Every now and then I will come across something written by Charles Spurgeon that really stirs my soul. In this excerpt from his sermon – A Simple Remedy, Spurgeon talks about the hell of sin in an awakened conscience.
“Only let a man once feel sin for half-an-hour, really feel its tortures, and I warrant you he could prefer to dwell in a pit of snakes than to live with his sins. Remember that cry of David, “My sin is ever before me” [Psalm 51:3]; he speaks as though it haunted him. He shut his eyes but he still saw its hideous shape; he sought his bed, but like a nightmare it weighed upon his breast; he rose, and it rose with him; he tried to shake it off among the haunts of men, in business and in pleasure, but like a blood-sucking vampire it clung to him. Sin was ever before him, as though it were painted on his eye-balls, the glass of his soul’s window was stained with it. He sought his closet but could not shut it out, he sat alone but it sat with him; he slept, but it cursed his dreams. His memory it burdened, his imagination it lit up with lurid flame, his judgment it armed with a ten-thonged whip, his expectations it shrouded in midnight gloom. A man needs no worse hell than his own sin, and an awakened conscience.”
A man needs no worse hell than his own sin, and an awakened conscience.
Spurgeon’s words are a reminder to me that our culture has become desensitized to our own sins. We’ve been encouraged to seek self-esteem, positive feelings, and personal dignity. Having moral responsibility has been replaced by a society of victims, blaming others for their personal failures and shortcomings. The enemy is at work. He knows that if you remove the reality of sin, you take away the possibility of repentance. Erase the idea of personal guilt and you eliminate the need for a Savior.
To confess your sin and repent would mean that we have done something wrong, that we have something to feel guilty about. That concept of guilt goes against the message that the world is trying to convey to us.
The reality is that we have all sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23). John Piper said “First of all, notice the word “all.” There are no exceptions here (see Romans 3:9–12, 19; Ephesians 2:3). All of us are included. Preachers and prostitutes. Billy Graham and Genghis Khan. President Bush and Ted Bundy. Corrie Ten Boom and Al Capone. The best person and the worst person you can think of are included here. ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God”? It means that none of us has trusted God the way we should. None of us has obeyed him the way we should. We have trusted ourselves. We have turned from his commandments. We thought we knew a better way. In Romans 1:22–23 it says, “Although they knew God they did not glorify him as God or give thanks to him . . . but exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images ”
This is what it means to fall short of the glory of God—to exchange it for something else. God offers us the glory of His beauty and strength and generosity and wisdom for our enjoyment, and we sniff at it and fall in love with the things He has made.
C.S. Lewis wrote
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
In my study time today, I am having to really dig down deep and evaluate my own life and so I am asking these questions.
David cried out that his sin was “ever before him” – can I say the same thing about my own sin? Do I think about my own sin or do I try to justify it, trivialize it, or even excuse it?
Have I tried to categorize my sin? Often if we are not guilty of the “big sins” (note the deception in this way of thinking), then we think we are ok, and don’t have to worry about the “small sins.” (deception again.)
Lord, open my eyes to see the reality of my sin as you see it. I don’t want to minimize it, excuse it, or even justify it.