Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
cleanse me from my sin!
During these days of Lent, we are journeying together toward the cross, acknowledging our sin as the reason why the offering of Jesus is necessary. Such a realization could breed more guilt than freedom, but that is not what God intends! The cross is a gift of immense love which sets us free. Being wrapped up in or paralyzed by our sin is not part of the new life we have in Christ.
Consider David, who knew something about sin and confession. When he wrote Psalm 51, he had done some terrible things, yet the starting place of the prayer he offers is based in the character of God and God’s forgiving nature. Three times (v. 1) he calls on the mercy of God, the steadfast love of God, and the steadfast mercy of God. Only after firmly establishing the forgiving nature of God does he move on to his petition for forgiveness. Again, three times (v. 2), he asks blot out, wash me thoroughly, and cleanse me.
Friends, there is much to confess, for we all fall short. But, do not despair! The mercy and steadfast love of the Lord is greater than our sin, and God can cleanse us.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ.