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Psalm 51 message of repentance needed by all believers, Vines tells SBTS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Scandal-plagued President Bill Clinton is not the only sinner who needs to identify with David’s cry of repentance in Psalm 51, Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., said in a Sept. 24 chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Psalm 51 has been getting a lot of play lately,” Vines said, noting Jesse Jackson read the passage to President Clinton the night before Clinton’s “failed attempt at confessional spin” regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He also recounted evangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s use of the passage in his tearful televised confession after being caught with a New Orleans prostitute over ten years ago.
“The Holy Spirit has chosen to put these words into our Bible,” Vines said. “Because what David needed and what presidents need and what preachers need is what all of God’s people along the way, at one point or another, are going to need.”
Vines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1988-1989, explained the context of David’s anguished cry for forgiveness and cleansing in the aftermath of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. David’s problem was as ancient as the garden of Eden and as timely as current headlines, Vines said. He related the situation faced by David to a principle found in Proverbs 28:13 which, he said, teaches that “the sins you and I uncover, God will cover” while “the sin which you and I cover, God will uncover.”
“Secret sin on the earth is open scandal in heaven,” Vines warned.
David’s soul torment in Psalm 51 should remind Christians that personal sin is a weighty topic, Vines asserted.
“Our culture would have us to believe that sin is not so bad after all,” Vines said. “That it is just the backward pull of an upward good. That it is just the unpleasant byproduct of man’s evolutionary process upward.”
“But the Bible teaches that sin is the poison of Satanic origin which has infected the bloodstream of the whole human race,” he countered.
Defining all sex outside of marriage as “perversion,” Vines said David was horrified he had perverted God’s purposes for sexual relations. This one brief act left open gashes in the life of the Israelite King, Vines explained, noting David found at every turn the consequences and guilt for his transgression against the holiness of God.
In marked contrast to the contemporary rush to blame personal failings on dysfunctional parents or scarred childhoods, David cry of repentance included a recognition of his personal responsibility for his rebellion against God, Vines contended.
“You will never come to grips with your sin until you get deeply personal about the confession of your sin. It’s you, my friend. It’s me, my friend. We’re the problem.”
The “rugged process” of genuine confession also recognizes that, at its heart, sin is a theological matter. David had sinned against his family, himself, Bathsheba, her family, and the nation he was anointed to lead, Vines said, “but when you get to the root level of confession of sin, you understand that your sin is a slap in the face of a holy God.”
Above all, Vines said, Christians must join David in acknowledging the high cost of cleansing their sins. Reading David’s pleas that he be forgiven, cleansed, and healed from his guilty heart, Vines reminded his listeners that Jesus shed his own blood on the cross because of their sins. This same atonement cleanses sinners from the guilt they bear, Vines said.
“When it dawned on me what it cost God to cleanse my sin,” Vines said. “It took me out of the sin-enjoying business forever.”

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  • Russell D. Moore