To make chili powder, you must first dry the chili peppers, then remove the stems and grind them up. A lot of the heat is in the seeds, so I, being a wimp when it comes to hot peppers, shook out the loose seeds as well—habaneros are hot enough as is. I had enough sense to wear latex gloves while handling these babies, but that is where good sense stopped. When I took the lid off the grinder to see if any pieces remained intact, the cloud of chili powder, totally invisible to the naked eye, rose up into my face. How did I know? My nose started running, my lips started burning, and I sneezed nearly a dozen times. I had pepper-maced myself. I am so very glad I had reading glasses on. I do not know what might have happened to these poor eyes! I know people who don’t even use gloves to work with hot peppers, but next time I will reach for a gas mask!
Sin and conscience work the same way. Especially nowadays when sophistication is judged by how little one allows sinful behavior to shock him, we have a tendency to think we can sin indiscriminately and feel just fine about ourselves afterwards. What was it Paul said about the idolatrous pagans? For when Gentiles who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the law of God is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts either accuse or even excuse themselves, Rom 2:14,15. You can’t get away from your conscience no matter how sophisticated you think you are.
The scriptures are littered with people who suffered pangs of conscience. Adam and Eve hid themselves after they had sinned. The brothers of Joseph twice confessed their sin against their brother, attributing all the bad things that happened in Egypt with the hostile “Egyptian” ruler as their just recompense. Pharaoh, of all people, said to Moses and Aaron, This time I have sinned. The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong, Ex 9:27. David sinned more than the once we often focus on. His “heart smote him” after he numbered the people in 2 Sam 24 and his psalms of repentance after the sin against Bathsheba and Uriah abound with overwhelming guilt.
Herod was so wrought with guilt after killing John that he thought Jesus was John coming back from the dead. Peter’s denial caused him to “weep bitterly,” while Judas’s betrayal led to suicide. Even Paul, a man who surely knew he was forgiven, called himself “the chiefest of sinners” to the end of his life.
And we think we can get away with sin and have it not affect us? Guilt is like that burning chili pepper cloud. You can’t see it, but your conscience will still feel its effects, and if you don’t deal with it, you will lead a miserable life--at least until you burn that conscience out as if you had “branded it with a hot iron,” 1 Tim 4:2.
Do you know how to get rid of the pain of burning chili peppers? Dairy products. If you forget your gloves and those oils get under your nails or in a nick or cut, soak your hands in milk. That is also why there is usually a dollop of sour cream on most Mexican dishes.
Do you know how to get rid of the pain of a burning conscience? Soak it in the blood of Christ. It works wonders.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Heb 9:13,14.