The Secret of the Penitential Psalms: There Are Only Two Laws

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March 25, 2021

Psalm 130

To the tune of “My Soul Gives Glory to My God” C.M. Sing it at seedbed.com/soundtrack

1 Out of the depths I cry to You,
2 O Lord, now hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive to
my cry for mercy voiced.

3 If You, O Lord, recorded sins,
Then who, O Lord, could stand?
4 But with You there forgiveness is—
Therefore, we fear Your hand.

5 I wait for God, my soul does wait;
His word’s my hope and stay;
6 My soul waits for the Lord more than
the watchmen wait for day.

Yes, more than watchmen wait for morn,
I wait for God above.
7 O Israel, put hope in this:
The Lord’s unfailing love.

For with the Lord is steadfast love,
Redemption full and free;
8 For He will redeem Israel,
From all iniquity.

CONSIDER THIS

This morning, before school, I managed to find a few minutes to spend talking about the goodness of God with at least two of my four children. Two our of four before 7:00 a.m. = a good day. I shared with my two girls a bold assertion. Namely, there are only two basic rules or laws in the universe: (1) the law of sin and death, and (2) the law of the Spirit of life. How did I decide on this, you ask? I typically open up the Bible app on my iPhone, and under the “Today” tab it will always offer one Bible scripture of the day. Today’s scripture was Romans 8:1–2, which says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

I love the binary nature of texts like these. I shared with my daughters the unfortunate news that because of Adam and Eve’s failure to “make better choices” (technical term used on behavior clip charts at school), we were all born into and under the law of sin and death. But, because of Jesus, who was a “Super Student” (technical term for the very top of the behavior clip charts at school), we were set free from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit. In other words, just as we were born into the law of sin and death, we can be born a second time by the law of the Spirit into life, which is freedom from the law of sin and death. Just as it is that by no fault of our own we were born into the law of sin and death, so it is that by no act of our own we can be born into the lifegiving law of the Spirit.

Don’t hear me wrong here. Just because we did nothing in and of ourselves to be born into the law of sin and death doesn’t mean that we haven’t earned the right to live there. Because we are subject to that law, we cannot help but live according to it. As I’ve said before, we are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. Confession is simply the act of coming to terms with the law of sin and death and becoming honest about all the bad outcomes it has led to in our life. That’s what the seven confession songs (a.k.a. penitential psalms) do—they bring it all down to the only two laws.

Here’s the gospel. The corollary of the law of sin and death is even more true. As we are subject to the life-giving law of the Spirit, we cannot help but live according to it. In other words, sin has lost its power. These confession songs, engaged over time, process us out of the law of sin and death and into the law of the Spirit of life.

Go back and sing through Song 130 again, noting these realities. It’s a game changer. We are no longer looking at our clip chart on the chalkboard of life. We get to look at Jesus’ clip chart. His chart says, “No condemnation!”

So if you are having trouble singing, how about turning on the music and just reading the words aloud in time with the song? It will make a difference.

Ask Yourself. Share with Another.

I know you have discovered the law of sin and death. Have you also discovered the law of the Spirit of life or, said differently, the life-giving law of the Spirit? Are you ready? Ask Jesus now to lead you into this reality as the new law of your life. He will do it.

P.S.

I want to keep inviting you to consider The Awakened Life Course. It’s a four week experience taught by “yours truly” that made a lot of impact the first time through. It starts April 12. It is an excellent resource for the days between Easter and Pentecost. Learn More Here. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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