Introspection is not like walking in the sunlight on a summer day. Instead, it is like going down dungeon steps with a sputtering candle in your hand. The tiny light throws long shadows and dimly shows up skeletons, spider webs, and gross, crawly things. These are the things in our past which have been done to us or which we have done and are ashamed of. They include our imagination.
A person who is addicted to introspection keeps going deeper into this dead dungeon or inspects the same skeletons over and over again. The candle is not a very good light and never provides a solution to his awful, macabre past. The fascination with this subject matter is never a source of joy. It is a cause of depression. It is probably the primary cause of depression in people with melancholic, perfectionist personalities.
The Conviction of the Judge
Introspection says things like “How awful!” “How gross!” “The Lord won’t have me now.” “If I were God, I would not forgive me.” Introspection is a downer, not an upper. It is accusative, not convicting.
In a court of law, there is a difference between the accuser and the convicter. The accuser is the prosecuting attorney, and the convicter is the judge. The prosecuting attorney seeks to prove guilt, and the judge decides if it has been proven. Once the judge makes his decision, the trial is over. However, the prosecutor will continue to say the person is guilty even if the judge says he is not.
In the Bible, Satan is the accuser. The Holy Spirit is the convicter.
The Perfect Light
The alternative to introspection and its negative results is found in 1 John 1:5-10. I will quote verses 5 and 7: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all…. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
This light is the source of all light. It is not a candle flickering in the darkness. There are no shadows. James 1:17 says: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Given that this light is complete, if we walk in it, nothing is hidden. Sin is shown in convicting power as opposed to accusing power. The sin is forgiven immediately, because the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing. Fellowship is normal, because we are in the light, and we are made clean continually. Obedience is a natural result of the conviction and cleansing.
There is a wonderful example of this kind of conviction-cleansing-fellowship-obedience in Isaiah 6:1-8:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.It was not introspection that made Isaiah conscious of his sin; it was being in the presence of God. He was in the light. He could not keep quiet about his sin; he could not hide. As soon as he confessed his sin, he was forgiven. As soon as he was forgiven, he was ready to be obedient.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
You may say that you have never been forgiven that fast. Perhaps you’ve felt that way because of the accuser instead of the convicter/cleanser. The accuser does not want anyone to be forgiven.
Walking in the Light
Next time you find yourself tending towards introspection, refuse to do it. Instead, come to the light. How? Pray Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Look up, not in. You do not have to look for sin. You will find sin much more quickly, starkly, and with a solution attached if you come to God and the completed work of Jesus Christ.