Understanding conviction, as an opportunity for Christians to draw closer to God, can be a challenge. It has been for me, and I am confident it has been the same for others. If you are not familiar with conviction, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. We are brought by the Holy Spirit to the realization of how God sees us; sinful and defiled, in need of saving, and with the ultimate intent for us to seek repentance.
Conviction is the vehicle by which the Holy Spirit draws us to God. Guilt is a tool of the enemy to keep us ashamed and separated from God. Guilt can play a part in conviction, but it is not the primary agent. I have written about guilt in the past. You can read more HERE.
While the purpose of conviction may be understood; the idea of conviction, and the feelings of shame that accompany it, make it difficult to pursue. However, if you desire wholeness and genuine intimacy with God; pursuing conviction must become an integral part of your walk with Jesus. Conviction is a path to wholeness.
It is important to understand the difference between allowing only moments of conviction, and choosing to pursue it. When we make a habit of accepting less than the pursuit, brokenness will occur.
You Become Blind
When you do not pursue conviction, it becomes more difficult to discover hidden sin. Drunkenness, angry outbursts, and watching pornography are obvious sins. When you treat someone harshly, or drink too much at the office party; saying a prayer to ask forgiveness and guidance, from the Holy Spirit, would be logical. These are moments of conviction. When we fail to pursue conviction, we will easily miss less obvious sins. We relinquish our ability to see those hidden sins. Behaviors that reflect selfishness, lustful thoughts, or secretly, harbored anger toward someone, are not as apparent and will be easily overlooked.
You Become Numb
When you become blind to less blatant sins, you tend to become numb to hurting others, especially when it doesn’t directly affect you. You will develop an indifference to how your behavior impacts others. It is in these deeper issues of the heart, where pursuing conviction will reveal indifference, and those less blatant sins. You may even notice that you have hurt someone. However, failing to pursue conviction leads you to ignoring your sin. Eventually you will notice your sin less and less; until numbness becomes your norm.
Pursuing conviction is not about finding things in your life to feel bad about. The pursuit is about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you into freedom. It is about pursuing the righteousness of God, so desperately, that nothing is off limits to Him. Your pursuit will invite Him into every part of your heart and life, for the purpose of purging and cleansing anything that may separate you from Him.
Pursuing conviction simply means pursuing the heart of God for what is good and right. It is about desiring forgiveness and allowing Him to conform you to His will. It is about obeying Jesus’ commands to love each other, love God, and love others. It is not about making you feel guilt and shame, but rather beckoning you to Him so that you become cleansed and whole. When you live a life in pursuit of conviction, what you are doing is living a life in pursuit of righteousness and the Father. And the truth of this is, any pursuit that you believe you initiated, is actually your response to God’s pursuit of you. His Holy Spirit offers us conviction. It is always God pursuing us.
So, how do we live in the pursuit of conviction, or better yet, how do we respond to God’s pursuit of us through the impartation of conviction. One of the best ways to do this is through the study of what are called the Spiritual Disciplines. Below is the list of disciplines that Dallas Willard and Richard Foster provided. You can read more about these disciplines HERE. Willard and Foster divided them into two categories.
Letting Go (Disciplines of Abstinence)
These practices allow us to give up, or let go, of certain things for the purpose of gaining something new in God. The disciplines of abstinence are:
Solitude – Spending time alone to be with God.
Silence – Removing noisy distractions to hear from God.
Fasting – Skipping a meal(s) to find greater nourishment from God.
Frugality – Learning to live with less money and still meet your basic needs.
Chastity – Voluntarily choosing to abstain from sexual pleasures for a time (those pleasures that are deemed morally right in the bond of marriage) to find higher fulfillment in God.
Secrecy – Avoiding self-promotion, practice serving God without others knowing.
Sacrifice – Giving of our resources beyond what seems reasonable to remind us of our dependence on Christ.
Engaging (Disciplines of Activity)
These practices are about making the decision to engage in activities that grow us deeper into Christ and nurture and strengthen us in Him.
Study – Spending time reading the Scriptures and meditating on its meaning and importance to our lives.
Worship – Offering praise and adoration to God.
Prayer – Talking to and listening to God about your relationship with Him and about the concerns of others.
Fellowship – Mutual caring and ministry in the body of Christ.
Confession – Regularly confess your sins to the Lord and other trusted individuals.
Submission – Humbling yourself before God and others while seeking accountability in relationships.
As we seek to lead a life in response to conviction, we would do well to pray the same prayer David offered in Psalm 139. He asked, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Surely this is a dangerous prayer to our hidden sin, but as we seek to draw near to God, He is true to keep His promise to draw near to us. May each of us ultimately recognize the Love of the Father, as found within the pursuit of conviction.