Last week I introduced the first of four foundational identities that we need to embrace – that of creature. We are God’s idea, we reflect his design, we exist for his purpose, and we have been commissioned to do his will.
It will be a struggle to submit to the law of the Creator, but when we do, we will experience safety, freedom, and joy inside the good and wise boundaries that God has defined for us.
The second foundational identity will be equally as hard to acknowledge, and equally as essential for a joy-filled, God-honoring life.
Identity #2 - Sinner
It’s sad to have to say this, but none of us is okay. We are all broken, still in need of the further work of redemption.
Sinners need more than education. We need more than practical life strategies. We need more than external restraints on their behavior.
Sinners live in desperate need of mercy.
We will only ever be what we were designed to be, and do what we were designed to do, when we have been blessed with the rescuing, forgiving, empowering, transforming, and delivering mercies of the Savior.
David’s confession recorded in Psalm 51 is incredibly helpful in defining our identity as sinner and our need for mercy. I’d encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but for the sake of today, I’m going to focus on three key words: Iniquity, Transgression, and Sin.
Iniquity is moral uncleanness. It was the moral impurities inside David that caused him to desire and do the morally wrong thing. It’s important to remember that it’s always the evil inside us that hooks us to the evil outside us.
A transgressor willingly and knowingly steps over legal boundaries. We break God’s law, not just because we are ignorant of it, but because we come to a point where we don’t care what God says. We take our lives into our own hands, and we do what we have to do to get what we want. There is a rebel heart inside every sinner.
If iniquity expresses moral impurity and transgression moral rebellion, then sin expresses moral inability. Sin renders us unable to live up to God’s design and according to his will. Sin makes us weak, easily susceptible, and all too frequently defeated. Sin causes us not only to fail to live up to God’s standard; sadly, we also seldom consistently live up to our own standards.
David understood that his problem wasn’t his eyes, or that beautiful women exist in the world, or that he lived near such a woman as Bathsheba; his problem was his identity as a sinner.
So the only hope for us is the thing David asked for in one of the most well-known prayers in all of Scripture: “Create in me a clean heart” (v. 10). It’s a cry for something David had no power whatsoever to produce in himself—radical, long-lasting heart transformation.
And it’s the reason for the bright promise of the new covenant: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezek. 36:26).
Paul David Tripp
- When was the last time you willingly and knowingly stepped over a boundary that God set? What was the result of you overstepping that boundary?
- Had you remembered your identity as creature, how would you have acted differently in that situation? Be specific about how you could have turned and walked in a God-honoring direction.
- Discouraging as it may be, why is it important to be honest about your identity as a sinner?
- Why can you remain hopeful and optimistic, despite the bad news of iniquity, transgression, and sin? Be specific in your application about how you can encourage yourself and others with the the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise of Ezekiel 36:26.