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I Know My Transgressions

It was when Nathan confronted David with his sin that he finally crumbled. He admitted that he had sinned against the LORD by committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah.

For David it was immensely painful to face up to all this wickedness—and it had grave consequences—but it was essential for his spiritual well-being. If he did not know his sin, and if he did not confess it, then he could not be forgiven.

The Holy Spirit uses Psalm 51 to instruct us about confessing our own sins, praying for mercy and renewal, and then responding to God with thankful devotion.

The truth of verse 3 is a vital aspect of this sanctifying activity, that a child of God needs to know his transgressions.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

If we will make proper confession of sin before God and receive his pardon in Christ, then we have to say specifically how we have broken the LORD’s holy law.

For us it is far too easy to offer a vague prayer at day’s end, something like: “Father, forgive my sins, for they are many.” Such a prayer does not even begin to reckon with how we have offended God by our actions or by our inactions.

This is why it is an important part of self-examination before the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Cor 11:28) that we reflect on the ways in which we have transgressed God’s laws, and how we have fallen short of what he requires. True humility is knowing not just that we are sinners, but how we are sinners.

We should ask ourselves directly:

In the ordinary days of life, what are my usual weaknesses?
In what specific ways can I grow as a child of God, loving him and others more?
Are there any sins that I haven’t confessed and repented from?

This requires us to hold God’s Word before us like a perfect and revealing mirror to our lives, and to be honest about what we see, even though there will be much ugliness and sin.

By God’s grace David was led to see his transgressions, and he knew them specifically: adultery, lying, murder. It was painful, but it was so necessary to the forgiveness and cleansing he would receive.

It is the same for us. As you become more aware of your daily sins, you should tremble before God and humbly plead for his forgiveness.

But then you can rejoice even more in the LORD’s grace! For by faith you can know that as terrible as your sins are, they’re all washed away in the precious blood of Christ. Thanks be to God!


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