Friday, October 31, 2008

Does the Holy Spirit Convict you of Sin?? Part 2......

Part 2 had to come, it was inevitable after the many debates that rose up out of part 1. This post has been my most popular post in terms of what people are searching for on google and how they land at my blog. (thanks to Google Analytics.) I received several comments both on my blog and through emails with people's thoughts and arguments on why they disagree with me on this. Which is fine with me, because it causes me to go back and study further. And every time I go back and question my view with the thoughts people bring, I still come up with the same conclusion and a little more clarity. 

So, I wanted to go a little deeper in this post, if I can, although I will probably repeat a lot of what I already shared in part 1, on why I don't believe the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin. You may want to read the original post first

Here I will mention some of the arguments I have received in light of this question. One person's thoughts were in light of how Paul brought sharp correction to the churches. They believed that since Paul did this that they believed the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write as an instrument of grace to point out sin and bring restoration. So therefore the Holy Spirit also convicts us of our sin. The two are not the same, which I will address later in this post. 

 Another thought someone had on why the Holy Spirit convicts of us of sin, is the verse in Rev. 3, where is says, "those whom I love I rebuke and discipline", as well as Prov. 3:12, and Heb. 12:6. (Again, not the same as convict.)

Another commenter went so far as to compose his very own parable to help explain why the Holy Spirit convicts believers of sin. His point, I think, was we need the Holy Spirit to show us our sins so we can confess them and then be forgiven. He seems to think we need to be guilty of sin, so we can know we need to be forgiven. Hmm....I guess he doesn't realize he's already forgiven, for all his sins past, present and future. When we realize we are forgiven, we will see there is no need for confession of sins again and again. Since we are new creations and have the very life of Christ dwelling within us, we can walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. When we walk by the flesh we may not see our sin the same way we would if we were walking by the Spirit. It all begins with a mindset and having our minds renewed with the truth of the gospel. So when we do sin or mess up, we may feel a sadness, but not guilt, and say, "Lord, I messed up, I don't want to do that, please help me!"  And help he will! It's when we realize we can't do it apart from him, and thankfully we don't have to, that we will want to live right!! 

Yet another comment came, that I think was close, but no straw, shared this,"the Holy Spirit is Holy God who abides within us as His Holy of Holies", true, but he goes on to say.....just by His very presence we will be "convicted" of the sin in our lives. (I think he meant what I am trying to say, instead of convicted of sin however, it should say he will lead us into all truth. Which means he is the one guiding and transforming us, because He has taken up residence within us and His life will have to flow out....) He also concluded with this statement, "Jesus bore our shame and guilt on Calvary but we do need to pursue righteousness."  There's that phrase, that makes me want to scream,....."we need to pursue righteousness." Doesn't that miss the whole point of the Gospel right there??  As if the cross was not enough! We can't pursue (as in work out), our righteousness, Christ IS our righteousness. What he should have said is,  pursue knowing Jesus (or yield to the Christ life within) and get a revelation of our gift of righteousness!!! 

So, here's a few of my thoughts on this whole thing. First, let me state, I do not believe "correct", "rebuke" or "discipline" are the same as convict. Convict means to prove or declare guilty of an offense, or, to impress with a sense of guilt. Conviction, however, means a fixed or firm belief, or assurance and a synonym for it is belief.

Correcting can be done without shaming someone,  or making them feel guilty. Correcting can simply be showing the truth or what is right, without shaming someone and pointing out their faults.  (It's ashame we are all probably more familiar with bad examples of human correction!)

Discipline, or discipling, is best seen displayed in how Jesus related with his disciples, teaching them, telling them parables and modeling walking in the will of the Father. Many believe discipline is associated with punishment, because many of us were brought up being "disciplined" punitively. (that's a whole different discussion for another time!)

Rebuking, this is where the example of Paul with the church comes in. Yes, it means to reprove, sternly or sharply bringing about conviction. (remember convict and conviction do not have the same meaning.) But, nowhere does it say specifically that any of the above means of correcting, rebuking or disciplining are the same as convicting one of sin.

In Revelation 3, which was brought up by one commenter as an argument of why the Holy Spirit must indeed convict us, the words rebuke and discipline are used. First of all, these words do not mean the same thing as convict, and second, does this passage even apply to all those who are in Christ? Let's take a look. Revelation 3. It looks as though this passage is directly  addressed to the church in Laodicea.  The Laodicean church is getting rebuked for being lukewarm, another way to say that would be, to go back under the law and rejecting the finished work of the cross by trying to live through performance. That is another way to say they were in unbelief. God would rather us be under law completely, which obviously would lead us to grace since no one but Jesus can perfectly fulfill the law. Or under his pure grace completely- Jesus plus nothing - only believe. But not a mixture of the two. So, I do not believe that was a good Scripture to use to try and prove that those in Christ, are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. 

So, you may be wondering why all the clarifications..........well, I think it's very important to be as clear as possible, especially if we are talking about being made to feel guilty or shamed by the Holy Spirit for our sins. Let me ask you this, how do you feel when you are guilty? Or should I use the word shame or ashamed? What is it like to have a sense of guilt or condemnation?

Let's not forget Romans 8!There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ! NONE! If convict, shame, guilt, and condemned are all synonymous, then when we say the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, we are contradicting the truth of God's very Word! Not one speck of condemnation should ever come to a believer! The sad reality is it does come, and it comes due to wrong believing. The church often does not preach a pure gospel. It teaches a mixture, confusion, yin and  yang, yoyo -CONFUSION! We hear preaching that teaches us it is by grace we have been saved, Hallelujah, Praise Jesus, but after we are saved somehow we have to work on ourselves, and pursue our own righteousness. THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Was the work finished or not?! This is a half false gospel, one that Paul rebuked the Galatians for and told them they were under a curse and should be eternally condemned for doing so!!
If God is not counting my sins against me, and He is not a fault finding husband, like the law was when we were under it, then why would He give us the Holy Spirit to then come and find our faults and point out our sins to us? He already removed our sins as far as the east is from the west, right? His word says, "their sins and their lawless acts, I will remember no more." If He is not remembering them, then how can the Holy Spirit be pointing them out to us? The Holy Spirit, in the life of a believer, points us to Jesus, and His perfect righteousness, which we have now been given as a gift. If the Holy Spirit is to point out our sin to us, he would be causing us to shift our focus onto our selves, and away from Jesus, His finished work, and perfect righteousness.

If we are hearing a voice that is convicting us when we sin, or is pointing out our faults, we are hearing the enemy trying to get our eyes off of Jesus and cause us to fall into condemnation. Think about this, when someone is on trial and they are found guilty, they are accused or convicted of the crime. When you sense you are guilty of sin, you are being accused and it is not the Holy Spirit accusing you. It is the accuser of the brethren that brings you those convicting thoughts about your sin. God does not find you guilty, he finds you free and clear of any charge because he has justified you through the blood of Christ. 

I think it is very important to see these distinctions and truths and embrace them. I think it is crucial to clear up the confusion behind this question of, does the Holy Spirit convict us of our sin? Simply because if we can't see the purity of the Holy Spirit, the comfort He brings to us through leading us into all truth, and the truth of how we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, we will not so quickly long for the Spirit in our lives. And we most certainly do not want to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Holy Spirit will never condemn us. Rather, He will come to us in gentle love and release a wooing to draw us to turn to Him and accept His correction. He will convince us, and lead us into truth persistently and persuasively, but not with any sense of guilt or shame. Remember God is infinitely patient, and full of loving kindness and will relentlessly pursue us. He is in the business of shaping, molding and perfecting us, but it is always done in love. He is the One who will transform and purify us and we can respond. Apart from His loving pursuit of us, we could never pursue Him or righteousness. It is all His initiative!! 

It is very important when reading the Scriptures, to read with a Gospel focus. If something doesn't line up with the truth of the Gospel, then you must dig deeper than the surface and find out how it fits with the truth of the Gospel. I suppose I could go on, but I hope this speaks to those who are convinced that God wants them to have shame, because in essence that is what you are saying when you argue that the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin!! Kind of takes away from the really good news, don't you think!


Jamie said...

If I am the righteousness of Christ through His finished Work on the cross and my belief unto salvation, what does "sin" have to do with my standing before God???

The world's sins were placed in Christ who BECAME sin for us so that we might become HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. The world is reconciled to God and He is not holding men's sins against them. If men choose not to accept God's offer of life, then they are condemned already through their unbelief.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of unbelief, and Christians of righteousness.

What sin could the Holy Spirit convict us of??? We are not in unbelief and all other sins have been forgiven and forgotten. The Holy Spirit simply reminds us of our New Nature and our New Identity. We are NOT the righteousness of Christ based on our behavior, but on His. Will our New Identity cause a change in behavior? More than likely. But if we think our righteousness is because of our actions or performance, we have become self-righteous. The cross doesn't become null and void upon receiving salvation; my self-effort should!!

"It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me." As long as religion keeps me focused on my "missing the mark", I will frustrate the Grace of God. To point people continually to their performance will grow Pharisees. To point people to Christ, who is their Life, will grow Trees of Righteousness.

It is simply absurd to think we can accomplish MORE THAN THE CROSS! Bah! Humph! :)

Great post, Lydster!!!

lydia said...

Did this one get you good and fired up!! You are explosive!!! I can hear the kaboom!!

I appreciate your comment immensely, preach the gospel to me yet again, it never gets old, and it's always enough and it always has the power to accomplish His purposes!

Joel B. said...

What RJW said. =D !!

Amen, Lydia, great stuff!

I briefly glanced over some of the comments on Part 1, and one thing I can think of at the moment is what someone said about "discipline." Sure, our Father disciplines us... but it's not about being convicted of sin! Indeed, I believe it's about being convicted of righteousness, and growing experientially more and more as who we already are - the righteousness of God.

The focus of this life in Christ isn't bad vs. good, or living right vs. living in sin. It's about walking according to the Spirit, walking by faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin, Paul says, but the answer isn't to focus on SIN, but to focus on the object of our faith, Jesus Christ Himself!

lydia said...

Thanks Joel!! And Amen to what you said too! My hope is that more Christians would embrace a truly loving good God and His really awesome, truly GOOD NEWS!!!
We really can live in such freedom knowing He is not counting our sins against us, nor is He constantly after us to show us our faults so we feel the need to repeatedly feel like we have to do something, confess, or forgive or have all our ducks in a row before we can be blessed or feel confident in His Presence. The more we rest in HIm, and all of His really good goodness, knowing we are indeed already counted righteous, we will be transformed and very gloriously in His abundant life He promised to us!!

jul said...

Go Lydia! I started reading this thinking haven't I read this before? Then I remembered you emailed me haha.

Recently I've started studying the discipline passage a bit more. I'm just beginning to get revelation on them but if you look at the context of them, they seem to be all in context of legalism or going back to law or mixing in law...I believe God will discipline us, even somewhat severely when we start to fall away from grace because apart from trusting wholly in Jesus we are condemned. Still gotta get more on this though...

lydia said...

Deja vu.......

I can't wait to hear what you get clarity on. I have been pondering the discipline of the Lord under grace as well. What you said makes sense in light of the Revelation 3 passage and in light of Paul sharply rebuking the Galatian church. I shall have to go look at the others now........I think getting clarity on this could really be very helpful. It's interesting that so many would come on here and insist on pointing out the Lords correction and discipline, it's as if they need to feel okay with the fact they are or have been under discipline...which haven't we all at some point or another......but I really want to dwell on how good God really is, the negative vibes we feel or the severe side of a severly stern God because won't we want to run to a Daddy who is loving and accepting in nature........anyway.........I remember getting "counsel" (holding that term very loosely) from someone, he felt the need to point out that Keith was always in rod and staff mode, always being corrected by God (which actually was not totally true) instead of encouraging Him that God is for Him and loves Him unconditionally, thus drawing Him towards God instead of getting the sense that God will never be happy with Him............sigh...........thank God he set us free from our "godly counsel" .........sheesh!!

lydia said...

let's see I meant to say;

"but I really want to dwell on how good God really is, instead of all the negative vibes we may feel or the severe side we may see of a severly stern God, because won't we want to run to a Daddy who is loving and accepting in nature"

Dan Bowen said...

Does the Holy Spirit convict us of sin!??! No - no - no - a thousand times NO!!

A wonderful post and a wonderful reminder that legalism, condemnation and lies are to be resisted angrily!

lydia said...

Dan ~ Thanks for your adamant agreement :)

I was just talking to my husband about a message I heard today that did not leave me encouraged in the Lord (obviously not Rob), and I realized that if what we are hearing preached from the pulpit does not make us walk away saying, that is GOOD NEWS, then we haven't truly heard grace, or the really awesome GOOD NEWS of the Gospel!!!

Bino M. said...

Lydia - Great post! Jesus's one time sacrifice took the entire sins of the entire world away from the sight of God, never to see them again. When we keep on asking forgiveness we are indeed negating the work of Christ on the cross. That's not faith! The very foundation of the New Covenant itself is this:

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." - (Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12, 10:17)

So the Bible says God is not remembering our sins, then, why would He convict us of sins? It sounds contradicting!

lydia said...

Amen, thanks Bino!!

Lennart said...

Lydia, The Holy Spirit convicts THE WORLD of sin. He leads us into righteousness. There is a huge difference.

Very simply put, I am pure and sin free before the Father. If the Father sees ANY sin on me then Jesus death was not enough for my TOTAL forgiveness. Past, present and future. If the Father sees any sin on me, I am in serious trouble.