“Surely I was sinful from birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me!” (Psalm 51:5)
David was using a poetic tool called hyperbole as he wrote those words. He’s not teaching theology, he’s expressing incredible guilt. He had been sinning a long time. He lusted for Bathsheba, fornicated with her (perhaps raping her), and then had her husband killed to cover up his sin. He had been sinning a long time, and as he expressed, he felt as though he had been sinning since his conception!
Some of us have experienced the consequences of sin so long, we feel just like David. We look back over our life and we see this perpetual struggle with a sin that we feel we just can’t shake and then we look a little farther back. We realize that the sin with which we struggle has kind of been inherited. Again, this isn’t about theology; it’s about life. Unfaithfulness, drunkenness, abuse, self-centeredness, love of money, dishonesty, sexual immorality, bigotry, or uncontrolled anger have existed in your family for years; more years than you’ve been alive. And you feel the heavy burden of sin.
There will likely be a number of important steps to take for you to break this generational cycle of sin. Really trusting in the forgiveness of God and letting the body of Christ help (starting with your spouse if you are married) are two great decisions. But one of the first steps is going to be the same step of the Israelites who gathered after the reading of the law: they confessed the sins of their fathers and their own entanglement in them.
“Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them. Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways. But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress” (Neh. 9:34-37).
Get it out there. Pray, admitting this sin to God. Cry that your predecessors did it Weep that you do it. Agree with God that your sin has brought you trouble, and then admit to others. Get others praying. Get others in your business. There’s no shame in admitting sin, only staying in it. Staying in it will lead to more shame and death - and more generations entangle in it. Confessing it is an important step to peace and holiness! That’s Life at Work!