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How to work up grief over your sin pt. 2

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8 "For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it—since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while—9 "I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10 "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death. 11 "For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter.” ()
He recalls that he once was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.
This description no longer applies to Paul; it is all past tense.
But as he continues to reflect upon the grace of God, he slips, almost unconsciously it seems, into the present tense of his experience. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1:15).
He is no longer thinking about his past as a persecutor of Christ.
Now he is thinking about his present daily experience as a believer who falls short of the will of God for him.
He doesn’t think about other Christians, whom we know were way behind Paul in their devotion to God and their attainment of godly character.
Paul never wastes time trying to feel good about himself by comparing himself favorably with less mature Christians.
He compares himself with God’s standard, and he consequently sees himself as the worst of sinners.
Through this present sense of his sinfulness Paul sees God’s love for him.
The more he grows in his knowledge of God’s perfect will, the more he sees his own sinfulness, and the more he comprehends God’s love in sending Christ to die for him.
And the more he sees God’s love, the more his heart reaches out in adoring devotion to the One who loved him so.
If God’s love for us is to be a solid foundation stone of devotion, we must realize that His love is entirely of grace,
that it rests completely upon the work of Jesus Christ and flows to us through our union with Him.
Because of this basis His love can never change, regardless of what we do. In our daily experience, we have all sorts of spiritual ups and downs—
sin, failure, discouragement, all of which tend to make us question God’s love.
That is because we keep thinking that God’s love is somehow conditional. We are afraid to believe His love is based entirely upon the finished work of Christ for us.
Deep down in our souls we must get hold of the wonderful truth that our spiritual failures do not affect God’s love for us one iota—
that His love for us does not fluctuate according to our experience.
We must be gripped by the truth that we are accepted by God and loved by God for the sole reason that we are united to His beloved Son.
But in v15 Paul alludes here to the deepening consciousness of unworthiness and sinfulness which accompanies all progress towards the knowledge and love of God.
Paul knows that he’s loved by the Lord.
Does this apprehension of God’s personal, unconditional love for us in Christ lead to careless living?
Not at all (let me show you in ). Actually, such an awareness of His love stimulates in us an increased devotion to Him.
And this devotion is active; it is not just a warm, affectionate feeling toward God.
Paul testified that Christ’s love for us compelled him to live not for himself, but for Him who died for us and rose again ( read it).
How did Paul continue to labor and persevere when it was so hard.
He didn’t quit because of Christ’s love for him. (Not his love for Christ). Christ’s love for him.
He loves me” Paul says. “He died for me”. And “He rose again that I might live for Him.”
The word for “compel” which Paul used is a very strong verb.
It means to press in on all sides and to impel or force one to a certain course of action.
Probably not many Christians can identify with Paul in this depth of his motivation, but this surely should be our goal.
This is the constraining force God’s love is intended to have upon us.
Because, therefore, a Christian is always looking afresh to Christ and often turning from sin,
it follows that he would often grieve over the presence of this sin.
The Scriptures places side-by-side two kinds of sorrow for sin here in this text.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 105). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
One that is in v9 “grieved as God willed” and in v10 “worldly grief”.
The passage contrasts the “godly sorrow” as the kind that by God’s grace leads to salvation with
the worldly sorrow that does not result in biblical repentance.
Even unbelievers can grieve over sin, but without it being "grieving as God wills” that is, without it leading to the proper end—
repentance and its fruits.
Still, as those who have experienced the “godly sorrow” that leads to eternal life,
believers can either
grieve over sin as Christians ought, or
improperly as worldlings do.
Godly sorrow is much more than admitting your imperfections.
I’ve never met anyone who considered himself perfect, but relatively few are often
brokenhearted because they know themselves to be
nonstop offenders against the Law of God.
Many professing Christians show no more sorrow for sin on their occasional or heedless and impersonal confessions to God
than a boy forced to say “I’m sorry” to his sister.
As a child of God, should we feel no more deeply about our sin than this?
Godly sorrow for sin does involve sorrow.
Godly sorrow also results in repentance, that is, a change of mind about the sin that produces a change of behavior.
The apostle Paul had written to the Christians in Corinth regarding sin and he later rejoiced in this result:
9 "I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us.” ()
Contrast their grief for sin with the kind manifested by Esau, the brother of the Old Testament patriarch Isaac:
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 106). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
17 "For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.” ()
Like Esau, we may weep with regret over our sins and yet have no change of mind and life, no real repentance. Godly sorrow involves true sorrow, but true sorrow without true repentance is not godly sorrow.
In addition, sorrow for sin that is “in a godly manner” is genuinely humble.
Godly sorrow in the growing Christian makes him a thousand times more aware of his pride than his humility.
It sometimes causes him to wonder how God’s saving grace and such pride could dwell in the same heart.
How did the worst of all sinners see himself ().
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 106). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 107). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (pp. 106–107). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
In the worldly sort of grief for sin, the focus is on self.
Like Esau, it may betray self-pity over what has been lost as a consequence of sin (see ; ).
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 106). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
It may reveal self-disappointment over the failure to keep one’s own standards or those of one’s family or church.
Worldly sorrow may even include a self-centered fear of God’s wrath or of hell.
While it’s right to fear these, they may be feared only out of concern for self and
without any thought of God,
without any grief over having offended God.
All worldly grief over sin is itself sin because its main interest is selfward.
King David was a great sinner, but God called him “a man after My own heart” ()
because he was also a great repenter.
Notice the God-centeredness of his grief:4 "Against you—you alone—I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.” ()
David’s declaration that his sin is against God alone is startling in light of its terrible effects:
his abuse of Bathsheba,
the death of Uriah, and
the death of his own child.
The Bible does not deny that sin has dreadful consequences and can cause untold suffering.
But David’s perspective here is the same that he articulated when Nathan confronted him with his sin: “I have sinned against the Lord” ().
In both cases, David recognized the deeper truth that, ultimately, all sin is a grievous offense against God.
Indeed, when considering the admittedly terrible effects of sin on the human level, these are insignificant
when compared to the rupture that sin causes in the divine-human relationship.
Because of this, David can assert that his sin is against God alone (cf. ).
Have we thus bowed ourselves before God?
Or do you try to gloss over your sins and call your sins by little names?
Carson, D. A. (Ed.). (2015). NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (pp. 1046–1047). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The entire Psalm is addressed to God and overflows with thirty-one specific references to Him in just nineteen verses.
As David’s example shows, godly sorrow is Godward sorrow.
And when our focus is on God and not self, we can hope for grace and pray expectantly with David
12 "Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.” ()
One last measure of gentle sweetness in a Christian’s godly grief over sin.
Godly sorrow is the misery of a lover of Christ agonizing over for what will be.
We grieve over our sin partly because we long so for a holiness that is coming, but not yet.
Remember what Paul said to us a couple of weeks ago in ?
23 "Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” ()
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 108). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in an unholy creature causes longing for what we are promised but do not have — Thoroughly...
Holy Hearts
Holy Minds, living in
Holy Minds, living in
Holy Bodies.
Because of His residence, we groan over every painful reminder that holiness is not yet,
that we are still awaiting what God has destined us to become—
the likeness of His sinless Son (see ).
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 108). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Holy Bodies.
Last week I gave you two things to do if you do not grieve over your sin.
Make sure you understand the gospel of the NT.
As God to show you the reality of your sin. Ask Him to show you specifics of how you sin, when you sin, where you sin, why you sin, and against whom you sin.
3. Pray slowly through , making it your own heartfelt prayer.
Remember that these words are more than just David’s words.
God Himself inspired them (see ), and He preserved them as an example of grief over sin.
Pray through these words until they become a reflection of your own heart.
4. Meditate on the fact that it was your sin that nailed the holy, sinless One from Heaven to the cross.
Are you never sorrowful for causing the death of Jesus?
Think of what your sin cost the most pure, loving, and gracious One who ever lived.
Consider how others are now in hell for the same sins you’ve committed.
Remember that it is the eternal and perfect law of God Himself that you have so willingly and repeatedly broken and disregarded.
Realize that your every sin is a double sin because every sin is also a failure to keep the greatest of all commandments—to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (see ).
“Behold the Man” () your sins have pierced.
Then remember that the life and death of Jesus saves from sin all who repent and believe.
Be driven closer to Christ by your sin.
May your sin only serve to cause you to prize Christ even more.
5. Preach the gospel to yourself every day.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 108). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 106). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
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