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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Conviction vs. Condemnation

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" Romans 8:29

We are destined to become like Jesus. That's part of God's great a glorious plan for our lives. Jesus was full of humility, peace, full of kindness, full of love and without sin.

Peter tells us that we have everything we need to become like Christ residing within us.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1: 3 - 4

In the process of becoming more like our LORD, more holy and loving, more humble and kind, the LORD will reveal to us areas of our life that need to be cleansed. He shows us by giving us conviction of sin. Conviction from God does not bring feelings of condemnation and defeat. The word conviction means: a belief or opinion that is held firmly.

This is where I see many Christians stumble. They do not realize that their enemy - you know, the roaring lion that seeks to steal, kill and destroy - is intricately involved in trying to trip them up right at this very point. The enemy's plan is to steal your joy and peace, kill your passion for the Lord and destroy your hope, purpose and future.

God has a desire to sanctify you in stages. He is gentle and loving in his shaping of our character. Satan is a ruthless accuser that makes us feel we are worthless and hopeless.

When we are training our two year old, we don't try to make him or her behave like a ten year old. We aren't looking at our two year old and disappointed that they aren't pronouncing their words perfectly, writing their name, helping sweep the kitchen and whatever else a ten year old should be doing. No, we focus on what our two year old should be doing. Our two year old needs to learn to hold his spoon properly, or stay in his bed. It would be wicked of us to say, "You are so stupid. You can't even write your name. You should be sweeping the kitchen. You are worthless." What if we had a visitor in our house that was constantly telling our two year old these things?

Yet, that's exactly what the enemy of our walk with God is telling us. And we should show him the exit door. When the Lord sees us, He does not focus on the areas of sanctification that He plans to help us with tomorrow - He wants to help us get right in one or two areas today. He's not worried about tomorrow. We'll get there eventually. Yes, I know, we all want to be perfect right now. But wouldn't it be silly if your ten year old began being upset that they weren't able to provide for a family or make a living? They aren't ready for that work yet. But they will eventually get there. We are all on a journey.

When God speaks to us about our sin, we don't hear the voice of condemnation - that voice that makes us feel immediately ashamed and full of fear and anxiety about our condition (that's the enemy). When the Lord convicts us of sin, His voice is so kind and gentle that we actually see the sin as something separate from us. He sees you separate from your sin. He doesn't see that sin as part of you. When He shows you, or convicts you of sin, He will show you the sin as something separate from you - his precious child - because he sees it as separate from you - his precious child. He sees you and the sin as two different entities. When God is ready to deal with our sin, he reveals it to us in a way that makes us feel we actually CAN overcome. We experience conviction from the LORD with total peace because He shows us what HE is going to do - after all, we are sanctified by God, not by our own efforts. We become free from sin as we yield to God and allow His Spirit to do the work in us. That's what sanctification is. Yielding.

Satan makes us feel like the sin is so deeply ingrained that we'll never overcome it. He makes us feel ashamed and defeated. He encourages us to make all kinds of vows and promises, which he then uses against us when we inevitably fail to fulfill them, mocking and condemning us even further. Imagine again the two year old trying to sweep the kitchen or spell her name. Imagine her falling to the floor in despair at her failure. The enemy's purpose is that with all our self effort that yields no results, we'll give up on the Christian life because it's TOO HARD. That's his number one trick for making people either turn away from God or turn to religion and rules over relationship. The most disciplined wins, the least discipline loses. The truth is, they both lose because they have listened to the voice of the enemy and tried to become holy in their own self effort, outside of God's perfect, loving, gentle plan for their sanctification.

God loves you so tenderly. He loves you exactly like you are, with all the unsanctified thoughts and deeds you do. He has a plan to change you that is slow and steady and full of peace and joy. His plan will prevail. YOU ARE PREDESTINED FOR IT. And it's not you that will do it...it's all Him. You don't have to work. God does the work. The Christian life is not too hard. It's not hard at all. It's about cuddling up in the arms of the father who loves you. The father who accepts you just as you are today. He isn't disappointed in you. That's the lie of the accuser. The Lord wants you to quit listening to those lies and take back your inheritance - the peace He purchased for you. It's yours.

You are acceptable to God.

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