June 09, 2019

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; Genesis 11:1-9

Historic Lesson; Acts 2:1-21                              

Sermon Text; Psalm 51:10-12


The text we will look at for today is taken from Psalm 51, verses 10 through twelve.  It is a prayer.


Create in me a pure heart, O God.  Renew an unwavering spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence.  Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation.  Sustain me with a willing spirit.


These are your words.  Heavenly Father, lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Alright, let's imagine you came here to church this morning, and you were one of the greeters.  And let's say your family all decided, “We are all going to dress up in clean, white clothes.”  The ladies had on white dresses, nice, clean, bleached, white dresses.  The guys had on nice, clean, white shirts, white pants, with a white tie.  Everything looked clean, and white, as you are standing there greeting people.  All of a sudden, through the door comes some little child, covered in nothing but black grease, slime, and mud, and comes running toward you.  What would you do?  I can guarantee you, you would probably step back, and try to stay away from the child. 

That is a picture of what happens when uncleanness comes toward cleanness.  The Bible uses that picture to talk about sin, and holiness. 

-Sin is like uncleanness.  It is like dirtiness.  It is like filthiness. 

-Holiness is like purity, cleanness. 

There is a problem when sin, or uncleanness tries to come in contact with holiness, or cleanness, God's cleanness.  We are sinners, and God is holy.  Uncleanness can't come in the presence of holiness, and survive. 

So, how can it be, then, that we, unclean sinners that we are, can come into the presence of a clean, and holy God?  That gets us to what we call The Work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit's work we call a big, long word, 'Sanctification'.  Technically, it means to make holy, or to make clean, or to make pure.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit. 

Today we are going to see how it is the Holy Spirit makes us clean, makes us pure, as we come into the presence of God.

He does it in two ways.  One is a completed process, and the other is an ongoing process of making us clean. 

There were a couple artists in New York, recently.  They did a really interesting project that was kind of Living Art.  One of them was a woman who made a sign, and put it in a window.  The sign said,

“Air your dirty laundry, dirty laundry. 

One hundred percent confidential.” 

She stood there, with a clip board, and a blank piece of paper.  She would point to the sign, as people walked by. 

“Air your dirty laundry. 

One hundred percent confidential.” 

People would actually stop, and they would write down confessions of secret sins they had committed.

In the meantime the other lady was sitting there, the other artist.  She would quickly sketch a picture of the person who was writing down their confession.  They would fold up their confession, and put it in an envelope.  After that person had walked way down the road, and nobody could see them anymore, they would unfold the confession, put it up on a window, a big window that everybody could see, with the person's sketch next to it.  People would actually stop.  (This was art.)  They would stop, look at the picture, and they would read the confession, the person's dirty laundry. 

Some of them were 'kind of cute'.  One of them said, “I flushed my gold fish down the toilet, while it was still alive.”  But, some of them were troubling.  One of them said, “I hate people who drive SUV's.   They think they are so cool.”  Another one said, “I am dating a married man, and he is giving me money to ease his guilty conscious.  I am twenty five, and he is a millionaire.”  

Dirty laundry, and everybody could see it.

If you were there in New York, and that clipboard were handed to you, and you had to write down some 'dirty laundry' (remember we are talking about sin as being 'unclean', and 'dirty'), there are things 'buried in the clothes hamper', 'dirty' sins we really would not want anybody to see.  All of us have plenty of 'dirt' in our lives.  And, God sees all of 'the dirt in the window', doesn't He? 

-It may be you are having vicious thoughts against somebody who you are really close to.  They may have no idea you are having those thoughts.  That is 'dirty laundry' that is going on in your heart.

-It could be you have had an affair with somebody.  That is 'dirty laundry'.  And, it has been bothering your conscious.

-It could be you have had an abortion.  It is 'dirty laundry' that is troubling you, and you are struggling with it.

We all, throughout our lives, deal with this 'dirty laundry' in our lives.  So, how do we deal with it?  How does the Holy Spirit take that, and make us 'clean', make us holy in God's eyes?

Let's see how He did it with King David.  King David is a perfect example.  If you have a favorite chapter in The Bible, you might want to have Psalm 51 rise right near the top, because Psalm 51 is a picture of God taking somebody 'unclean', and how exactly that person becomes 'clean' – how they go from being a sinner to being holy in God's eyes. 

So, here is what happened to King David.  He had his own 'dirty laundry'.  King David, The Bible tells us, was a man after God's own heart.  He was a Christian like you, and me.  He believed in God, and he believed in the coming Savior.  But, he had a sinful nature like you and I do, too.  One day King David did something.  

(Let me just go back a step here, for a second.  You know, it is interesting.  For some reason our culture, particularly when we talk about sins against The Sixth Commandment, “You should not commit adultery”, we use language to describe it that actually is language that has to do with dirtiness, uncleanness, and filthiness.  For example, we say, “Somebody looked at a filthy magazine”.  Or, we say, “He is a dirty old man”.  Or, we say, “You are having unclean thoughts about someone”.  So, that is how we picture particularly sins against The Sixth Commandment.) 

King David, a man after God's own heart, had Christian faith, but one day The Bible tells us he was on the roof of his palace, when he saw Bathsheba bathing.  King David had 'dirty' thoughts.   He had 'unclean' thoughts about Bathsheba.  He sinned.

Jesus said, “You have heard it said, 'You should not commit adultery'.  I tell you anyone who lusts after a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 

So here, he became 'dirty' with these 'dirty' thoughts, and then he carried out on those thoughts.  He had her brought to his palace.  And then, he did something really 'dirty'.  He took this woman, who was married to another man.  (Now, God had blessed David.  He  actually had more than one wife.  And, he had all the riches and everything, which God had given to him.)  But, he was so 'dirty' that he took this other man's wife, and he slept with her.  Now, there was 'dirt underneath his rug', and he wanted to cover it up so no one knew about it.  But, the problem was Bathsheba became pregnant.  How do you cover up that 'dirt'? 

David knew the 'dirt' was there.  So, he actually had Bathsheba's husband killed.  He put him in a position in battle where Uriah was killed.  David thought, “I am going to cover up that guilt”, but it just made him more 'filthy', more 'dirty' and more 'unclean' in God's eyes.

Then, the prophet Nathan came to David.  And by the Word of God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, he was convicted of his sins.  David was convicted of his sins.

Now I want you to see what the Holy Spirit does in the heart of David, what He does to David.  And, this is something the Holy Spirit does for all of us, as Christians.  I am going to read the opening verses of Psalm 51.  This is the first thing that happens to David.  Just listen to the words he uses in this Psalm.  They have to do with 'dirtiness', 'filthiness', 'cleanness', 'purity', and 'being washed'.  He knows he is 'dirty', and 'filthy' in God's eyes.  He has this guilty conscious, and wonders how in the world he is ever going to come into the presence of a holy, perfect, pure, and clean God?  He knows the only way that can happen is just by relying on God's mercy.  It can only be God's mercy.  That is the only way it can possibly happen.  And so, he starts out this way.

“Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love.”

It has to be God's mercy.  It has to be His unfailing love.  That is the only thing.

“According to your great compassion,

blot out my transgressions...”

Now listen to this.

“...wash away all my iniquity. 

Cleanse me from my sin.”

So, this is a confession.  It is a confession we all make, as God's people.  “God, it is only your mercy, only your mercy, loving kindness, and your compassion that could wash away this guilt, this dirtiness I have.”

He goes on and says,

“For I know my transgressions. 

My sin is always before me.”

It was bothering his conscious, his 'dirty', guilty, 'filthy' conscious.

“Against you,

you only have I sinned,

and done what is evil in your sight.”

Ultimately, any sin we commit is totally against God.

“So you are right in your verdict,

and justified when you judge.”

He is telling God, “I understand, God.  You have every right to judge me as totally guilty.  You would be totally justified if you condemned me to Hell for eternity.  I understand that, and God, that is why I am pleading for your mercy.”

All of us here, by the power of the Holy Spirit, have been brought to believe we are 'dirty'.  We are 'unclean' in God's eyes.  It is only God's mercy, only His mercy that can save us.

He says,

“Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

David is not going to blame anybody else for his sins.  It is not God's fault.  It is not Bathsheba's fault.  Whose fault is it?  He says,

“I was sinful at birth.” 

“I have a problem.  I have a sinful heart.  That is what caused me to do that.”  He is acknowledging his sin.  We have that same problem.

He goes on, and says,

“Cleanse me with hyssop,

and I will be clean. 

Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 

Let me hear joy and gladness

that the bones you have crushed rejoice. 

Hide your face from my sins. 

Blot out my iniquity.”

I love that little, picture language he uses there.  “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean.”  In David's day, the High Priest would go in what was called, “The Holy of Holies”.  That was where the presence of God was - the holiness, the purity, and the 'cleanness' of God.  The High Priest would go in there with the 'dirtiness', 'filth', and sin of all of the people.  The only way the High Priest could go into that presence, that 'dirty' High Priest who was covered with the sins of all of the people, the only way he could go into that presence of a holy, 'clean', pure God was he took a branch of Hyssop, dipped in the blood of an innocent animal, and sprinkle that blood all over The Holy of Holies.  Only that blood enabled him to come in the presence of a holy, sinless, 'clean', pure God. 

It is a picture of Jesus.  It is a picture of the only way that you and I, sinners that we are, can come into the presence of holy, pure, 'clean' righteous God.  That is why The Bible says,

“The blood

(what is it?)

the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son

(does what?)

purifies, or cleanses us from all sin.”

That is why, when John, St. John saw the view of everybody in Heaven he said,

“These are they who have

(done what?)

washed their robes,

and made them white

in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore they are before the throne of God,

because they are washed in the blood of Christ.” 

Sins washed away.  Guilt gone.  Guilt forgiven.  That is what the Holy Spirit does.  The Holy Spirit gives you faith to believe that, through the words that are spoken.  The Bible says,

“Faith comes from hearing the message

and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” 

The Holy Spirit gives you faith to believe, “I have been washed. and cleansed by the blood of Christ.”  For the sake of Jesus, God has removed it.  Your guilt is gone.  It's gone!  He doesn't see it, anymore  You have been brought to believe that. 

End of story, right?  No, that is not the end of the story.  That is how you are saved.  You are saved by faith in Christ.  Guilt totally gone, totally removed.  You are going to be in Heaven, because of what Jesus did for you.  But, that is not the end of the story. 

I don't know if you remember some years ago there was an oil tanker that ran aground.  It had a huge oil spill.  This oil spill covered land, plants, and animals.  Some company went in, and they cleaned up all of this huge, huge oil spill.  The dirty filth was all cleaned up. 

That is kind of a picture of our guilt totally being washed away by the blood of Christ.  It is 100% gone. 

But there was a problem.  After they had cleaned up this whole oil spill, they noticed it kept getting oily again, and dirty again.  They tried to figure out what happened.  They realized in the hull of this ship there was still oil, and it was still coming out, and leaking. 

You see, you and I, our guilt is gone.  We have been cleansed.  But, where does that guilt come from?  Where does it originate?  It originates from this thing we call our heart.  “The heart is desperately wicked”, The Bible says, “and deceitful above all things.  Who can know it?” 

Jesus said,

“Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, slander.”  

He said,

“All of those come out of a man's heart, and make him unclean.” 

Our guilt is gone, but we still have sin.  We still have sin in our hearts.  We long to have 'clean', pure hearts, as well.  That also is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The work of the Holy Spirit not only is to give us faith to believe in Jesus, as our Savior, but  begin to work on our hearts so that our hearts become 'clean' and pure, as we go through this life, as God's people.  That is what we want for our hearts. 

There was a young pastor in Sweden, one time.  According to this story, he kind of came from a revivalist background.  One day he went to visit this old guy.  He was going to try to witness to him.  The young pastor said to the old guy, “Just want to tell you right up front I am a believer.”
The old guy asked, “What does that mean you are a believer?”
The young pastor said, “Well, I am a believer.”
The old guy said, “I don't know what that means, you are a believer.”
The pastor said, “It means I believe I have given my heart to Jesus.”
The old man said, “You have given your heart to Jesus?  Do you think Jesus wants something like that?  Do you think your heart is some treasure to give to Jesus?”

Then, the old man said, “Our hearts are like a dirty, rusty can on a trash heap.  It is like some guy walks by with a walking stick, pokes the dirty can, picks it up, takes it home, and makes it his treasure.  It is not that you have given your heart to Jesus, your 'unclean' heart to Jesus.  That would not be a gift to Him.  But, Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, has picked up your heart, your 'dirty' heart, and He has made it His.”  

Our goal, then, is we want our hearts to become 'clean', too.  That is a process the Holy Spirit takes us through.

Let's look at this prayer.  It is a prayer that the Holy Spirit would enable us live what we call, “sanctified, holy, 'clean', pure lives”.  It all starts by what goes on in our hearts.  So, the prayer is:

Create in me a pure heart, O God.

The word there is 'create'.  It is 'to make something out of nothing'.  This word is only used of God in The Bible.  In the first verse of The Bible,

“In the beginning God created...”   

Only God can take this 'dirty' heart, and create, (to make something out of nothing), create this heart into a pure heart, that has pure thoughts, wants to love God, and serve Him. 

How does He do that?   He does it through The Word, just as He created the world, through the speaking of The Word.  He creates hearts that want to serve Jesus, live for Jesus, and love Jesus, through The Word.  The Word is living, active, and powerful.

It goes on, and says,

Renew an unwavering spirit within me.

You see, my heart has this sinful nature, this 'oily substance' that constantly wants to get me to do 'dirty', wrong, 'filthy', 'unclean' things, and have 'unclean' thoughts.  We are praying, “God renew an unwavering spirit within me.  I want a heart that unwaveringly wants to follow your Will, and do what is right, 'clean', and pure.”

It goes on, and says,

Cast me not away from your presence,

and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

There is the believer's acknowledgment.  “God I know, because I still sin, you would have every right, every right to cast me away from your presence.  You would be totally justified in doing that.  But, God don't take your Holy Spirit from me.”  That is a prayer we pray unconditionally. 

It's not, “Don't take your Holy Spirit from me, if it is your Will.”  We  know it is His Will that He not take His Holy Spirit from us.  We plead that the Holy Spirit be in us, because it is only the Holy Spirit who gives us faith.  It is only the Holy Spirit who gives us new hearts that want to serve Jesus.

Then, it goes on, and says”

Restore to me the joy of your salvation.

I want to live a 'clean' life.  That is what I want.  You want to live a 'clean' life.  Who do you think is most excited to live 'clean' lives?  I am going to take you to two people in The Bible who probably were the most excited I can think of, to live 'clean' lives. 

-The first was a woman who The Bible says lived a sinful lifestyle.  She is the one, of all people, of all of the people in the world, she is the only one who wet Jesus' feet with her tears, and dried His feet with her hair.  Why?  Why was she the one who did that?  Why didn't anybody else do that?  Jesus said,

“She loves much,

because she has been forgiven much.”  

She understood the joy of salvation.  She knew, “Wow!  My guilt is gone.  It's gone!”  She was so filled with joy over what Jesus had done, that she wanted to serve Jesus.  She wanted a pure heart.

-The other one is Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a thief.  He over charged people, and became very wealthy doing that.  He knew it was wrong.  Jesus came to his house, and Zacchaeus came to repentance.  Jesus forgave him.  Zacchaeus was so overjoyed with what Jesus had done for him, that he gave back more than he had ever taken from other people.  The joy of salvation!

“I want to live a 'clean' life.  So, God restore to me that joy of salvation.  Help me to understand the immensity of what Jesus has done for me.”  That only happens as we immerse ourselves in the Gospel, the Good News of Christ. 

Then, the last phrase:

Sustain me with a willing spirit.

My sinful nature is captive.  It is a slave.  It is captive to these thoughts that I don't want it to have, but it is captive.  “God, I want a willing spirit.  I want a free spirit that does not have to listen to that slave of my sinful nature.  I want to freely, willingly listen to Your Word.  I want to live a pure life, follow your desires for me, and sustain me.  Help me not to just be a 'flash in the pan', but something I want to grow in, throughout my life.” 

This is a great prayer for what we call 'sanctification'.  We are so thankful that the Holy Spirit has made us holy, by giving us faith to believe in Jesus. 

God, in His mercy, sees us as holy for Christ's sake.  We call that 'justification'.  We are declared holy.  The guilt is gone.

We are so thankful the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.  He enables us, in this life, to begin to live pure lives. 

This is why, in the placement of some of our worship services, after the sermon, and you have heard your sins are forgiven, guess what we sing? 

Create in me a clean heart, O God. 

Renew a right spirit within me. 

Cast me not away from your presence,

nor take your Holy Spirit from me. 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with your free Spirit.

May that be our prayer!