'He Restores My Soul'
David had sinned, and his sin was extremely serious, such as the Lord said would cause the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. Whether our sin is as serious as his or not, the Lord will speak to our conscience in such a way as to make us feel that it is so serious as to have caused a sad break in our fellowship with Him. How can we enjoy fellowship with Him if we choose to do what we know is disobedience to His Word? If we try to cover it up, our own conscience protests. David tried to brazen the matter through, but he found that he was miserable. Why? Because God's hand was heavy upon him (Ps. 32:4).
In sinning we give way to what our feelings desire. Our spirit (or intellect) may reason that we can get away with it, but when we give in, it is the soul, with its emotional feelings, that suffers. These bitter feelings will not only make us miserable, but will cause us to be irritable and bitter toward others. God is behind this painful experience because He loves us too much to allow us to slip out of any sense of responsibility. And He wants our souls to enjoy the fellowship with Him that can only be found when we are submissive to His will.
Will this painful distress continue for a long time? It does not have to, but sometimes we are too stubborn to honestly go to Him in frank confession of the seriousness of our sin, and with the firm decision to turn from it by His grace.
If we do so, we shall find Him full of compassion for He delights to restore those who have sinned, and as David wrote in Psalm 23:3, also lead them in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Surely we do not want anything less than this for when we have sinned we have harmed our own souls, trusting to our own decisions as to how- to act. Let us no longer trust ourselves, but in the One who promised David, 'I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye' (Ps. 32:8).
Yet it is important to be frank and honest in confession, not letting ourselves down easily or making excuses to render the sin less serious. God knows exactly what the case is, and He expects us to lay our hearts bare before Him in full and genuine confession. When this is so, what relief, what comfort, what encouragement it brings to the soul! For then we are restored to God, and communion with Him is re-established, very likely to be more sweetly enjoyed than ever before.
Restoration Before Others
Since none of us lives to himself, our sin may well have affected others also, and God is concerned that this matter should be rightly taken care of too. When Peter sinned in denying that he knew the Lord Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly (Lk. 22:61-62). From then, through Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night, we can only imagine the bitterness in his heart as he thought of his sin and that he had not been able to get near the Lord before He was crucified. But on the first day of the week, after He was raised from among the dead, He appeared to Mary and to the two on the way to Emmaus before we are told, 'The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!' (Lk. 24:34). Wonderful grace! Nothing is told us of what He said to Simon Peter, but we may be sure that he was truly restored to the Lord on this momentous occasion.
However, Peter needed also to be restored to the confidence of his brethren, and the Lord accomplished this work of restoration in John 21:15-19. Peter had assumed that he would be more faithful to the Lord than others, when he said that though all men forsook the Lord, yet he would not. This self confidence in Peter had to be broken down, so the Lord asked him, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?' (Jn. 21:15). Peter responded that he did have affection for the Lord, but would not say 'more than these.' The Lord pressed him a little further until he answered, 'Lord, you know all things: you know that I love you' (v. 17). Then the Lord made it clear before the disciples that Peter would be used for blessing to others. Thus, Peter was restored to the confidence of the other disciples.
Our sin may have seriously shaken the confidence of other believers, and it may be that the sin is serious as to have caused the assembly to put us away from their fellowship. In such cases, the Lord certainly desires restoration just as definitely as He did in the cases of David and Peter. My brethren will first be concerned that I have truly judged the sin and have been restored to the Lord. They will look for an attitude changed to one of submission and faith. But being restored to fellowship with the assembly involves also being restored to their confidence.
If a sinful course has been a long one, I should not be surprised if it takes time for confidence to be restored. If I have judged myself and request to be restored to fellowship in the assembly, I ought to be thankful to be able to prove my restoration to the Lord by sitting back and waiting for the brethren to have their confidence restored. This ought not to take too long, however, but if properly done, the results will be deeply precious and profitable when eventually public restoration takes place.
May the Lord give much grace both in cases of those who have sinned and of those who seek to help them, so that the results in restoring mercy will give eternal joy.