“Now Is the Time”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER

APRIL 28, 2019

Title:  “Now Is the Time”

Text: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14).

Scripture Reading: Romans 13:11-14.

No doctrine in the Bible is more important than the doctrine of repentance. It is more important , for it is the gatekeeper of heaven.  Before people can be reconciled to God through his Son, Jesus Christ, they must experience repentance. The experience of David recorded in Psalm 51 is a classic illustration of genuine repentance.  One almost feels that he or she is intruding on a scene that is extremely private and personal, for David is writing in the agony of remorse and sorrow. He has faced sin in his life, with all the veneers of human excuses stripped away.  His soul is naked before God, and he sees himself stained and distorted before his Creator. We watched in breathless wonder as this helpless man deals with a problem that clearly has no human solution, for he is guilty of sins that put him beyond the remedy provided by the law of his day.  It is with stunned amazement that we watch David work through an experience that resulted in the cleansing of his soul and the restoration of peace and joy in his life. As we look the issue of sin and repentance this morning, we can use David’s experience. We can plot David’s journey down the highway of repentance.

The first thing we pick up from David is the realization of sin.  Before we observe the “breakthrough” in David’s life, the moment when he came to realize his sin, let us set the stage historically.  We look in on a court scene in Jerusalem with Israel’s greatest king sitting on the throne. David has been divinely chosen and anointed for the task of being God’s king to rule over his people.  He had also become the nation’s spiritual leader. God had promised him that his house would be established forever. God had blessed him; his kingdom had flourished; and his armies had soundly defeated Israel.

But in the midst of all this victory and luxury, David saw and wanted and took for himself the beautiful wife of Uriah.  Any other king in the world could have done this without a whisper of blame on himself. But David was Jehovah’s anointed! Before the sordid story was over, murder was added to the picture as David had Uriah conveniently placed on the front line of battle so that he would be killed.  Thus adultery and murder clung like soot to David’s soul. For almost a year, David endured the lashing of his conscience. But one day the fearless prophet Nathan came with that brief powerful story of the neighbor who had one sheep, which was stolen by the man with many. A dagger was thrust into David’s soul when Nathan said, “Thou art the man!”

There would be no story to tell if something marvelous had not happened.  Instead of rejecting Nathan’s hot words of accusation and ordering the prophet executed for his presumption, the process was triggered that resulted in David’s rising again.  Someone had suggested that David’s sin must have called for a great celebration in the Devil’s domain, for David must have been the one person in the entire world, Satan longed to have in his clutches.  And now this great man lay morally and spiritually trapped and bound and ruined! David, the spiritual leader of God’s chosen people, was out of the fight!

The second thing here is the agony of turning. David’s first reaction, following the shock of Nathan’s accusation, was a cry of forgiveness.  “Have mercy upon me, O God,” David cried. God is ever monitoring the channel on which people cry for mercy, and he sends instant relief when people call.

It important to note David’s pattern of thought: his first move was to speak out before God his particular and specific acts of sin.  He used three words to describe his sin: transgression, which means rebellion, deliberately settings oneself against the will and laws of God, a calculated sin of high treason against the sovereign of the universe, iniquity, that which distorts one’s reason: and sin, which means “missing the mark.” or failure.

Then David used three words of action, indicating that he wanted God to do something for him that he could not do for himself.  David said, “blot out my transgression. “Washed me thoroughly.” David said, “cleanse me.” “Blot out” means to erase from the record ; “wash me” indicates David’s realization that his whole being was defiled and needed a divine scrubbing; “cleanse me” reflect his desire to be absolutely clean inside and out.

Following David’s cry for mercy, David sincerely confessed his sin: “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”  Nathan had said, “thou art the man!” Now David was saying, “Lord, I am the man.” He assume all responsibility for his sin; he did not blame his ancestors or Bathsheba as an accomplice in his sin.  He declared that he alone, was responsible for what he did.

David prayed hard not only that he might be received into God’s presence again.  As David bared his soul before God, he saw what a vile, sinful person he had been.  Now he wanted God to purify him, his whole sin defiled being! He wanted God to sprinkle hyssop  on him. Hyssop was an aromatic oil used to spray those who had had leprosy or some other loathsome disease.  Not only did the hyssop serve as a deodorizer, but sprinkling it was also a symbolic act whereby one was cleansed for God’s presence.

David reached the climax of his prayer.  It was the end of his journey down the road of repentance, when he prayed for a new heart and a new life.  In Psalm 51:10 David is saying in essence: Lord, because of this terrible things I have done, you must assume your role of creator again for me!  I must have a new heart! I have damaged the old one beyond repair. David is saying the scars are two hideous. Do your work all over again. David asked God to give him a new heart.  In the 10 verse of this psalm, David lays the foundation for the New Testament doctrine of the New Birth. David recognizes the strategic importance of being born again. David’s mental, moral, and spiritual self must be renewed by the creative touch of God.

One can also check out the glory of the restoration.  A note of positive, and a ringing assurance appear in David’s words.  Purge me with hyssop, and I will be whiter than snow. David’s hope lay in the fact that God is God who keeps his words and who is as good as his promises.  He is God who keeps his covenant with his people. When this hope dawns in a person heart, life begins, for this a truth to live by and a truth to die by.

What was the natural result of David’s experience of repentance and forgiveness of sins?  It was the same first impulse that every saved individual has to tell others about his glorious newly discovered remedy for soul sickness.  Note again his assurance: “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” David vowed that he would spend the rest of his life telling others about God’s grace and urging sinners to come to the only source of life and cleansing.  David would be an evangelist, a seeker of the lost people, and an announcer of good news to those who languished and sin.

In summary, we find that four ingredients constituted David’s response or repentance: humiliation, contrition, confession, and transfiguration.  The Holy Spirit convicts people and brings them to a state humiliation, to an expression of contrition, and to the point confession. Then the biggest miracle of all transpires when, as a result of these preparatory experiences, they are transformed by the power of God.  it my prayers that w all will realize that the resurrection of Christ gives way to repentance. It helps us to clothe ourselves with Christ, thereby killing our fleshly desires. God bless you.