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We all have a deep need to be loved and accepted which drives the decision to keep secrets and trying to outrun our past. Scripture wants to give us a better way to deal with our past through a promise, past examples and a warning. Rob Barry teaches Psalm 32, sharing with us how David's words in the Psalm illustrate the better way of confession.
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I'm Rob Barry, and you're going to have the privilege to get to hear about more of my story, some of my junk. I think I'm a little unique in here. Besides the fact that I'm up here and you're not, there's something else that's unique about me. That is, my life changed because of a bad joke. If there is anybody else in here who can make that claim, that your life literally was going on this path and started going on this path because of a bad joke, I need to know about it, because I like feeling some uniqueness about myself.
Here's how we got to the bad joke. When my wife and I started Watermark in 2007… You know, 2008 rolled around, and my sin from the past still had its grip on me. What I was struggling with and running to… I was clean from the action of it, but I craved it every day. I was like, "I have to go take some ground on this. I'm not healthy and well, and I'm on staff. I need to go figure this thing out." So I jumped in what was called at the time Celebrate Recovery, which is a 12-step program where you really work on the baggage from your past so you can be free.
The great thing about it is I didn't go alone. My wife was like, "Do you think I should come?" Of course, every spouse is going to be like, "Yes. You need to get well too." So my wife jumped in. The year 2008 (we had been married for seven years at this time) really started the mark of, I would say, my wife and me being one and on the same page, and our marriage started to heal as we individually started to heal. So 2008 was a great year for my wife and me.
What happened later is that we, Watermark, decided we weren't going to use Celebrate Recovery's curriculum. "Let's just write our own in-house curriculum." We call that re:generation. Re:generation meets up here Tuesday nights. It's fantastic. It's awesome. We had thousands of people go through that program over the last couple of years. In 2013, they wanted to pilot that curriculum, because it was brand new.
They said, "Hey, let's grab 12 men who have been through Celebrate Recovery before, and let's put them in a group for a year together and have them run through this new re:generation curriculum, and we'll do the same thing for the girls." I was like, "I'm in." I probably knew half the people in that circle and didn't know the other half, but what was comforting about it is one of my closest friends was going to be the re:generation facilitator, the mentor, the leader of the circle.
Well, if you know me very well, you would know it's not abnormal that I run late sometimes. Our very first time in this kind of deep meeting, I'm late. I don't know half the people in the room. I walk in late, and my friend just says this. Here's where the joke is coming in. Not a good one. He says, "Hey, Rob, don't worry about being late. You kind of missed this person, this person, and this one, but what we're going to do… You can introduce yourself, how long you've been around Watermark, and then you need to share this with everybody. What's one secret you want to take to the grave?"
That's not a good joke, is it? He thought it was funny. I was like, "Okay, what are you going to do? You can laugh." I'm like, "I need to unbutton some buttons here." It's getting hot. I'm starting to sweat profusely. I'm laughing just because it's an awkward, bad joke, not a good joke, but everything changed in my life because of that joke.
If I were to guess, most in this room are like me. We have secrets we are going to take to the grave, or maybe we don't want to take them to the grave, but today we're like, "I just can't tell anybody that." Usually, there's a really good reason we don't tell people. What I know about all of us is we all have a deep, deep need to be loved. We have a deep need to be accepted, and we have a deep need for people to put their arms around us and go, "It's going to be okay."
But most of us feel like the solution to secrets is to simply outrun them, that time will heal the wound, that time will take care of the problem, that time will cover the secret. You've heard this too. This is not going to be an abnormal phrase. "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." It's that idea that we can run away from our past and outrun it. What the Scriptures want to talk about this morning is that there's a better way to deal with your secrets than trying to outrun them.
So today we're going to look at a couple of things. We're going to be jumping into Psalm 32. We're going to be looking at a promise the Lord makes, we're going to be looking at a sense of urgency around that promise, and we are going to look at a warning if we choose to take another path. If you have your Bibles with you, you can open to Psalm 32. This psalm has historically blessed the church.
One of the church's key leaders in the fifth century, Saint Augustine of Hippo, inscribed this next to his bed so he could look at it every morning he woke up and every night before he went to bed. He had a scandalous past. He had met Jesus and been redeemed, and he was running face-to-face with some very popular people who had risen up in the church who were trying to redefine sin.
Whenever you redefine sin you have to redefine salvation, and Augustine was like, "Not on my watch." This was inscribed next to his bed so he could look at it in the morning and at night. So if you are like me, maybe you came to faith late or you're just investigating Jesus. I didn't even know who King David was until my late teenage years. I just didn't have a clue. I didn't have a Bible until I was 16 or 17.
If you're new to the faith, King David is probably the king of all kings in the Old Testament. God loved this guy so much that in 2 Samuel, chapter 7, he said, "Look, David. No matter what you do, no matter what happens, I'm going to make an unconditional covenant with you, meaning no strings attached on your end. I'm going to guarantee that one descendent who comes from you will reign on the throne forever." Ultimately, that person is Jesus, but it's an unconditional covenant.
Most of us know the next chapter, 2 Samuel, chapter 11. We know that's where he sees a girl and takes her. Adultery, pregnant, covers it up, murder. So the guy who's writing this is a guy who was guilty of two capital offenses punishable by death in the Old Testament. It's King David. That's who wrote Psalm 32. So let's read the first couple of verses.
1.The promise around confession. There's a promise made around this big topic of confession. Let's jump in. Here's what he says. "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit."
He wants to remind you of three big things around this promise. The first one of these is the reality that God is the one who covers sin. He uses the word blessed a handful of times. Blessed is a really cool word in the Old Testament. It's a really cool word in the New Testament. Essentially, what that means is just the word happy.
If you had a dream in your mind of what the good life is, it's around the word blessed. I want to have joy, happiness, cheerfulness. All of those things are encompassed in the word blessed. What David wants to remind you of right here is that if you want to have a blessed, happy life it starts with the idea and the reality that God is the one who covers sin. Look at what it says. If you love English, you'll notice there are two passive verbs here, that your transgressions are covered.
Your sins are covered. They're forgiven. There is not something you do to those sins or transgressions or something somebody else does for you. You can't forgive your sin. You can't cover them up. There's somebody who's going to come and do that for you. That's the first thing you need to know about what it means to have a blessed life: living in the reality that there is somebody, not you, who covers your sin, doesn't count your transgressions against you, and does all that for you. That's what the blessed life looks like.
Then he goes on to say this, and this is what wore me out over the month of July. It says, "…in whose spirit is no deceit." If you want to know what it means to have a blessed life, it's not living with secrets. It's living with the idea that God covers your sin, and the second thing is it's living with no deceit. Now most of us in here don't think we're deceitful people, but let me throw out a couple other synonyms for what deceit looks like.
It's somebody who's not fully authentic. It's somebody who tells maybe 99 percent of the truth but leaves out that 1 percent, because that 1 percent might cost you something. It's somebody who is not authentic. They are counterfeit. It's someone who doesn't tell 100 percent of the truth 100 percent of the time. That's what we tell our kids. "Hey, telling the truth is 100 percent of the truth 100 percent of the time."
This runs deep in Rob Barry, and I hate it, and people around me hate it too. This could be as simple as the way I've rolled with my wife over the years that I've stopped doing. She'd call me… The way my wife feels connected to me is just knowing my schedule. She loves calling during the day and going, "Hey, what are you doing today?" She wants to know who I'm meeting with. That's just how she feels connected.
What I found myself doing is omitting… Maybe not making up lies or fabricating anything. I would just omit details that didn't make me look really awesome or really cool. Like, if I had an hour where I didn't do any work, where I looked lazy, I would just omit that stuff. That is deceit. Or maybe it's like me as a kid. Any kids of the 80s out there? Come on. Be proud. If you're a kid of the 80s like me, you know that this is when the BMX scene came to the United States.
So there were movies like Rad and BMX Bandits that came on the scene that were awesome, and bikes like Haro and Diamondback and Redline. If that's not cool enough, those shorts are definitely cool. If you're a product of the 80s, you had mags or pegs on your bike so you could do these tricks. It was cool if you could do an endo, which is where you come up on your front tire, or a bunny hop where you jump the curb without killing your back tire.
The 80s were awesome if you had a BMX bike. We didn't. My mom thought it was cool to roll in the Schwinn beach cruiser. Here's what's really cool about the beach cruiser. They're really cool right now. Schwinn is a cool name. That would have been a cool bike today, but 30 years ago, that was not a cool bike. I'm like, "Okay, my friends have these cool bikes. What am I going to do?" Because deep down, remember, I just want to be loved and accepted, and so do you.
My mom loved… Let's say when it's that bulk trash pickup day where you can just put bulk trash in the front and they'll pick it up for you. My mom loved driving by those places like, "Hey, tell me one good reason why I shouldn't strap that old sofa to my Ford Focus and bring that home." One of those things she brought home was a Diamondback bike. I had arrived and gone to heaven.
Now the thing about this Diamondback was it was more rusted than any bike you have ever seen in your life, so I came up with this… I didn't omit data. I just made up a story, which was like 20 percent true. I told my friends, "Hey, I know you've seen the beach cruisers, but I've actually had this bike for a long time, and I lost it in my backyard. Now I found it." Isn't it crazy? Once you start lying, it just gets out of control.
My friends would be like, "Okay, tell me that story again." I'm like, "What part of that story does not make sense to you? I lost my bike. I found it. That's why it's rusted." I had a deep need. So whether you're making up a story or omitting, that's what deceit looks like. David is like, "Hey, the blessed life, the good life, the happy life is when somebody realizes they are forgiven not by their actions but by the actions of the Lord and, secondly, when there is no deceit in their body."
So the first thing he wants you to deal with is the reality is God is the one who covers sin. The second thing he wants you to deal with is the result of covering up your sin, hiding those facts of the bike, hiding those facts from your wife. David is like, "I want to share my personal story with you." Here's what he says. "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."
If you're like me and have lived with a secret in your life, you know firsthand that is true. There is something that happens to our body when we keep secrets. Physiologically, it is exhausting. There are other psalms that speak about how the person who hides sin… It just wrecks their sleep. That's my story. There's a physiological aspect. We know that's true.
For me, when I was covering up porn, I could be three months removed from clicking on anything, and someone would throw out the word porn, and it was like a hand around my throat. "Oh my gosh, do they know? Have they seen my computer? What do they know? What do they know?" I'd go into mode of how to clean this thing up.
Something happens to our physiological bodies when we're hiding sin, bones wasting away, body failing, eyesight failing, but in the Old Testament is also a picture of a withering spiritual life. David is saying, "Whether it's physiological or whether it's just another picture that it is an eroding of your spiritual life, trust me; there's a better way." He talks about how his strength was sapped.
Let me tell you something that was not a wise move that I did in July. Middle of Texas, middle of summer. I thought it would be a really fun idea to go camping in July in Central Texas. It sounded like a great way to save money. My oldest son, who's 10, Jackson Barry, just finished fourth grade. He just started fifth grade, and in fourth grade you learn all about Texas history.
I'm like, "Bro, let's go do this. You and me…let's do a Texas history trip. Any place you want to go see, let's go see." Earlier in the summer we knocked out the Battleship Texas. Kind of Texas history. So we've checked the big one off the list. I'm like, "Where do you want to go? Two nights, three days. We're going. We're eating kolache at the West bakery in West, eating out every meal." He was like, "I want to go see the Alamo."
"Done. Number one. What's number two?"
"I don't know."
"Okay, how about we do this? How about we do this?"
Great. We have our trip planned. We stayed right on the Guadalupe the first night. There was a good breeze through the tent. It was great. We also went with a guy in my Community Group named Mike, and he took two of his sons who are fourth grade and up so they could have the Texas history trip.
Here's what you need to know. The second night camping in a state park was a beating. It had to be 100 degrees at bedtime. We set up our camp late, and I remember just lying down and trying to fall asleep for two hours. It wasn't one bead of sweat. It was like sweat just coming down your face. You're wiping it off your mouth as you're trying to go to sleep, and you're praying to God, "God, please. Just put me out. Tranq me right now."
I sweat so much that night I woke up the next morning, and Mike just looks at me and goes, "Bro, are you okay?" I'm like, "I just feel like I got worked over all night," because I had three pounds of sweat sitting over there. If you need to know experientially what this feels like, go camp in July in the middle of summer in the middle of Central Texas, and you'll know exactly what this feels like.
If I had to guess, you don't need to go camping to experience what this feels like, because I've experienced it. I'm guessing you have too. What David is saying is whether it's bones wasting away or your strength is sapped, it is exhausting hiding sin. It just is. There is no refuge from it. You think you can outrun it, and you can't. You just can't outrun your sin.
What he wants to communicate is, "There is a promise I'm making you. There is a reality that God covers sin, and I'm begging you; do not do what I did. Don't run the offense I ran. Don't cover up your sin or it will wear you out, and there's no refuge." Here's what he says. He wants to lead you to the right place, and here's where he starts in verse 5. There is a right response to sin. There is a right response to covering up secrets, and it's confession.
"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.'" ** Here's the verse that really matters that we're going to sit down on for a while."And you forgave the guilt of my sin."** Sin never just stays sin. If it's unconfessed sin, then it always grows into something else. Guilt is a by-product of sin.
You sin and then you don't confess it. That's what you carry around, this shame and guilt, and it's heavy. That's what wears you out. That's what's exhausting. That's what there's no refuge from. What he says is confession is like opening up a floodgate at a dam, where the pressure is relieved. It's crazy, and you know what I'm talking about. You know what David is talking about if you've ever confessed your sin. It's just gone.
Any Red Raiders in the house? There are a couple. Get your guns up. My wife grew up in Lubbock, so we go up there every once in a while to see her dad. My wife is a good strong Red Raider, a good strong West Texas girl with a little bit of a drawl, which is nice. I need that in my house. We went up to Lubbock a couple of weeks ago.
I don't know if you are familiar with Lubbock and the surrounding towns, like Crosbyton and all of these others, but it is a big cotton ginning community up there. The cotton gins will just kick off all this crazy stuff. It usually ends up looking like allergy symptoms for you. Some people in our family have died of emphysema who never had a cigarette. It's just all that.
My father-in-law up in Lubbock is a local thespian. He loves being in plays. We went up there. We wanted our boys to see him in a theater production. I woke up in his house at 2:30 in the morning, and it was like I had severe asthma. I mean, I couldn't breathe, and I don't have asthma. So I'm digging around all of these medicine cabinets looking for something that will help me breathe.
I call my buddy in the morning, "Hey, I need help. I can barely breathe." Short of breath. He's like, "You need some albuterol, man. You need an inhaler. Where are you going to get an inhaler?" "I'm going to go bum one off somebody. I need this thing right now." At 10:30 in the morning… I was waking up all night long. I was jumping because I was dreaming that I was being strangled. I couldn't breathe. I'd wake up and I couldn't breathe. It's crazy what goes on up here.
My father-in-law is like, "Hey, I have an inhaler you can have that I've never even used. It's like three months old." I don't know if that's illegal to use somebody else's medicine. That's beside the point. (I just want to live in the light with you guys.) I pounded that inhaler. The minute I took that albuterol, I could breathe. That's what he's saying confession of sin is like. It's like the guilt, the heaviness, the weightiness is gone.
Some of you are thinking, "Okay, but I've confessed my sins to God. I've asked him for forgiveness, and the weightiness, the guilt, the shame hasn't gone anywhere." I would just want to encourage you that maybe you have a wrong picture of what it means to confess your sins before God. David had a different picture than just, "God, will you forgive me for this?" He said those words, but he practiced it like he was taught to practice out of the book of Leviticus.
What are we supposed to do if we've wronged the Lord or if we've wronged somebody? What it is is you have to go in and sacrifice something and before people say, "This is my sin." In Leviticus, chapter 6, it says we have to go to that person and make it right with them. We have to confess our sin to the person we violated. That's what it means to confess your sin to God: when you go make it right with the person.
We see this with David. In 2 Samuel 12, where Nathan is sent to confront him, he doesn't just say, "Hey, God, I've sinned." He looks at Nathan and says, "Against the Lord have I sinned." David models confession to somebody, which is confessing your sin to the Lord. We see this in the New Testament with Zacchaeus. When he meets Jesus, he's like, "I have to go to those people I've wronged and pay it all back with extravagant interest. I have to go to them and make it right."
What David wants to say is, "Hey, the freedom, the floodgates, the albuterol for your soul comes when you bring your secret into the light with somebody, specifically with the person you've offended." I had a great opportunity to practice this a couple of months ago. In junior high… Let's just say I was a people-pleaser, and my best friend was the guy who was like, "Touch the stove," and I'm like, "Okay. I want to be loved and accepted. I'll touch the stove."
So he's like, "Hey, I'm going to steal this dude's pants out of his locker. You steal that guy's pants." Pants. Who needs pants? Right? So I took this guy's pants. Let me tell you, I tried to cover it up. The guy even confronted me, and I lied to his face, because remember, sin doesn't just stay neutral. It compounds. Now I've lied to the guy, and I thought I could outrun it for 25 years.
Finally, I found the guy in Utah, called him, and I go, "Bro, I know this is a weird phone call. I'm calling you from Dallas. I stole your pants in junior high." He's like, "I don't know what pants you're talking about." I'm like, "Oh, you know what pants I'm talking about."
"No, I don't."
"Hey, what's worse than me stealing your pants is I lied to your face."
Let me tell you, the minute I had that conversation with a guy I hadn't seen in over a decade, the guilt was gone. The albuterol had hit. There's a better way to deal with your secrets than to try to outrun them. David is pleading with you not to take the path he took but to take the path he ended up taking.
He wants to show us a promise of confession, the reality that God is the one who covers sin, the result when we try to cover up our sins as something happens to us that's not blessed, happy, and good, and he wants to lead us to the right response of confessing our sin. So that's the promise of confession. Let's jump into the second portion of this, which is absolutely my favorite portion. I've experienced the benefit of the second more than probably any other section here.
2. The urgency of confession. What is the urgency around this? He wants to address this right now in verses 6-7. "Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you [God] may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them." You might read that, like me, and just go, "What is that? Where is God going? If I live with covered-up sin, where is God going?" I think he's not going anywhere. Here's what it really looks like.
I have three boys and a little girl. Bubba is my 7-year-old. Bubba is the most tenderhearted, strong, strong-willed kid and just a sweetheart. What happens every night is we put our kids down at 7:30. Becca goes down about 7:00. She's like rubbing her eyes at 6:00. We put her down, she has her footie pajamas on, and we go put our boys down, pray with them, make sure they've done their chores.
What happens after that is usually about 8:00 to 10:00, that's my time with Leslie, and it's like don't mess with my time with Leslie. I just need some one-on-one time. Maybe we'll do our scheduling or talk money or just watch a show like Limitless. I'm not sure if that's appropriate to talk about in here. But it's our time.
Now what happens four out of five nights every week is at 8:00 and after 8:00, one kid just starts screaming bloody murder. Now two kids are screaming, and I'm moving from our den, which we call our "boy cave," over toward my boys' room. The minute I walk over the threshold into the room I can tell a couple of things. If it's kid number one or kid number three, they're pointing fingers at people, and I know one of them is guilty.
It's like, "Okay, now I've narrowed it down from three to two. Now I just have to cross-examine. I'm going to figure out who's really the problem here." Now it's like, "He stole my Pokémon card. He broke my Legos. He punched me in the face. He threw me off the bunk bed." Boy drama. Let me tell you, I'm done. Leslie and I are done with it. I'm so done I'm buying a camera to secretly hide in their closet.
Don't judge me. I'll take it out before puberty hits, but I am going to hide it in their closet, and I'm not even going to tell them it's there, because I'm done playing the game. Watch me spend $70 on a camera. So I know if Caden and Jackson are one of the two culprits. Now if Bubba is the person (Benjamin is on his birth certificate, not Bubba; that would be kind of trashy, but we call him Bubba)…
If Bubba is the culprit and I walk in that room, I just have to walk in the room and say, "What is going on in here?" and this is Bubba. He'll just start moving away from me. I'll be like, "Bubba, I love you. I love you. I love you." I'm walking toward him, and Bubba is moving away from me. His status as my son is never going to change. My love for that kid will never change. I love him.
It's not that God is going anywhere. It's just that when we're living with secrets and sin, we go somewhere because of shame and guilt. Something happens to our brains when we're hiding sin. There's a guy I love who says, "Sin makes you stupid." It begins to numb your mental capacities. Sin never just stays sin. It always turns into something else.
Look at David. "Go get me her." Now he has involved other people in the conspiracy. Now there's blood on their hands. "Hey, now she's pregnant. We have to cover it up. The most faithful guy in the Israelite army is this girl's husband, and we have to kill him, and I need you to now be in on it." It just never stops when it's unconfessed. It always grows into something else. It begins to numb us. I know, if you're like me, you've watched friends wilt like a plant who are living with unconfessed sin.
Whatever we're running to, whatever we're trying to keep under cover, there's a great… If you live in the world of addiction and what that looks like, guys who study addiction say that when you become addicted to something… It could be your Facebook screen. It could be you go to food to cope with reality or drinking or pornography. There are all of these different ways that we become addicted to things to escape that we have a hard time living without.
What the researchers say is when somebody gets addicted to something it stunts their emotional growth. Somebody who gets addicted at 15 and is now 45, it makes sense why they act like a 15-year-old. It's why we have men in our church who are 50 who act like they're 20 in college. You're like, "What are you faking? You can't talk to people that way. You can't treat people that way." It's because when we're hiding sin, something happens, and it always grows into something else.
When he says, "While you may be found," what he's saying is "Do it today." Bring your secret into the light. Confess your sin today, because tomorrow you may be walking one more step here, even as the Lord is pursuing you, going, "I love you. You're mine. Nothing will separate you from me. I love you." Today is the day. There is a sense of urgency.
Then he goes on to say, "The rising of the mighty waters will not reach them." It's a great passage. The mighty waters are the consequences for our sin. Let's just be real. When we confess something, when we bring something into the light, no matter what it is, where there's shame and guilt involved, there is a risk there. There is a relational risk involved. Your spouse might be ticked at you for a day, a week, a month, forever. They may leave you. They may divorce you. You might get fired. There may be gossip because you choose to bring something into the light.
There is a ton of risk that keeps us, because we want to be loved and accepted deeply. When he talks about the rising of the mighty waters, he's not saying, "Look, there won't be consequences here." He's not saying that at all. What he's saying is, "I've got you. You might lose your marriage. You may lose your job. You may be gossiped and slandered about because you chose to be obedient. I've got you. I'm your fortress. I'm your rock. I'm your shelter. I'm your refuge. I'm stronger than any consequence, and I've got you."
I've watched deep, deep friends in the last six to eight weeks come clean about stuff they've been hiding for a long season, and as they talked about the freedom they had in light of consequences in their marriage, when they were talking about the freedom they have from being faithful to Jesus, living in the light, not covering up secrets, they would just tear up talking about the freedom they have. Today is the day.
Let me tell you why I, Rob Barry, did not confess my sin, why I had secrets I was going to take to the grave. It's because at the end of the day I worshiped my reputation. If I worshiped Jesus, then I would do what he says, but I wanted to worship my reputation and protect it, protect myself from consequences, and it's idolatry. I had to wrestle with the fact that I was idolatrous. That's what kept me from living in the light and being right, authentic, not a counterfeit.
He goes on to say, "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble…" This may be one of the sweetest verses in the whole psalm. He just says, "…and surround me with songs of deliverance." Let me tell you what a song of deliverance is. Let me tell you what it has been for me. As I came clean to probably the most significant man in my life about what was really going on when I was a late teenager, what I was hiding from him, I felt like, "I'm going to lose the relationship with the most significant man in my life."
Let me tell you what a song of deliverance is. When I came clean to that guy and he grabbed me and held me and just said, "Rob, I love you. Hey, Jesus has forgiven that. I love you. Thank you for loving me enough to tell me." That's a song of deliverance. It's a song of deliverance when I come clean to my wife and she just says, "I love you. Thank you for telling me that."
It's a song of deliverance when guys in my Community Group come clean, and I can just go, "Hey, there's nothing more you can do to show that you love me than by confessing your sin to me. It just shows me you trust me and you're trying to follow Jesus. Let me remind you that Jesus has paid for that. You can have a happy and blessed life because he has paid for your sin." That's a song of deliverance.
See, when people take a risk to share their junk with us, we have an amazing opportunity to share a song of deliverance with them, and they do us. It's just the gospel. That's all it is. "Let me remind you, Rob, as you just came clean, and I know you didn't want to tell me that because it's shameful… When you came clean, let me tell you what's true about the gospel." That's a song of deliverance. When you hold and hide your sin, you are robbing people of the opportunity to love you. It's that simple.
3. The warning of not confessing. Here's what he says, starting in verse 8. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Once again, "This is the path. I'm trying to lead you to life. I'm trying to lead you to blessing. I'm the Good Shepherd. Go where I tell you to go. You don't want to eat in that pasture. This is the path."
Then he goes on and says, "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." I'm not an equestrian. I don't even know if that's the right term. I don't love riding horses. They scare me. It's like a massive beast. What I do know is a bit in the mouth, a bridle around the nose… Those things are designed to put pressure on sensitive areas of that horse or mule.
A horse is not just going to go saddle up, strap a plow, and start plowing the field in rows. A horse doesn't know right from wrong. A horse has to be controlled, and what happens is pressure is put on sensitive areas. The Lord is like, "I'm begging you to take this path, because it's the best path, but there's another path that will hopefully lead you back to this path, and it's a path of pain and pressure. I'm begging you; you don't want that path."
What he's saying is, "If I'm not going to be your tutor, if you're not going to let me teach you and guide you and counsel you, there's another tutor, and that tutor's name is pain, and it's not a good tutor. It's an effective tutor, but it's not a good tutor." Enter back on the scene Bubba Barry, my 7-year-old. Bubba Barry loves a couple of things in life: his older brother and his bike. (It's a bike theme day. Welcome to Labor Day.)
Bubba Barry likes waking up at about 7:30 every morning. He likes to get on his bike. We have a picture of him. That's Bubba. Cute kid. Notice there are no shoes on his feet. That's how Bubba likes to ride his bike. You may know where this is headed. Bubba likes to take a joyride. He loves the feeling of the air going through that mop of his. He just circles the block. It's about a quarter mile. He loves doing that before school every morning. He loves doing it at night.
I guess there's something about the breeze flowing through your toes. I don't know what that looks like, but about four or five different occasions I've been inside and heard a bloodcurdling scream coming from my front yard. Of course I'm like, "Okay…" Like any good dad… I don't know if that's prideful to say, but hopefully that dad is moving toward a screaming child.
"Did someone get hit? What's going on? Is someone run over?" Four or five different times I've run out, opened my screen door, and there is Bubba running, screaming, with blood all over his feet. I pick him up. He only weighs like 40 pounds even though he's 7. I carry him in there and clean his feet off. A little Neosporin. Let's bandage it.
"Bubba, bro, I love you. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Bro, you've got to wear shoes when you ride your bike. I know your feet are a secondary brake, but that's never going to work out good for you without shoes." Okay, had the conversation. "Love you." Now what happens again? Of course Bubba is going to take another joyride.
I see him out front time and time again in that same pose, no shoes, and I'm like, "Bubba, before you go, please put on your shoes. Remember what happened last time? Put on your shoes." Maybe not every time, but we always think we're the exception to the rule. The exception never works out for Bubba when he's barefoot on his bike. Four or five times, same scenario. He still rides without his shoes on. I'm like, "Okay, bro." I'll quote him that passage, Proverbs 17:10: "A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool."
I'm like, "Bubba, do you know what that means? That if you're not going to do what I'm telling you to do because I love you and I'm trying to prevent you from pain, you're going to end up… Remember what happened last time? Okay, I love you. Go have fun on your bike." Pain is a very effective tutor, and the Lord is trying to spare you from being a Bubba on a bike with no shoes. It's just not going to work out. You're not the exception to the rule.
He goes on to say, "Many are the woes of the wicked…" We don't use that word much, but pain and suffering is what woes means. "…but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him." **"I've got you. I'm a refuge. Run to me. I will take care of the rising waters. But if you don't, discomfort will increase." He finishes the way we all finish when we confess our sin."Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!"**
I've been on Watermark staff for nine years now. I've met a ton of people who have confessed sin, brought some really consequential things into the light, and I've never heard one person regret doing it. What I've heard from every one of those guys is, "I wish I would have done it sooner." Today is the day. When you do it, it's like albuterol. It's like, "I just want to say thank you. You've covered my sin, and the blessed life is a life with no deceit."
Here's what happened when my friend asked me that really bad joke. I laughed about two times and looked him back in the eyes. As strangers were laughing, I just said, "Hey, I know that was a joke, but," and I pointed at him. "Today is the day." I just sat down and shared the secret I was going to take to the grave.
I said, "Next week when we meet here I'm telling my wife and I'm telling my Community Group." Let me tell you, my wife and I ended up at Chicken Scratch. I started with, "Hey, there's something I need to tell you." We went to Chicken Scratch across the Trinity River, sat at a big wooden table, and I remember it was probably the longest two hours of my life, as she just… "So help me understand that again," and this and that. I just came clean, and I've never been more free in my life.
We were married for 12 years at that point. I thought I could outrun my past, and I just couldn't, and neither can you. Let me tell you, it was a month of awkwardness with my wife, but once again my wife said, "Thank you, and I love you." So I want to encourage you today to do three things. Today is the day. I want to encourage you today in the light of being fearful to just tell somebody the sin. You can start with this. Just opening your mouth and starting is the hardest part. "There's something I need to tell you." Trust the Lord. His way is the best.
Secondly, if you're married in this room, make it a safe place to confess sin to your spouse. If I look over the last… We're coming on 15 years in about two weeks. As I look over the last 15 years, as I've confessed sin to my spouse, she has always been like, "I love you, and thank you. It might hurt, but I love you, and thank you."
Every year of our marriage, I've sat Leslie down and said, "Les, I love you, and if you ever have an affair on me, have multiple affairs on me, I want you to know that I will love you. I will forgive you. I will not hold that over your head. It would crush me that we got to the end of the road in our lives and you had been carrying around guilt and shame. That would crush me as a husband. I love you too much to walk around with that."
I don't know what that looks like, and I remind her that every year. I don't know what it looks like, but make it a safe place if you're married, or if you're in a Community Group and single, make it a safe place to confess sin.
Thirdly, go with somebody. If you can't go by yourself, you can either go tell that person, "Here's what's going on, and I need you to go to tell the person I offended," or "Hey, I need to tell you something, but I really need to tell this person. Will you go with me?" "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor…"
Watermark, we cannot outrun our past. There is a better way. There's one who wants to restore you, remind you he loves you. He has covered your sin, and what he thinks about you is the only thing that matters. He's got you. The safest place to be in this world is in the middle of God's will, just saying, "If you want me to do that, I'm going to do it." Today is the day. Let's pray.
Father, thank you. Would you just help us? We really need your help to trust you that your Word is true, that what's really going to happen is going to happen. Lord, we just need to be honest about fear with other people about the potential consequences. Father, will you help us follow Jesus? Will you help us run to your promise? Will you help us be urgent?
Would you help us heed your warning of the other path, and would you help us just trust you that you love us and you're not trying to rip us off? Your Son is the Good Shepherd. He wants to give us life, and life abundantly, and the Enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy and keep making us think we can outrun this thing. Father, would you help us trust you? In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.