"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Monday, October 31, 2011
Psalm 51:10-12, a Dividing Line between Hypocritical and True Believers
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."
In an earlier post, I defined a hypocritical believer as a professing, but false, Christian who has hidden from himself the reality of his spiritual lostness. I believe that the text before us reinforces that contrast.
In it, we see David after II Samuel 11. In that story, he had been looking out over the city of Jerusalem from his palace. He saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof. Stirred by lust, he had arranged for the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, so that he could gain her for himself. After the Prophet Nathan rebuked David (II Samuel 12), David was overcome by sorrow over what he had done. Psalm 51 is the prayer he wrote, confessing his sin, and seeking a restoration of his damaged relationship with Jehovah, his God.
Consider also Psalm 38, another psalm by David. In verse 3, he describes the physical trauma caused by sin. In verse 6, "all the day I go about mourning." And verse 8, "I groan because of the tumult of my heart."
In both of these psalms, we see a man traumatized, sorrowful and cast down, because he is aware of his sin. That doesn't happen in a hypocrite. The hypocritical believer is self-satisfied with his spirituality, and would be quite insulted if anyone were to suggest that he isn't as holy as he imagines himself to be. He wears blinders, so he won't see the reality within him (though, of course, those blinders don't prevent him from seeing faults in others).
Further, even if a hypocrite were to recognize that maybe he isn't so spiritual after all, another aspect of his condition is that he won't consider his shortfall something to be concerned about, something that needs to be dealt with. And he certainly isn't going to respond positively if someone were to confront him about his complacency! Since he has no real relationship with God in Christ, he isn't conscious of lacking that relationship.
Prophets like Nathan make a true believer change. But they merely reinforce the blindness of the hypocrite. With just one exception: if the sovereign Lord sees fit to grant the hypocrite repentance (Acts 5:31 and II Timothy 2:25).
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43