The Conviction of Sin and Our Effective Response

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

We have a very wonderful God who provides us with such great hope. We are saved by hope. It is a hope in which although we feel condemned and the condemnation is upon us, there is hope through Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is the hope that is spoken of in Titus.

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Here is another hope; looking for the appearing of Jesus Christ, the second coming of our Lord and Saviour. When these two hopes are both challenged in our mind, when Jesus is there searching His children through and through with as it were eyes of flame, there is a challenge that is expressed, a challenge that comes to all of us at some point or another; Who shall be able to stand?

As we are so very close to the coming of Jesus and we know that it will capture people as a thief in the night and that they will be surprised, there is a certain amount of anxiety there. When Jesus closes His intercession for humanity to ultimately leave heaven and come to this earth to meet His people, are all my sins erased out of the heavenly sanctuary that has recorded them? Are we ready for the close of probation? This is a certain kind of anxiety that is included with the hope.

The words of the Spirit of Prophecy deepen our appreciation of this question, Who is able to stand when it is a closed door?

The rapidly diminishing space of time between us and eternity should more deeply impress us. Every day that passes makes one less left us to complete our work of perfecting character…. {OHC 346.5}

You can see here a certain suggestion coming to us, Perfecting of character? How am I? What is my character like? When probation closes, that’s the time in reference to which Jesus says that it will catch you by surprise. When that door closes, when the work of Jesus is complete in heaven, my character needs to be perfect. How is it? Am I making progress?

A deep conviction strikes the soul and we become humbled. Our soul is filled with a humble dependence of O dear, Lord, I hope for Your salvation, I want to trust You. There is a certain amount of comfort found in this resolve that I want to be ready. That means I’m a Christian because I want to be ready! My soul is touched even with the sense of my desire for the Lord. Yes, it is the Holy Spirit that gives us that desire. Even the yearning for something better than I have is the work of the Holy Spirit within me. But in that resolve in that desire to be ready, God will assist us for He will also do His part to make this happen.

God has perfect photograph of our character in heaven:

As the artist transfers to the canvas the features of the face, so the features of each individual character are transferred to the books of heaven. God has a perfect photograph of every man’s character, {5BC 1085.4}

That is a bit frightening, isn’t it? He has all my character there in front of Him, like in a photograph.

…and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin (ST July 31, 1901). {5BC 1085.4}

In my yearning to be ready for Jesus concluding His work in the sanctuary, God is at work too. He is bringing about circumstances by His orchestration to reveal to me the defects that mar my character. There I am with all earnestness trying to see what’s wrong with me and then He makes it apparent to me and I become afraid because all that He shows me is what I didn’t really expect. We always have a higher opinion of ourselves than what the reality is.

We have a conviction that strikes us and as we read God’s word, that conviction is the work of the Lord. So we come with a wonderful sense of I am being convinced of the Lord and I have a sense of sanctity. I have a sense that I am a child of God. He is dealing with me nicely. But is this sense that I am a child of God, I’ve got hope, it’s wonderful, all that we are to have?

Here is what we now want to enlarge; the effective response to that conviction. As character defects with their baleful effects especially in those around us, dawn upon us, what now? You know what it is like, you press other people’s buttons by your own character defects and you wonder why they react to you and you marvel and say, it’s their fault, not mine. But it is my character defects that affect others and their character defects are revealed by their reaction to my character defects. So it goes round and round and round and God is there trying to help us.

When we are convicted with a certain awareness that the word of God and God Himself is affecting us with, we often stop short because the inward conviction, the acknowledgment that God is working with me, fills me with that sense of sanctity and serenity. I have confessed to God because He has shown me and now I feel a certain sense of serenity. But we often stop short there when we should move on. We want to see what is required after this wonderful sense that God is working with me has taken hold upon my conviction.

Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. {SC 39.1}

We have a great hope and that fills us with a sense of, wonderful, I’ve got hope. But we must be careful that we don’t stop short on the sense of hope, on the sense that God is accepting me even though I am a sinner.
There are many people in the churches of today who are claiming that they are God’s children and that they are God’s church because they can actually have these deep senses of God’s care for them. God has helped them here or there, they testify of what He has done for them and therefore they feel very secure. But a lot of the things that God is doing for them that are meant to led them on. But they stop short of this. They may even confess that they are sinners. Confession though, will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation.

There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us: {SC 39.1}

Now that we have been convicted and we can see our sinfulness and the character defects that God is helping us to see, it must be followed with this:

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16, 17. “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” Ezekiel 33:15. Paul says, speaking of the work of repentance: “Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:11. {SC 39.1}

Confession is not acceptable to God without the next exercise. What is that? To repent and reform. To make changes so that those things that God has made us aware of and that we are confessing are actually stopped in our life.

There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. {SC 23.3}

They stop short. They think they are in a repentant state by confessing. Let us examine the true effective response to conviction and confession. God helps us to understand what is meant by repentance in this scripture of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 33:10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins [be] upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

God is saying, You feel convicted? You can see where you really are? Well, that’s good, but turn, turn from your ways. Follow repentance.

Ezekiel 33:14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 [If] the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

Although we have sinned and we are worthy of death, yet if we will turn away, we will live. We often read these things in regards to the gross sins. We don’t regard that He is not only talking about that but about our character defects by which we also cause death and spiritual deformity. All of these things need to be cleaned out of our life. The conviction and confession must be followed with the washing of our characters in the blood of the Lamb.

Confession is one thing, but the next step needs to take place as well.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth

Shall have mercy? No, it says something else:

Proverbs 28:13 …and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy.

The confession of a sin not covering it, is only the first part of the equation. Forsaking it comes into it as well. That can only happen through repentance. The confession is expressed in the following scripture and there is a surrender of the soul in repentance:

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Here is a surrender to God. Many stop short of that.

Psalm 139:24 And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The other steps are here expressed. Lord, lead me now so that I can not only understand what my character defects are, but that I will follow the way of righteousness of putting away these things.

In summary; I come to a point of conviction, I get the beautiful sense of hope that with my conviction there is a possibility of getting rid of these things. I confess and I feel, that’s it. No, in this beautiful sense of God’s presence repentance means a sincere heartfelt sorrow over my condition and sin. A confessing of it to God and a determined forsaking of the action, practice, thought and impulse. This is part of the exercise. That is the effective response to the arrival of the conviction.

It will avail nothing for us to do penance or to flatter ourselves that by our own works we shall merit or purchase an inheritance among the saints. When the question was asked Christ, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” {MB 87.3}

When Peter was preaching to the people on the day of Pentecost, they were struck to their hearts. The work of the Holy Spirit was reaching them and they said, what must we do?

He answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” John 6:28, 29. Repentance is turning from self to Christ; and when we receive Christ so that through faith He can live His life in us, good works will be manifest. {MB 87.3}

Now comes this powerful transition of understanding. We are convicted of our sins, we know we have to change because God’s word says so, and we cannot even generate the change of ourselves. The conviction comes from God and the change comes from God. When the people were asking, What must we do to be saved? What works shall we do? Jesus says, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. There lies the answer within the frame of repentance; because we can’t even repent correctly. It can only come through Christ.

Where do we obtain an attitude that will not only recognise that yes, this is my problem, but that will actually repent and make the change? An attitude that doesn’t just say, that’s just me, Jesus covers my sins. You’re going to have to put up with me as I am. This is often the case. But Jesus works much deeper than that. We need an attitude change. Sometimes we think we have a change of attitude because now I am surrendered but I don’t change. I need to change. The character must be purified. I can’t continue the way I am under the precious hope that I’m going to be saved.

Where does the attitude change come from?

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

We need an attitude change and here is something that plays in front of our mind’s eye, the gift of God of His Son that we might live through Him. A love that we do not naturally have. We look at this love and we see that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. A gift to change to our minds, a propitiation. A gift to change our attitude.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

We receive a conviction, we are filled with a deep sense of God’s love for us, and that love that He is expanding upon us in giving us Jesus Christ is meant to take us further and further. It is meant to affect my attitude. This goodness, this love, is meant to do something inside of me. It is not just for me to marvel upon it, not just for me to say, Wow, isn’t God wonderful? This is what many Christian say but they don’t change. They just marvel and rejoice and go on in their own lifestyle, when really their lifestyle is not in harmony with God’s lifestyle. They rejoice over God’s mercy and over God’s love.

The scripture in Romans 2 is a continuation of the terrible subject of typical Christianity that knows what’s right and wrong and is convicted and begins to judge each other because that is what happens when people are not focused upon the real thing, they begin to judge one another,

Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

When we are convicted by the conviction of the law, the conviction becomes deepened by the death of Jesus Christ. But that’s not the end of it. It is to lead me to repentance. What is that? It is to have a sincere heartfelt sorrow over my condition and sin, a confessing of it to God and a determined forsaking of action, practice, thought and impulse. This is what the goodness of God is to lead me to. I am to be so wrapped with the precious sacrifice of Jesus that my attitude changes, that I am filled with an attitude of true diligence to change. As I come to this diligent effort to change, I keep on looking at Jesus and as I take hold of Him it changes me by the powerful love that is extended to me. My attitude changes to an attitude of repentance. I will not stay here anymore. I will occupy my mind with Jesus so much that it will change me. I am to actually understand the great sacrifice of Jesus so that when I take hold of Him and I believe in Him, it changes my attitude and fills me with repentance. The blood of Jesus is the effect upon my response.

Romans 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The first covenant, the first testament, was that which convicted the people of their sin. They broke their promises and they realised their true condition. Now the blood of Jesus and His mediatorial work is there for them gain the change which they couldn’t gain because they had promised to do it in their own strength. But by looking to Jesus, the blood of Jesus purges the mind. It purges the mind, and leads me to realise what a helpless case I am and how dependent I am on Jesus. It purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. It is true repentance.

What does the blood of Jesus do? This is the characteristic of the 144,000 which you and I need to be amongst.

Revelation 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

This is a subject that we need to understand, how to wash our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. In other words, the contemplation of the deep sacrifice of Jesus, the depth of His suffering, that is His blood that was shed. Not simply the physical pain, but the deep agony of soul that caused His heart to rupture. As we gaze upon that, how can we continue in our old lifestyle? How can we continue with the same attitudes of the past? As we view the Father not sparing His own Son as He turns upon my sins in Christ, this should produce a state of mind that leads to true repentance. As the apostle put it, what vehement desire this repentance brings about in us, what clearing of ourselves, what antagonism against sin and against these character defects that I am affecting other people with so that I will now so focus upon Jesus that my love and my response are complete, so that I will make restitution.

Watching Jesus with all our shame and sorrow, and hearing His outcry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and then His appeal, “Is it nothing to you?” do all these things have an effect on you? or are you just passing by and looking at it and saying, Yes, isn’t He wonderful? Jesus is saying, You are drawing near to Me with your lips but your heart isn’t in it. Is it nothing to you?

Lamentations 1:12 [Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted [me] in the day of his fierce anger.

His fierce anger upon the sins of you and me, the sins that He wants us to change and repent from. If we will turn because we are touched by this amazing gift of Jesus, then we are revealing that it is something to me. But so many people don’t pick it up. What was it that He was suffering so badly?

Lamentations 1:13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate [and] faint all the day. 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, [and] come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into [their] hands, [from whom] I am not able to rise up.

Is it nothing to you? Do you despise the amazing goodness of God, not realising that this is the avenue by which we are to repent? This is the gift of Jesus. Beholding Him, seeing Him suffering with my guilt and sin, and as I behold the depth of that, to cause me to truly repent, this is the gift of Jesus.

It is not now the work of the sinner to make peace with God, but to accept Christ as his peace and righteousness. {TMK 109.3}

This is repentance. To get rid of self, and to get hold of Jesus.

Thus man becomes one with Christ and one with God. There is no way by which the heart may be made holy, save through faith in Christ. Yet many think that repentance is a kind of preparation which men must originate themselves before they can come to Christ. They must take steps themselves in order to find Christ a mediator in their behalf. It is true that there must be repentance before there is pardon, but the sinner must come to Christ before he can find repentance. It is the virtue of Christ that strengthens and enlightens the soul, so that repentance may be godly and acceptable. . . . Repentance is as certainly a gift of Jesus Christ as is forgiveness of sins. Repentance cannot be experienced without Christ, for it is the repentance of which He is the author that is the ground upon which we may apply for pardon. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that men are led to repentance. {TMK 109.3}

The Holy Spirit takes of Jesus and shows it to us. He leads us to repentance.

It is from Christ that the grace of contrition comes, as well as the gift of pardon, and repentance as well as forgiveness of sins is procured only through the atoning blood of Christ. Those whom God pardons He first makes penitent. {TMK 109.3}

Repentance. The Lord has been leading us in these last days to understand the depth of Jesus Christ so that the convictions that come upon us and give us a sense that we are being worked upon by God, do not cause us to fall short. Although we might have a sense of being humbled and a sense of security because God is caring for us, there is another step to take;To make a change by true repentance. That true repentance is ceasing to do it yourself. It is letting go of self and embracing Christ in the meditations of His gift to us. That is the first impact of Christ’s sacrifice, to lead us to repentance and total victory, and final translation. That is the hope. Final victory and final translation.

May God help us that every time we have that overwhelming sense of conviction that strikes us, we don’t stop short of that. It is the knocking of Jesus upon the heart’s door. He waits for us to open the door to the full gamut of the truth of His sacrifice for us, so that it may affect and purge our minds and cause us to be affected to make the changes in our lives. May God help us to gain this.

Amen.

Posted on December 13, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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