I could tell you a case of a man back home, forty-five years old – a pagan, illiterate, who knew nothing about Christ. Then he was brought by grace, through the preaching of the Christians, into the presence of Jesus and Him crucified; and that man was so changed that within a month, when impure thoughts came into his heart he literally went outside from a meeting and vomited. What a standard, what sensitivity! A man steeped in paganism, with no Bible training, no background. And now in the light of Calvary, in that smashing, invading love, this man is taken, re-created, renewed, his conscience is so clean that when impure thoughts came he even went and physically vomited. A sensitivity had been created. The Holy Spirit had renewed the personality.
[Source: The Gospel Coalition; Bishop Festo Kivengere, “Christ the Renewer,” The Keswick Week 1972, page 75]
I’ve never heard such a thing before, certainly not in the church. An unrepentant person will not feel shame when he thinks of and practices sin (Zephaniah 3:5). Only a person who has encountered Jesus Christ will feel the painful difference between his sin and Christ’s holiness, both before and after conversion. If a sinful thought occurs in his mind, he should blush as a result.
That’s just the problem. Many Christians today are no different from the world, from those they should supersede morally and the ones they’re trying to convert. We’ve forgotten how to vomit and how to blush, both as a church and as a society. Like the adulterous woman in Proverbs, we eat, wipe our mouths, and tell ourselves that we have “done no wickedness” (30:20). We feel no shame, no prick of conscience. Sin does not make us physically ill. If anyone should vomit at the thought of sin, it is a Christian. Too often, we don’t.
Is our sinful nature eradicated after conversion? Pentecostals say ‘yes,’ Baptists ‘no.’ We should not sin as Christians, but whether or not we are capable of sin – in our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies – is still a point of contention. We are given a new nature at conversion, but does it eradicate the old sinful nature or ‘run alongside’ it so that we must fight evil within daily? I do know this: only God cannot sin and we are not God, even after conversion. Sin cannot enter heaven, but by then we will be totally cleansed and removed from all earthly temptation.
Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O Lord. – Psalm 83:16
The only remedy for our spiritual amnesia, our lack of shame over sin, is encountering Jesus Christ daily in worship, prayer, and Bible study. Only then will we learn how to blush when we encounter sin in our lives. Only then will our desire for holiness prick the consciences of the unrepentant, even if they mock us, and lead the spiritually awakened to want something better than the moral pig sty they’re steeped in. Only then will we transform our world for Jesus Christ.