Had an enlightening conversation awhile back. It moved me to ponder the likelihood there are many Christians who’ve only experienced half the Gospel, the hard part. Let me explain . . .
While there are many openings the Spirit of God enters to draw a soul into faith, at some point, that person has to be confronted with their need of a Savior. We commonly refer to this awareness as conviction of sin. Unless a person sees their need of a Savior, there’s little chance they’ll trust Him. 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 doesn’t 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.
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’s 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 God that cleansed him, offering himself for service.
Conviction isn’t the end. It’s the Spirit’s means to the end that we’d forsake sin, be forgiven and enter onto 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’ve 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 must access.
Don’t let your failure and sin eclipse God’s grace and forgiveness. Let conviction break you, so that you can be healed. Don’t stop or stall in conviction. Don’t climb off the table in mid-operation. Let conviction issue into repentance and the ineffable joy of forgiveness.