Saturday, January 10, 2009

Conviction or Condemnation?

As Christians, we talk about being convicted or having convictions. Convictions are a result of being convinced of something. When we read G-d's Word or hear the Word of G-d preached, the Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts and reveal things to us. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of G-d, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of G-d may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." II Timothy 3:16,17

Paul, in the next chapter, verse 2, exhorts Timothy to, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

G-d's Word is what it should take to convince us......or rather, convict us. Whether we read it or hear it preached, the reproof, the correction and instruction are used by the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, if we will yield our hearts to Him.

Notice that the word doctrine is important, as it is mentioned in both passages. The reproof, instruction, correction when coming from G-d's Word, must be in line with sound doctrine.

John chapter 8 recounts the story of the woman taken in adultery. Jesus wrote something on the ground, then told the accusing Pharisees in vs. 7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Then he wrote on the ground again. Verse 9 tells us, "And when they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one...."

These Pharisees condemned this woman; but the L-rd had mercy, telling her to go and sin no more, and turning to the Pharisees, used their consciences to convict them.

G-d gave each of us a conscience. We can heed it and feed it, or we can ignore it and sear it. When we read or hear the W-rd of G-d, the Holy Spirit uses the words of G-d to prick our conscience, convicting us of sin in our lives. The ball is then in our court to decide whether to repent and forsake that sin, or to ignore and harden our heart against the Word.

The Apostle Paul had to instruct and reprimand the church in Corinth over some serious issues. He did it out of love, but nevertheless, it wasn't an easy message to get across. But the folks in that church took it to heart, and the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts, which caused Paul to, "rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner......For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." II Cor. 7:9, 10

Paul further went on to explain how their godly sorrow brought forth fruit in their lives: "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." vs. 11

So here we find two kinds of sorrow: G-dly sorrow and the sorrow of the world. These two different sorrows produce two different results. We are told that g-dly sorrow produces repentance to salvation. Worldly sorrow produces death. How is that?

G-dly sorrow is produced when we see that we have sinned against G-d. When we have g-dly sorrow, we want to make things right. Like the Corinthian church, this kind of sorrow causes us to do whatever we need to do in order to make things right and revenge the sin in our lives!

Worldly sorrow results when our conscience condemns us, but we don't know what to do about it, so the sorrow we have is destructive. The enemy uses it against us to defeat us, and to cause us to try to escape by various other means. Depression, discouragement, despair, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness are a result of that kind of sorrow.

Herein lies the confusion that many have between conviction and condemnation.

The L-rd made sure that Paul penned these very reassuring words for us in Romans 8:1---
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

When we have been convinced and convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, according to His Word (sound doctrine), and have repented and renounced that sin, we are forgiven! When we then walk after the Spirit, seeking to live for the L-rd, not living a carnal, flesh-fulfilling life, then we should not know any condemnation!

When we are in Christ, we are no longer condemned, under sin. The enemy will do all he can to defeat us by throwing our past sins and failures into our face, making us feel that there is no hope. That is NOT conviction, dear friend. True heart conviction comes from the Holy Spirit; condemnation comes from the enemy.
I think, perhaps, that when we get away from the L-rd, there is a nagging on our conscience that goes beyond conviction of sin, to one of condemnation as well.

Next time you feel worthless and under condemnation, examine your heart. Have you repented and forsaken these sins? Are they under the Blood of Jesus Christ? If so, then recognize that the enemy is trying his best to put you under his condemnation to rob you of your joy in the L-rd, and thus your strength to serve the L-rd.

For the believer, conviction of sin is from the L-rd; condemnation is not.

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