When you see people up close, which is what happens with counseling, you might notice a few different themes emerging in your own soul. First, you will feel unworthy. Who are we that we should be able to see the work of the Spirit from such close range? And we feel even more unworthy because the godliness we observe won’t be broadcast to the entire church, but the display will be shown only to a few. For example, you will hear someone be open with private sin. That is a powerful evidence of the Spirit on the move. Or you will see a person quietly clinging to Jesus in the midst of painful circumstances.
Unworthiness is always my number one response. But there is a second.
Sometimes I am completely freaked out by sin. It scares me to death.
I watch as the world collapses on an adulterous spouse. I see people suffocating in their aloneness after having pushed everyone away. I see poverty and despair encroaching as a result of a person’s belligerent attitudes toward employers. I see addicts who hit bottom, destroy everything in their lives, and then somehow, sink even lower. I see marriages so estranged and trashed that death or divorce seem to be the only way out. Sin is so destructive.
Ugh. Lord have mercy. Where am I making steps down into darkness? Where am I so blind to my sin that only a severe and sudden impact will help me to see? Lord, search me. Please.
Sin scares me. And I want it to keep scaring me.
King David is in us all. A small omission such as not going to war with the troops is the first sign of danger ahead, and David doesn’t see it until many people die.
Small steps. Keep watch for small steps. Our consciences are such that we don’t get addicted to pornography overnight. Too many alarms would go off. But small steps of sin can go undetected.
Is there anything in my life or imagination that I want to hide?
Do I flirt with any temptations because I think everyone else is flirting with them too?
Can I tell someone else, on a moments notice, how I am knowing Christ better?
Am I confessing sin everyday?
Any lingering anger that I keep to myself?
Is my conscience clear?
Am I taking sermons to heart?
These are a few questions that help.
True, being motivated by fear is not the way of change. Fear must give way to being compelled by the love of Jesus. Fear, even of sin, can turn our hearts inward, and we won’t find any power there. But when the destructive nature of sin leaves us unsettled, that is a good thing. Scripture is replete with stories that warn, and a wise person heeds those warnings.