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Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Pain of Sin

Those of you who know me are familiar with my health issues, but for those who don't, you will need a little background information. I am unable to eat gluten, dairy, or eggs and often have problems with my digestive system. Because of this, I am often in pain in varying degrees. This morning in church I was not feeling well; I couldn't get comfortable and was trying hard to focus on the Lord and ignore me. At one point I realized I was rocking, and it was then that I took stock and realized there was pain in my stomach. This seems odd to me, but I have been in pain so much over the past 4 1/2 years that unless it is quite severe, it can escape my notice. But the rocking is my clue and for some reason, when there is pain my body automatically rocks.

As I was pondering how rocking works as a beacon for my pain and how it is always such a surprise to me when I finally notice, I started thinking about how sin can be like that. Because of my propensity to sin -- due to the condition of depravity I was born with (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:1-3) -- I can be going along sinning and, amazingly, I can ignore it. But that won't do. I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ and I know better. I am not to ignore my sinful ways; rather, I am to confess them to my Lord and ask forgiveness. So, what is there to light my way to the realization that I am sinning and encourage me to turn from that sin and toward God? I came up with several beacons that the Lord has provided to enable men to recognize, acknowledge and repent of their sins.

The conscience is a built-in warning system that all people are born with, designed to alert us when we are doing wrong. "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them" (Romans 2:14-15; see also Romans 1:18-20).

The problem with this beacon is that it can be weakened and even shorted out (Titus 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:1-2). This defilement, this searing of the conscience is a process that takes time, but is self-inflicted. Every time a person refuses to listen, the voice of his conscience becomes more difficult to hear.

A person is born with a conscience that knows right from wrong. He knows it because the Law of God, specifically the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), is written on his heart. When a person denies the absolute authority of any or all of these commandments, he is suppressing what he knows to be true (Romans 1:18) and instead believes lies (Romans 1:25).

Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit begins to move in a person's life, He acts as a holy Beacon to convict him of his sins (John 16:18). He calls everyone to repent of their sins, but most people will ignore His call (Matthew 7:13-14; 13:3-23). Once a person is a believer, because of the work of the Holy Spirit, that person cannot tarry long in his sin without it tormenting him (Psalm 38) and the Lord will draw him back to repentance.

God's Word
The words of the Bible are the definitive, objective tool that God uses to cause a person to come face to face with the reality of their sin (Hebrews 4:12), and a person cannot be saved from that sin without it (Romans 10:17). Within God's holy word, both sin (James 1:23-25) and its Remedy (Acts 4:8-12) are revealed.

When God lights these beacons for you, do you alter your course and proceed on the path that He would have you travel, or do you remain where you are and risk falling into that dreaded destination of hell (Matthew 13:41-42; Revelation 20:10-15; Romans 6:23)?

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