Reclaimed: Conviction

This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled “Reclaimed” which is all about becoming who you were created to be.  This series begins our focus on the work of the Holy Spirit and His ministry, the third core value of New Hope.

We learned last week about redemption, the very first step in any reclamation process.  Before I can restore a car back to its original condition or repurpose an old wire spool into a stylish coffee table or tear apart a barn to reuse it’s wood, I first must have possession of that item.  If I do not already own the item, I must redeem it.

God has redeemed us at the cost of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  He assigned our value and worth and paid the full price for us.  He assigned us that value not as a finished and completely restored person, but exactly as we are.  Jesus wants it all; our good and our bad, our failures and our victories, our sin and our shame, our highs and our lows.  He says that we are totally worth the cost!

The next step in the process of being reclaimed is one of the most uncomfortable for us.  Before we get to the good stuff and begin to walk in our full potential that we were created for, an assessment must take place.

Paul wrote about himself and Apollos (both leaders in the church):

1 Corinthians 3:9

For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

In the process of buying a building before closing on the sale, an inspection takes place.  Banks usually require it, but it’s wise for anyone making such a significant investment to have one done as well.  It’s easy for someone to purchase a building, slap some new paint on the walls and throw new flooring down and make it look incredible.  However, there could be significant issues lurking behind-the-scenes.

Problems accessing water, septic backing up, foundations failing, water coming into basements, water lines leaking, roofs failing; these are all repairs that would come at a huge cost!  Inspectors come in and review the building to look for and to report any issues with it.

Someone looking to reclaim a car will do a similar thing.  They will inspect the car and make an inventory of things that will need repaired or replaced.  Then, they’ll begin their work.

This is another paradox in the Kingdom of God.  How it impacts us and how we respond to this process is all about our perspective.  Here’s the trigger of this paradox: God begins to reveal to us who He created us to be and the purposes that He designed us to accomplish.

On one hand, it is so amazing and exciting to think that we could even obtain or achieve what He reveals to us!  It’s awe-inspiring that He sees that potential in our lives.  It stirs up a zeal and passion within us and a desire to reach that potential.  It causes us to want to change to become better and to do greater things.

On the other hand, we can easily begin to see just how far we are from that potential and begin to reflect on the ways that we wasted our lives in the past.  We can become discouraged and feel like we’re just not measuring up to God’s standard for us and feel overwhelmed as if though we could never even reach it.

God’s purpose for this revelation is to encourage and inspire us; to cause us to love Him even more and trust Him even greater.  However, our enemy can use this same revelation of God to discourage us and to cause us to feel like giving up and walking away from our potential.  Please, please, please, go with God on this one!

Thankfully, God rarely ever reveals to us the whole of our potential.  To do so would probably overwhelm us.  Just like any other reclamation process, God takes our transformation in steps working on a few things at a time.  We call this process sanctification; becoming who God created us to be as He reclaims us. 

For us to reach our full potential, the Holy Spirit acts in a way that we all desperately need, but few of us want experience known as conviction.  Jesus, speaking with His disciples before His death said:

John 16:7-8  (AMP)

7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment

And in case you almost get tripped up like I did in studying this, the Greek word used here for “the world” is the word kosmos meaning the universe and everything in it; both believers and unbelievers alike.  We all need a constant reminder of the guilt of our sin and our need for a Savior!

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, He does it not to shame nor condemn us.  Sin is missing the mark.  This includes both doing what we ought not do as well as not doing the things that we ought to be doing.  When we sin, we are missing our purpose.

1 John 3:4

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Jesus summarized the whole of God’s law given to His people through Moses as to love God with all of our heart mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:36-40) and to treat others as you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).  This is also the first five and second five commandments.  Thinking, speaking, and doing anything contradictory to this is sin. 

Sin isn’t just break the “thou shall nots,” though.

James 4:17

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

The only way for us to reach our full potential is to become aware of our sin.  We can’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit to work on a problem that we do not know that we have.  We need to be aware of the issues in our lives so that we can hand them over to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do His work of reclamation in those areas.

Ignorance is not bliss and what you don’t know can hurt you.  Not allowing the doctor to put the blood pressure cuff on you does not lower your blood pressure.  Turning the radio up does not fix your thinning brake pads.  Putting a pot under the spigot does not fix the leaky faucet.

All of our lives, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin.  We will never be without sin until the day that we are resurrected and receive our glorified bodies free of this flesh so weak and easily tempted. 

In fact, if the conviction of our own sin ever stops, that means that we’ve grown cold toward the Holy Spirit and deafened ourselves to His voice.  This is the most dangerous place that a Christian could ever be.  If we are there, then we need to repent ASAP!!! 

Hebrews 3:7-11

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8     do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion,

    during the time of testing in the wilderness,

9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,

    though for forty years they saw what I did.

10 That is why I was angry with that generation;

    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,

    and they have not known my ways.’

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,

    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

Likewise, if we ever begin to see sin in the lives of others more than in our own lives or spend more time thinking about and praying about their sin than our own, then we also need to repent ASAP!!!  Either one can happen so easily to any one of us, too!

Matthew 7:3-5

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Conviction is the result of a spiritual check-up.  This check-up is one that should be a routine part of our prayer life.  We should regularly cry out to God as David did here:

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting.

It’s good to be aware of our sin so that we can confess it, ask forgiveness for it, and walk in the grace of God to overcome it.  It’s OK, you sinner you, I’m one, too.  In fact, John wrote that:

1 John 1:8-10

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Sin is not the nemesis of God.  It is not the kryptonite to His Superman.  God simply forgives sin and washes it away so that it as if though we never sinned at all.  We simply confess it and ask forgiveness for it.  God wants us to be aware of our sin and it is a significant sign of being spiritually healthy. 

No, we don’t desire to continue in it, but we also do not hide it like a skeleton in our closet and try to hide it from everyone.  Concealing our sin does nobody any good and only leads to a slow and painful death for us.  Sometimes this is even physically speaking and not only a spiritual death.

Deuteronomy 8:2

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

God does not tempt us to sin, but He will lead us through situations that reveal to us who we truly are.  Sometimes, to prove to us that we are better and stronger and more capable than we give ourselves credit for!  And, yes, sometimes it is to show us something that we need to work on.

Think about this.  The most unloving thing that God could ever do is to allow us to walk around with a booger hanging out of our nose without bringing it to our attention.  He doesn’t do it to embarrass us, He does it to prevent our embarrassment.  He doesn’t do it to shame us, He does it to keep us from becoming ashamed.

When God comes at us with His tissue, it isn’t because we are unworthy of Him in our current state or that He is ashamed of us, it is because He loves us and wants to take care of our sin.  He wants to wash us clean so that we can hold our heads up high and be confident in who we are without anything entangling or ensnaring us or distracting us.

God does this so that we can reach our full potential and not miss out on who we were created to be.

The Holy Spirit does not just take us through rehab, He transforms us from the inside out.  He does not modify our behavior, He changes the way that we think about that behavior.  He does not just slap a new coat of paint on us to cover up our imperfections, He removes them and restores us properly.

God wants each and every one of us to reach our full potential for which we were created, not missing out on anything, but living our lives to their full!

For this to happen, redemption must first take place.  Then, conviction must come to reveal to us the areas of our lives that need to change.  It’s OK, whatever God points out, He is going to take care of and turn into something awesome!

After these two steps take place, well, that’s where things really get good and what we’ll be covering in the rest of this series!  🙂

Embrace the gift of conviction.  Be encouraged knowing that God sees something so great in you.  Be refreshed knowing that God is still excited about doing a work in your life.  Be eager for change as the Holy Spirit transforms you from the inside out.