Following on from my previous post, it should be clear that the Holy Spirit was sent to convict the world of not believing in Jesus the Son of God, and not to convict us of sin in general.
As a result of this realisation a good question arises; which is, “if I feel guilty because of sin, what is the source of my conviction if it’s not the Holy Spirit?”
The following is a discussion on the four sources of conviction, in ascending order of prominence starting with; drum-roll, Satan.
No. 1 The Adversary
Starting with the least frequent sources of guilt on a daily basis. Yes that’s right, it’s Satan.
As Individuals we need to realise that the devil is the most infrequent source of our personal convictions of sin and the accompanying guilt.
Satan is not only a single entity but he’s also neither omnipotent or omnipresent. He isn’t speaking to all of us, all the time, on every occasion.
Revelations 12:9-11, tells us that Satan the devil is the accuser of God’s people. Not to diminish the destructive power evil has had on the earth – evil spirits will accuse us where they have an opportunity.
However, Satan’s accusations are focused before the throne of God. The clearest demonstration of this activity is in Job 1:6-12, where he effectively accuses God of buying Job’s devotion and worship.
Now I want you to understand evil spirits are real and active today, and it is possible to find yourself under attack from them. Jesus regularly drove out evil spirits, that held people captive to sickness and disease. So, If you are experiencing a continual, nagging conviction, and the source is an evil spirit then it’s more than likely one of the angels that fell with Lucifer during the rebellion against God.
If this is the case let’s remember that the devil and his companions are liars.
These evil spirits are ancient and well practised in their art of deception and Satan is the father of them all.
His true nature is revealed in John 8:44.
This enemy will try to whisper in your ear, as he did at the very beginning to Eve. Therefore, guard your heart and mind from this corrupting foe, and do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing his distortions as the truth.
Remember that, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,’ Romans 8:1. And as you stand in your authority as a child of God, declaring the truth – the Word of God – over your situation, Satan and all other evil spirits have to flee.
No. 2 The Prophet
The conviction of sin may come through the message of a Prophet
This is a broad category and may include anyone from the Minister preaching a sermon to the cautionary word of a friend, and on the rare occasion a talking donkey, Numbers 22:28-32.
Today’s Ministers are in good company as, even though the written word of the biblical law was available to Jesus, he chose to speak to people through parables and sermons. And while this is probably the softest approach and is therefore the easiest to dismiss. If while listening to a sermon, you feel the sting of a conviction through the words spoken to you, and if you are looking for spiritual growth, responding to the message of the preacher is important.
Then of course is the Prophetic Word.
Spoken to you by an individual with a specific message from God, this is relatively rare and usually given when a major course correction is required. An example of this is seen in the life of King David; as the King he could do whatever he wanted when ever he wanted as all legal rights were his own. However when he committed adultery and murder it took the words of the prophet Nathan to bring him back to his senses. At the realisation of how offensive his actions had been to God, David declares to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” and in recognition of his need for repentance he wrote, Psalm 51. Followed by him joining his army in battle against the Ammonite towns, which as the head of the Lords army is where he should have been all along.
While I have given a different category to the Prophet and Biblical Law they are intrinsically joined. A sermon, a prophetic word or a friends advice must always be in alignment with the bible, and so we move onto number three.
No. 3 Religious Law
The Torah the first five books of the bible contain the law as they were revealed to the people of Israel through Moses.
If you have not yet grasped the significance of the grace that is afforded to you by the crucifixion of Jesus, and you try to read your bible on a regular basis. Then it’s likely that you will feel at nearly every turn of the page that God is judging you.
However, as a result of God’s love, all of our guilt and shame has been poured out on Jesus at the cross, and we no longer stand before God condemned, Romans 8:1. As we receive Jesus as Lord of our lives, we will be able to see that all of the curses that would have been ours, no longer apply to those who are in Christ.
Paul, writing to Timothy encourages us all to remember.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We all need to be disciplined by the written word, we make mistakes and have challenging behaviour. The key point to remember is that there is no penance to be paid for our failings and weaknesses. We are only called to repentance – a changing of our mind – resulting in a change of behaviour.
Ultimately the purpose of all the scriptures is to reveal Jesus to us, and not to send us on a never ending guilt trip. In the same way the work of the Prophet, and the Written Word of God is to bring us back into alignment with God’s plan for your life.
No. 4 The Conscience
Our own consciences can be the loudest accuser often sounding like a claxon on repeat.
Lastly is the conscience, we forget that our sins have been brought before the Father and are no longer remembered by Him, Hebrews 8:12.
Do we need to make adjustments to our behaviour and acknowledge the promptings of our conscience?
Yes, most certainly we do, In Romans 7 we see that even the Apostle Paul struggled with his desire to sin, but he also knew that there was, 'Now no condemnation for those who belonged to Christ Jesus' Romans 8:1.
We have peace with God as, the mechanism provided by God for us to have clean hands and pure hearts and be free from guilt; was to have his laws written on our hearts.
God declared that he would change our hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26-27. Resulting in us being able to trust our hearts as much as they are yielded to Christ, and we do what pleases the Father.
To make things clear Paul wrote in Titus 1:15, "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled". By the blood of Jesus we have been made pure, and the Spirit helps in our weakness to lead us into obedience to God. For this reason we can call God our Father this being made possible through the Holy Spirit living in us, Romans 8:15.
The crucifixion has permanently tipped the scales of justice in our favour. By giving us His Holy Spirit, God has giving us a pre-eminent advocate. An eternal reminder, one who will always defend and point us towards Jesus.
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