Revive My Heart: I am a sinner (Psalm 51)

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The early 20th century of surgical medical practice, though necessary, was dangerous. One doctor, Evan O’Neil Kane, the chief surgeon at Kane Summit hospital in NY City, sought to bring attention to this matter. Major surgical procedures required the use of general anesthesia and it often had its complications. In Dr. Kane’s opinion, the hazards of a general anesthesia outweighed the risks of surgery itself. For example, patients with heart trouble or anesthesia allergies ran the risk of severe complications. Kane’s medical mission was to prove to his colleagues once for all the viability of local anesthesia. He knew it would take convincing and perhaps a guinea pig of sorts. Kane would have to find a patient brave enough to undergo surgery without general but with local anesthesia. Finally, on February 15, 1921, he found such a patient.

The patient needed an appendectomy and was prepped in all the normal ways but in the operating room was given only a local anesthetic. As he had thousands of times before in his 37-years of practice, Dr. Kane performed the initial cut and entered the abdomen. Slicing tissues and clamping blood vessels on his way he located the appendix. The surgeon nimbly clipped the appendix away and removed it from its surrounding tissue. He then folded the stump back in place and had the patient’s wound sewed back up by his assisting nurses. This was all done with the patient being wide awake and experiencing only minor discomfort. After a restful recovery of two days – faster than most general anesthesia cases – the patient was released from the hospital to recuperate at home.

Dr. Kane had achieved his goal. It was a defining moment in medical history and has since helped countless patients today. We should all be thankful not only for Dr. Kane, but for Dr. Kane’s patient – of who was himself. Dr. Kane performed surgery on himself and removed his own appendix.[1]

Today, God is asking us to do the exact same thing spiritually speaking. Major surgery is required and you must be wide awake while it is being performed. Our spiritual surgery will be on the heart.

The heart is the most important organ in your body. If a person has a defective or diseased heart they will need a heart transplant. There are two kinds of heart transplant operations: orthotopic and heterotopic.[2] Orthotopic transplant removes the failing heart and inserts a new heart; Heterotopic transplant leaves the old heart and connects the new heart to it, in effect creating a double heart. The reason for this latter transplant is the expert medical opinion is in doubt the new heart will be received and the body will reject it so the patient is not placed in immediate risk.

When it comes to the spiritual heart transplant that God performs, many desire the second procedure. We do not entirely trust God or do not want to completely obey Him. We hold back exit strategies and seek loop holes to faith so that we do not have to be fully responsible to our Creator.

Yet, faith requires fully following Jesus as Lord. God only performs one kind of spiritual heart transplant. He removes the old, defective and diseased heart and replaces it with a new heart full of life, joy and zest – a heart that beats to the pulse of eternity and the Spirit of God.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it… No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-24, 62

“How can we who died to sin still live in it? … We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”” Romans 6:2-4

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2Corinthians 5:17

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

The next 3 weeks will be a sermon series to help all of us go through a spiritual heart transplant. We will look at a familiar psalm to help us understand both the sickness and the solution to REVIVE OUR HEARTS.psalm 51_revive my heart logo

Psalm 51 starts with a heading title which pinpoints the historical setting of the psalm. “To the Choirmaster, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the Prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” In other words, it was a psalm of David after he was confronted with the sin of adultery and murder. Psalm 51 is David’s diary confession of guilt and repentance.

Cf. for background 2Samuel 11-12

2 Samuel 12:7-14 “Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”  David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”

EXAMINE   Psalm 51       I am a sinner (Nov 3). I am saved (Nov 10). I am spiritually growing (Nov 17).

I am a sinner because of my condition and my choices.

David opens diary of confession with a plea for mercy [hanan: gracious generosity, undeserved stooping favor; cf. Ruth to Boaz in Ruth 2:10 “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?”]. David understands that the only manner he can relate to God is not based on human merit but divine mercy. His prayer requests God for mercy according to the character of God’s steadfast love [hesed: covenant loyalty, overwhelming goodness and grace] and God’s abundant mercy [rakham: compassion from inner bowls].

If we do not have God’s mercy then we die in misery. Without mercy there is no forgiveness, no victory over sin, no power over addictions, no help in our failures; our lives will remain burdened and broken. Without mercy we have no contact or communication with God. There is no spiritual life or relationship with God unless mercy shows up… unless the Father mercifully sends the Savior to graciously enter into our world to conquer sin, satan, death and hell. The poison of our sin and the pride of our selfishness will rot in our veins unless the King of Glory lifts up our head and fills our hearts with his blood-bought mercy.

The reason people say worship, church and the Christian life is boring is because deep down we believe we’re OK. We have forgotten the gravity of our sin and the grief that follows without hope of salvation. What we need is a pulsating, throbbing ache of our souls to see and savor the great mercy of God. We must become captivated by His mercy and the throne of our hearts must be consumed with the taste of God’s great grace.

After the initial plea for mercy is David’s threefold description of his sin:

–          blot out my transgressions [peshaʿ: moral rebellion] (Psalm 51:2, 3, 13)

–          wash me from my iniquity [ʿāwōn: moral emptiness] (Psalm 51:2, 9)

–          cleanse me from my sin [ḥaṭṭāʾt: moral failure, missing the mark or path for a standard] (Ps 51:2, 3, 9)

In 2009-10 there was a breakout of the H1N1 flu virus. During the pandemic, ABC News did an experiment with a WashingtonD.C. 5th grade class.[3] The experiment’s goal was to see how well children washed their hands. At the beginning of the day, the news crew coated the students’ hands with a clear lotion that was only visible under a black light. The amount of lotion left on the kids’ hands at the end of the day would reveal how well they washed their hands. If the students could wash away the invisible lotion, then surely they could wash away germs.

The students went about their classes as usual, wash­ing their hands and using hand sanitizer throughout the day. But when the news crew shined the black light on the children’s hands at the end of the school day, the re­sults were less than sanitary. Of the 25 students in the class only 2 had washed well enough to remove the lo­tion. Many students spread the lotion over their face and clothes. Even the teacher was revealed to be a poor hand washer. This story illustrates the obvious principle: it’s hard to wash germs away if you can’t see them.

The same is true of your heart. It is likely that you consider yourself pretty clean – a good person. But sin is present in every one of us in a place that we cannot immediately see or cleanse. Our hearts are stained with sin.  Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Sin is in our condition and in our choices. It is more than just being in our surroundings, it is in the depth of our souls.

We have inherited or imputed guilt, represented by ancestors and Adam
Romans 5:12 “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.”

We have initiated guilt, reflective of our own actions and attitude

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

1John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

In Psalm 51:3, David continues the description of his sin as being ever before him. The tape replays over and over in his mind and the guilt of his past keeps haunting him.
–          David probably saw it in the ghost of Uriah whom he murdered
–          David probably saw it in the guilt of Bathsheba’s eyes whom he committed adultery
–          David probably saw it in the grief of his son whom would die as punishment from God

In Psalm 51:4, David underscores that his sin was against God. As noted, what about Uriah? Bathsheba? His dead son? The nation of Israel whom he abused his position as king? David understood all this but his point was that the human dimensions of offense fade into comparison to mocking the grace and blessing of God.

In Psalm 51:5, David establishes a summary reminder that our sinfulness is through both inheritance and initiative. We sin because we are sinners and we are sinners because we sin.

So what is our response?

ð     Like David, we must confess our sin. David pleads for mercy and then acknowledges his wrongdoing. He says “blot out my iniquity”, “wash me from my iniquity”, “cleanse me from my sin”, “my transgressions and my sin is before me”, “I sinned and did evil”. He owns his faults and failures.

ð     We too must own our sin. We must stop blaming others, using our circumstances as an excuse to satisfy our selfish pleasures, or rationalize behavior contrary to God’s Word.

Colossians 3:5-6 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”

Romans 13:14 “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”


When you near the landing of an airplane flight the pilot speaks an announcement for flyers to turn up their tray tables, straighten their seats and that flight attendants will come by to pick-up any unwanted garbage. Isn’t that a strange phrasing… as if there is some garbage that people desire? Yet, we all know that there are many who do not let go of their garbage. They hang on to it. God is saying through Psalm 51 to turn over all your garbage – repent and seek revival.

I am a sinner in need of repentance and revival

The point of Psalm 51 is to show us God is a greater Savior than we are a sinner. David understood the solution to his sin was the saving power of God’s atoning mercy. The source of salvation was God not religious sacrifices (51:16-17).

Salvation occurs through God’s saving power. We access that power by grace through faith. Faith is a gift of God that allows us to turn (repent) away from our sin and turn toward God.

Martin Lloyd Jones sermon on Psalm 51 called, “Out of the Depths” says,
“I would emphasize that the test of repentance is this, that a man having looked at himself and his own heart and life, says to himself: “I deserve nothing but hell, and if God sends me there I haven’t a single complaint to make. I deserve nothing better!” ‘

“Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you and that you long to get rid of it and that you turn your back on it in very shape and form. You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practices, and you deny yourself and take up the cross and go after Christ. Your nearest and dearest and the whole world may call you a fool or say you have religious mania, you may have to suffer financially, but it makes no difference. That is repentance.”

ð     Repentance is more than regret. You may regret getting caught or feel discomfort but that’s not repentance.
2Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

ð     Repentance leads to a change of heart and action. It is following through so that our lives match what our lips speak.
Luke 3:8 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”

We all need repentance. Repentance is a spiritual evaluation that requires spiritual surgery. It requires a full transplant of heart and that’s exactly what God promises.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 “I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

µ     Where do you need repentance?

µ     Will you turn to receive a new heart and ask God to “revive my heart”?

µ     Pray for revival @SPBC

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