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Throwing Down the Hammer: Conviction of Sin (2)

         God reveals sin. He knows our thoughts and intentions. He knows our secret sins. We may be able to fool many or most, and even ourselves, but we can never fool God.

         Yet strangely, many of us apparently think that if God is the only one who knows, it’s okay, because He’s a nice guy and doesn’t seem to care too much. He is loving and forgiving and kind, and would never want to embarrass us.

         Part of this characterization has some validity, but it’s simply not true overall. God is Love and He is very loving, but it’s not very loving to know someone has a fatal disease and never disclose the information. Imagine a doctor saying to an assistant, “Oh crud. The tests have uncovered something very bad! But I just don’t have the heart to tell my patient!”

         God wants us to know. So He tells us. Or actually, He tries to tell us. But humans generally do not listen, or they cover the ears. Or they get very angry when conviction comes upon them. Imagine getting angry at the doctor for being the bearer of bad news: “Why you! What’s your problem? I don’t need this!” (And then you die.)

         Actually, when people get such news they usually make the decision to comply with whatever the doctor orders and tell their friends and family they will fight the disease and win. They approach it with a great attitude. They show courage and strength, and trust their physician, the medical testing procedure, and the established program that attempts to rid their body of the sickness.

         But when the aforementioned type of belligerent person hears the Word of God and suddenly knows he is a disease-carrying sinner in need of repentance, he often gets angry and stomps out of the room and gets mad at God and all those sorry Christians who think they’re better than everyone else and goes back to family and friends who he knows will agree with him and thus surrounds himself with fellow angry enabling deniers who refuse to acknowledge the truth. (And unless they repent they all go to hell.)

         Others, though, fall flat on their faces before God repenting with much anguish over their many failures and violations of God’s standards and laws. And they continue at this until they are cleansed by the only cleansing agent for a filthy human soul—the Blood of Jesus. They then find peace “that passes all understanding” and receive the abundant life of God. And when God brings His Good News to a people and some hear it and respond properly and positively, He rejoices over their salvation. He paid the highest price for their welfare and is overjoyed when people apply it and their disease of sin is cured.

         He also brings the Good News to those who refuse the opportunity. Such people become that much more strident against Him. They angrily sign their own death certificate. All they do after that point is a detriment to society as a whole. They become rebellious and hard core carriers of the sin disease and infect all they come in contact with. If it is a good thing to quarantine the diseased, is it not also a good thing to quarantine those with the sin disease?

         In effect it certainly is, but since God wants no one to lose his soul, He will usually remain patient and hope they will change their hearts before passing from this realm. Plus, even though it can be difficult to deal with, He would rather such sinners have interaction with those who are set free, in hopes that their living or spoken witness will bring salvation, as in the wheat and tares parable (Matthew 13:24-30).

         The Word specifically states, however, that real Christians must not have close relationships (being yoked together) with willful sinners. This is their method of quarantine.

         Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

         Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

         Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. [2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1]

         This may be termed a pre-separation, since at the end all sheep will be separated from the goats. In fact, if there is no “pre-separation” for believers there will likely not be any later separation either, since hanging around goats all the time often turns one into a goat. Real Christians must be separate from the world.

         Though most people do not understand the truth and refuse to try to understand, willfully sinful human beings are basically disease-ridden vermin, regardless of outward appearances, and God must sometimes rid the world of such vermin to protect the world and those who try hard to live right. Hardened criminals who engage in vile practices with no heart for others often shuck all pretense, and their mug shots reveal them for the vermin they are.

         But many less obvious willful sinners engage in unseen or unacknowledged sins (though just as deadly) and are mere posers who successfully transform their outer appearance to appear upstanding. For such confidence people, outward beauty is not merely skin deep but transcends to the soul. Some of the best posers are religious posers.

         “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:27-28] [1]

         I wonder if that brought on any conviction?

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Throwing Down the Hammer: Conviction of Sin (1)

         “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” [Jeremiah 23:29]

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         “I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” [Revelation 2:23]

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         Almost everyone on the planet thinks he is a good person. There will almost always be someone in someone’s circle of family and friends to honor him regardless of his faults or transgressions. Many continue to honor family members and friends in this way after they pass on. In most cases, like at most funerals, those who have passed on are perceived as veritable saints. They are commended for their personalities, work habits, virtues, or seemingly inherent goodness. It’s rare that someone is not honored at his funeral.

         There is thus a natural defense mechanism in those who defend the ones who cannot defend themselves, and to pay tribute to those who they deem good and have lived a good life. Because there is an emotional connection and love, and because feelings are tender, we always have a tendency to remember the good.

         But such remembrances are usually not complete. God certainly sees the good things we have done, but He also sees the bad things. He knows our virtues, but He also knows our vices. Like most of us, I don’t think His intention is to trash fallible human beings at such a time, those who have done many good things in life and had good intentions or possessed what may be referred to as a “good heart.” He proved this by becoming one of us and giving His life on our behalf.

         But He will never simply cover over our sins or refuse to acknowledge them as most of us would do. That is our foible. It is up to each individual to face the facts in this regard.

         …For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23]

         Sin is the most uncomfortable aspect of humanity. We all know we do things we would rather not (excepting, of course, the super saints among us), and many are actually so bound by sin and out of control they are helpless to stop bad behavior. Other people try everything they know to be righteous and often succeed from a human standpoint, but are haunted by failures they cannot overcome. Here’s a guy with this exact problem:

         “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” [Romans 7:19] [1]

         Since there seems to be no cure whatsoever, the solution for many is to simply redefine sin. If all the bad we do is actually not sin (something wrong or evil), then such actions are merely basic and indigenous expressions of humanity. In other words, if there is no such thing as sin then there is no such thing as sinners. It is relatively simple and easy to deceive oneself regarding this, but even easier when society as a whole teaches and enforces the idea, since individual sinners find comfort and security in numbers. Hence, the trashing of longstanding moral codes that have proven to be very effective historically at keeping people and societies moral. This is especially true of the Law of Moses.

         The Torah has POWER in that it brings CONVICTION.

         But conviction of sin is not comfortable. Humans would rather not believe they are perpetrators of evil. Thus, the acknowledgement of sin is opposed by self-righteousness, and the self-righteous are currently winning the battle since they have become the majority. The concept of sin is no longer a viable issue within society as a whole. The truth of sin has generally been rejected.

         But why is this idea just as strong among “Christians?” Why have so many church officials and congregations redefined sin and even eliminated it? Before the Lord brings conviction of sin to the world, He must first bring conviction of sin to Christians. When He does, all who pay attention find out who the real Christians among us are, because real Christians respond to the conviction. Real Christians respond with real repentance, since they acknowledge their sins and feel anguish, distress, and sorrow as a result. Barring such a response, all non-responders, including unreal Christians, remain unconverted, are no different than unregenerate humanity, and remain in their sins.

         The Word of God shines a light upon us outwardly and inwardly, to the depths of our hearts and down to the very genetic and DNA structure. If one has any sin, the Word will reveal it. This is why conviction of sin is a GREAT thing, because it shocks every individual with knowledge of their disease. And sin is the worst of any and all diseases, metastasizing even to the soul.

         Many people have virus protection for their computers. Also, people go to the doctor and get checkups. They have routine medical examinations. And such examinations, like scanning one’s computer, are so thorough and all-encompassing that anything possibly wrong is rarely missed. The technology for detecting problems, even at a very early level, is impressive.

         Now imagine the Word of God as a sin detector. God searches the soul the way doctors and medical technicians examine the physical body. While their means are impressive, His methods are perfect.

         But they can only work if we make an appointment.

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.