Due to a rising sense of sin, many genuine Christians, as they grow in grace, may occasionally have doubts arise as to the assurance of their conversion. We can feel that grace is declining when our awareness of inner corruption is growing. Our pride, our lusts and other corruptions swell up in our breasts and so we wonder if our conversion is real, or at least wonder where God is in all of this. Rather than being comforted, we feel extraordinary discomfort. We become worried and irritated and wonder how it is that we feel guiltier than ever.
If you are complaining to yourself in this way, let me ask you this: Were these corruptions in you before you began to sense their reality? If you are human you answered in the affirmative. You may have noticed them before but not been humbled by them, but now your soul is vexed and brought low by them. This might seem strange but actually you are finally judging yourself aright. This is not a sign of grace decay and decline but, on the contrary, a sign that you are growing in grace. If you notice your sin more, it is because you have more light, because the Lord has made you more sensitive to it. This is actually a sign that God united you to Himself in Christ, and a sign of a thriving Christian. For if God is with you, you will be more discomforted than ever in the presence of your own sin. This means the Spirit is doing His work. The result is that we may think ourselves even more vile sinners than we previously thought. Christian, take note, if this is the case, this is not the love of sin growing in your heart but the love of the Savior. You only make this judgment against yourself because God has made you His and jealously desires your entire heart. That you now finally take notice of these things means that the gospel is at work in you, and additionally, that sin will no longer keep you in bondage but that the Lord is now both freeing you and purging sin from you. The sense of it and the growing distaste for it is the evidence that He is saving you from both the guilt and power of sin. The Son of God has arisen in your bosom and thus the cold glacier has begun to melt as His warmth and love fills you. So if you feel the pangs of more sin in your heart as a Christian see it as a sign that the Lord is moving you on to greater maturity, not less. It seems most dark before sunrise. So if you are irritated rather than comforted, it is not a sign that grace is declining … more likely it is a sign that it is increasing. Humility is better developed in harsh conditions than under the mild comfort of a San Diego day.