Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:12
Several years ago, while I was preparing to preach a sermon on this psalm, I received an anonymous letter from someone in my congregation saying that he was a Christian but was involved in a very serious and continuing moral failure. The letter was an attempt to be honest and tell me the trouble in his life. I didn't know if that person would be in the service the next Sunday or not, but I hoped he would be.
I decided to refer to the letter in my sermon for two reasons: first, because it was anonymous, and I could do it without betraying a confidence; and second, because the problem was of such a serious nature that I wanted to help the person if I could.
The writer had acknowledged that he knew the action was wrong but finally excused himself on the basis that God had not yet given him the power to break away from it. That was self-deception. The truth is that God has given us the power to break away from these things. Peter clearly declares:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The very possession of the life of Jesus Christ in us is the power that it takes to break away from habits of sin. No one will ever be free from the awful grip of evil upon their lives until they understand that they already have from God all that it takes to be free, if they will but step out upon it.
David is also asking for help.
Lord, give me this willing spirit, he says, and God immediately gives it. Then it must be acted on. That is the point. Do not wait for a feeling to come that you are forgiven. God has said you are forgiven. Do not wait for a feeling of power to possess you. God has declared He has already given you the power. As you believe Him (and that is what faith is), you can do what you need to do and what God wants you to do.
That is what happened with David, and that is what happened with the anonymous letter writer. After preaching that sermon, I found out the person had been in that service, because he later wrote a second anonymous letter. This time he shared how God had used that message to deliver him from the grip of the evil relationship he had described before.
Lord, thank You for giving me all that I need for both forgiveness and power through the Lord Jesus.
We can choose to be helpless victims of ruinous habits, but God provides an alternative. Are we willing to be set free by Christ's divine power?