The Convicting Work of the Word & the Spirit, Day 5
One of the ways that God manifests His love to His children is by correcting us when we are wrong. In his discourse on God's righteous judgment to the Romans, Paul makes it clear that although God gave His law to the Jews, it was not unknown to the Gentiles because it had been "written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Rom. 2:15). This is another function of the Word and the Spirit at work in the lives of people: they both convict. Consider:
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).
"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 16:7-11).
The Word convicts us not only of our actions but of motivation and attitude. The Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The purpose of both is to fulfill The Father's will. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification…for God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit" (1 Thes. 4:3, 7-8). We are called to be wholly sanctified so that we can step into holiness and wholeness.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy to remain in Ephesus so that he can make sure that sound doctrine [from the Word] is preached. Why? "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith…This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme" (I Tim. 1:5, 18-20).
The convicting work of the Word and the Spirit provides a safeguard for God's children, protecting their faith and their conscience. Disregarding the teaching of doctrine and Biblical theology can cause believers to become shipwrecked, and it is always preferable to take preventative measures rather than to repair mid-journey. Again, I want to emphasize that this is not academic theology but a study of the Savior, God, at work in people's lives to bring about redemption. The Spirit convicts us of unbelief through the hearing of the Word, of righteousness, because the Word made flesh is no longer physically among us but revealed by the Spirit, and then further reminds us that the Word made flesh has already judged the ruler of this world and we are no longer subject to the dominion of sin. This provide for us the boundary lines upon which we, as Christians, walk the narrow way as carriers of Christ's name to the world.
Conviction has never provided warm fuzzies. Sometimes it's downright painful, especially if it is something that the Lord has dealt with one about several times over. However, conviction should encourage you in your walk with God. As the writer of Hebrews explains,
"'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:5-11).
The danger in not heeding God's correction is that one's conscience can become seared, and in a worst-case scenario, God gives one over (I Tim. 4:2, Rom. 1:24-32). This is the one phrase in Scripture that should cause the fear of God to rise in every believer: "God gave them over." It is frightening to think that our consciences could become so blackened because we have resisted the convicting work of the Word and the Spirit that God would ultimately give us over to our imaginations.
The Father has initiated your conviction through the Word and the Spirit because He loves you! Repentance is the greatest gift God has bestowed on humanity, and it is in our best interest to humbly acknowledge that we are daily in need of His amazing grace. By responding to His conviction, we are being made holy. So today, thank the Father for His gift of conviction through the Word and the Spirit because it shows the Father's great compassion for us, and we would do well to listen.