I believe we can know our true spiritual state by how troubled we become over our slightest sin against our Lord.
Some Christians only grieve over what they consider the “big sins”—adultery, drug abuse, drinking, cursing. But the truly spiritual person knows that no sin is small in God's sight and so he grieves every time he gossips, tells a dirty joke or has a lingering evil thought. He knows these things spring from his heart, the very center of his being.
You can disobey God in such “small things,” excusing yourself and forgetting all about them. But if you do, you will never mature in Christ. Your righteousness is measured by your unwillingness to accept anything that grieves your blessed Savior.
Not long ago, I said something very un-Christlike to my wife. My words were totally uncalled for, and I immediately fell under conviction. I knew I’d wronged her, so I asked her forgiveness; then I hugged her and told her I loved her.
But my mind was still troubled. I thought, “How could I be capable of something so unlike Jesus? After all, I've never been closer to the Lord. I've never prayed more than I have in the past year. I must be utterly wicked to have such a crude thing spring out of my heart.”
In that moment, the enemy whispered to me, “That little slip-up was no big deal. It was such a small thing.” But the Holy Spirit immediately rose up in my heart to refute the devil's voice. He reassured me, “David, the very fact you’re grieving over this sin is proof I’m at work in you. The more you grieve over even the smallest transgression against My love, the closer you get to victory.”
God sent His Spirit to us to wage war against our flesh and its desires and lusts. So, if you aren't troubled when you fail—if you are able to shake off your sin with no sense of guilt, sorrow or regret—then the Holy Spirit is not in you doing warfare.
“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner” (2 Corinthians 7:9).
If you are being convicted by even the lightest transgression, you are close to true victory. He is winning the battle in your heart by producing a godly sorrow that leads to true repentance.