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“They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity” (Ephesians 4:19 NLT).

IT IS NOT A GOOD THING IF OUR SINS DON’T BOTHER US. Just as you wouldn’t want to be unable to feel physical pain, you wouldn’t want to be insensitive to the pangs of conscience. The “warning system” provided by our conscience is one of the most valuable assets in our spiritual makeup. We should give thanks for it.

As important as it is, however, a sense of shame seems to be an endangered species of emotion in the culture that surrounds us. If we care about the world our children are going to have to live in, we can’t help but be concerned about current trends. But there is something else I want you to pay attention to: each of us needs to be more concerned about our lack of sensitivity to the sins that we know are in our own hearts. Whatever may be going on in the world around us, are we as sensitive to our own sins as we should be?

Oswald Chambers spoke perceptively when he said, “Measure your growth in grace by your sensitiveness to sin.” The more we learn to love our Father, the more our hearts are going to hurt when we realize we’ve failed Him. The person who rarely sees any sin in his own life — or seeing it, is not bothered by it — is not a spiritual senior but only a sophomore. As we gain wisdom, our conscience becomes more keen, rather than more comfortable.

And, of course, our increasing sensitivity to sin causes us to yearn all the more fervently for the perfection of our character in eternity. Thomas D. Bernard’s comment that our “sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God” sounds contradictory, but it’s not. The nearer we are to God, the more we see the gap between us and Him — and the more we long for that gap to be removed.

So where are you, my friend, in regard to this subject? If the painful awareness of sin seems to be growing rather than diminishing, does that mean you are becoming a more wicked person? Not knowing you, I can’t say for sure. But your pain may just mean that your conscience is becoming more healthy. And if that be the case, you are moving in God’s direction. Frankly, I’d be more worried about you if you thought you were doing just fine.

“It is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked; on the contrary, we are less so” (François Fénelon).

Gary Henry — +

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