Guilt, sin, absolution
— these concepts have much less currency today than they once did.
Though a major emphasis of Christianity for centuries, guilt and sin lost much of their sting in the last century, making absolution seem less necessary. And yet, I think most of us still know that sin is endemic to our lives. We feel the guilt of having passed by that homeless person every day. We remember what we said about someone to get ahead at work. We admit that we actually hate that guy who gets in our way all the time. So David’s Psalm of repentance strikes a profound chord in our hearts. Remember David? The child who defeated a giant with God’s help. He has had a close relationship with God his whole life. He has been singled out, blessed, and fortified by God. Yet he has sinned, in a way most unworthy of his reputation and the favor God has bestowed on him. His conscience aches, and he desperately wants God to “wash” him clean, to absolve him. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Great poetry. But also a sentiment that moves us deeply, because we want that too. We deeply desire a pure heart. We need that steadfast spirit. How can we attain it, except through God’s gracious help?
- Psalm 51:1-12
- Exodus 30:1-10
- Hebrews 4:14-5:4