There is no sin that I have done
That has such height and breadth
It can’t be washed in Jesus’ blood
Or covered by His death.
There is no spot that still remains,
No cause to hide my face,
For He has stooped to wash me clean
And covered me with grace.
Liz and I will be leading our congregation in singing the song “There is No Sin that I Have Done” during Sunday worship this week. I’ve sung the song many times in church and each time I’m convinced that it does as much for me as anybody in that room. It’s captured my attention over and over and I have found it constantly renovating my heart as thoughts of self-condemnation cross my mind.
I take sin very seriously. Its guilt is constant. It never ceases to remind me of how helpless I am—as if I’ve severed myself from the very source of life itself. At times, the distance to God’s forgiveness seems untraversable. One arena where this plays out is Sunday worship. How can I worship when I have sinned against the Pure One who hates to look on sin and wrong (Hab 1:13)? Can I pray “forgive me for my sin” during the first stanza and then join in during the second as if “we’re all good”? Shouldn’t I still mourn and grieve for my sin—at least for a while? Enter Psalm 65:1-4.
1Praise is due to you,a O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
Verse 1 shows that God deserves praise from everybody. This fact is underscored by the prophetic words in v. 2, “to you shall all flesh come.” The created order will someday be set right and “every knee will bow” to God—he will get the worship that’s been his due from the very beginning. That God gets this worship in heaven shows us how distant we are from this ideal in the present. Instead of worship, he gets the rebellion of sin. So what happens when we participate in this rebellion? This is the Pslamist’s trouble in v.3a. His iniquities are crushing him, they are defeating (prevailing against) him in a battle for his heart. But wait! When they prevail, God atones for transgressions! The Psalmist writes in such a way as to say, when prevailing sins are the case (and they are often), then also the case, God atones—covers over and removes the guilt that qualifies me for hell forever. No self-atonement needed.
But what about the relationship? Should I dare to worship after such a breech? Are such paltry words as “forgive me” enough to restore me to worship–even if from a repentant heart? Shouldn’t I spend some time in grief over my wickedness? In a word, “no.” God wants something else of the forgiven sinner—Psalm 65:4. God wants worship.
God wants something else of the forgiven sinner. God wants worship.
This is counterintuitive—God chose you while you were a sinner to worship him. When sin prevails, he atones and brings you into his Holy presence in order to worship. So don’t just stand there feeling bad about your sin. Instead, worship him in his courts (cf. Ps 84:4). Let praise ring out with abandon, and discover acceptance and satisfaction, forever.