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Psalm 51: Accurate Self-Assessment

Paul Tripp
Paul Tripp

Sin lives in a costume, that's why it's so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Prevented lust masquerades as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, that is part of its draw.

You'll never understand sin's slight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. I say all the time to people that no one is more influential in their own lives than they are because no one talks to themselves more than they do. We're all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good. We're all much better at seeing the sin, weakness, and failure of others than we are our own. We're all very good at being intolerant of others of the very things that we willingly tolerate in ourselves. The bottom line is that sin causes us to not hear or see ourselves with accuracy. And we not only tend to be blind, but to compound matters, we tend to be blind to our blindness.

What does all of this mean? It means that accurate-self assessment is the product of grace. It is only in the mirror of God's Word and with the sight-giving help of the Holy Spirit, that I am able to see myself as I actually am. In those painful moments of accurate self-sight, we may not feel as if we are being loved, but that is exactly what is happening. The God who loves us enough to sacrifice his Son for our redemption, works so that we would see ourselves clearly, so that we would not buy into the delusion of our own righteousness, and with a humble sense of personal need, seek the resources of grace that can only be found in him.

In this way, Psalm 51 is both the saddest and most joyous of all the Psalms. It is sad that David has to confess what he must confess, but at the same time, the face that he is accurately seeing, and fully acknowledging his sin, is a cause for celebration. Only Jesus can open blind eyes. Whenever a sinner accurately assesses his sin the angels in heaven rejoice, and so should we. 

 
Originally published January 09, 2012.

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