The Bible does not tell us explicitly the situation surrounding Psalm 32:3-5, but there is a lot of wisdom and understanding to be gained in the application of acknowledging, confessing, repenting, and receiving forgiveness regarding sin and transgressions.
In light of the pervasive issue of pornography we see today in our churches both among leaders and in our congregations, Psalm 32:3-5 is a reminder and encouragement and great comfort for those entangled in the sin of pornography.
Psalm 32 verses 1 and 2 starts us off with jubilant praise and recognition:
"How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute or (ascribe) iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!"
We get a picture of the freedom in having our sins forgiven, our sins being covered and dealt with by us and God. We see the joy of iniquity not imputed by the Lord, and the freedom of not living under the scourge of deceit from living a double life. When you are entrenched in pornography as a follower of God you are living a deceitful life. It presents outwardly as a pristine, clean veneer but in essence is inwardly filthy, disgusting, and full of shame.
When transgressions are forgiven there’s a weight that’s lifted off of us because as it states in Proverbs 13:15b the way of the transgressor is hard. We are no longer trying to cover our own secret sin by making excuses for them or by pretending that we don’t struggle and even fall to them. The covering takes place when we are humbled and do what David did in Psalm 32:3-5:
"When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.'"
There are a lot of lessons in these verses. First, David admits that for a season he kept silent about his sin. We do the same thing thinking that we don’t have to confess to God what we are struggling through, He already knows, right? We also do this because of the shame of sin. We play ourselves by thinking that if we can just keep it silent then we will defeat it, or these besetting sins will just go away. Often, we trick ourselves into believing it’s not that bad by thinking It's not that bad. At least I don’t do these other sins. We are playing right into the devil's hands.
Pornography grows and thrives in darkness. When we are silent before God and our family in Christ then we give it all the fuel it needs to continue to grow.
Effects of silent, unconfessed sin
David admitted he was physically affected by his sin and his silence. Pornography affects its victim physically, mentally, and spiritually. The weight of carrying around sin can lead you into the darkness of depression, ineffectiveness, and mental slavery. Pornography has been shown to be linked to depression, anxiety, and reduced cognitive function. Research has shown that porn can also alter brain plasticity. Watching porn has been shown to cause changes similar to those reported with longterm drug use. Pornographic sin kept silent has an effect on the body and literally causes deterioration and a wasting away of our brains. Physically I remember feeling sick when I first begin watching hardcore pornography. The crazy thing is after the sickness passed and I went back to consuming porn the sick feeling was overridden and didn’t come back.
For the Christian, keeping silent about unconfessed sin brings conviction. David said that day and night, God's hand was heavy upon him. This was the case because of David’s unconfessed, secret sin. As a Christian man, the conviction we feel from the Holy Spirit is God’s mercy upon us to move us to repentance. Praise God if you are still feeling this conviction! It’s a sure indication that you are His. Don’t get to the point where you override this conviction. This is a very dark and destructive place leading to reprobation and the end of that is unrestraint and unfettered wickedness.
For the Christian, any unconfessed, uncovered sin brings physical, mental and spiritual weakness. David said “My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah." The literal heaviness of sin, the draining of the vitality, and the exhaustion of carrying around transgressions and sins play out in these ways. I remember being drained because my mind was always being consumed with pornographic thoughts and trying to battle those thoughts because I was also being convicted by the Holy Spirit. The struggle of telling myself, "I’m never going to do this again. I’m not watching this stuff anymore." Yet within hours of making this grand confession, I was right back online while looking over my shoulder to make sure no one is coming in the room from behind to expose me. The oppressive depression is like a cloud over your head. This saps your vitality! This bondage causes you to feel drained.
The good news is it’s an oppression that God can deliver us from if we humble ourselves and confess and forsake our sin and transgressions so that God can begin to sanctify us. We have to be transparent before God first and then before man.
Sin vs. Transgression
David gives us the key that is the beginning of victory over sins and transgressions. He says “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide;” In Psalm 51:4 David says “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight.” We have to realize that our primary offense is against a Holy God. David goes on “I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”
What is the difference between a sin and a transgression in those verses? Sin is missing the mark. We can sin and it not be something that done on purpose, but it’s missing the mark by not hitting the bullseye. Sin definitely leads downward into more sin if we are not vigilant in placing our sins before God and seeking repentance. Transgressions are a different thing. Transgression refers to choosing to intentionally disobey. Transgression is willful. Pornography is in this category. We allow for transgression in our lives, we make room for it and accommodate it, and it becomes what we do, our normal behavior. We turn it into iniquity. We continue on without even seeking repentance.
We have to be like David. He got to a point after his sin turned from transgressions into iniquity that he finally acknowledged this to God. He said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” David is at the right point now. He finally acknowledges and confesses his sin and transgressions. The beautiful part is verse 5: “And You forgave the guilt of my sin."
David did not write "God forgave my sin and transgressions," but he wrote, "And You forgave the guilt of my sin." Shame and guilt are associated with offending God. God is poised and ready to forgive so that we no longer have the heavy weight we are lugging around. All that David described in verses 3-4 is eradicated. The body wasting away, the groaning all the day long, God’s heavy hand of conviction, the vitality drained as with the fever heat of summer it’s done!
What David has experienced is deliverance. We can experience this too if we do what David did. Acknowledge the sin, Confess it to God, confess it to another believer in Christ and be healed (James 5:16). You do not have to continue to be weighed down by the cycle of sin. Hiding sin in our lives only gives it nourishment to grow. Let’s humble ourselves before God, be transparent with Him, and find true freedom.
This article originally appeared on the Stand.