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October 19, 2006

(Another Excerpt from the sermon on Psalm 19)

Psalm 19:12-13 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

There is a distinction made in these verses between two types of sin.  Presumptuous sins and hidden faults.  Although any and all sin separates us from God and would condemn us to hell were it not for the atonement of Christ, it is still valid to make distinctions b/w types of sins. 

Hidden faults are not the secret sins that we are ashamed of and hide from others.  Hidden faults are sins that are hidden even to ourselves.  These are the (in Spurgeon’s estimate) tens of thousands of sins that we commit daily and of which we are unaware.  They may be sins of ignorance, we don’t know better.  Or they may be sins of weakness, we commit them unconsciously by habitual attitudes and thoughts.  The servant of God, as David calls himself in these verses, knows that he sins daily in word, thought and deed.  And he knows that he is lost without God’s forgiveness and so he prays that God will declare him innocent.  This is a prayer for justification.

A presumptuous sin, on the other hand, is a conscious, deliberate, and premeditated transgression of a known command of God. Now we must resist the temptation to list off which sins are on which list, for the distinction is not in the sin that you do, but in the presumption with which you do it.   What 10 years ago was a sin of ignorance in your life, may now be a sin of presumption.  And what may be a subconscious sin of weakness in your life might be a presumptuous sin in the life of one who has received more light on that issue.  And whenever you overcome a presumptuous sin in your life, you can be sure that the light of the Word of God will bring another hidden fault to light and now it would be presumption to go on in it. No sin in which you persist should be considered small, and no sin of which you repent should be considered too great for forgiveness.  

Notice he prays differently for presumptuous sins.  For hidden faults he simply asked for forgiveness, but regarding presumptuous sins he asks two more things, first that he would be restrained from them.  Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins. Even mature saints may fall into the worst of sins if not restrained by grace, so we pray daily “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” and second, he prays “Let not presumptuous sins rule over me” warning us of the danger that presumptuous sins indulged become dominant sins. 

Then I shall be blameless.  Now we’re ready to make a definition of blamelessness. You are blameless when you are trusting God for forgiveness of your hidden faults, and when you are not ruled by presumptuous sins.  

2 implications of this definition: 1) You can be blameless and even though you are not sinless.  An elder must be blameless, and if that meant they had to be sinless, you wouldn’t have any elders.  Blameless men and women sin.  But blameless people are not ruled by presumptuous sins, nor do they conceal secret sins and make peace with them.  Rather they make confession and seek forgiveness whenever they become aware of their hidden faults. 

2) Let me state the same principle positively.  Even though you are not sinless, you can be blameless.  Even though you will never be free from sin in this life.  Even though you commit tens of thousands of sins every hour, this should not discourage you from believing that you can overcome any and all presumptuous sins and be blameless.  This is what David prays for and it must be our prayer also for it is the revealed will of God for every Christian.

Our hidden faults are beyond searching out and growth in holiness is accompanied by growth in humility and an ever-increasing awareness of our sins and our need of forgiveness.  But nevertheless, we can aim high and can experience the blessing of blamelessness.  Look how high David aims in verse 14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Finally, I want you to notice that in this psalm David speaks of his love for God’s word before he expresses his longing for holiness.  This is because without the love of God, the desire for holiness is really just a desire for higher self-esteem or for self-preservation by avoiding the unpleasant consequences of sin.  True longings for holiness flow from a love of God and his Word.  And true holiness is realizable only through loving the Word of God for the Law of the Lord is perfect/blameless, restoring the soul.  So let us like David, pursue holiness by pursuing delight in the law of the Lord and meditating on it day and night.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2006 11:33 pm

    It seems wrong to just disregard hidden faults as passive manifestations of our subconcious sinful nature. Since presumptuous sins can become hidden faults and vice versa, shouldn’t we pray that our hidden faults become revealed? Is that what the law is for?

  2. October 20, 2006 7:16 am

    Sure, praying for hidden faults to be revealed is a good idea. (Ps 139:23-24). Of course, if God revealed them all to you at once, your head would explode.

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