Last week in my reading through the Psalms I came to a phrase that really struck me. In the second part of Psalm 38:18 David states “I am troubled by my sin” (NIV). The Revised English Bible intensifies the thought with “I am troubled because of my sin” (italicize added).
When I first read the verse I thought I can identify with David. I won’t cite specifics, but there have been many times in my life when I have been deeply troubled by a specific sin in my life. But as I continued to consider the big picture it occurred to me that there are also a lot of sins in my life that ought to trouble me but don’t. Sins I don’t think of as big sins, but nevertheless are sins. So my question to you is, “Are you troubled by your sins?”
The purpose of the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit in Christians is sanctification. That big word refers to our becoming the kind of people God has saved us to be. To move forward in actually becoming holy we have to make progress in dealing with our sin; one of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us is to make us aware of our sins.
I believe it is the Holy Spirit who is behind our being troubled by our sin. I think it is a good thing if we are troubled by our sins and that we should be thankful. For a Christian not to be troubled by his or her sins would be a bad sign and perhaps indicative of indifference to sin.
Two pieces of New Testament instruction for Christians about the Holy Spirit came to my mind as I dwelt on Psalm 38:18b. The first was Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” What grieves the Holy Spirit? Since He is the Holy Spirit, and dwells in us, our sin (unholiness) grieves Him.
The second passage was I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” To quench has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit’s thirst, but rather has to do with extinguishing a fire. I have always thought of this command in terms of not “throwing a wet blanket” on or spurning the Spirit. While the Holy Spirit wants to help us become more and more what God wants us to be, we can ignore and reject His help. And the more we suppress His urgings the easier it will be to do so.
So I ask you again, “Are you troubled by your sins?” Are your sins grieving the Holy Spirit who lives in you and could He be involved in your being troubled? I think the answer is yes. And a clear biblical response to being troubled by our sins is given in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When we acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness we need to believe God’s promise and move forward. Those sins should no longer trouble us. But we should still expect the Holy Spirit to trouble us about future sins.
What you think of this idea of being troubled by our sin? Leave a reply below and share these thoughts on social media if you think others would benefit.
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“Sins of omission and sins of commission” was a topic you preached on “back in the day” I always liked those gentle reminders and nudges that helped me when troubled by the sin in my life, I am so grateful to such a gracious and forgiving Heavenly Father and try to impress that upon my sons that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God but to learn from the consequence that our sins bring upon others and ourselves and especially how it is troubling to God as well. Thanks once again for the gentle reminder….
I think this maybe one of my favorite posts but will have to go back and read the earlier ones I missed. I loved the way you described sanctification and should commit it to memory. Feeling grateful that the Holy Spirit bothers to trouble me but need to remember to implement 1 John 1:9 more often. Thanks again PB. Went to a crazy Baptist church in England this week that you and Jan would have loved and Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral with the choir was magical. Miss you both!
A good and meaty message with lots to chew on. I am challenged by the call to not become indifferent to my sins but to be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging and confess my sins and then MOVE FORWARD. As one who tends to continue to ruminate on past sins, I am particularly challenged to take God at his word and believe that “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” Thank you for this reminder.
I do appreciate your words about the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and am grateful to continue to benefit from your teaching, Pastor Bob.