Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
We don’t like to admit it, but we are engaged in a daily struggle with our old, sinful nature. We are living in what theologians call the already but not yet of our faith. The spiritual war has been won, but there are still battles to be fought. The closer we get to the end of the conflict, the more intense the enemy becomes. We have been saved by grace, through faith in Christ, but we have not yet experienced the fullness of our salvation. We have been justified by God, yet we are not yet made perfect. Our sins have been forgiven, yet we daily fight the battle with sin.
King David understood this battle. His own experience had taught him that, even though his heart’s desire was to please God, his actions often led in a different direction. Psalm 19:12-14 bring into focus three areas of conflict in the internal struggle that we all face.
We can be blind to our own faults. There are things in our lives that are not aligned with God’s plan for us, yet we are unaware of their presence. Let me use a physical example to make my point. A person can live with a certain physical condition all of their life and not know that it is a problem. They just assume that what they are experiencing is normal, until they discover otherwise. This happened to me. I lived with a certain physical condition growing up that I assumed was normal. Then, as an adult, I had a physical and discovered that my condition was the symptom of a problem that needed to be corrected.
Because of the deceptiveness of Satan, we can live our whole lives assuming some aspects of our life are normal. But when the light of God’s Word begins to shine into our hearts, we understand that we have a problem that needs to be addressed. Satan is a master at slipping these hidden faults under our radar screen. We need to be constantly monitoring our life to root them out.
We all, at times, walk into sin, with our eyes wide open. David calls these willful sins. We are like strong willed children, who when told not to do something intentionally do that very thing. All of us have our Achilles heel. There are certain areas of our lives where we are particularly vulnerable to sin’s allure. We know that giving in to those temptations is wrong, yet we suspend our better judgment and dive in. As soon as we have stepped over the line we know it, and are flooded with guilt and remorse.
David was fully aware of his vulnerabilities. That is why he asked God to keep him from willingly giving in. As James reminds us, these persistent sins come from the residue of our sinful nature that is deep within our hearts. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:13-14) Like David we need to ask God to protect us from ourselves.
We are in a constant struggle for control of our heart. It is one thing to call Jesus Lord and another to actually let Him be in control. Because God has given to us a free will, we have the responsibility to daily submit that will to the authority of Christ. This is not something we can do once and forget about it. It is a decision we make day by day, moment by moment. As Jesus said in Luke 9:23,
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Paul has given us some practical advice on how to accomplish this. It is found in Philippians 4:4-9. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
We all experience the struggle within. Our hearts truly desire to honor Christ, but our thoughts and our actions don’t always line up with that desire. The words of David are a prayer that we would all benefit from, if we started every day with them on our lips.