Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:2-5)
The human conscience is a powerful thing. It is a powerful thing in the life of the Christian. As David found out when he sinned, the Lord uses our conscience to put a heavy hand upon us when we sin. So intense is the Lord’s working through our conscience that under His conviction we are without strength, dried up, like a man lost in the heat of the desert. The only remedy is genuine repentance and confession of sin, and then God’s forgiveness. Notice then that the truly repentant person can feel that forgiveness, in contrast to the heavy misery of a convicted conscience.
This is a powerful truth to hold onto when you come under temptation. Sin tells us that we can indulge ourselves and enjoy it. But the fact is, as David and myriads of Christians have found, when a Christian yields and sins, if there is any enjoyment at all it is over in seconds. Then comes that terrible heat of conscience. The heavy hand of the Lord driving us to confession and repentance. It is a miserable thing. Day and night. Day and night. You wake up at 3AM with a knot in your gut and your sin right before you. You cannot concentrate. You have done wrong and you know and feel that wrongness. So don’t be duped by temptation. If you are a real Christian, you cannot enjoy sin. It just won’t work.
Now, as most all of you know, the person we call an abuser has little or no conscience. He can play the holy saint outwardly, then all the while inwardly and out of sight he lives in wickedness. Think about this. He has no conscience, or a seared conscience (they are pretty much the same thing). If you have ever felt the intensity of misery that a violated conscience can bring, then just mull over the fact that the abuser can do what he does — abuse — and experience no pangs of conscience. He can sleep at night. In fact he even delights in his evil. He feeds on it. It is sweet to him.
Think about this. Dwell on it. The thing is incredible. It shows us the degree of the evil we are dealing with in this abuse thing. Here is a person who can do incredible wickedness against his own wife (who has hated his own flesh? as Paul says), and not only does it not bother him, but when he sees her suffering, he rejoices in it. He is energized by it.
Do you understand? Most professing Christians and pastors do not. This is evil. These are the evil people who most certainly are in this world. If we fail to understand the depth of their wickedness, the conscienceless nature of their minds, and if we instead assume they are like us, then we are going to go miserably wrong and we will be duped by them. We will think we can fix them. We will feel sorry for them. But Scripture tells us their true nature:
But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. (2 Peter 2:12-14a HCSB)
So we must know what we are dealing with. We must believe what God’s Word tells us about the reality of evil around us and particularly as it creeps in amongst us in the local church.
And largely, “we” (the visible, professing Christian church), do not.