A few months back, I started feeling the beginning of a sinus infection. I treated myself with some over-the-counter medicine that did little more than cover the symptoms, making them seem less intense for a short while. While I avoided going to the doctor, the root of the problem was increasing in strength. When it got out of hand, I went to the doctor. I got the right remedy that not only made me feel better momentarily, but removed the root of the problem. Treating only the symptoms had allowed a sinus infection to culminate into full blown bronchitis bordering on pneumonia.
The root of sin cannot be eradicated with manmade remedies. It’s like trying to change the color of your hair. You can cover it, but you can’t change it from the roots. The real color will show again before long. Try as we may, we cannot control our tendencies to sin. When we think we have things under control, we find that jealousy, temper, lust and bitterness pop up to prove us wrong. We cannot control ourselves against the power of sin because it is inherent, part of our makeup. We can’t get rid of it with OTC religion. We can’t do enough good deeds, give enough money to the church, or learn enough doctrine to make us righteousness. We need sin uprooted, not just covered or controlled. Nobody likes to admit that they can’t conquer sin. But that confession is the first step in being free from it. Jesus can set us free from sin because He changes us at the root – from the inside out. He removes the old root (sin) and replaces it with His root (righteousness).
Jesus told His disciples,“Nevertheless 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 depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”(John 16:7-12, NKJV)
Jesus is speaking here about the Holy Spirit as the Helper. But how is convicting us of sin being a Helper to us? Most people confuse conviction with condemnation. Conviction and condemnation are two very different things. Conviction means to tell someone their fault or to bring it to light. Conviction uncovers the wrong in order to allow for repentance and change. It offers a better way. Condemnation offers no hope. It accuses and sentences with finality. It usually comes as a spirit of darkness and doom that overwhelms us. Jesus clearly stated that He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to bring life and light. There will come a day of final judgment when there will be no recourse. But for now, we live in a day of grace and hope. That is why it is so imperative for the Spirit to show us our need for a Savior now while there is still time. It is a great kindness to us. If I was going to stand before a group to make a presentation and you saw that I had a terrible stain on my white blouse, I would much rather you tell me while I could do something about it rather than keeping quiet and waiting until I saw it myself when it was too late for me to change. Conviction is like a friend warning us of danger ahead and directing us around it. It shines the light on the sin in our lives to make us aware of the problem, then offers a way to change it.
Why is it so difficult for us to admit that we are sinners and go to Christ for a transformation? 1 John 1:8-10 says, “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.” Until we come into agreement with God, we cannot be forgiven and changed by receiving a transformed heart. Agreeing with God about our sin is where our journey begins, a journey of righteousness that leads us on the path of everlasting life.
The Holy Spirit will also convict or convince us of righteousness. According to Strong’s Concordance, righteousness is “the state of him who is as he ought to be.” We can be righteous when our heart is changed and made good. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)
If our heart is born sinful, then how can we get a good heart? Scripture says, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6, NKJV) There are other references to the cutting away of the sin nature and our hearts being replaced with a heart of flesh, soft and pliable in the Potter’s hands. (Colossians 2:11, Ezekiel 11:19) This righteousness is not in memorizing all the dos and don’ts and making sure we keep each one. That is the law. We can’t do it. It has already been proven. So, God changes our hearts. He places a good treasure in our hearts, His very own Spirit. That’s when we begin learning to listen to the Spirit of God within us and trusting Him enough to walk out what He tells us. That is when we become as we ought to be.
God often speaks to us in our hearts, but if they belong to another we cannot hear Him. He will lead us in the ways of righteousness that most of us already know in our minds. But Jesus wants us to go deeper than just following rules. He wants us to know Him intimately and learn to walk in His righteousness, His ways. As we practice walking with Jesus, there may be times the Holy Spirit will convict us of a behavior or attitude. We may think it is petty and nothing to be concerned about, but the Holy Spirit convicts us so we can deal with it in the early stages before it has time to take root and cause heartache later. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”. (Hebrews 12:14-15) If we cooperate with Him, the Holy Spirit will help us to walk in peace, holiness and grace.
There are also times He may convict us of a direction we have taken that will lead us outside of His will. He speaks to us so we can change our course and not be turned aside. In Acts 16:6-7, we see how the Holy Spirit corrected Paul’s course. It wasn’t a sin, but a wrong direction. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” He forbade them to go certain places, then gave Paul a vision of a man saying, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” The Holy Spirit will guide us and position us for the assignment we are to do next if we will learn to listen to and follow Him even when we don’t understand.
Conviction is good. It shines on our sins to make us aware of our need of a Savior and it continues to serve us in our walk with Christ if we will listen to the voice of God’s Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” We are also told not to resist the Holy Spirit. We need to learn to trust Him and work with Him.
The Holy Spirit will also convict us of coming judgment. Judgment can mean several different things. Justice and condemnation are two of them. Satan has already been condemned. His sentence is set. He has been justly sentenced because the terrible wrath of God is against evil. It was not God’s intention for us to be the object of His wrath. Yet, He was not caught off-guard when sin entered the picture. He had a plan in place so our destiny doesn’t have to be bound up in Satan’s destiny. If we received justice, we would share Satan’s condemnation. But there is time for us to receive a new heart and change condemnation to glory!
The Holy Spirit convicts of the guilt of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior. Allow the convicting power of the Spirit to draw you to Jesus. Don’t turn away. If you have refused Him a hundred times, don’t refuse Him today. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised another opportunity to hear His voice.
Righteousness is within reach. The Holy Spirit may be speaking to you now about walking in integrity, godly character and true holiness with a new heart that will love and obey God. Don’t resist His calling. Jesus paid the price for you to be holy, not just forgiven.
Judgment is certain. It will come to all of us. You don’t have to have a part in the condemnation of the devil. He is a liar and deceiver. He wants to draw you in to his fate. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by placing yourself in the onslaught of God’s wrath against evil instead of having His favor. He never intended you to be destroyed by sin. He intended you to live in perfect harmony with Him. If you are reading this, you still can.
Allow the Holy Spirit to stir you to the depths of your soul and raise you higher and higher into the presence of God, so you can shine as a light of His glory in this world.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.”