What is Sin Consciousness and Why is it Harmful?

Jan 27, 2022Theology0 comments

You may be surprised to learn that the phrase “sin consciousness” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. However, having sin consciousness is real. And, it is a thing that can be very harmful.

Consciousness and Conscience

Having consciousness of something can easily be confused with having a conscience. These are not the same thing. A conscience is a noun. To have a conscience is to have and feel the awareness of the moral nature of one’s actions. Our actions can lead to having a conscience that is good, bad, guilty, or clean. If you do good and right things, you should have a clean conscience. If you do bad things, you should have a guilty conscience. Our conscience can also be seared. In 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul explains that a seared conscience is one that has been rendered useless by the willful act of constantly lying.  

Consciousness, in the context of this discussion, is an adjective; a word that means to be alerted to, or acutely aware of the noun it describes. So, what is sin consciousness? It is to be conscious of, acutely aware of, your sin. You are conscious of your thoughts, attitudes, or actions that are contrary to God’s will and His perfect character of love.

When is Sin Consciousness Helpful?

When a person is not in a right relationship with God, it’s imperative that he or she realizes their condition. Many have been told a convenient lie that there is no God. Therefore, nothing is truly right or wrong, and there is no such thing as a moral compass to follow. We might have been told whatever makes us feel good is good, whatever makes us feel bad, is bad. This, of course, is tempting, but utterly ridiculous.

The truly fortunate among us will quickly become conscious of our sin problem. This is when sin consciousness is most helpful.

Sin consciousness leads to searching for an answer, a solution, a way out of the wages of sin, which is death. How can my sins be forgiven? How can I escape the penalty for my transgressions? None of us is perfect. No one except Jesus ever lived a perfect life. Therefore, accepting His perfection in place of ours provides the only viable way out. God swore a blood covenant oath to the effect that we are accepted and made righteous the moment we choose Jesus to be our Covenant Lord.

When is Sin Consciousness Harmful?

John 8:36 says we are free indeed. Romans 5:17 says Jesus gave us the gift of righteousness we did not earn. We are accepted and made righteous the moment we choose Jesus to be our Covenant Lord.

Our challenge now is to live like we believe this. Continuing to focus on sin consciousness after salvation is a big problem. What led us to seek our freedom, can keep us bound to our past and unable to enjoy our freedom. False humility says, “I am just a sinner saved by grace.” True humility says, “I was just a sinner, but by grace, I am now a righteous, redeemed, and altogether new creature in Christ.”  

Many churches focus on making members constantly aware of and focusing their attention on their sin. This will only draw them back into sin, not away from it. We need to become more conscious of our gifted righteousness. We need to replace sin consciousness with righteousness consciousness. In my next blog, I will focus on how to embrace righteousness consciousness, and enjoy its fruit.

Photo by Mahdi Bafande on Unsplash


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