The Gift of Repentance (Psalm 51)

TEXT: Psalm 51

Big Idea: “When we genuinely repent of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us, cleanse us, and restore us.”


(In Psalm 51, we see five characteristics of true repentance):

1. Appeals to God’s character (Ps. 51:1-2)
David knows God’s character to be one of faithfulness, that God does not break His promises. And David knows God to be a God of mercy, slow to anger and rich in love. On this basis, knowing and trusting in God’s steadfast love and abundant, overflowing mercy, David comes to God in prayer, asking for forgiveness from his sin.

2. Confesses sin against God (Ps. 51:3-9)
David knew the reason his sin was so grievous was because it was first and foremost offensive to a holy God. To see our sin clearly is a gift from God. But when we see our sin, we must not stay there. We must run to the cross, where our sins were paid for. Confess your sins to Jesus, not just once but everyday of your life, and receive the assurance of His forgiveness and His love.

3. Results in a new nature (Ps. 51:10-12)
True repentance is not just feeling sorry for your sin, but never changing. True repentance means you are made new, and you live out of that newness of heart, out of the goodness of God’s word, growing in holiness everyday. We become disciples, and then we grow as disciples. New desires. New priorities. New love for God’s Word. New love for others. But it all starts with the heart.

4. Bears fruit others can see (Ps. 51:13-17)
In this life, no Christian is sinless. But at the same time, no Christian should be fruitless. A heart that Jesus saves will begin to take on His character. A repentant heart leads to a changed life. God’s grace not only cleanses us of sin, but it empowers us to live differently.

5. Pursues healing for those we have hurt (Ps. 51:18-19)
David recognizes how his sin has hurt others. He is asking God to do good to Zion, do good to the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, who were damaged because of his sin. When we realize the seriousness of our sin and we are sorrowful for it, we will also be sorrowful for the people our sin has hurt, and we will do everything we can to make it right.

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