A pastor had been asked to dinner by a member known as being an unkempt housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life. "Were these dishes ever washed?" he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the grit and grime. She replied, "They're as clean as soap and water could get them." A bit apprehensive, he blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes. When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, "Here Soap! Here Water!"
“Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin….. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.” Psalm 51:1-2.10-14
Psalm 51 is such a special passage because it captures the experience of repentance and restoration. David had sinned horribly, but God did not abandon him, He led him back to a healthy relationship. Here, we see the holiness and judgment of God as well as the love and grace of God. You may not identify with David’s sin, but we’ve all experienced the effect it has on our relationship with God and our life. Sin trips an alarm in our conscience, so that our heart tells us that something is not right. Our hearts can become calloused where we ignore that warning, like our neighbor’s car alarm, but it’s there. David’s request for mercy indicates that he knew that he had a sin problem and he wanted to remove that heavy burden that was robbing him of his joy. He felt dirty, guilty, and unworthy because of Conviction. This sounds like such a dirty, awful word, but conviction is the first step toward healing and forgiveness. Conviction is God making us aware of the sin. The next healthy step is Confession, like when he writes in vs. 3-4: “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…” Confession literally means agreeing with God that our actions were sin. Confession leads to Contrition, a state of remorsefulness and sorrow that motivates us to change directions. After Nathan, the prophet talked to David and exposed his sin, he understood how his sin was ultimately against God.
Confession leads to a clean heart! We all want relationships restored. If we can just get to the place where we want that spiritual cleansing and peace and purpose more than we want our sin! You see, the joy of knowing God and serving Him comes after we’re clean. There is no lasting joy when we‘re serving in the flesh. New positions, new leaders, new music will not be better for us when we need a new heart. There’s joy in God’s purpose and in a clean, right relationship with Him. So, pass the soap of repentance and He will bring the water of restoration.