Satan’s “Be like God” advertising campaign is how sin first entered the world. The story is found in Genesis 3:1-5. A two-step marketing strategy was employed. First Satan plants a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s ways. His propaganda is that God doesn’t want what’s best for Adam and Eve; that He’s withholding something from them, something that’s good and helpful. He’s saying that God’s line of protection is just a diversion to cover-up God’s selfishness and cruelty.
The second step in Satan’s strategy was to deny God’s word. In denying God’s word Satan imputed motives to God that were not consistent with God’s character. God’s true motive was the welfare of man, but Satan implied that the real name of the game is God’s welfare at the expense of man.
And so after his marketing plan was put into play, Satan was able to seal the deal, he was able to sell his product; disobedience to the revealed will of God. We see this in Gen. 3:6. Eve buys into the idea of wanting to do something apart from God’s will, of wanting to have something apart from God’s will, and wanting to be something apart from God’s will; namely to be as wise as God. Be Like God was the tagline, the enticing slogan that Eve swallowed hook, line, and sinker. And of course Adam was right there with her, making that fatal choice as well.
Now let’s move from this scene in the Garden to our lives right here right now. Even if we have no interest in being like God, the condition of sin, and the consequences that resulted from Adam and Eve wanting to Be Like God has been passed down to us! We’ve inherited the infamous legacy of their rebellion. This is Paul’s point in Romans 5:12. Adam’s initial act of disobedience has corrupted human nature and made individual sinning unavoidable. And so what this means is that sin is not just we inevitably do, but also in terms of how the different parts of our being operate, in terms of how we function at the most basic level, sin is a significant part of who we are. Sinning doesn’t make us sinners. We sin because we’re already sinners by nature! That’s the gravity of our depravity. This is the false bill of goods we were sold in the Be Like God campaign. And this is why we need to get on board with a new campaign. In response to the outworking of sin in our lives, we need to buy into the Be like David campaign found in Psalm 51.
First, we need to express confession because this is where complete cleansing begins. As was true of David, we often desperately needs spiritual deliverance because of our guilt before God. In verses 1 and 2 he wrote: “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love! Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin!” David is making an appeal to God, and in order to make that appeal David acknowledges his sin (vv. 3-6).
Second, we need to request cleansing (vv. 7-10). In this section David wants removal of sin. Just like he did in verses 1 and 2 he pleads for spiritual purification. He knew that if God washed him morally he would be thoroughly clean in a spiritual sense. And if David is clean in that way what happens, his joy is restored (v.8). His joy will be restored because his relationship with God is no longer painful, like it was between the time of his sin and the time of his confession. His relationship with God will no longer feel like a bone that’s been broken by the oppressive weight of sin.
Third, we need to state concerns. In verses 11 and 12 David says, “Do not reject me! Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me! Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!”
The concern here is that the negative consequences of sin will be avoided. Here’s the deal, in Old Testament times God gave His Holy Spirit selectively (to empower only some believers), and temporarily (primarily to empower them for special acts of service). But since the day of Pentecost all believers enjoy the permanent indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9). So the possibility of God’s withdrawing His Spirit was real for David, but it won’t happen to us! However, it is possible that a believer may lose his or her opportunities to serve the Lord (1 Cor. 9:27). Our salvation is secure (John 10:28–29), but again it’s possible to lose an opportunity to serve God particularly in a leadership capacity if we don’t adequately deal with sin. So when we state our concern for continued opportunities for service we can pray something like this, “Lord don’t put me on a shelf. I still want to be a part of what you’re doing in the world. Please God use me! Here I am send me!” And really this was David’s concern as well, because his ability to serve was dependent upon the Spirit being operative in his life.
Fourth, like David, when dealing with sin it’s appropriate to make commitments. Verses 13-15 reads, “Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways, and sinners will turn to you. Rescue me from the guilt of murder, O God, the God who delivers me! Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance. O Lord, give me the words! Then my mouth will praise you.” What David is saying here is “Lord if you forgive me I’ll teach your ways to sinners. I’ll show people how you deal with someone who confesses their sin and seeks forgiveness. And this will result in people coming to you for deliverance.” And you know what, on the other side of God’s work in our lives, we too have a story to tell and a song to sing.
Fifth, we can have confidence (vv. 16-19). In this concluding section David is confident God can forgive. And for the believer today, there are actually two types of forgiveness. There is judicial forgiveness that every person experiences when he or she trusts in Messiah as Savior (Rom. 5:1). God will never condemn us to eternal damnation for our sins if we trust in His Son. However there is also familial forgiveness. This is the forgiveness believers need because we offend God (Matt. 6:12, 14–15; 1 John 1:9). In one sense God has forgiven all our sins, but in another sense we need to confess our sins to receive forgiveness. Judicial forgiveness makes us acceptable to God, but familial forgiveness makes us intimate with God. Judicial forgiveness removes the guilt of sin, and familial forgiveness restores the broken fellowship caused by sin.
Bottom Line: When it comes to sin, don’t conceal get real. Be like David: C your sin as it really is; Express Confession, Request Cleansing, State Concern, Make Commitments, and Have Confidence. And be encouraged, because when you do this, your sin and guilt is removed, your spirit is renewed, and you’re able to fully and freely participate in God’s service because your cleansing is complete.