John MacArthur has written a fascinating book, "The Vanishing Conscience: Drawing the Line in a No-Faith, Guilt-Free World. on sin and its importance regarding the gospel. He begins by surveying how the culture views sin. In short, the culture has done all that it can to so minimize the doctrine and necessity of sin that the notion of such an idea is virtually non-existent. He argues that the rise of modern psychology is a major threat to the gospel. Psychology suggests that our problem isn't sin, but guilt. Not that we are guilty of wronging God, but we are guilty of feeling guilty. Guilt is the great sin to our culture. Therefore, we emphasize self-esteem and self-help remedies all in hopes of removing guilt.
As a result, our culture has become guilt-free. We would rather pat ourselves on our backs rather than submit in sackcloth in ashes. Modern psychology, MacArthur rightly argues, has convinced man of his innate goodness rather than his own depravity. Such a conviction convinces the sinner that they are in right standing before God. Nothing could be farther from the truth and nothing hinders the unredeemed from turning to the gospel.
This, I am assuming, is one of MacArthur's least popular books. Who wants to hear this message in our culture? That's the whole point. It isn't just our culture that is turned off by the concept of sin, but every human hates such a doctrine. The doctrine of sin is offensive to all humans. But unless we guide others into understanding their lostness and desperate state before God, no one will turn to the gospel. The gospel is an offense. We'll just have to get over it.
But MacArthur doesn't just offer a message of "you're a sinner, you need to repent," but offers practical ways in which the redeemed soul can strive towards holiness after conversion. I found this helpful and almost uncharacteristic of MacArthur. Usually, he is straightforward in exhorting us on what to do, but usually does little on how to do it. In this book, however, MacArthur spends a good bit of time on conquering sin our lives.
This is an interesting book and a rare book at that. It is difficult to find a book in our culture solely on the issue of sin, the conscience, and how to conquer sin in our lives. It is rare to read a book that takes what Scripture says on the subject as a whole and boil it down into simple words that almost anyone can understand. I recommend this book, not because it is the best written by MacArthur, but because its message remains relevant today. Man continues to believe that they are innately good when in fact they are innately evil. Such a conviction creates a lot of problems and MacArthur helps the reader overcome sin and understand how the culture deals with the doctrine and how it tries to deny it.