A few years ago I saw a news story about a little girl who was born with some disease that prevented her from feeling pain. At first, it seems like a great disorder, if you were going to have one… anyone who has held a baby who just took a tumble would be happy to not have to dry so many tears. Except that pain is a really important part of how God made us. This poor girl had to be tested periodically to be sure she didn’t have any broken bones, and had to take many precautions when doing any physical activity. At the time she was around 2, and she had to wear goggles to keep from scratching her retinas out (she had already scratched them so badly that her vision was substantially effected.) Isaac was a baby at the time, and I remember poking him here and there and being so relieved when he would fuss or cry!
Pain is really important. It’s an indicator that something is wrong. I think guilt is the same way. No one likes to feel guilty, but fact is that guilt is important, too. Just like physical pain, it helps us realize we have a problem that needs to be addressed. I think in our society there is a pandemic of the kind of disease that the girl above has, but in a spiritual sense. We have convinced ourselves that guilt is old fashioned. In our enlightened age, no one need feel it.
The problem is, that if we aren’t feeling guilty about real sin, it’s like we’re walking on a broken foot that we can’t feel. It’s causing great damage, but we’re totally unaware, so we make it worse. If someone continued like that, they would eventually lose their whole leg to infection or disease. Even worse, if our consciences are so numb that they don’t register our sin, we slip deeper and deeper toward hell without even realizing it. To one like this, the idea of a Savior doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would you undergo chemotherapy if it couldn’t save your life? Similarly, if you don’t have any sin, why pick up your cross and follow Him?
This is why the Holy Spirit “convinces us concerning sin”. He works within our hearts, if we let Him, to reclaim the sense of legitimate shame that we should feel over sin. And it’s always for our health. A proper diagnosis is necessary for proper treatment. Contrary to what the popular culture would have us believe, the more appropriate guilt we feel for our sins, the freer we actually feel, since instead of stuffing down the shame we feel, we actually get our sins forgiven! The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate, which in New Testament times actually meant “one who pleads your case”. The Holy Spirit does not accuse us, but rather moves our hearts to repentance and stands up to defend us.
As Pentecost approaches, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to show us our sin. This courageous prayer is one that God always answers affirmatively. As the Advocate begins to answer this prayer in our lives, we will realize how much more room their is in our hearts for His love… room that was previously filled with sin we couldn’t feel.