John 8:9 – And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
To the extent that we give way to our will in sinning, to that extent we set ourselves at a distance from comfort. Sin against conscience is a thief in the candle, which spoils our joy, and thereby weakens our strength. We must know, therefore, that willful breaches in sanctification will much hinder the sense of our justification. – Richard Sibbes – “The Bruised Reed”
When we sin against the conscience and do not deal with our sin, we are cutting off the comfort and joy of the Holy Ghost. Sibbes uses the illustration of a “thief in the candle.” Back in the 1600’s when about the only light at night was candle light, this illustration might have made perfect sense, but not today. A “thief” in the candle is when the wick is cut too short or burns too low and the wax begins to “gutter” around the wick and almost drowns it. The light then becomes very weak when there is not enough oxygen getting to wick. The result is a very weak light.
When we sin against the conscience as a saved, born again Christian, this is a willful choice. When you are born again, Christ puts his Spirit inside you so have power over sin. When you sin now, you have a choice. Before salvation you had a free-will but had no power within to over come sin. When you sin now, you grieve or quench the Spirit of God because you have overcoming power you are not using. Do you ever wonder why you get grumpy at times, feel spiritually weak, and don’t have any joy. Maybe it is because you are sinning against your conscience and just going ahead and doing something because you always have and become very comfortable with it. You may have gotten used to the darkness of your candle your conscience has become so seared.
The passage above in John 8 is about a bunch of Pharisees being reminded about unconfessed sin in their past by Christ. They became convicted in their conscience when they were judging the woman taken in adultery. They would not deal with the same sin in their own life. They suddenly lost their joy and righteous indignation as they slinked away under guilt. When we sin against conscience, we also lose a sense of our sanctification and justification. We no longer appreciate that Christ set us apart to live holy. We do not value forgiveness of our sin and having His righteousness.
It is so important that we do not willfully sin against conscience and grieve the Spirit of God. You might get used to living in the dark. We will quench the joy and strength that comes from the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. Make sure your lamp is properly trimmed and you don’t drown in your wax. Don’t let a thief get into your candle.