Conviction to Joy

I had an enlightening conversation today. It moved me to ponder the likelihood that many Christians have only experienced half the Gospel—the hard part.

While there are many openings the Spirit of God enters to draw a soul into faith, at some point, that person must be confronted with their need for a Savior. We refer to this awareness as a conviction of sin. People typically “come to faith” in Christ because the Holy Spirit has convicted them of their sin and inability to deal adequately with it. But the Spirit’s work does not end there. He persuades the now-convicted sinner that Jesus IS the sufficient remedy. All this is what Jesus said the Spirit would do in John 16:8-11.

[Jesus said] 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.

God intends conviction of sin and the sorrow it works to produce a repentance that leads to forgiveness and the joy of being cleansed. Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 7:9–10 –

I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted . . .

Some Christians seem stuck in sorrow. Their sin has eclipsed God’s forgiveness. It is like they think the way to please God is to perpetually own their error. They forget that the prophet Isaiah, devastated by his own corruption revealed in the face of God’s glory, rose to his feet, joyously embracing the work of the coal that cleansed him and offering himself for service.

Conviction is not the end. It is the Spirit’s means to the end that we forsake sin, be forgiven, and enter a new ground before God marked by overwhelming and transforming joy.

While there are certain to be seasons of grief and sorrow due to life circumstances like the loss of a loved one, the Christian’s basic demeanor ought to be joyful, not dower. A “sour Christian” is a spiritual oxymoron.

Jesus said, “I have come that you’d have life; ever more of it.” [paraphrase of John 10:10] In other words, however much life we have, God wants more for us. In Jesus is the means to obtain it. But, Jesus uses grammar here (the subjunctive mood) which means ever more life is a potential we ought to access.

Do not let your failure and sin eclipse God’s grace and forgiveness. Let conviction break you so that you can be healed. Do not stall in conviction. Do not climb off the table in mid-operation. Let conviction bring repentance, and repentance, the ineffable joy of being forgiven.

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