By Clifton Angel
There are some physical ailments that begin in secret. There are no immediate symptoms. Yet the illnesses, like some cancers, may be silently wreaking havoc on one’s body. Sometimes one who is seriously sick may proclaim, “I feel fine!” Sometimes such destruction has been caused that by the time it is detected, it is too late to correct the problem. Sometimes the problem can be mended but with great pain, surgeries, and treatments.
Is it possible to suffer from the spiritual ailment of sin and be unaware of it? Today, sin occurs when one transgresses the commandments of the New Testament (1 John 3:4). Sin occurs “unknowingly” when a person is not allowing God’s Word to train his conscience. Jesus said that the scribes and Pharisees had developed their own “righteousness” (Matthew 5:20). In other words, what was right and wrong to them did not align with what was right and wrong to God. Following His statement in Matthew 5:20, Jesus went on to correct many of their false teachings and misconceptions. The former Saul, now known as the apostle Paul, had persecuted the Lord’s church. He even had some put to death. Yet, he had done it in “all good conscience” (Acts 23:1). Saul was doing what he thought was right. That did not make it right. What God says is right, is right. What God says is wrong, is wrong. Therefore, it should be our desire to train our consciences with God’s Word.
The principle above is found multiple times in the Proverbs. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). And so, what are we to do? “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). If we want to be complete (spiritually healthy), we must examine ourselves by God’s definition for doing what is right (2 Timothy 3:16–17). For, if we continue saying spiritually, “I feel fine!” sin may be wreaking havoc on our consciences, progressing as it does (Psalm 1). Have you had your spiritual checkup lately?
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website.