Is it really possible to start over?
Are there “do-overs” in life?
Can we actually experience the relief and joy of a “clean slate” that allows us to begin again?
Some of our mistakes in life seem to haunt us for the entirety of our lives. No matter how deliberately we try to put them behind us and get beyond them, it seems like we can never really shake them or tear ourselves free from them.
Modern psychology might vainly offer solutions — some which may work and others which are useless.
But a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ includes a unique component: our LORD offers us the clear prospect of a clean heart and a renewed spirit.
A Gracious Response
I am eternally grateful for the wonderful relationship I had with my father-in-law, Don Basham.
He was my mentor, my friend, and very much a spiritual father to me. In so many ways, that awful day when he passed away — March 27, 1989 — cut short his impact upon my life.
I hadn’t even turned 40 yet, and I have missed his wise counsel ever since.
One of the experiences I miss the most was the way Don would talk me through the many foul-ups in my life.
(Thankfully, those errors have decreased somewhat as I have matured. But as a young man, there was no shortage of mistakes to discuss with him.)
Regularly, I would come to him with a serious, contrite expression on my face, confessing some sin or goof-up that I had committed: “Don, I’ve really done it this time.”
I would tell him in detail how I had messed up. Many times, at the end of my confession, he would say, “Well, Richard, I guess that’s why they put the eraser at the end of the pencil.”
Somehow, that gracious statement from Don always encouraged me to make a new start.
A Wrong Spirit
On a much larger scale than the paltry mistakes I have made in life was the grievous sin of King David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.
Lately, I have been drawn to study David’s prayer of repentance for that act in Psalm 51.
Many aspects of that famous psalm have stood out to me, but one phrase recently touched me deeply: David’s prayer in verse 10 for the LORD to “renew a right spirit within me.”
Other versions say, “a steadfast spirit” or “a resolute spirit.” But I like “a right spirit.”
You and I would freely admit that there are days when we are not fit to interact with man nor beast.
We wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and then we spend the day grumping around, making negative comments, hurting the ones we love in the process.
It might rightly be called a bad mood. But the real source of the problem is “a wrong spirit.”
Renewal Is Possible
David knew his sin emanated from “a wrong spirit.” That’s why he prayed that the LORD would renew “a right spirit” in him.
Here’s a question that is so simple as to be profound. Would David ask the LORD for something the LORD was not able to provide?
In this regard, I think often of the verse from Hebrews 3:7–8: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Let’s ask the same question in a different light. Would the LORD command us to do something that is impossible for us to do?
In both cases, I think we would agree that the answer is “No.”
In Hebrews, the Holy Spirit commands us not to harden our hearts. (Actually, we can go one step further, actively keeping our hearts tender to the LORD.) In Psalm 51, David asks the LORD to renew a right spirit in him.
Why? Because he knew God could and would!
A New Beginning
In the first segment of a three-week radio series called “A New Beginning,” Derek Prince provided some excellent insights on the prayer David uttered in Psalm 51.
I am going to quote just a small portion of the message below, but I would strongly encourage you to accept the free offer we make later in this letter.
Please get the entire teaching for yourself. It will be a great help. In one section, Derek talks about the first ten verses of Psalm 51, emphatically answering the questions at the start of this letter.
God CAN give you a new beginning. He CAN give you a clean heart and a renewed spirit.
My theme is “A New Beginning.” I’ll be sharing with you how you can step out of your past into a totally new way of life.
So many times, we hear people say such things as: “I wish I could start all over again.”
Perhaps it may be in reference to marriage, or to the raising of their children, or to their choice of a career.
They might say, “I wish I’d never done that, or said that, or met that person,” or other expressions like that.
Or perhaps they’ve made a New Year’s resolution and it has gone down the drain almost before it was out of their lips.
Or they vowed to turn over a new leaf, or in some cases to give up a specific evil habit such as smoking, or overeating, or the use of bad language.
All such expressions that people use indicate a longing for a new beginning.
A Prayer for Renewal
Are you looking for the kind of new beginning Derek Prince is talking about?
Do you need and want the LORD to “renew a right spirit” in you?
Would you be willing to pray with me now, asking Jesus to bring you into that experience right now?
Let’s do it!
Dear LORD Jesus, I want to begin by confessing that I have made a lot of mistakes — some very recently.
What’s more, I am seldom the person I truly want to be — and when I am out of sorts, my loved ones take the brunt of it. I battle often with “a wrong spirit” that seems to reign in me and run my life.
I believe You are able to clean up my heart. I believe You can take away “the wrong spirit” and “renew a right spirit within me.”
I am asking You now, LORD, to do what You have promised to do. For the specific ways I have sinned, please forgive me and cleanse me.
Above all, LORD, please renew a right spirit in me, so that I can serve You, represent Your love properly, and bring joy and blessing to those around me. Amen.
With Our Thanks
I can tell you with great assurance that the LORD has heard what you and I just prayed.
He will be utterly faithful to bring forth a dynamic renewal of a right spirit in us — just as David asked Him to do. You and I can count on Him to do it.
As I said earlier, we want to help in the process by offering you Derek’s full first week of “A New Beginning.”
You can download a free MP3 using the link below or listen online here. The teaching will lay a foundation for the progress God will bring in your life.
This free offer is just one way for us to express our deep appreciation for your precious friendship and your faithful support. Thank you again and again.
A Frequent Process
Some people believe that the LORD’s provision to “create a clean heart” in us and “renew a right spirit” is a one-time deal.
They might say that all this happens when we come to Jesus in salvation — never needing to be repeated.
I would tend to disagree with those folks. My experience has taught me that, as a very fallible human being, I need to come to the LORD regularly for forgiveness and renewal.
Sometimes, it seems to be a daily need in my life, and I believe that is okay with the LORD.
The prayer you and I offered today can be a good pattern for times ahead when you need to come again in confession and repentance.
Each time we do, we can have full assurance that the LORD hears us. He alone can give us a clean heart and a renewed spirit.
Keep coming to the LORD confidently, believing that He will grant your prayer for cleansing and renewal.
We hope you will download the MP3, “A New Beginning” to help in that process.
All the best,
P.S. Once again, we send you our love and thanks for your partnership with us. We deeply appreciate your prayers and your gifts. Please don’t forget to download week one of “How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit.” We know it will encourage you.
Materials used by kind permission of Derek Prince Ministries.