Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hiding from God or in God (A sermon based on Psalm 32)

Ever wish you could just run and hide? Leave all your problems and go where no one could ever find you? Sorry to break it to you, but it won't work. No such place exists because there is no place where God cannot find you. And there is no way that we can ever hide ourselves or our sins from him. He knows us and our sins better than we do. But the good news is that we don't need to hide from God. Instead, when we confess our sins to him, seeking his grace, we can hide in him. In Christ, we have God's gift of forgiveness! Our sins are covered by him, hidden from sight for all of eternity! Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Psalm 32 and hide in God! 

God's Gift of Forgiveness
Hiding from God or in God
A sermon based on Psalm 32
Sunday, February 24, 2013 – Lent 2C 

Little Jimmy was playing a game of hide and seek. Only no one else knew he was playing. You see he was hiding from mom, but he didn't tell her that she should come looking for him. He didn't need to. The sound of the basketball ball bouncing upstairs followed by the sound of the lamp shattering on the floor told mom she'd better drop the laundry and head upstairs.

Of course, it didn't take long for mom to find little Jimmy's feet sticking out from under his bed. The game of hide and seek was over. And you can bet that Jimmy lost.

Did he really think he'd get away with it? Did he really think he could hide from mom? That she wouldn't find him? That she wouldn't know? How foolish of Jimmy!

How foolish of us. Don't we often do the same? Don't we try to hide our sins, cover them up, pretend they weren't our fault? But do we really think we'll get away with it? Do we really think we can hide from God? That God won't find us? That God won't know? How foolish of us.

This morning as we again rejoice in God's gift of forgiveness as we examine Psalm 32, we see how foolish it is to try to hide from God. How much better it is to just come clean, confess our sins to him, hiding nothing. They we can hide in God and be safe and sound in him. We read Psalm 32… 

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! 

I.              Hide from God 

Adam and Eve rebelled against God. They did the one thing he commanded them not to do and ate from the one tree they were forbidden to eat from. And everything came crashing down. They were full of guilt. They were full of shame. They looked at each other differently. And in their foolish fallen state, "they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8) Or at least, they tried. Of course, God found them. They could run, but they couldn't hide… not from God.

And ever since, it's been the same way. To avoid the consequences of their sin, sinners hide what they've done from other sinners—and often quite successfully—which in turn leads them to think that they can hide their sins from God.

You know the story of King David's fall. He saw Bathsheba on the rooftop and soon acted on the lust hidden in his heart. And though she was a married woman, he took her into his bed. But things didn't go as planned. She was pregnant. So David had to devise a scheme to cover things up—to hide his sin. After several failed attempts to get Uriah to spend some quality time with his wife, he finally resorted to murder. With Uriah dead, David was free to marry his widow without scandal and without breaking the law. The sin was covered. It was well hidden from everyone… everyone, that is, but God.

For months David kept up the charade. He didn't confess his sin. He didn't try to make it right. He just kept it covered up. But the sin was still there. The guilt was still there and it gnawed away at him sapping his strength…

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

How foolish to try to hide from God! How foolish of Adam and Eve! How foolish of King David! How foolish of us…

Don't we do that same? "It's not my fault. Did you see what he did to me first?" "Come on! This isn't that big of a deal. Others have done much worse." "Well, sure I did it, but it was accident." We try to cover up our sin, hide it, minimize it, justify it, or find excuses for it. We do anything but confess it and own up to it.

How come? Because it's uncomfortable to admit my guilt. It's painful to deal with the consequences. It wounds my pride, my relationships, and sometimes by bank account if I'm to come clean. And it's never fun to confess. So, too often we act like children trying to avoid the consequences of our sin by hiding from mom or dad under the bed. We try to hide our sins.

But have you ever seen a little kid try to hide by covering up his own eyes, thinking that if he can't see you, you can't see him. That's what we try to do when we try to hide or sins from God. "If I refuse to talk to him or acknowledge my sin, he can't see me."

But trying to hide from God is like playing a game of hide and seek where the seeker gets heat-vision goggles and a GPS locator linked to the cell phone in your pocket or a chip embedded in your skin. You'll be found every time! Except God doesn't need that technology because God's got more: He has infinite knowledge of all things.

You may hide from others, convince them all you're a perfect saint. You may hide your sinful thoughts and keep them locked up in your head and heart. But you can't hide anything from God. Man looks at outward appearance. God sees the heart. He sees the pride. He sees the malcontent and the greed. He sees the lust. He sees the motive behind the action. He knows you better than you know you.

How foolish to try to hide from him. How foolish to try to cover up your win. It only leads to more problems. It only leads to more pain.

 "For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer."

The guilt gnaws away at you. Its eats you up from the inside out. Cover it with alcohol or drugs if you like. Cover it with mind-numbing entertainment. Cover it up with a web of lies and deceit. But that's all you do: cover it. It won't go away.

But God, in love, won't let it go away because if the guilt simply went away while the sin remained hidden, it would be like coving up the cancerous spot with a band aid to pretend it wasn't there and then leaving it untreated. It would mean your spiritual death. It would mean hell. God wants to forgive you, but to do that he has to confront you. He has to do major surgery to remove the sin. He has to kill you with the Law and lead you to confess your sin, before he can heal you with the Gospel.

So don't hide your sin anymore! Don't hide it from others. Don't hide it from God! But confess it. Talk to God. Talk to your friend or your spouse. Talk to me. And when you quit hiding, God can deal with it. He can really hide your sin… 

II.            Hide in God 

Though Adam and Eve aren't exactly the best example of honest confession, shifting blame like a hot potato, when their sin was out in the open, God forgave it, not destroying them, but promising a Savior in Eve's offspring who would crush the devil's head.

When David was confronted by Nathan and confessed his sin, he found peace in God's forgiveness too. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. How? In Jesus—David's redeemer yet to come—David's transgression was forgiven. His sin was covered up. He couldn't hide his sin from God. But God would cover it up and hide it himself.

Which do you think is better then? To hide from God (which you can never do)? Or hide in God (which he longs for you to do)? Confess your sins, friends, to God and to each other. And find mercy. Find peace.

Your sins are covered up too! Not by your deceit. Not by your excuses. Not by pretending they're not there. But by Jesus. They're covered in his blood, shed for you on the cross. They're hidden from God's sight, removed from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), hurled into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

Now when you're guilty conscience nags, hide in God's promises of forgiveness. Your sin is gone! Now, when satan comes to pester you, hide behind Jesus. Tell satan to go away! And when you stand before God's throne on Judgment Day, you can hide behind the cross. And God will see only Jesus' perfection, his robe of righteousness covering you completely.

 And right now, find peace and joy because what Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians is true of you: "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Don't run from God anymore. But run to God. Don't hide your sin, but hide in Christ and in his gift of forgiveness. Hide in God, not from God, and God will protect you, and hold you in the palm of His hand. In Jesus' name, amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

Listen to sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Podcast
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