Steps To Spiritual Recovery

Experiencing God When You've Blown It Big Time
By Chip Ingram

One thing all human beings have in common is failure. King David was no different. One day, from his balcony, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. He saw, he looked, and he kept looking. Then he sent for her and committed adultery with her. Some time later, Bathsheba informed the king she was pregnant. At first, David tried to cover up his sins by bringing her husband home from battle to sleep with her. When that plan failed, he had Bathsheba's husband killed.

Yes, David failed big time but that wasn't the end. It was a moment when all could have been lost, but it wasn't. With God, failure never has to be final! No matter how bad, how wrong, or how ashamed you may rightly feel, God is there for you. Even though you knew better, God is willing to meet you. At times like these, we need to turn to God like David did. Will there be consequences? Sure. Will there be pain? Of course. Does it have to ruin your life forever? No, absolutely not.

Steps and a Promise from Psalm 51:

[A Psalm of King David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba]

[1] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. [5] Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. [6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. [8] Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. [9] Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. [12] Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. [13] Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. [15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. [16] For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. [18] Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. [19] Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

As you carefully read Psalm 51, you will discover seven clearly definable steps to spiritual recovery in this prayer. In this article I'll outline the first four steps but you can find the other three in my book I Am With You Always. I warn you up front, however, using these steps will take great spiritual integrity and courage. But if you are willing to respond God's way, the God of the universe will be there for you.

Remember, these steps are not the solution to your problem - God is the solution. But the steps define a process that must occur in our hearts as we deal with guilt, shame, and consequences of our sin.

Step 1: Come Clean

The first step is to come clean with God. Get it out in the open. David was in denial for a long time until the prophet Nathan finally called him out. David's response was, "I have sinned against the Lord." According to Psalm 51:1, David dared to come clean with God because he shamelessly relied on God's unfailing love and compassion. If you don't know that aspect of God's nature, you will probably be afraid to risk taking the first step. If you're too scared to come clean, maybe you don't know that God's love and compassion never fail.

Step 2: Ask God's Forgiveness

David prayed, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." (Psalm 51:1-2). He clearly asked God to forgive him and remove his sins. We need to be that clear when we have blown it. No hedging about whether or not we've done anything wrong. Then we must ask God to forgive us of the specific sins we have committed.

Step 3: Accept Responsibility for Your Sin

David owned his own sin. Five times in verses 2-4, he took responsibility for his sin. He calls it "my iniquity," "my sin," "my transgressions." "My sin is ever before me," David said. "Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned." He admits in verse 5 that he has a sin problem that goes well beyond his actions with Bathsheba. Like all of us, sin was a problem in the core of his being, not just a symptom.

Step 4: Accept God's Forgiveness on God's Terms

As a pastor, I frequently see people trying to cut deals with God. This will never work. God provides a way to be forgiven, but it's not by trading a few good deeds or promising to make up for what you've done. Verse 7 says, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Hyssop was a little herb the Jews would dip in blood for use in ritual cleansing. David's phrase pictures God performing a ceremonial cleansing. He accepted that God's mode of cleaning was sufficient because God was doing the clean-up.

You're probably giving some thought to how these steps apply to you. You may be remembering ways you've blown it in the past. It may be something others would easily excuse, but God's Spirit has spoken to you about it. Stop for a moment and be still. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God. Ask Him if there is any sin in your life that you need to address right now. Choose to take the first step now. Rely on the unfailing covenant love of God.

Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry. Walk Thru the Bible partners with the local church worldwide to teach God's Word in relevant ways for lasting life change. To fulfill this mission, Walk Thru the Bible creates and distributes high quality, award-winning resources in a variety of formats, helping individuals ?walk thru? the Bible with greater clarity and understanding. Walk Thru the Bible seminars are taught in over 45 languages by more than 50,000 men and women in over 90 countries; Living on the Edge radio ministry broadcasts on more than 800 radio outlets reaching nearly one million listeners a week; and more than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books and other publications that reach over five million people each year.

To learn more about Walk Thru the Bible, please visit our web-site at www.walkthru.org.