The Christian is like a teabag; its strength or weakness is only discovered by hot water. If we believe in the doctrine of total depravity; (i.e. that the fall of man in Adam brought him into a state where every area of his life is corrupted and the seeds of every sin lie dormant), we will in part understand the importance of knowing ourselves and the level of corruption in us all. It behooves the Christian then to search his heart and life often for evidence of sins springing up (Psalm 139:23-24). How many have looked back in life and said “I never saw it coming” or “I can’t believe I let myself get caught up in that.” There are two reasons why the Christian is overtaken by sin (Galatians 6:1) and the discovery of these two reasons is often why the Lord brings affliction into our lives.
The Discovery of Latent Sins
Latent corruption and unsubdued propensities to sin are often discovered in times of temptation and humiliation. We are in danger of becoming ignorant of the fact of sin in our lives and we never suspect its existence until some temptation comes and we are thrown out of orbit. Job discovered things about himself that he never knew before, and he could say at the end of his trials in 42;6 “I abhor myself and repent.” How often our weaknesses and insincerity and imperfect motives are revealed in the crucible.
The Discovery of Lax Standards
It is easy in the Christian life to become complacent and dependant on the status quo. Our standards slip and we get into a routine of lazy habits of sanctification and devotion. Very often when affliction comes, or perhaps even when we see trials on the horizon we are jolted into a realisation of what we really are in heart and where we are in life. This is the reason why the preacher (Ecclesiastes 7:2) said it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting; in order to lay the solemnity, brevity and vanity of life to heart. For the faithful Christian in times of affliction there is always a fresh discovery of the grace of God in the life. If Job had abhorred himself (42:6) without seeing Christ (19:25) he would have been left without hope. While Job looked at himself in abhorrence it was by looking to Christ in adoration that he found hope in a hopeless situation.