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Do I want to sin?

 Psalm 19

“People will never set their faces decidedly towards heaven and live like pilgrims, until they really feel that they are in danger of hell.”

Holiness, J.C. Ryle

A heart of worship stems, ultimately, from reverence of God’s grace upon his people. Many experience worship in different forms. One of the earliest documented acts of worship is Abraham taking his son, Isaac, to the alter as a sacrifice. While reminiscing on worship and its forms, it can be said that I am as much worshipping God when I am in the duck blind as when I am corporately worshipping with my church family. However, I have heard many try to substitute this time in the outdoors for time with the local church and I can assure you that this is not a biblical practice, but we will save that for another post. 

In relation to my recent infatuation with worship, and the encouragement of a dear friend [thanks Joe], I began journaling through the Psalms. No rules, no structure. I simply write my immediate responses, prayers, and questions. I would encourage you, especially if your personal “quiet time” is in a lull, or nonexistent, to join me in this journey. This post, stems from one of those immediate questions.

But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
   innocent of great transgression.

Psalm 19:12-13 (NIV)

When I read, “keep your servant also from willful sins,” I jotted out in the margin, what is willful sin? This question, either Holy Spirit driven, or simply scholastic curiosity, has captivated my mind for the past three weeks. What is willful sin? Surely that isn’t something I do. 

This article is not intended to be a scholastic word study of the original Hebrew, I simply want to share what this passage stirred within my own study. The ESV as well as the NKJV uses the terminology “presumptuous sins,” NLT calls them “deliberate sins,” and HCSB keeps the term, “willful sins.” [When you do not have access to an elaborate library or access to a Bible study software, the easiest way to get a general understanding of how interpreters have dealt with the original language and meaning is to compare the many different Bible versions and use them as contextual clues. Many of my seminary buddies would probably scoff at this suggestion, but I believe God will honor your effort and guide you in study.] 

Focus on the first part of the sentence and you will understand my philosophical plummet with the word willful. David prays for God to intervene with his tendency to commit “willful sin.” In my head, I assume that in order for a sin to be willful, I must be making a conscious decision to do something against, or in opposition to, God or His will in my life. Could I not, in the same manner, make a choice to abstain from this “deliberate” sin? So why is David asking for God’s help with sinful behavior that, as the average reader consumes and understands this passage would assume, the individual could control. 

I believe that David understood a foundational aspect of faith in Christ that we still hound in Sunday school classrooms across the globe. This foundational truth rings true today, described by Paul as “sin nature” (Romans 7:18), by Martin Luther and John Calvin as total depravity, and as Billy Graham often said, “sin is built into our very nature and sin means doing anything that is against the holy character of God.”

Without Christ, the battle against sin is lost, hopeless, and ignorant. But in Christ, the battle against sin is complete. Christ claimed the victory. In Christ, the sinner is justified through faith alone. However, the process of sanctification is just that, a process. As we spend time in our daily lives in the blind, at work, or heading to the next hunt location, let us take time to seek God in the process of sanctification. Let us pray for aid in transforming our tendencies. Let his Word drive out temptation to relapse into the desire of our flesh. Let us, in Christ, eliminate the sins we willfully commit daily.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:9-10

See you in the blind.