Isaiah 6:5 -Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Acts 2:37 -Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Is it just me, or is conviction of sin a topic that you don’t hear preached as often as it once was? Apparently we’ve only looked at this topic at Christianity 201 once before. Another one, which I see we’ve covered more frequently there is assurance of salvation. Still, I find certain themes are just not heard so often in the modern church. When was the last time you saw an altar call for people wanting assurance?
But back to conviction. A few weeks ago a friend shared with me after church that he felt God was impressing something on his heart. As he talked, I was reminded of the movie The Color Purple (which I haven’t seen and I’m not necessarily recommending) and the song, “Maybe God is Trying to Tell You Something.”
Can’t sleep at night and you wonder why
Maybe God is trying to tell you something
Crying all night long, something’s gone wrong
Maybe God is trying to tell you something
Have you ever felt conviction? At Acts 17:11 Bible Studies we read,
The first work of the Holy Spirit is the conviction of sin. If we are temples of the Spirit, His presence, His name in us will convict us, and others, of sin. We will feel more affinity towards those who, like us, long for more conviction, repentance, and the power of God to live a life that will stand the test of fire.
Often there is confusion between the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting us, and work of the enemy in condemning us. This is from the website of Marriage Missions International:
It is important for those of us who are born again Christians, to know that there is a huge difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the enemy of our faith, because it can affect how we approach life.
Please, let there be no confusion. The Holy Spirit works to convict us to push away from the ensnarement of sin (doing that which is wrong) and towards God in freedom. The condemning spirit of the enemy of our faith works to push us away from God in shame and condemnation, so we are more prone in hopelessness, to continue to do what we should NOT. (emphasis added)
In researching this topic, I found a very lengthy article at the website Outside the Camp. In a list of the various roles the Holy Spirit plays in our lives, one stood out:
- The Holy Spirit sanctifies
So the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit is just one of many things He brings. Paul writes to Titus:
3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (emphasis added)
But the initial repentance and confession at the moment of salvation is not the end. Sanctification is a process; a life-long process. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul says,
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Nathan Bingham writes:
Regeneration is a momentary act, bringing a person from spiritual death to life. It is exclusively God’s work. Sanctification is an ongoing process, dependent on God’s continuing action in the believer, and consisting of the believer’s continuous struggle against sin.
Different denominations teach different things about how and when this works. In one church I attended, they spoke of “Saved, sanctified and filled with the spirit.” Was that the order in which these occur? The phrase “second blessing” or “second work of grace” is often used. But in other churches, the gift of tongues (or more generally, the filling of the Spirit) is called the second blessing. For this, we turn to that great theological source (!) that is Wikipedia:
According to some Christian traditions, a second work of grace is a transforming interaction with God which may occur in the life of a Christian. The defining characteristics of this event are that it is separate from and subsequent to salvation (the first work of grace), and that it brings about significant changes in the life of the believer.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that there were two distinct phases in the Christian experience. During the first phase, conversion, the believer received forgiveness and became a Christian. During the second phase, sanctification, the believer was purified and made holy. Wesley taught both that sanctification could be an instantaneous experience, and that it could be a gradual process.
Regardless of your theological take on the subject of sanctification, I hope and pray you have moments where you are open to the voice of God speaking to you about sin in your life. This conviction is a gift from God, though often we don’t see it as such. Maybe God is trying to tell you something.
2 Cor 7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”
Go Deeper: The opening verses are from 22 Bible Verses about Conviction of Sin.