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Whatever happened to conviction of sins?
- Jacob Ninan
We may be quick to acknowledge that we are not perfect, and some of us may even appear to take some pride in it! But if this truth has really hit us we would not be so quick to proclaim it. Then we would be unhappy to realise that we are doing many things wrong, and that in many cases we don't even know whether we are doing right or wrong. It affected Paul so much that he felt wretched (Ro.7:21-24). He was not satisfied because he was the top apostle of those days who was setting up many churches, writing parts of Scripture, doing fantastic miracles, etc. He felt wretched because he was doing many things wrong. But his wretchedness was not the kind that discouraged or depressed him. Knowing he was imperfect and that he was only going to be imperfect while on earth he pressed on to perfection (Php.3:13;Ac.24:16).
It is easy to see that we will not really go after becoming more and more perfect if first of all we are not aware of how imperfect we are and secondly if that does not bother us. In a sense we are forced to admit we are imperfect because there are many around us who inform us about that! But it is not sure if we feel wretched about it.
A great change has taken place in Christianity in our days so that to feel 'wretched' is not acceptable now. We are so constantly being reminded about how there is no condemnation for us now, how we have been accepted by grace just as we are, what our position in Christ is, how unconditional God's love is towards us, etc., that there is practically no place for conviction of sin! Certainly we need that emphasis. But any acknowledgment of 'need' is considered to be 'negative' and to be avoided at any cost! We are, they say, to preserve our sense of acceptance by rejecting all thoughts that even hint that we might be lacking something! Many preachers have stopped talking about hell, judgment, repentance, etc., because they would not like to hurt anyone's fine feelings! As the Bible says, an enemy has done this.
When we do wrong we should feel bad about it, shouldn't we? We should not be pushing aside such feelings of conviction before we have dealt with our sin by confessing it to God and setting it right with people (1Jn.1:9). God's unconditional love for us does not mean that He is blind to our sins. His acceptance does not mean that He tolerates sin. God hates sin, even if it is His beloved children who are committing it. The wages of sin is still death, and if we do not claim forgiveness by acknowledging and confessing it to God, it will still separate us from Him (Ro.6:23;Is.59:1,2).
On one hand we don't want to get discouraged and feel hopeless because we have fallen into sin. On the other hand we don't want to treat it lightly (Ro.6:15). We must protect ourselves from falling into either of these two cliffs and learn to walk in the middle. We need this balance in doctrine as well as in experience. Let us press on even while acknowledging failure.