an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense.
immoral or grossly unfair behavior.
Reflecting on Psalm 51, I understand the psalmist’s plea and why s/he appeals to God’s mercy. I know that before s/he could confess, before s/he could even approach God, s/he had to recall who God is and ask God to respond according to God’s character: steadfast love, abundant mercy.
Acknowledging my own transgressions and iniquity is painful if not impossible for me when faced with my helplessness to make up for it, and/or stand up under the judgment or condemnation that was my experience in formative human relationships, including the relationship I have with that person that looks back at me in the mirror. In that shadowy place I am like Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, the baddest one in the whole damn town. From there “my sin is ever before me” bullying me, shaming me, condemning: “you’re such a screwball; you were born a screw up; you’ll never get it right.” Ps.51.3-5.
My experience with God is quite the opposite. My transgressions are not “ever before” God. Without diminishing or discounting my sin, and also without inflating it, God is not overcome or intimidated by the challenges. Neither is God overcome. God is that good and that great; his greatness is unsearchable (Ps.145) and, even if my sore heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart and knows everything (1Jn.3:21).
God says, “Come, let’s reason together; let’s set things right.” God is good with dirty laundry: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like show; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool Is.1.18.” God says, “Come, let’s reason together; let’s set things right.” God is safe and good with my dirty laundry: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like show; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Is.1.18.” Here I am disarmed and my heart is at once teachable and eager for wisdom. With the Spirit as my Teacher, Helper and Advocate, I experience the extravagant unreasonableness of Christ’s mercy and grace, and God’s steadfast never quitting Love.
PS. More wisdom along these lines: http://cynthiaprayblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/no-excuses-lessons-from-leviticus/