Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. PSALM 51:11 (ESV)
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. PSALM 51:11 (NIV)
There are many consequences when you and I sin; perhaps the worst is broken fellowship with God. What stands out to me from the story of David's downfall is how many off-ramps he could have taken. Kings were supposed to go to war in the Spring with the rest of their troops, but David stayed home. David knew he should guard his eyes; instead, he watched Bathsheba bathe. He could have come down from the roof; instead, he inquired about her. Once David knew she was a married woman, he should have run from temptation, but David did the opposite and invited her to his home.
Rather than fleeing from temptation, David gave in and found himself in the wrong spot. Yet even here, David could have stopped — he could have put an end to his sin and brought it to the light. However, that's not what David did at all. He slept with Bathsheba, brought her husband back from war to try and cover his sin, and then got him drunk. Even here, David had the opportunity to bring evil into the light, but he chose, instead, to hide. He had Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, killed. Then, he took her as his wife.
I heard someone say, "Sometimes God's grace comes in the form of forgiveness after the fact. Sometimes it comes in the form of off-ramps. Take the off-ramp." David had many chances to flee from sin, and he refused. Later he would experience the consequences. But David feared broken fellowship with God more than anything. No wonder David prayed, "Do not cast me from Your presence, or take Your Holy Spirit from me" (v. 11). David remembered what happened to King Saul when he turned from the Lord and became rebellious. God took His Spirit from him and gave the power of His Spirit to David. And now, in Psalm 51:11, David pleads with the Lord not to do the same to him.
Christians do not need to fear that God will remove the Holy Spirit from them today. Jesus promised his disciples that the Spirit would abide in them forever. Paul writes, "In him, you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed (Ephesians 1:13)." When you place your faith in Jesus, God fills you with the Holy Spirit and guarantees (or promises) that you are his child. However, when you and I choose to sin, it impacts our fellowship with God — sin shatters that fellowship. So, how should you and I respond when we sin? The answer is simple.
Like David, in Psalm 51, we confess our sins and bring them into the light. I once read, "The children of God are called to drag sin to the light — starting with our own." All of us have moments when we fall short. All of us have areas of brokenness. Following Jesus doesn't mean you stop sinning; it means that when you sin, you confess it to God and others — that's what it means to walk in the light. In 1 John 1:7 and 9 we see this gospel truth clearly explained. It says this.
"If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:7, 9).
In other words, if you expose your sin, Jesus will cover it. But if you cover your sin, He will expose it. Often it's easy to think that if we hide our sin, it will go away — that if we sweep it under the rug, we've dealt with the problem. However, we see from the life of David that repentance is the way to deal with our sin. Things got worse when David hid his sin, but when he confessed his sin, he found forgiveness. You will always be as sick as your secrets. But when you and I bring our sin into the light, the gospel promises that we will find forgiveness and healing. Fellowship with God doesn't come by pretending we are perfect, fellowship is found in the light.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine.