Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 August 25, 2006


The Secret of Happiness

Scripture: Psalm 32, especially verse 1: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

 

Introduction:

Some suffering in life is hard to explain, but much of it is self-inflicted. Could your misery be due to poor choices? Due to apathy or indifference? Could our suffering be due to sin?

Psalm 32 lets us see God’s blessings for those who are forgiven. This psalm gives us the forgotten secret of happiness, telling us that sin brings sorrow, but confession brings forgiveness and forgiveness brings joy. Listen as I read Psalm 32 from the New King James Bible:
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him.
7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

In the first two verses, David writes about: The Joy of Forgiveness. Both verses begin with, “Blessed is the man.” Blessed is one of those religious words that are hard to translate into realistic terms. Perhaps the closest we can come is “happiness.” The psalmist says that the blessed person is the one who understands forgiveness. But we can’t understand the reality of forgiveness if we don’t understand the concept of sin, so David uses three words to describe sin: Transgression—Sin—Iniquity.

The psalmist was happy that...His transgression was forgiven and that his sin was covered. This psalm grew out of David’s experiences with the Lord after he had committed adultery and had tried to hide his sins (2 Sam. 11–12). But nothing is hidden from God. God sees what you do and keeps a record of it. David had covered his sins on earth, but he couldn’t cover the record in heaven. He found that hiding sin only led to negative physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. His body wasted away, he groaned all day long, and his vitality was drained. The same consequences will fall on any man or woman who refuses to admit guilt.
But confession brings peace and joy as sin is first uncovered and then covered by God with His forgiveness. However, when you refuse to confess your sins, the Lord must deal with you to bring you to repentance. The longer you wait the more miserable you will be, as you can see in David’s experience.

There is a proverb that says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Prov.28:13). When we trust Christ as Lord and Savior, we receive forgiveness from the penalty of sin. When we, as believers, confess our sins, we receive forgiveness that maintains fellowship with God our Father.

There is no blessing for the person who covers his sins, that is, who refuses to drag them out into the light and to confess them to God and to anyone else who has been wronged. But anyone who confesses and forsakes his sins has the assurance that God not only forgives but forgets. In the book of Hebrews it says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 10:17). When we confess, God wipes the record clean. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” according to 1 John 1:9.

If you’re a Christian, you need to know that The Lord doesn’t impute iniquity. Impute is an accounting term, that means that it’s not counted against us. A rough illustration is when you get pulled over for speeding and the kind officer tells you it will not go on your record. God’s forgiveness is like that. There’s no sin so great that He won’t forgive it, and there is no number of sins that’s too many for Him to forgive. This is a reason to rejoice!

When a shipwrecked sailor has been rescued from death, and is sitting warm and dry by the fire, his first thought is to congratulate himself: “How lucky I am to have escaped with my life. How thankful I am to those who saved my life.” David, like the sailor, is a rescued man; and he expresses his thankfulness and joy before he tells the story of his moral shipwreck.

A person may comment about his fall into sin, but it doesn’t matter because God says “I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.” David is treated as innocent. The Lord does not charge him with the sin. David is so very grateful that he shouts for joy, praising God.

Verses 3 and 4 are the opposite of 1 and 2, because they speak of:The Misery of Unconfessed Sin.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.

Notice the shift to a personal pronoun. Verses 1 and 2 use the terms “he” and “the man”, but here David uses the personal pronouns “I” and “me”.

David is giving us a personal illustration about the power of unconfessed sin. “When I kept silent”, he said, unwilling to confess my sin, my body wasted away and God dealt with me so severely that my vitality was drained like a man suffering in the summer heat. Do you recall a time when the summer’s heat was so oppressive you found it difficult to even breathe? For me personally, that’s the way it’s been this summer; I have been uncomfortable ever since it got hot. But the worse thing about the heat is that it keeps you awake at night. Unconfessed sin hunts us down, oppresses us, and just like the heat it keeps us awake at night.

If you’re a child of God, you can sin, but you cannot get by with it. That’s the difference between the saved and unsaved man. If you’re a man of the world, you can get by with your sin temporarily, but a child of God cannot. The hand of God was heavy upon David day and night. Paul says, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” If we don’t judge ourselves, then God is going to judge us. God takes His own child to the woodshed for punishment.

Sometime after David’s sin, the prophet Nathan came to David to accuse him, and he said, “David, I have a little story to tell you.” This is the story: “…Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.”(2 Samuel 12:1-7)

Verse 5 is next and it speaks about: Confession and Repentance. In this verse, David used the same three words—Transgression, Rebellion and Sin that he used in verses 1-2, saying that he had learned to acknowledge his sin, to expose his wickedness to the Lord, and to confess his disobedience. This is good instruction for you and me, isn’t it. If you are out of fellowship with God today, David in this verse tells about the way back. We are also told in the New Testament, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

In his book, Healing for Damaged Emotions, David Seamands writes about a young minister who once came to see him. He was having a lot of problems getting along with other people, especially his wife and family. He was continually criticizing her.He was sarcastic and demanding, and he was destroying their marriage. His attitude was also harsh toward members of his church. Finally in desperation, he came to see Dr. Seamands, and after a while, the painful root of the matter came to light. Seamands wrote: “While he was in the armed forces in Korea, he had spent two weeks of R & R in Japan. During that leave, walking the streets of Tokyo, feeling empty, lonely, and terribly homesick, he fell into temptation and went three or four times to a prostitute. “He had never been able to forgive himself.

He had sought God’s forgiveness, and with his head, believed he had it. But the guilt still plagued him and he hated himself. Every time he looked in the mirror, he couldn’t stand what he was seeing. “When he returned home to marry his fiancée, who had faithfully waited for him all those years, his emotional conflicts increased because he still could not accept complete forgiveness....He felt he had no right to be happy. “As A. W. Tozer put it, the young minister was living in the “perpetual penance of regret.”

Verses 6 and 7 give: Instruction
Here the psalmist is going to pass along the lesson he learned. Here’s what he wrote:

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him.
7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.

When David refers to the “flood of great waters” I think he is referring to the flood of Noah’s time. Noah was in the Ark when the flood came, and the flood that destroyed others simply lifted him up because he was in the Ark. The waters of judgment could not reach Noah.
There is going to be another time of great judgment coming upon the earth, but it will not be a flood of water; it will be fire. What can anyone do at that time? It will be too late for anyone to do anything.

David calls on us to turn to God as he did, and to find in Him relief, release, and protection. He depicts God’s protection in three ways: it’s A hiding place, a place where there is Preservation from trouble, and where we are Surrounded by Songs of Deliverance.

In verses 8-10, David talks about the—The Wisdom of God
Here the Psalm shifts gears, warning the reader not to be like a horse or mule that requires a bit and bridle. Those who do not want God, who do not care about God, choose the hard way, the way of sin.

This is what David wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.

You have to be very close to the Lord if you’re going to be guided by His eye. But there are many Christians today who don’t live in the will of God. They are way out there, yet God will guide them by His overruling providence, as we learn in the little book of Esther. There He compares the believer who will not be led by God to an old hard-headed mule. It reminds me of the man in Texas who visited his friend who had a little donkey. They hitched it to a wagon hoping to take a ride and visit some mutual friends. Before they got into the wagon, the owner reached into the wagon, took out a two-by-four, and hit the donkey over the head. The man asked his friend, “Why in the world did you do that?” His friend replied, “I do that to get his attention.”

Many of us are like that donkey. That’s why scripture says, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.

Verse 11 is the last verse and it—Ends on a High Note
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Here, the one who groaned under the weight of sin now rejoices and shouts for joy. Why shouldn’t he sing and shout praises to God? He has come and taken away our sins, and washed us thoroughly, and given us a new heart. And just think about all those promises in His Word that we have to look forward to. We should be the happiest people on the planet.

Now, I believe there are several lessons in this psalm that God wants us to learn.

 

Lessons

People today have an incomplete view of repentance. Repentance isn’t penance, reparation, or self-punishment. And it isn’t just looking inside ones self. True repentance involves admission of guilt, sorrow, remorse, grief, and regret. But it is primarily a turning, a changing, a choice. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean God removes the consequences of our sins.
However, the believer has assurance that God forgives sin. Forgiveness is the removal of sin.
It is lifted. The debt is cancelled. All the debt of sin—that is impossible for us to pay off —is forgiven in Christ’s work on the Cross. We can have full assurance of that. When we understand forgiveness, we’re thankful.

This psalm has a thankful message. There is great joy in forgiveness. The only real happiness is forgiveness from sin. Apart from forgiveness, there’s no real joy.

To live in sin is to live in grief. To live in sin is to lose joy. The only real happiness is being forgiven. Everything else is an artificial attempt to dull the pain.

 

Conclusion:


Sin brings sorrow, confession brings forgiveness, and forgiveness brings joy. How many struggles in our lives are due to sin! Why not confess it? Why not admit to God what He already knows? Why not ask Him this minute? Why not come to the Cross of Jesus Christ?

Do you have any questions or comments?

 Although Mary Carney and her husband arrived at church in the same car, they were miles apart. They had engaged in one of those arguments before church and did not get their problem resolved. Humorously, God’s sovereignty was reflected in a secretary’s typographical error. As Mary sat stewing in church, she glanced down at her bulletin. She and Gary were scheduled to sing a duet during the worship service. Next to their name was typed the word “duel.” She smiled then looked at her husband. The decision was theirs to make a duet or duel. Through the quietness of that Sunday service she reached for his hand and the “duet” began. In all of our relationships, marriage or otherwise, we make daily choices to participate in either a duet or a duel. Those decisions will dictate whether we build bridges or bombs.

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