The Gift Of Conviction

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

I once read an interview with a celebrity who identifies themselves as a Christian. Because some have accused this person of holding only a shallow, superficial religious belief, the interviewer began to ask probing questions about how deep their Christianity goes. Finally, they were asked if they had ever asked God for forgiveness for their sins. The answer given was no, and they added that they really didn’t feel that they needed to.

Now whether or not this person is truly a Christian is not for any of us to determine, it is between them and God. But we can safely say that it is concerning for someone to claim that they are trusting in Christ and also state that they really do not need to go to God for the forgiveness of their sins. And if this person’s answer was sincere, then we have the testimony of the Bible that the Truth is not in them.

Most religions lay out a path for their adherents to walk that brings them ever-closer to some sort of greater and greater enlightenment or perfection. And while we as Christians may be “sanctified”, that is, live a life that grows into more Christ-likeness the further along we go, we acknowledge that sin is never completely vanquished in us until we enter into Heaven. In other words, the need to confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness will be necessary until the day we leave this world.

For most people, apparently including the celebrity I mentioned above, the problem is not that they feel they have reached perfection, but that they have no real sense of their own sinfulness in the first place. It is human nature to excuse, justify, and mitigate our own guiltiness rather than honestly recognize our own shortcomings. We can always point to someone else who is a lot “worse” than we are.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit will do in our hearts, if we will hear Him, is to convict us of the sin we commit. This is not so that God can condemn us, but so that we may confess our sin to God and be forgiven. Conviction of sin is a great gift that makes it possible to remove the one obstacle that can stand between a person and the Lord. May we be thankful when God shows us the sin in our life that we may bring it to Him for forgiveness.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

A Living Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 KJV)

19th Century evangelist Dwight L. Moody is said to have remarked on this verse of Scripture, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” We have a choice of whether we will yield ourselves to God or yield ourselves to sin (Rom. 6:13). Will we live a righteous, holy life or will we continue to walk in the way of this world?

What a stark contrast we have here in the New Testament book of Romans compared with the Law of the Old Testament. The watchword of Deuteronomy is “command” as the Law of Moses is given to the Children of Israel. Here in Romans, we see the word “beseech” or “urge.” Where Moses commanded, Paul appeals. He appeals to our sense of the grace and mercy, the goodness, of God as the reason for our obedience. It is not the voice of thunder shaking Mt. Sinai but the still-small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart that our attention is called toward. Eleven chapters of Romans preceding this verse spell out what God has done for us and it is based on this that we are encouraged to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.

Closing the verse, we are told that such is our reasonable service. Within that word rendered “reasonable” is the root of our English word logical. It only makes sense for us to obey God and yield ourselves to Him in light of all He has done for us. May we stay upon the altar and yield our lives for His service. Though we can never repay God for all He has done for us, becoming a living sacrifice is acceptable and well-pleasing to the Lord.

Be Transformed

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

There is for the Christian one important decision concerning how they will live their life: to be conformed to this world or to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. All other decisions are dependent upon this one. To be conformed to this world is by far the easier of the two, but it comes at a great cost. For the child of God will never experience the joy and peace that the Lord has provided if they continue to walk as the rest of the world does. Nor will they be able to fulfill God’s will for their life if they choose to remain conformed to the world.

To be transformed is a choice that we can make, otherwise the Scripture would not instruct us to do so. Yet transformation is not accomplished through our own willpower or good intentions, no, it can only be achieved as the Holy Spirit works in us, conforming us not to the world but to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). A renewed mind is a mind which sees things as God sees them and thinks thoughts in line with the way God thinks. It is the same washing and regeneration in the mind that was performed upon our spirits by the Holy Spirit when we first came to faith in Christ (cf. Titus 3:5).

Even so, this transformation is not the product of our simply waiting for God to change us. We participate in the process by spending time with the Lord in prayer and through the study of His Word. Ultimately, our mind is renewed as we delve into the Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to us.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]