We attempted a vegetable garden this past season. The emphasis is on attempted as rabbits ate most of the plants. Deer ate the rest. We did grow tons of weeds, though, so that counts, right?
We suspected it survived because it was hidden away from little rabbit eyes by weeds. They just did not see it, we initially thought. Boy were we wrong. We should have realized it was spared because the peppers on it were hotter than the surface of the sun. Even starving rabid wild animals are not that hungry.
We stumbled upon the plant while weeding. Being a manly man, I thought it would be a good idea to try them with no recollection of the type of pepper we had planted. Arsenic pepper, Portuguese Insanity pepper, no problem, I thought as I bit down on the tiny green vegetable of doom. I don’t even like spicy food.
The small bite immediately felt like a nuclear explosion of heat in my mouth and soon made my eye balls feel on fire. It left me doubled over coughing from the heat trying to get it out of my mouth.
Two generations of manly men ended up with tears streaming down their faces pouring gallons of milk over molten taste buds. We were desperately trying to put out the fusion reaction of capsaicin in our mouths.
Though we eventually were able to get the pain to stop, a funny after effect lingered. Neither one of us could taste much of anything for a while. Our taste buds having been assaulted by the peppers of hell had been cauterized and burned over. They were scarred and less sensitive as a result. Pain caused the receptors to be dulled for a time so that it was hard to detect any further pain.
If we had the desire to eat more peppers it would have been easier to do so. We just would not have felt it as much. Each time thereafter would have further dulled the impact until the peppers we had just eaten would have seemed like sweet peppers to us. Our mouths would have ended up deadened and charred but the peppers would not have hurt as much. It is a terrible trade off.
The same scarring process takes place with sin in our lives.
Sin is just like the little green peppers of vengeance that brought us such pain. It brings an immediate reaction to those whose sensors are not scarred over. It causes an initial open and obvious reaction in our spirits if we are followers of Christ. It also causes our sensitivity to that sin to be affected in the short term. The great pain of the sin causes our receptors to be dulled for a time and our decision from that point determines for how long. It is like a warning siren being turned down a notch every time it is used. Pretty soon we just cannot hear it.
If we choose to continue in the sin, the more we do it and then get used to sin, the less we feel it.
This process explains the people on the earth at the time of Noah or in the town of Sodom. They had willfully chosen sin so many times that their receptors were completely burnt out. Their thoughts were continually evil and they thought nothing of it. The warning sign was not only not audible, they had taken it down and broken it into a million pieces. There may be people that we know who are in this condition currently.
The Bible talks about us having a conscience. Our conscience as a believer works through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the one that moves us away from the world and toward Jesus. He is the one that writes God’s law on our hearts and helps us want to do good and flee evil. When we are told to set our minds on things above, the spiritual and not the carnal, it is only through the Holy Spirit that we have the power to do that.
When we have the person of the Holy Spirit working in us and we choose to deliberately sin, it is therefore very much like the pepper burning our taste buds. The word used in the Bible that we translate as searing in 1 Timothy 2, people with their consciences seared, describes the old medical technique of cauterization. If someone had an open wound they heated metal until it was white hot and then burned area. The terrible heat would stop the bleeding and close the wound but it was at a price. It did so by destroying all of the tissue in the area and burning the ends of blood vessels. The person would not bleed to death, but it was tremendously painful. The patient would also never feel anything again because of all of the dead nerve endings and scar tissue that would form.
It is gross to think about but God is making a point for us to understand.
When we choose to sin against the Holy Spirit inspired conscience in our lives an injury occurs. That ability to tell good from evil is burned by the iniquity as if it came into contact with a great heat. The more we bring the conscience into contact with the heat source the more damage is caused. The more damage that is caused, the less we are going to feel sin the next time and be able to avoid it.
The less we are able to avoid sin, the more damage incurred. The heat can come in great and terrible amounts with great and terrible sins like Sodom. It also can be a like a small fire slowly burning up areas one by one like a life consumed by legalism.
Are we following the pattern here?
God wants us to flee sin. Run completely away. He has given us the power to detect sin, even the smallest if we just stop and listen. He has given us the power to be free from sin.
I never want to willingly eat one of the Dante’s Inferno peppers again but I need to choose not to do so. I must do everything possible in the future to avoid them. I cannot forget the pain or lie to myself and think they will eventually taste good. Anything that looks like one of those little devils will come nowhere near my mouth. My taste buds have recovered and I will not put them through that again. I will flee all salsas rather than taking that risk.
Do we have that same determination with our sin? Are we willing to run away when in doubt or when we feel that conscience of ours poking at us?
Have we been searing our conscience? Are we fleeing from the sins and weights that so easily beset us?
If not, stop today before there is nothing left but a smoldering wreck where our conscience once lived.