King David prayed, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” What do you think about that prayer? I have used the whole fifty-first chapter of Psalms in my prayer life, taking the words of the Psalmist and making them my own, on numerous occasions. Here’s something we should consider about this verse. It was written in about 1050 BC, which was over a thousand years before the death and resurrection of Jesus. David’s perspective on sin and forgiveness is different than ours. He was praying this prayer before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The cross changed everything! Once we are a Christian, we are not asking God to wash away all of our iniquities, because they were washed away at our salvation. Consider this. If you are a Christian, you received Christ into your life, confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness, and Jesus forgave you of all of your sin. Romans 4:25 says, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” This passage says that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we are justified. To be justified means to be made “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned: justified. Since the resurrection, believers stand before God clean and forgiven. The fact is, you were cleansed from your sin the moment you became a Christian.
How does this truth affect our prayer of repentance now? God still wants us to confess our sin, and we should repent of our sin. The difference between us and King David is that the permanent sacrifice for sin has now been made through Jesus, and Christ’s blood has cleansed us from our sin. When we go before God to confess our sin now, we are not really asking God to “forgive us of our sin,” because He already has. We are acknowledging our need for the cross, agreeing with Him on how wrong our sin was, and thanking Him for our redemption in Christ. We are reminding ourselves that it was for that particular sin that Jesus died. It is because of this truth that God says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This is a wonderful truth. We do not cower before God asking for forgiveness as if He may not forgive. We should be broken before God over our sin, but grateful for the forgiveness that is ours through Christ. This means when Satan tries to wear us down with accusations and shame, we remind him that we are justified through Christ and not condemned. When we pray David’s prayer of Psalm 51, maybe we should add the words “thank you” to the beginning: “Thank you for washing away all my iniquity and for cleansing me from my sin.” Confess your sin to God today with the full knowledge that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Thank Him for the cross and for the privilege of being His child.