Godly conviction and all of its potency, has been misconstrued as condemnation.
The Bible says in Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Condemnation is not of God, but is a way for the devil to keep people under his thumb—where they never feel worthy to know and love God, or never feel good enough to be loved by Him.
Conviction by God’s Holy Spirit on the other hand is not only needed but should be welcomed. I love the way Oswald Chambers describes it.
Conviction of sin is best described in the words:
“My sins, my sins, my Savior, How sad on Thee they fall.”
Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight . . .” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy.
Justification happens when we accept Christ as Savior. By the mercy of God, we are free from the penalty of our former sin—justification, by faith in Jesus we are declared righteous. The process/life of a Christian does not stop at justification, but begins there. What follows is sanctification. By the grace of God we become holy and learn to live righteously. The work of sanctification is ongoing victory over sin.
Conviction is part of the Christian life—it’s interlaced in the work of sanctification—it is vital for the transformation process of holiness.
The Bible says “Be holy for I am holy” (1 peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44). We won’t be holy as God is holy without the recognition of our un-holiness!
1 John 1:8-10
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
If we were perfect and never crossed the lines of holiness, then we would not need godly conviction.
Where conviction and condemnation get all mixed-up, is when one’s own heart and soul confuse and complicate the two.
Whenever we hear or read, the powerful, Word of God, it should cause us to examine our life and behavior—therefore align ourselves to His Word. The confusion comes when our heart, mind, will and emotions don’t want to get aligned.
A heart that is hard or judgmental will hear God’s Word and feel condemnation. A person who lives with a spirit of offence will be offended at the Word and blame the preacher/messenger for being condemning or too harsh. A prideful rebellious heart will rebel against the Holy Spirit’s conviction and manipulate the words to be condemning. A religious person will turn the prompting of the Holy Spirit into another reason to complain.
The sad thing about this, is that the person with the twisted perception never progresses in their relationship with God. Whereas one whose heart is tender will realize when their life, behavior, heart and soul don’t necessarily line up to God’s Word and will repent. Thus—such humility will lead one into God’s presence, where we can know Him personally.
The Christian life is not about being perfect but about relationship with Christ and if that relationship comes by way of Holy Spirit conviction—urging me to become more like Christ and drawing me closer to Him—then I’m all in!
What about you?
Please be encouraged to soften your heart and embrace godly conviction.
Coming up in the next blog—the counterpart to godly conviction: True Repentance
And when he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.