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Sin, Iniquities, Transgressions, God’s Mercy & the Pursuit of Holiness in the Psalms

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

The Psalms were a huge part of the early church’s life and worship together. They were meant to be a huge part of our church life and worship as well. This is made clear by at least three of the apostle Paul’s directives:

First in I Corinthians 14:26, in the general context of the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit when we gather together corporately, he explained, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

Next in Ephesians 5:18-21, again in the context of gathering for corporate worship with other believers, Paul commands, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;….”.

Finally in Colossians 3:14-17, again in the context of body life, Paul commands, “……Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God…”.

Please note the psalms are always mentioned first. And when you get a chance, note how many times Paul quotes the Psalms in his epistles. They obviously were a significant part of his life and ministry. May they ever be more a part of ours!

This study is meant to highlight what the Psalms teach us about the reality of sin, iniquities and transgressions, God's plentiful mercy for such, and the call to holiness in the Psalms - all of which should be a significant part of the foundation of Christ's church in every city.

The Blessing of Forgiveness and Cleansing of Sin & God’s mercy toward we sinners:  

Psalm 32:1,2 “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!”                                                                                      

Psa. 86:5 “ For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.”

Psalm 103:3 “Who pardons all your iniquities…”

Psa. 103:10 “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”

Psa. 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Our posture towards God and sin:                                                                                    

Psa. 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psa. 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

Prayers for forgiveness, cleansing, healing, mercy re: our sin:

Psa. 25:7 “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.”

Psa. 25:18 “Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.”

Psa. 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Psa. 39:8 “Deliver me from all my transgressions; Make me not the reproach of the foolish.”

Psa. 41:4b “As for me, I said, “Oh Lord, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

Psa. 51:1 “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Psa. 51:2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.”

Psa. 51:7 “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Psa. 51:8 “Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.”

Psa. 51:9 “Hide your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities.”

Psa. 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:11 “Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”

Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

Psalm 51:14 “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.”

Psalm 51:15 “O Lord, open my lips That my mouth may declare Your praise.”

Psalm 79:8 “Do not remember the iniquities of our forefathers against us; Let Your compassion come quickly to meet us, For we are brought very low.”

Psalm 79:9 “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake.”

Prayers for illumination/revelation of sin & blind spots:                                                             

Psa. 19:12 “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.”

Psa. 19:13 “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

Psa. 26:2 “Examine me O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.”

Psa. 139:23,24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

God & our sin:

Psa. 14:1-3 “The fool has said in his heart,”There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.” (cf. Psa. 53:1-3)

Psa. 65:3 “Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You forgive them.”

Psa. 65:5 “O God, it is You who knows my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from You.”

Psa. 90:8 “You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”

Psa. 103:10 “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”

Psa. 130:3,4 “If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.”

Psa. 130:8 “And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.”

Psa. 143:2 “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous.”

Intimacy with God and call to Holiness:                                                                          

Psa. 15:1-5 “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?…”

Guarding Against Sin:                                                                                                       

Psa. 39:1 “I said, “I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence.”

Psa. 119:11 “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

Sin’s Consequences:                                                                                                                     

Psa. 31:10 “For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away.”

Psa. 32:3,4 “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”

Psa. 38:3-10 “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my heard; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly……..”

Psa. 38:18 “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”

Psa. 40:12 “For evils beyond number have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; They are more numerous than the hairs of my head.”

Psa. 41:4 “As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

Psa. 65:3 “Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You forgive them.”

Psa. 66:18 “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;”

Psa. 107:17, 18 “Fools, because of their rebellious way, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, And they drew near to the gates of death."

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