Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. – Psalm 51:5-6 ESV
David was well aware of the seriousness of what he had done and he knew that he had sinned against God. Whatever punishment God might bring his way was well-deserved and completely justified, which is why all David could do is appeal to God’s mercy. And even if David had never committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for the death of her husband, he would have still been just as guilty before God. Why? Because his sin and guilt were inherited by him and inherent in him. He had been born a sinner. From God’s perspective, every man and woman ever born came into this world having inherited the sin nature of Adam. Paul writes, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 ESV). Even David’s own son would confess, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV). And Paul would conclude that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). Adam’s “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18 ESV)
So David knew that his guilt before God was not simply tied to his affair with Bathsheba. He wasn’t a sinner because he had sinned. He had sinned because he was a sinner. That is a hard concept for most of us to accept, because we want to believe that we are somehow good at heart. We want to think that we are born with a clean moral slate, free from sin and capable of doing good. But the Scriptures paint a much more bleak picture. Adam’s rebellious heart was passed down to each and every one of his descendants. And it doesn’t take long to see that even young children have an innate capacity to reveal their sin natures at very early ages. Lying, deception, selfishness, and manipulation all come naturally to children. They don’t have to be taught. Which is why David knew that he stood before God as guilty, because he had been that way from the very moment of conception. David was in no way minimizing what he had done or blaming his actions on Adam. He was simply admitting that his actions stemmed from his sinful heart – his sin nature. And Paul warns us about our sin nature. “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT).
David’s dilemma was that he had been born with a sin nature and was prone to sin, yet God expected more. “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6 ESV). God wanted David to be honest about his sin. He wanted David to confess his guilt and allow God to do some serious rehabilitation on him at the heart level. Simply confessing his sin would not have been enough. Making sacrifices for his sin, without having a broken and contrite heart would have accomplished nothing. Later on in this same prayer David will say, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:17 NLT). God mends broken hearts. He takes our brokenness and guilt and lovingly restores our wholeness and gives us the joy of His forgiveness. David knew that God delighted in truth in the inner being. God has high standards. But God also lovingly teaches those who come to him in brokenness and humility. God wants nothing more from us that our humble dependence upon Him. We are incapable of nothing but sin. “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NLT). But the amazing thing is that God offers us a way to be made right with Him. He has provided a means by which we can be forgiven, not just of the sins we commit, but of our very sin natures. “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17 NLT). Just as David had to come to God with his brokenness and humility, aware of his sinfulness and completely dependent upon God’s mercy, so do we. God’s free gift of salvation made possible through Jesus Christ is available to all who will believe that they are sinners in need of a Savior. Paul makes the process quite clear for us. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Romans 3:23-25 NLT). Guilty sinners can become forgiven saints. Enemies of God can become His children. The condemned can become the redeemed. But it all begins with the acknowledgement of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.