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The Downward Journey of Sanctification

Since you have been a Christian, have you become more and more aware of your sinfulness? Andy explains this process by looking at David's internal journey of sanctification as seen in Psalm 30:11.

by Andrew Davis on November 10, 2020

"You turned my wailing into dancing..." - Psalm 30:11

No one who has lived long in this world will fail to grasp the incredible journey David traveled in his emotions as chronicled in this Psalm. "In this world you will have trouble...", Jesus prophesied to us in John 16. Who has lived in this world and not seen Jesus' prophecy confirmed by numerous trials—shocking, devastating, deeply painful. To walk through this world is to walk through "the valley of the shadow of death," and sometimes the pain of the journey causes wailing from deep within us.

But for the Christian, no journey is as painful as that led by the Holy Spirit into the depths of one's own wretched sinful nature. Along that journey, there are often times of painful wailing at our despicable hearts- so intractable, so stubborn, so calloused towards God. After we are born anew by the Spirit into union with Christ, we begin this downward odyssey into the heart of our own darkness, led step by step by the sanctifying Spirit who is our guide. "Come," he beckons, "...come and see that from which you were saved." Thus, begins the downward pilgrimage, until we despair completely in our own righteousness and esteem only Christ's saving power. While the Christian lives, the Spirit sovereignly guides him into one circumstance after another in which various aspects of his own selfishness, ungodliness, stubbornness, lovelessness are revealed in living color. After the incident, that inner voice comes: "Do you see what you just did? Isn't that the very thing you condemned in your co-worker last week? Yet here it is in your very own behavior!" Down, down, down we go. Paul ended his downward journey by testifying of himself "I am the worst of all sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15)! 


"...for all true children of God, mourning for sin is inevitably followed (in due time) by dancing for joy at God's grace."


In Psalm 30, David traveled this same downward journey. He calls it "the depths" (verse 1). Perhaps David was in trouble from some enemies, but his real battle is with his own sinfulness. In verse 5, he talks about the Lord's anger lasting but a moment. In verse 7, David refers to God having hidden His face. In verse 10, he cries for mercy. This is all evidence that David felt the real issue was his own sinfulness before God, and God's corresponding disciplines. When God disciplines believers, He frequently uses circumstances (like David's danger from enemies) and spiritual distance ("you hid your face", verse 7) to do the job. For a spiritually sensitive man like David, the result was a night of weeping (verse 5) and wailing (verse 11). For a spiritually sensitive man like David, the focus of his weeping and wailing was his own wretched heart before God. This is the same  "mourning" - mourning for sin- that Jesus promises to "comfort" in Matthew 5:4. And herein lies the secret to David's emotional transformation... for all true children of God, mourning for sin is inevitably followed (in due time) by dancing for joy at God's grace. The end of the downward journey is instant elevation by God's grace into the joy of intimate fellowship with Him.

As you continue to follow Christ and the Holy Spirit reveals more and more of your sin, do not be discouraged at the sight. The beauty of the gospel is that God has already taken in the entire scope of your sinfulness and covered it once and for all in the blood of Christ. When we were at our worst, God gave us His best: “For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life” (Romans 5:10)! This gives us total security to make the downward journey of sanctification. And what is at the end of that journey? Glory and joy unspeakable!! “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

Tags: sanctification

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