“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
By nature after the fall, all of our hearts are full of “evil thoughts … murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). Instead of loving the LORD and desiring to do His holy will, our thoughts, as a result of our fallen and sinful nature, are “only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
As Christians, who trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for salvation, the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and gives us love for God and holy thoughts and desires. As the Bible says, we are “washed … sanctified … justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
Yet in this world, we are still sinners. Like David, we need to acknowledge our sins, turn to the LORD for His grace and forgiveness, and pray that God would create “a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit” within us.
When we consider how we continue to come short and fail to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit through the Word, we deserve to be cast away from the presence of the LORD and have His Holy Spirit taken from us. How we grieve God’s Spirit when we go our own way and sin rather than give heed to the admonitions and warnings of God’s Word (cf. Eph. 4:30)! With David, we all have reason to pray, “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.”
When we turn aside from following the Holy Spirit – when we turn into sin and evil – the joy which comes from being an heir of salvation and walking with the Lord is overshadowed by guilt and despair. We feel God’s wrath upon us. We know that we have failed again and are deserving of His everlasting punishment (cf. Ps. 32:3-4; 51:3-5).
But, like David, we look to the LORD God for mercy, acknowledging our sins and failures to the LORD and turning to Him in faith for pardon and forgiveness for the sake of the Son, Jesus Christ, and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.
We pray with David in Psalm 51:1-9: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, I have sinned and done this evil in your sight, so that you may be justified when you speak and clear when you judge. Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. And in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness so that the bones which you have broken may rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.”
And, we also pray with David: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free spirit.”
Only God’s Spirit can restore in us that joy of knowing that through faith in Jesus we have forgiveness for all our sins and eternal salvation! Only the Holy Spirit can uphold us and keep us in the true and saving faith!
We then pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free spirit.” Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version.]