The original Greek word for sin is hamartano, meaning, to miss the mark. Even though in our society we often classify sins by the effect they have on others, the truth is any time we miss the mark, we are sinning. And the mark is the standards that God has set throughout the Bible, not just in the Ten Commandments.
Now I know it’s impossible to remember every single commandment and guideline the Bible has for our lives. The great news is we don’t have to. God knows we’ll never memorize the entire Bible—that’s why he gave us the Holy Spirit as our ultimate conscience.
The Holy Spirit can serve as a comforter and a connection to God, but also as a convictor. In the book of John, Jesus said, “When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” That small whisper on your heart that something is wrong isn’t a party pooper living inside of you, but rather the Spirit of God, showing you where the mark is and warning you when you miss it. If you’re feeling guilty about something, it’s because that something is wrong.
Now although the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin is a great guide to use when trying to live according to God’s standards, when we live in a repetive lifestyle of sin, it is possible to stifle the gift. If this occurs, you can be living in a lifestyle of sin and feel little or no conviction at all.
This was the case with a friend of mine. We were talking about her current lifestyle and some of the decisions she was making. She said, “I know what I’m doing is not wrong because it feels right.”
Have you ever done something that felt right at the time, but now you know it was wrong? Ever told a lie and had it “feel right” the moment? Ever been in a sinful lifestyle and have it “feel right” at that point in time? I’m sure you have, because sin is like having cataracts. It slowly adds a layer over our eyes, until sooner or later we can’t see too clearly anymore. No one goes to bed seeing clearly, then wakes up blinded by cataracts. A cataract slowly starts to cover your eye while decreasing your vision, until the whole eye is covered and you can’t see anymore. The same thing occurs when we ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction and choose sin.
Hearing the Spirit’s conviction of sin is like having your radio tuned to a frequency. Each time you willingly ignore the Spirit’s conviction, you move the dial one notch away. Sooner or later, you’re only going to hear static, or you’re going to start receiving another station. And just because you can’t hear the Spirit’s conviction anymore doesn’t mean what you’re doing is right. You’re just numb.
But it’s never too late to ask God to retune your conscience to His standards. God offers His forgiveness and help to move our dial notch-by-notch closer to the right station. And in no time, you’ll hear the Spirit’s conviction loud and clear. Then you won’t have to worry about knowing what the right thing to do is. God is so generous that He sent His Spirit to tell you. The question all comes down to whether or not you’re going to listen.
[Kristen McNulty is 20 years old and resides in Timmins, Ontario, Canada.]
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