Holy Spirit Conviction or Self Condemnation?

IMGFor I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7:22-25 (KJV)

With this article I'd like to talk about a subject that we all need to carefully meditate upon: conviction by the Holy Spirit vs. condemnation from Satan. One serves to correct us for our good while the other makes us feel dirty and unwanted.

There seems to be two opposing views of sin in operation here; on one hand many professing Christians will reject any and all attempts at Godly correction as being condemnation from Satan. Meanwhile we can also get to a place where we have become so keenly aware of our wretchedness that we lose sight of the power of the cross to forgive even the most vile of sins. Both are equally dangerous; because at one extreme we trivialize sin, and the other we magnify it beyond reconciliation.

Conviction of Sin

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Matthew 26:33-34 (KJV)

Conviction of sin is a not pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination, however it is necessary in order for God to get our attention. One great example is Peter's denial of Christ. Personally I see a lot of Peter in myself. In my heart I want to do big things for God yet in practice I often fail miserably.

And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:61-62 (KJV)

The bible doesn't tell us much about how Peter felt except for the fact that he wept bitterly. When you sin do you feel like a complete failure? I know I do. Don't you think Peter was feeling the same? After all his bravado he ended up denying Christ like a coward. I don't know if they had mirrors in those days, but if I were Peter I wouldn't want to see my reflection. That man in the mirror who denied even knowing his best friend and cursed at the very mention of His name.

The most awful part? That face, that innocent face. As horrible as it must have been to live with denying the Son of God that look of disappointment in the face of Jesus when their eyes locked must have been etched in Peter's mind forever. You know Satan must have brought that image back to Peter over and over for the rest of his life, that's just how that runt operates.

Some Christians cannot relate to the heartache those of us who want to live in perfect obedience experience every time we sin. We feel cursed with the reality that perfection is not available to us in this life. Is cursed too strong of a word? I think not.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3:13 (KJV)

As Peter wept bitterly he was experiencing the sting of this curse of sin. This is something that carnal Christians cannot relate to because they don't really see their sin as a curse, they wink at it. They cannot understand how we feel because the cross has never been honestly applied to their wicked hearts. There is no brokenness in their hearts over their inherent sin nature. Their consciences have been seared by the watered down, conviction free gospel preached in the dead churches. They cannot smell the stench of their own sins.

Self Condemnation

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Luke 11:4 (KJV)

If I were Peter I would have a very hard time forgiving myself, how about you? Yet if Christ will forgive our sins who are we not to forgive ourselves? Do we have the right to ask Christ to forgive us our sins if we won't? When we allow conviction of sin to turn into self condemnation we get into dangerous territory.

While some adamantly refuse to acknowledge their failings we are quite skilled at beating ourselves up over them. We can spend hours doing it. Oh, don't worry about forgetting your past sins, Satan will gladly remind you of every one of them when you're trying to fall asleep. Take it from an expert, Satan will beat you over the head with your past sins for as long as you let him! He will tell you don't bother Jesus doesn't love you anymore. You're just too bad a sinner. But Satan is a liar!

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Matthew 18:32-35 (KJV)

In the parable of Matthew 18:23-35 (KJV) Jesus reiterates the importance of forgiving others to obtaining our own forgiveness. He taught us that we must forgive others the way we want to be forgiven. When we hold a grudge we have rendered judgment in our own hearts against them. It is God's job to judge others, not ours. If we do this we tie God's hands and He will use this same judgment we used to judge others to judge us.

This truth extends to forgiving ourselves. If we cannot forgive ourselves then neither can Christ. We must first ask God to forgive us for trying to do His job by judging ourselves, then we set aside our judgment and ask Him to forgive our sin.

The Proper Response to Sin

And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.
2 Samuel 12:5-7 (KJV)

A good example of how we should deal with our sin is found in 2 Samuel in the story of David and Bathsheba. As we all know David not only lusted after another man's wife and committed adultery with her but he went on to scheme and murder her husband to hide his sin. People who tell the king they have sinned usually don't have a long lifespan, just ask John the Baptist. But Nathan obeyed the Lord and went to King David with a Holy Spirit inspired parable.

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
2 Samuel 12:13 (KJV)

We could see by his conversation with the prophet Nahum that he had no clue the parable referred to himself until the very end. How his heart must have been torn when he realized that it was he who was the man in the story. By his own judgment David was worthy of death and he couldn't deny it. How did David respond? He admitted his sin and took the punishment that God handed to him.

Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
2 Samuel 12:21-23 (KJV)

God's judgment of David's sin was severe; He told David that the sword would never leave his house and that the child borne of this ungodly act would die. We are told that David fasted and wept over his innocent child's welfare. Since the child's dire situation was the direct result of his sin we can be assured that this fasting and weeping was over his sins which caused his innocent child to fall under God's judgment.

But once the child had died David washed himself and put on a clean set of clothes and carried on with his life. He went into Bathsheba and started a new family. May this be a simple lesson to all of us who allow Satan to condemn us of our past sins. Once our sins have been shown to us our job is simple; we must confess them, repent, take our punishment, put it all in the past and start anew.

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