From the apostle Paul to the Puritans to modern day grace preachers, we learn that the more mature we get as Christians, the more we will see our sin. This does not mean that we necessarily will sin more, but that we will become more aware of various actions and motives as sinful, that before we had not recognized as sinful. We either had been blinded to them or made excuses for them. But now, as an act of grace, the Holy Spirit reveals a greater depth to our sinfulness, which also reveals to us a new depth to our need for a Savior.
It will be like going into an old attic with a flashlight and discovering that there is far more junk up there than you ever realized. There is not more junk up there. With the flashlight, you can just see it more clearly. That is one aspect of how sanctification works.
- God gives us an increasingly larger and more powerful “spiritual flashlight” in order to see our need for Jesus in more dramatic ways.
- Then the Spirit shines the flashlight onto the cross so that we can see the extent of our redemption in more dramatic ways.
- As that happens, beholding the glory of the Lord in the gospel, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, who gives us new motives and a new power for living a new life—not in order to be saved (that is moralism), but because we already are saved.
So, ironically, the more I mature as a believer, the less mature I probably feel. Again, note Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15-17. There will be much more pain in looking deeply into my heart, but there is also much more joy in looking up to the cross. This is the formula that results in “coming alive to the wonder of the gospel.”