Theme of the Week: The Voice of Jesus
Bible Verse: “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” John 16:8-11
Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:1-17
The Spirit brings conviction for sin. This is essential if the Spirit is to glorify Christ in us. Our sin is incompatible with the presence of Christ in our lives and his purposes for us. Christ is glorified as we mature in our faith, continually recognizing and turning from sin. This suggests, then, that we cultivate a relationship with Christ through our response to where and how the Spirit is calling us to turn from sin. We are alive in the Spirit when we have a sensitive conscience.
For so many, after they have been Christian believers for a time, it is easy to go from one day to another or one week to another scarcely conscious of the convicting ministry of the Spirit. They may even be quite consistent in fulfilling what they believe to be God’s law in what they do and in what they refuse to do. But sin is far more subtle. We never graduate from this dimension of the Spirit’s ministry, for there is always sin in our hearts. Pride and self-centeredness shape the deep impurity within each of us. As we grow older, different circumstances at different points in our journey expose us to new temptations and reveal other dimensions of the darkness of our hearts.
It is for this reason that we should never cease from praying the prayer of the psalmist: “Search me, O God…. See if there is any wicked way in me” (Ps 139:23-24). For the inner witness of the Spirit is always there if we are but willing to listen – and then, of course, to turn.
But we cannot see our sin except by the gracious work of the Spirit. This convicting ministry of the Spirit enables us to see the deadly character of sin, sin’s power apart from the grace of Christ, and the genuine possibility of living in the freedom of righteousness.
The grace that we seek, when we lift up our hearts to the convicting ministry of the Spirit, is the grace to see ourselves in truth, that is, to see ourselves as God sees us. The catalyst for the convicting ministry of the Spirit may come from any number of sources, but as often as not, it comes through the Word when it penetrates and lays bare the intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Just because we feel guilty does not mean the Spirit of God is convicting our hearts regarding sin. And the key test or indicator in this regard is any feeling of condemnation. False guilt is burdensome. False guilt condemns us. True guilt – that which is the fruit of the Spirit’s ministry – is liberating; it leads to freedom. The convicting ministry of the Spirit does not condemn us but rather is life giving, liberating and empowering.
Gordon T. Smith in The Voice of Jesus. Copyright ©2003 by Gordon T. Smith. Used by permission of Intervarsity Press.
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