I believe that I am the chief of sinners. I know that if I had been Eve I would have eaten the forbidden fruit. I also know that if I had been with the children of Israel in the wilderness I would have been guilty of all their sins against God -- that I am guilty of lust, greed, envy, vanity, jealousy, anger, murder, etc. Why do I believe this? The Holy Spirit tells me it is true. As I read the Bible He convicts me of sin.
"The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4: 12
Many warn about looking too deeply into yourself -- gazing at your navel. But I believe that for the Christian this inner work is essential. It is a positive thing, a necessary procedure for spiritual growth. John states, "If we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."
He also says that to worship God we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. How can I worship God in truth if I don't know the truth about myself -- that I am a sinner saved by God's grace? How can I begin to fathom the marvelous depth of His mercy for me until I fathom the horrendous depth of my sin?
1 Corinthians 4: 5 tells us that when the Lord returns He will bring to light things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts. Can you imagine the emotional trauma of such instant total exposure? I would rather deal with it now, a little at a time, with the Holy Spirit's help.
When I first became a Christian I knew that I had fallen short of the glory of God but I didn't think I had fallen "as short" as a lot of other people. When the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me what I was really like, I would be terribly distressed and depressed for days, sometimes weeks; it was such a blow to my ego to realize that I was not a "good" person. Finally I understood that God had known it all along. I was the only one surprised and shocked. And He was showing me the truth to set me free. When I acknowledged my sin and asked for forgiveness, He forgave me. This is the continuing process by which He is cleansing me from all unrighteousness. So I quit wallowing in self pity and shame, stood on my feet and accepted myself in truth -- a sinner -- looking forward with the Holy Spirit's help to what I shall be "hereafter."
"Those whom I love I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten -- I discipline and instruct them. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal, and repent -- changing your mind and attitude."
Revelation 3: 19
"God's children live by laws as hard and severe as those that govern nature. Grace operates within those laws but never contrary to them. Our fruit will follow its native tree and not all our frightened prayers can prevent it. If we do holy deeds we must be holy men, every day and all the days that God grants us here below."