I have felt convicted many times in my life. I know what it is like to lie awake in the early morning hours, tossing and turning and feeling so discouraged, ashamed and downright dirty. In these times, I know that God has set a standard for me and I have failed to meet His standard. Paul’s words ring true: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” [Romans 7:15].
I am suffering.
You see the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to my sin.
I know what I did when I was sinning. I know I was not thinking. I shut my mind and heart off from God. All I focused on was the fleeting pleasure of the sin. I wanted that pleasure more than I wanted God. Second Corinthians 4:4 states “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
But it is not just the unbelievers who suffer because they are blind; it is the believers also.
First John 2: 27 speaks to the believer: “Christ has poured out His Spirit on you. As long as His Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For His Spirit teaches you about everything, and what He teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit’s teaching then, and remain in union with Christ.”
Pastor Graham writes that the Holy Spirit convicts us and calls us. As a sinning believer, I chose to forget what I had been taught; I chose to forget what is true. I embraced the false and was no longer in union with Christ.
Indeed the Holy Spirit can help us avoid sinful episodes like mine and if we fail to avoid sin, the Holy Spirit will let us know we have fallen short of God’s standard. “One of the most devastating effects of sin is that it has blinded us to our own sin. . . .Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes. Only He can convict us to the truth of the Gospel” [Graham, 54]. J. Gresham Machen writes “There must be the mysterious work of the Spirit of God in the new birth. . . .Without that, all our arguments are quite useless. . . .the Holy Spirit…clear[s] away the mists from man’s eyes and enable[s] him to attend to the evidence.”
Graham writes that the Holy Spirit not only awakens us to our sin but the Holy Spirit warns us about sinning so much that our hearts become hardened. It is true that when one comes to Christ and is saved that the Holy Spirit begins to guide the “born again” believer, but it is also true that any believer can be so embroiled in sinning that the Holy Spirit will be no longer a strong guiding force. Genesis 6:3 says “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.” Graham says that this verse is a warning. Man’s heart can be so “calloused” and hardened by sin that the voice of the Holy Spirit will no longer be heard.
If we would only listen to the Spirit’s urging, victory over sin comes from the Holy Spirit…
Sometimes you read something that “sticks.” I have read a lot of thoughts from the pastor and author John Piper and a simple phrase of his has stuck in my mind and it applies here. A believer who listens to the Holy Spirit and says no to sinning “loves God more than he loves the sin.” John 2: 14 says “I write to you young men, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the evil one.” Later in verse twenty, John says “you have the Holy Spirit poured out on you by Christ, and so all of you know the truth. . . no lie comes from the truth.”
Many Christians think the Holy Spirit is like the idea of conscience. Maybe The Spirit does manifest itself that way. I like to think that this guidance manifests itself in the light that we can all experience if we cling to God. In the first letter of John, it says “God is light, and there is no darkness at all in Him. If then we say we have fellowship with Him. . .we are living both in our words and our actions. .. we live in the light—just as He is in the light.”
As a believer and a sinner, when I have those agonizing times in the very early morning darkness, I should remember that I have an Advocate who pleads with The Father on my behalf. Jesus is working to restore me to fellowship with God. His blood purifies me from every sin I have committed. The Holy Spirit conviction I am feeling is trying to deliver a message.
God is light…David leave the darkness.
Come to The Light…