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Righteous living: What it means to have a contrite heart

Flaming heart
Flaming heart
Wikicommons/Lukas Riebling

The Bible tells us that every person was born into sin, this is found in Romans 5:12. It says:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

We were all shaped in iniquity and in sin we were conceived. Psalms 51:5 says, "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

It comes naturally for human beings to follow the way of selfish desire. Some even set aside all morals, scruples and ethics to follow the self-centered path.

All of us are sinners without much hope to change because we are driven by our sinful nature. This sinful nature enslaves us and leads us to make poor choices in life.

John 8:34 says: "Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.'" Sin is in the nature of every person alive and is a bane on mankind's existence.

The fact that sin haunts our every step can leave us feeling hopeless. It can lead to questions such as; what hope do we have to live a righteous lifestyle if our very nature compels us to sin?

Even the greatest men who have ever lived were prone to sin. However, it's our attitude after sinning that determines our course of action. Psalm 51 deals with King David's sin of adultery and murder. It reveals his folly and eventual restoration, it's a Psalm of his changed heart.

David's sin wasn't one of impulse and he wasn't caught up in a circumstance beyond his control. The Bible shows us he planned and plotted in carrying out his sin of adultery. He went to great lengths to cover it, even committing murder to conceal it.

Many people when confronted by their sin would rather try to clean up their own act, instead of turning to God for forgiveness. David knew the only way to be restored to God was to repent of his sin.

When David was confronted by his sin, he was immediately remorseful for it. He realized his guilt and Psalm 51 shows us how he cried out to God for forgiveness.

In Matthew Henry's commentary on Psalm 51 he says: "Those who are thoroughly convinced of their misery and danger by sin, would spare no cost to obtain the remission of it."

All of us have our stories of how we failed and sometimes we need to ask: What is the first step to a changed heart?

Psalm 51:17 reveals what we must do after falling short. It says: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” David knew there was nothing he could do to appease God for his sin, except having true repentance.

The definition of contrite means to show sincere remorse, to be filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement; penitent. It means a person has a genuine and deep sorrow for rebelling against God. It shows one's determination and desire to do things differently.

A contrite heart won't try to rationalize, explain away, excuse, or even justify our sin. Having a contrite heart will not try to fool God or oneself because it knows God demands honesty and truth from us.

Having a contrite heart means owning up to our wrong. We then take the proper course of action in dealing with it through repentance.

A contrite heart recognizes we have committed a violation against God's word. It's also important to know when we have sinned God isn't interested in our empty promises or resolutions to change.

We must have a contrite heart and truly repent. We must determine, resolve in ourselves to turn from, abandon and forsake sin.

True repentance and confession of our sin against God demands a proper estimation of it. Then we need to have a right attitude toward our sin, meaning we loathe and disgust it.

When we have a godly sorrow of our sin it leads to repentance, and we determine in our hearts and minds to forsake and renounce it. In order for us to truly repent we must turn to the cross of Christ.

When we approach the cross we don't attempt to hide our sin but rather confess them to Christ. Doing so wipes the slate, if you will, clean. It gives us a fresh start with God.

Solomon said in Proverbs 28:13: "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who will who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." Confessing our sin to God demands total and complete honesty, it means having a contrite heart.

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