Part 2: Godly Sorrow

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When it comes to sin-induced depression, Christians can respond one of two ways. Some may turn inward and sulk in their sorrow, or otherwise try to put it out of their mind, but God calls his children to respond with repentance. In this week of “Defeating Depression” Pastor David explains the importance of a godly sorrow and how it causes the believer to seek God.

Part 2: Godly Sorrow from New Covenant Fellowship on Vimeo.

part 2 depression due to our own sin

Last week we started a new series entitled defeating depression.  We aren’t calling this dealing with depression because we don’t want to simply deal with depression, we want to be victorious over depression; we want to defeat depression.

Last week was an overview in which we touched on some of the major causes of depression as well as some practical and biblical solutions for victory.  We identified the following causes:

  • sin (that we commit and that others commit against us)

  • our circumstances (which we cannot always control)

  • our thought life, and

  • chemical imbalance

As we move forward in this series, we will begin to take a look at some passages in the Bible that center on depression.  This morning, we will camp out on depression rooted in sins that we commit, depression that is a result of our own transgressions.

Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 51.  If you are new to navigating the Bible, an easy way to find the Psalms is to open up smack dab in the middle of your Bible and you should be in the book of Psalms.

One of the most practical and Biblical resources when it comes to defeating depression is the book of Psalms.  My suggestion to anyone who is battling depression is to read through the Psalms and pray through the Psalms.  The Psalms are rich with men of God crying out to him from the depths of depression, from the pit of despair, from the trenches of sorrow and dismay.

Psalm 51, to which we now turn is the Psalm that King David wrote after he committed a heinous sin.  The general consensus is that David wrote this Psalm after his sin with Bathsheba.

CONTEXT

David was the king over Israel and the armies of Israel were off at war.  David remained at the palace.  He was on the roof and saw a pretty thing bathing.  He sent to find out who she was and got word that she was the wife of a man named Uriah the Hittite.  He sent for her to have her brought to him.  He put on some R Kelly and they did stuff…without contraceptive.  David sent to have Uriah come home in hopes that he would lay with his wife.  Ya know, cover up the sin.  If she had a baby it would be because Uriah came home that one night.  But Uriah refused to go sleep with his wife because he felt bad that his men were out fighting and they couldn’t come home and sleep with their wives.  So David sent word to his army to have Uriah on the frontline of battle when the fighting was the fiercest and then to withdraw so that he would be struck down.  Ya know, cover up the sin.  So Uriah is dead and now David gets to take Bathsheba to be his wife and the child is legitimate.

So this psalm reflects the despair, the sadness, the gloom, the emotional state of depression that David experienced as the result of his sins.

Psalm 51:1-9 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

 

You can see in these first 9 verses that David writes this Psalm out of a place of sadness, gloom, dejection.  David is depressed because he sinned against his fellow man and in so doing, he ultimately sinned against his God.  God hates sin and cannot even look upon it; his eyes are too pure for evil.  Thus, David desires that his sins be blotted out and removed from him as sin is a barrier in his relationship with God.  His perceived distance from God has led him to a state of depression.  He longs to be cleansed so that his fellowship with God can be restored and that he would subsequently be brought out of the pit of despair and return to a state of gladness and joy in the presence of the Lord.

DAVID’S SIN HAUNTS HIM

 

David was an upright man; as it is written in 1 Kings 15:5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

So for a man after God’s own heart, this snowball of sin had a tormenting affect on his soul.

We see from his words in verse 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

 

It’s right there.  I go to sleep, regretting what I have done.  And when I wake up I’m hoping this was all just a bad dream, a nightmare, but there it is; I can’t get away from it. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

 

HE KNEW BETTER

 

What makes this even more devastating for David is that he knew better.  This wasn’t something that David did on accident.  It’s not that David had no idea that taking another man’s wife was wrong and that trying to cover it up through deceit was wrong and that conspiring to bring his demise was wrong.  No, he knew full well what he was doing and he did it because he was walking in selfishness.

 

Any time we pursue premeditated sin we ultimately say something like, “God, I know that this is not ultimately good for me, I know that this isn’t something that pleases you.  I know that to love you is to obey what you command, but right now, in this moment, I’m not concerned about pleasing you, I’m concerned about pleasing me.  And though this won’t be ultimately good for me, it has a certain momentary appeal, such that I can’t help myself.  Must consume forbidden fruit.”  Such premeditated sin really comes down to selfishness.

 

He knowingly and willingly, selfishly violated his relationship with his God and did what was abominable in his sight.  As one created for relationship with God, that is certainly cause for depression.

As he says, I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me.  It haunts him, it torments him.  His conscience convicts him.  And it is supposed to.  He is supposed to despair over sin.  He is supposed to be sad and gloomy over his sin.  Sin should produce depression.

HARDWIRED FOR DEPRESSION OVER SIN

See, God has hardwired us in such a way that sin produces a guilty conscience.  We see this from the beginning.  When God put Adam and Eve in the garden he gave them all of the fruit of all of the trees to eat for food.  Then he told them not to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Then after they ate the fruit and God came into their midst what was their immediate response?  They hid from him.  Why?  Because they knew.  They were guilt ridden, conscience stricken, convicted for their transgression.

As I mentioned briefly last week, our emotional state can often serve as a warning light much like the warning light on the dashboard of our automobile.  When that oil light illuminates, it is a sign to the driver that something is not right, the system needs attention.  Something is wrong.  And that light on the dashboard is a blessing.

Can you imagine if there was no oil light?  Can you imagine if you lost oil pressure and you found out when the car came to a grinding halt and smoke from under the hood was the indication that something was wrong?  That would be terrible.  The indicator light is a blessing.  In the same way, the sadness, the sorrow, the depression that results from sin is actually a blessing.  It is God’s gift to us and we should be glad that our conscience is stricken when we sin.

STAY SENSITIVE TO SIN

In a letter that Paul wrote to Timothy he warns against men whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  If we resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or ignore our conscience, or sidestep the sorrow, or seek to justify our sin, explain it away, put a black piece of electrical tape over the light on the dashboard, over time, we can lose all sensitivity to sin (become like those Paul said not to live like in Eph 4).  May God not allow us to harden our hearts, may he keep us aware of iniquity, may he keep us sensitive to sin, may our consciences continue to keep us in step with the spirit and in tune with the will of God.

AGAINST GOD – BLOT IT OUT!

In verse 4, David makes it clear that all sin is ultimately against God.  David clearly sinned against others, but he stresses here the fact that his sin is ultimately against God.

God is too holy to look upon sin.  To God sin is abominable.  It disgusts him.  He cannot dwell with iniquity.  So David asks God not to look upon his sin, hide his face from it.  Blot it out, make it go away.

He is seeing it as God sees it and recognizes that it is displeasing and disgusting to the God he loves and due to his love for God, due to the fact that he is a man after God’s own heart, he is now feeling the sadness, the sorrow, the grief that God feels about his sin and he wants it gone, blotted out.

In verse 8 we see that David longs for the days of joy that he experienced prior to these depths, prior to this pit that he now finds himself in as the result of his sin.  He wants to be glad and joyful.

You have crushed these bones, oh God, now that they have felt the sorrow of sin, now that I have experienced the depression decreed, now that I have sunk into the sad state that you designed let these bones rejoice.  Mend these bones and let me return to a state of joy and gladness.

 

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

 

V10 he asks God to create in him a pure heart.  As we have stated so many times before, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.  And David recognizes that what he needs is a pure heart.  For blessed are the pure in heart will see God.

That is exactly what he wants.  That is exactly what we want.  Deep down our desire is to see God, to know God, to experience God and to enjoy God and His presence.  Hence, the next verse

V 11 do not cast me from your presence or take your holy spirit from me.  The wages of sin is death – spiritual death – exile, separation from God.  We see this as early as the garden where upon their sin they were cast out of God’s presence.  This was perpetuated in the life of Israel as a nation.  You sin, you die.  The wages of sin is death – spiritual death, Israel disobeys the law and they would be cast out of the Land where God made his dwelling and placed his sanctuary.  They would be taken into exile cast from his presence.  David recognizes this – that the wages of sin is death and that the ultimate worst is to be cast from God’s presence.  So here he pleads that God would not cast him from his presence, but to restore to him the joy of God’s salvation (v12).

Rescue me, God from the bondage and dominion of sin, redeem me from this feeling of exile this state of separation, restore our fellowship, mend our friendship…and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.  I want to walk in righteousness.  But I recognize that people tend to do what they want to do.  Sin is tempting and I don’t want to want sin. I want to have a pure heart that craves what is right; in other words I want to want to walk in righteousness.  Grant me a spirit that is willing.  I want my will to equal your will.

 

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.  15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.

 

Here David declares two glorious results or byproducts of this salvation from the sad sorrowful state of depression:

I will teach others.  I will shine your light and direct people toward you.  I will rescue others from the pit of despair and my testimony will serve as a witness to direct others out of this sad and sorrowful state and onto a path of righteousness and joy.

The result of my rescue from this depression and restoration to the joy and gladness of walking with you will be that I will worship.  I will sing of your love and declare your mercy; I will praise you and give glory and honor to your name.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

 

Here he says God does not delight in sacrifice or take pleasure in burnt offerings.  But the Bible says that these are pleasing to God and he delights in them.  So what is David getting at here?

David lived under the OC which required that sacrifices be made for atonement, that the blood of innocent animals be shed in order to remove the guilt associated with humanity’s sin.  A man would bring an animal to sacrifice.  And a hand would be placed on the head of the animal to sort of represent the transfer of sin from the person to the animal.  The animal would be sacrificed in the person’s stead and sins atoned for.

To simply go to the priest and offer a sacrifice and shed the blood of an animal doesn’t mean that a change of heart has taken place.  One can go through the motions of burnt offerings and sacrifice with a hard heart, unrepentant, and with no intentions of changing his ways.  He can have the wrong attitude that says well, I sinned…oh well, so what.  I can just sacrifice an animal and it’s all good.

David, on the other hand, has a repentant attitude.  He isn’t against offerings and sacrifice, but he declares that his offering is a broken and contrite heart, which is far more important to God than the blood of bulls and goats.

In the same way, you and I should not have the attitude that says, Jesus’ blood was shed, atonement was made, so I can just walk in sin.  There’s grace.  Our attitude should be like David’s – one that recognizes that we should not do the things that displease God because we love him.  We should not continue to walk in the things for which Jesus’ blood was shed.  Rather, we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices, giving our hearts to God and saying here.  Take this.  My heart is broken over sin and contrite before you.  Make this heart pure and write your law upon it and move me to obedience and give me a willing spirit.

So here in our text we can see how sin affected the emotional state of David one of the great men of faith.  Sin tormented David’s soul and plunged him into a state of depression, which God used to get his attention and draw David back to him.

Once again, the depression caused by sin is ultimately a blessing as it acts as an indicator that something isn’t right.  We don’t like that feeling.  We don’t like that gloomy, sad, dejected state and we long to return to a state of joy.  That desire should cause us to repent and seek the face of our merciful God.

 

18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.  9 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

 

Why does David end this Psalm like this?  I believe that David as leader of Israel recognizes the connection between his leadership over Israel and her prosperity.  As the king, he has the power to lead Israel either into wickedness or righteousness.  He is like a little rudder that can turn the whole ship.  If he continued in wickedness the people would follow and Israel would suffer; curses for disobedience.  On the other hand, if his heart is made right and he leads Israel in righteousness, there will be blessings for obedience.  He wants to see Israel prosperous.

 

You and I are not living in the time of the OC, when Israel was a geo-political entity with an earthly king ruling on the throne in literal Jerusalem who has the power to lead Israel into wickedness or righteousness.  However, we are a part of the NC community in Christ and each one of us as individuals has the power to affect the covenant community at large.  As a small part each of us affects the whole.  What one of us does affects the others and our ability to be effective or ineffective.

Just as it was no small thing for David to walk in wickedness, the same is true for us.  My sin affects you and your sin affects me.  We are the body of Christ.  Just as David had the power as a rudder to turn the whole ship so do you; so do I.

Paul makes this point in 1 Cor 12, saying that each believer is a part of the body of Christ.  Earlier in the letter, in chapter 5, Paul condemns a man for sleeping with his mother in law.  The sins of this one man had a profound impact on the health of the whole body.

Paul ultimately encourages the congregation to have nothing to do with the man; with such a person do not even eat.  In 1 Cor Paul had some pretty harsh things to say.  After receiving a letter like that from the apostle Paul, God’s messenger, I would imagine that they were gripped with guilt and conviction, feeling sorrow for their sin; in short, receiving a letter like that could be quite depressing.

Turn with me to 2 Cor 7.

2 Corinthians is the follow up letter to 1 Cor.   Let’s look at a portion of this follow up letter and take note of how this depression was a blessing to ultimately benefit them.  Look what he says beginning in verse 8:

2 Cor 7:8ff  8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

So we see here, once again that God uses the depression associated with sin as a means to bring about repentance and righteousness, to make his people better than they were before.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.  But worldly sorrow brings death.

Sorrow that turns to God in repentance leads to life and righteousness, while a worldly sorrow a self-centered sorrow that says, “Fine I’ll make a sacrifice or dang I got caught, I should have been more crafty” continues the downward spiral and brings death it generates an even wider chasm between man and God.  But the godly sorrow that leads to repentance causes a man to turn to God and draw near to him.

And on a practical level it produces earnestness and a readiness to see justice done and a walk of faith that keeps in step with the spirit and says yes lord, not my will, but yours be done.

IN CLOSING

God wants what is best for us and that is not sin.  So he wired us in such a way that when we sin, our guilty conscience convicts us with sorrow & sadness as we reach a heightened sense of awareness that we have violated our relationship with God, we have done something that displeases him, an unloving act toward him.  The result is depression.

The obvious solution to defeating the depression that results from sin is simply don’t sin.  When we do sin it should lead to sorrow or depression.  We want to retain that sensitivity so as not to sear our conscience.

Let us see the blessing in that depression as God designed it as a tool that would serve as a warning light for us to let us know that something is out of place.  And let us respond not with worldly sorrow that brings death, but with godly sorrow leads to repentance and life and puts us on a path of righteous living which is good for us spiritually and pleasing to God.  Since our #1 command is to love God, then living to please Him is our aim and in it we will find great joy, which is the ultimate antidepressant.