When God Reveals Himself (Conviction of Sin)

When God Reveals Himself
Robert Wurtz II

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11 NKJV)

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 KJV)

There is an old saying among Pentecostals and Charismatics that states that, “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” This is a way of saying that when a person has an experience, that experience trumps all reason. In other words, the experience itself becomes the authoritative basis of belief. What then are we to say when we are told that gold dust, diamonds, and angel feather manifestations are proof that God’s glory was present in their meetings? What about sensations and flashes of light? What is the criteria with which we judge these things?

In the book of Acts God manifested Himself in powerful ways.   The time would fail to demonstrate the “effect” of these manifestations. Needless to say, nobody used them as a means of self-glorification or to show how their group was more spiritual and favored of God than another. Nobody used them to start a TV ministry. In fact, they were too busy getting their life together to boast or misuse what God was doing. 

Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Acts 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. Acts 5:11) 

Acts 19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 

When God manifest Himself in the book of Acts, the fear of the Lord fell upon people. Just as Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5, there was a sense in which the people cried out “Woe is me! For I am undone… I am a man of unclean lips and walk among a people of unclean lips.” When John the Revelator saw Jesus glorified in Revelation 1:17 he fell at His feet as dead. No dancing around. No going on “business as usual.” These manifestations rocked these men to the core. They were never the same. Isaiah gave the reason…for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5b KJV) 

A Blinding Light

Saul (who was present for Stephen’s sermon) was traveling along to Damascus persecuting Christians when suddenly he is confronted by the LORD. Blinded, falling to the ground — fearful and stunned, Saul hears these words, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (Act 9:4-5) Pricks were goads that farmers used to keep their animals plowing in a straight line. Some would “kick” against the goads only to suffer the pain of being gouged by the person in charge of keeping the animal going the right direction. It was uncomfortable. It was “hard” for them. Jesus used this metaphor to describe what Saul was doing. Saul was kicking against the strong dealings of the Holy Spirit. The Greeks and Romans used this same metaphor to denote a mortal man fighting against their pagan gods (Vincent). 

This theophany was not a pleasant experience for Saul, though a necessary one. The light of God’s glory overwhelmed him. In fact, when he was finally able to get back to his feet he opened his eyes and could see nothing (Gk. oudeis). Though he regains his sight enough to function, Paul (Saul) spent the rest of his life with eye damage as a constant reminder of this event (Acts 9:8, 9:17, 22:13, Galatians 4:15, 6:11). Saul (Paul) repented, was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. 
Convincing The World

Many things today masquerade as “the presence of God.” In fact, man can falsify both the presence and glory of God. He can falsify the sensation of a “presence” with music, sound and effects. He can falsify the glory of God with special lighting. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV) This is why it is essential to know the difference between the glory and presence of God and what is being manufactured with electricity. Shut the power to the building off and see what’s left. Then we will know the true and the false. The Holy Spirit does not come to put on a light show but to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. That is how you will know you are moving in the authentic; when people walk away changed into representatives of Jesus Christ on the earth — sons and daughters of God that reflect His personality. No change or even a “temporary change” only reinforces the falseness of the experience and adds to the disillusionment of people truly seeking the Lord.

While Jesus walked the earth He dealt with individuals and groups according to their need. He met them right where they were. This is why we find Him dealing gently with some and sternly with others. He was gentle with the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and Zacchaeus; but He was stern with most of the scribes and pharisees. His dealings fit their heart condition. In fact, when Jesus spoke with the rich young ruler He put His hand on the controversy that existed between God and him. It was his wealth. Jesus gave Him specific direction as to what to do to remedy the controversy. The rich young ruler went away sorrowful. He would not obey what God was telling him and could go no farther until he did. 

As a man Jesus was limited on the scope of His earthly ministry. This is why He stated, Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. The Helper is the Holy Spirit. He would be sent into the earth in a way not known before to do three specific things; And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The Holy Spirit was coming to bring to bear individually the reality of who Christ is and the sinful condition the person is in. 

First, God wants all people to know that they are indicted for their sins. We are charged with a life of sinning against the Holy God. We have sinned and God expects us first to acknowledge our sins. This is not shifting blame or “staying silent” as did king David at the first when he had sinned with Bathsheba. No excuses. Moreover, if we refuse to believe on Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross we will die in our sins. There is no other path to forgiveness than through the shed blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit convinces us of this reality. Once we have truly repented and believed (repented and believed in a way that God can ‘amen’ our repentance and faith) the Holy Spirit will apply the blood of Christ to our conscience – purging it from dead works to serve the Living God. Conviction is replaced with God’s Joy, Love and Peace, etc..

Second, God establishes authority in the life of a person by the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus has ascended, the Holy Spirit takes on His role pointing out the controversies we have with God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness. He will lead us or goad us (depending on our heart state and need) to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into all righteousness. He will lead us and teach us as surely as Jesus led and taught the disciples when He walked the earth. This is why Paul could say to the Ephesians, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” (see Ephesians 4:20ff) The Holy Spirit speaks the things of Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ speaks the will of Christ to the churches (Revelation 2-3). When we “hear” what the Spirit is saying to the churches we are hearing what “Christ” is saying to the churches.

Third, the Holy Spirit will convince us that there is coming a great judgment day. Satan’s judgment is sealed as evidenced by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ overcame the world – dashing all hopes the Devil could have had of prevailing in his schemes. There is nothing preventing judgment of every person alive but the mercy and grace of God alone. When the Holy Spirit comes to deal with us, He will make that plain. Paul took up this line in agreement with the Holy Spirit in Acts; “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Act 17:30-31 NKJV)

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