Humans are constantly searching for happiness. There is no doubt about that. We want to be happy. I want to be happy and you want to be happy too. The world provides many avenues to “happiness.” Money, sex, drugs, success, fame, to name a few. But do those things really make us happy? Different religions of the world also provide ways to get happy, to enjoy life: cut out all the toxic people that surround you, meditate more, pray for penance, clean out your closet.
If you take a look at those lists, they all have one thing in common: they are outside remedies for an inside problem, sin. We are all sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). Our taste for happiness will never be satisfied with the things of this world. So, how can we be happy? C. H. Spurgeon put it this way: Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness.
And, thankfully, we have an excellent example of someone who pursued happiness in many different ways and ultimately found it in the Lord’s forgiveness: David.
In Psalm 32 David gives himself as an example to all believers of the happiness that comes when we repent and confess our sins to God and He forgives us. Let’s find out from this Psalm just how we can be happy.
How to Be Happy
In the opening verses of Psalm 32, David declares majestically: “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2, NASB).
The word for “blessed” in Hebrew can be translated as “happy.” So David gives us the answer to our pursuit of happiness: have your sins forgiven.
All men are born as sinners. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We’re all sinners headed for eternal punishment away from God. But God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to take our punishment, die in our stead, and rise again conquering death and sin so that we could be forgiven. The day in which you believe in Jesus as your Savior, repenting of your sin and confessing Him as your Lord is most happy indeed.
But even though we are forgiven of all our sins and stand justified before the Father because of Jesus’ work, we, as believers, will still sin. We are still in our earthly bodies, living in the already justified state before God, but not yet fully restored and made new, therefore, still sinning.
However, do not despair. The same grace that welcomed you initially into the arms of Christ’s forgiveness will carry you through all the temptations and sins that await you as a believer. John Calvin said: “As believers are every day involved in many faults, it will profit them nothing that they have once entered the way of righteousness, unless the same grace which brought them into it accompany them to the last step of their life.”
So, let’s follow David’s example of confessing sin to the Lord so that we can be happy Christians. Here are 3 steps to take from Psalm 32 to be a happy Christian.
1. Do Not Be Guiled
We hide our sins as believers. It really doesn’t make much sense when you think about it because God is all-knowing. He knows all of our sins. And this is a beautiful truth to think on, He knows all of our sins and still sent Jesus to take care of them for us. But we do, we hide our sins from Him.
Guilt comes upon us and instead of immediately confessing, we wait, we hide, we linger. We often try to hide our sins because we are not convinced of the cost. But we are deceived in thinking that our sin is not a big deal.
In John Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms he said: “If, therefore, we would enjoy the happiness which David here proposes to us, we must take the greatest heed lest Satan, filling our hearts with guile, deprive us of all sense of our wretchedness.”
We do have an enemy, namely, Satan, who is seeking to convince us that our sin is not a big deal. And his lies creep in everywhere. “I’ll just do it this one time and then I’ll stop,” “Just a few more minutes can’t hurt,” “My sin is not all that bad, so I don’t need to feel sorry for it, I was born this way.”
But, we must not be guiled, or deceived, by our enemy! Sin is sin. We are dirty, rotten sinners and we need God’s forgiveness and grace every day, every hour, every moment.
And on the opposite spectrum, there is no sin that God cannot forgive. Do not be deceived in thinking, “I’ve sinned so terribly that I cannot be forgiven.”
John Bunyan said, “No child of God sins to that degree as to make himself incapable of forgiveness.”
As believers we can truly feel sorrow over our sin, we can feel miserable. Our sin should make us sick. So sick that we run to God for forgiveness. He uses our guilt to pull us back to His forgiveness. David says that God’s hand was heavy upon him. God was laying on the guilt so that David would come to a point of contrition and ask for forgiveness.
God graciously does the same for us. Be encouraged if you are sick of your sinning. God is showing you that you need to repent and be forgiven. He’s giving you the remedy you need. He’s giving you true happiness in His forgiveness.
So go boldly to Him.
2. Go Boldly to God for Forgiveness
God is always ready to forgive. He is our Father, and just like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, He is waiting for us, arms open, party decorations hung, to come to Him for forgiveness.
David laid aside every excuse and laid out his sin before the Lord, begging for pardon. And that is also what we must do when we sin as believers. David tells us to pray to God “at a time when He may be found.” (Psalm 32:6). But that time is always. Seek out God for forgiveness, He will always be found. Calvin put it this way, “It is never out of season, indeed, to seek God, for every moment we need his grace, and he is always willing to meet us.”
We also know from the book of Hebrews that we have Jesus, who was faithful even though tempted in every way, who is now seated at the Father’s right hand interceding for us as our great High Priest. And the writer of Hebrews encourages us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).
Take your sins to the Lord. Lay them out before Him, asking for pardon. He will forgive.
But do not think that He is forgiving merely because you have asked Him. For confessing and repenting of sin is not the cause by which you are forgiven. Rather, confessing and repenting of sin is the manner in which you are reconciled to God. “David obtained pardon by his confession, not because he merited it by the mere act of confessing, but because, under the guidance of faith, he humbly implored it from his judge.” (Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms)
As God’s children, believers, we will fight with sin until our final day. Therefore we will also need to confess our sins throughout our whole lives.
3. Keep Confessing and Be Glad
In the final verses of this Psalm, David encourages us with God’s faithfulness. Our God’s faithfulness is not based on our circumstances or even on our confession of sin. He will be faithful to His children.
David knew God’s faithfulness to forgive sin. This Psalm was written by David, the lying, adultering, murdering, king whom God forgave. And I get the sense that David knew we would need encouragement to keep asking God to forgive us as we keep sinning throughout our lifetimes.
As we search our motives, learn new truths, are exhorted by our pastors, and read our Bibles, we will see new sins. Where holiness increases as we grow in the Lord, the wickedness of our own sin will be shown. We will always be plagued with sin.
But God will always be faithful to forgive us of those sins when we repent and confess them to Him. That is cause for rejoicing. (We must look to God’s faithfulness to forgive when we confess. For, as we noted earlier, it is not our confessing that causes us to be forgiven, but our confessing is how God forgives us.)
So, be happy that God has forgiven you, that you stand before Him justified in Christ. Then be happy when you confess your sin to Him and He forgives you over and over throughout your life.
How blessed you are when your transgression is forgiven, when your sin is covered!
David closes the psalm with a final charge to “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, Shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11). Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad, friends.
The Lord is faithful to forgive us sinners as we confess to Him.
So, how do we find happiness? Confessing and repenting of our sin. That is how we can be happy Christians. Let’s start today.