 25, 2005 / No. 3273
Dear radio friends,
Please read carefully God’s Word in Psalm 32.
Today I speak to you on the truth, “Relief from the Burden of Sin.”
If a poll were conducted at this time among you who are listening to the program, that poll would reveal that there is a great multitude of burdens given to you by the Lord, many of which you have no power to remove. As children of God, we have diverse burdens, perhaps more than one, several burdens which are given to us by God to carry, and with which we may and must do as He commands in Psalm 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Yet, for many of these burdens, they cannot be removed right now. They are the will of God for us.
Perhaps your burden today is the burden of declining health and chronic illness, the ravages of old age, diabetes, migraine headaches. Perhaps your burden today is the frustration that you experience in your job as you seek to serve God in your appointed calling. For others it may be the burden of a single life. You recognize that God has made you that you might share life with another in the bonds of a holy marriage. You desire to know the joys of marital love, of the intimacy of that union, and of a family, but God has not brought this to pass. For others it may be the burden of childlessness. You desire to have children, to have a child; but the Lord has not opened the way. It may be the burden of the death of a loved one, the slow death of your husband or father. It may be the waywardness of a son or a daughter. That is a tremendous and crushing grief of a parent for his child which only a parent can know. It may be the burden of a divided marriage. You cannot get along, things are getting worse. It may be the burden of mental depression. And on and on we could go.
As the people of God, we carry many burdens. You have yours and I have mine. And for many of these burdens we are helpless to remove them. Many of them are the will of God for us right now.
But perhaps there is another burden that you carry. It is the kind of a burden that no child of God need carry any farther. In a sense we may call this one the burden of allburdens, the one that is ultimately the real burden. If it is removed, all of those other burdens we talked about become light. Yet there is no reason for you, child of God, to carry this burden one step farther. There is a place where you may leave it and carry it no more. It is the burden of sin, the burden of unforgiven and unconfessed sin, the weight upon your soul and consciousness of the guilt and misery of your sin.
That was the burden that David was talking about in Psalm 32, the burden that drove him into such a state that his entire soul was disturbed, so that there was groaning and sighing within his heart. He felt that the hand of God was upon him day and night. David was weeping and crying to the point that his tears ran dry. He was carrying the insufferable burden upon the consciousness of a child of God — the burden of sin, of sin that he felt was unforgiven, of sin that he had not confessed.
The call of God right now, through Jesus Christ, to you, His children, is this: Deal with that burden. And deal with it in the most appropriate place imaginable — before the Word of God and before the cross of Christ. And leave that burden there. When sitting before the Word of God right now, and as you hear that Word spoken to you of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all the sins of God’s children, of the blood of the Lord that was shed to cleanse us from all our iniquity, you are called by the Master Himself not to carry the burden of unforgiven and unconfessed sin.
Why? Why must we, as children of God, not carry the burden of unforgiven sin upon our hearts?
First of all, because God has told us in His Word that He has made a perfect payment and full provision that is entirely adequate for all of our sins. We read in I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Literally that Word reads: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son goes on cleansing us from all sin.” The Bible is telling us that the sacrificial, atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the blood that He shed upon the cross in the place of God’s children, that blood and its merit do not peter out. It continues to cleanse us from all our sins — sins that we commit in our thoughts, sins that we so readily commit in our words, sins that take root in our heart, sins of the hand and sins of the mind, sins of omission (failure to do what we should) and commission (doing what we ought never do). There is no sin, says God, of any category, for which the blood of His Son is not an adequate and full payment to cleanse us and gain forgiveness for us.
In the next verses of the epistle, in I John 2:1, 2, we read, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation [that is, the covering] for our sins.” If any man sin (no qualification — sins of mind, heart, body; sins of intention or desire), we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who before the Father shows all the virtues of His sacrifice on the cross — the sacrifice that has forever turned away the wrath of God that every one of our sins deserves, sins that we commit in our thought, mind, desire, intention. The sin that is seen only by the eye of God, or the sin that is like a billboard for everyone around you to see — He is the propitiation, He is the covering for all our sin. He carried it to His cross. He said, “It is finished.” Payment, child of God, for your sin in Christ was made so that the Scriptures may tell us in Hebrews 9:12, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” And the book of Hebrews goes on to tell us, Hebrews 10:12, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
Child of God, do you feel upon your conscience the weight of unforgiven sin? Do you look for relief in yourself? Look to the full payment of Christ. Do not carry that burden, in the light of the Word of God, which says that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all our sins.
There is another reason why we may have relief from that burden of sin. Not only has God made a payment, but God’s promise to apply those merits of Christ to us is also certain and sure. The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sins. You see, we might reason from that verse of Scripture this way. We might say, “My problem is not that I do not believe that the sacrifice of Christ has cleansed away all the sins of God’s people. But what about my sin. And what about that sin of mine that I have committed time after time after time and I’ve come to Him many times for forgiveness? Can there be forgiveness for me? Is there a promise of God with respect not to sin in general, not simply a promise of God with respect to God’s people in general, but for my sins?” The answer is: “As certain as the Word of God is, that He has given Christ as the full payment for the sins of God’s children, so certain is the promise of God to each one of His children, to you also, that there is forgiveness for your sin in the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Now we could multiply texts at this time. Let me refer you to Psalm 130:3, 4, where the psalmist says, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand?” That is, he poses a question. And the answer is obvious: If God would choose to mark our sins with the intention of calling us to give an account, and there was no payment made on the cross of Calvary, who shall stand? The answer is: No one. God knows the deepest secrets of our hearts. He sees the first springs and desires of anger erupting in our heart when no one can see it on our face. God sees the jealousy written all over your heart when you look at that other woman. God sees the lust in your heart that no one else sees, or the envy. God sees all of these things with His eye of omniscience. We read in the book of Proverbs: “For the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil.” He sees the pride in your heart. He sees the first urge of lust. He sees everything that is a violation of His holy law. Now, if He shall mark our sins, who shall stand? And the answer is clear: no one. I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
But going back to Psalm 130:4, we read: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” There is forgiveness with Thee! The promise of God is sure and certain. Before God, if He would bring us into judgment, our own mouth must condemn us. But God says, There is forgiveness. That is personal. David said in Psalm 32: “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin, that is, the stain, the soiling of my sin, the soil of my sin upon the fabric of my soul and heart. The blood of Christ has washed my sin away. Divine grace reached down and lifted off my soul the deep stain of my sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Child of God, you need carry no further the burden of your sin. The payment in Jesus Christ is full and adequate. The promise of God is certain and sure.
But, perhaps, we still ask, “How do I receive the experience of this blessing to my soul? I need this.” You say, “I understand that you are not talking about mere religious theories or notions. But you are talking about the most important thing in my entire life: the assurance of the pardon of my sin, relief from the consciousness of sin. I am conscious of my sin,” you say, “and I need to know that that burden has been lifted from me. I cannot carry that burden. How do I know, how do I experience from God this blessing?”
The answer of the Word of God is that God grants the experience of this blessing by the grace of confession and repentance. God does not grant you the assurance of the relief of the burden of your sin through your works. Not by any work that you could have done, not by something you can do or have done. Not by your trying to add to the virtue of Christ. We would like it if that were the case. Oh, yes, we would! We would like it if there were some loophole here that would need our help. Then we could point to something we did and say, “Now I know I am forgiven because I can point to something I did.” No! No, says God. God never gives the experience of relief from the burden of sins through any work, physical or spiritual, that we perform.
How does God grant the experience of forgiveness? In the way of His grace, working in us faith. In the way of His grace, working in us confession of our sin. I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The word “confess” there means that you stand with God and you say the same thing. You say about your sin exactly what God says about it. You say the same thing as God. You call your sin what God calls it. That is what it means to confess. To confess your sin, you see, is not simply that you come with this general acknowledgment that you have messed up, that you have not been everything you should be as a husband or a wife, that you have not attained to all that you would like to have attained in your life. Confession of sin is not some vague, nebulous acknowledgment of being a general flop. But it is a confession of your sin: that you have deliberately missed the mark of God’s call and God’s law.
And you are prepared to name your sins: the rising of the envy and jealousy in your heart against her, which was like a knife into her back; the root of bitterness against God when He did not give to you what you thought you wanted or you thought you needed; the thought of lust in your heart; the thought in your heart that God is not fair in putting you in the place where you are as a widow, in your family, or in your marriage, that God made a mistake there; the questioning of God’s right to be God to you and to determine all the affairs of your life. Name that sin of your bitterness, the sin of your heart, the sin of resentment, the sin of lust, the sin of pride. Say to God that none of these things is justified, that none of your actions or thoughts of sin are understandable in the light of the circumstances in which you were placed. That you can hardly be blamed for thinking the way you thought, and that, after all, others have done a whole lot worse than you — banish those words from your hearts. Call what you did and what you thought what it is: Sin!
In the way of the confession of our sins, that is, in the way of the grace of humility, the acknowledgment that we are nothing and can do nothing and have sinned against God — in that way God grants the relief of the burden of sin. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” God grants us this assurance in the way of the confession of our sin. So David speaks to us in Psalm 32 that for a long time he covered up his sin with silence. In Psalm 32 he is talking specifically about the sin that he committed when he took Bathsheba for his wife and murdered her husband, Uriah. He says there, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” David said, “All you need to do is keep silence, refuse to confess your sins, and you cannot know the grace of pardon.” Instead you begin to know, as a child of God, the increasing burden of divine chastisement, for the Lord is determined that we shall not go our own way as His children. He will not let us have what we would choose in sin. We would choose to have our sin, cover it up, and go merrily on our own way. But the Bible says, “Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth in order that we might be partakers of his holiness.” Read Hebrews 12.
We know from the Bible that David went on for almost a year in silence with respect to his adultery and murder. He went back to the throne the next day as if it were business as usual. All the while, God was working in his conscience until David’s whole inner life was eaten up and consumed. “The hand of God,” he says, “was heavy upon me. I found no joy. The joy of the Lord was gone, there was an emptiness in my soul.” The witness of God that He was God was muffled among the nations. The sense of God’s presence and Spirit was totally lost. The results of his silence and his pride were catastrophic and tragic.
But then God dealt with David. You may read of that in II Samuel 12. God sent the prophet Nathan, who came to him with the parable of a rich man and a poor man. The poor man had one sheep, which was his pet. The rich man had a whole flock. But the rich man took that poor man’s sheep and butchered it to serve his guests. And David rose from his throne and said to Nathan, “You tell me who that man is.” And Nathan pointed his finger at him and said, “You are the man. You did that. You have sinned, David.” And the Holy Spirit worked in David’s heart so that David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord hath put away thy sin.”
Oh, what a wonderful gospel! You think that is cheap? You think that is easy, quick? If you think that way, you have never tasted forgiveness. No, David now saw his sin as the burden that he could never remove. He saw himself for what he was: desperately wicked. It was not other people’s fault. It was his. He was guilty before God. But in the way of that confession, and in the way of faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, God grants forgiveness, a forgiveness free and eternal, a forgiveness that is undeserved, such a forgiveness that breaks us, that constrains us now to live in gratitude and in love to Him and His mercy.
Children of God, whatever burden you carry, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood shed upon Calvary, do not carry the burden of a gnawing conscience, of unforgiven and unconfessed sin, a burden that will cut off the spring of hope and joy and praise. You know what your sin is. I do not. God knows. Confess your sin before God. And, by the grace of God, take the place of David. Acknowledge your sins, confess them, and hear David’s words: “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we know that, when we have relief from the burden of our sin, then in whatever burden the Lord calls us to carry, whatever trial or trouble we confront, whatever burden we now carry, we will find blessing. We will find the Lord’s words to be true, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. For we shall find blessedness in this: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose iniquity is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity. Relief from the burden of sin.
Let us pray.
Father, bend our knees in true confession and give to our souls the relief of the burden of our sins, through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns at Thy right hand. Amen.