What is Conviction? (Part 3)

Seven Great Questions
(Part 3) What is Conviction?
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)



Since the fall of man the Holy Spirit has been striving with man. In Genesis 6:3 God tells us that man had given themselves over to the flesh and that His Spirit would not continue seeking to enforce His rule over them. If man continues to rebel, God, at His own discretion, will leave the person(s) to their own devices. There can be no more dreadful state than this, that God would remove the restraining influence of his Holy Spirit from them as a consequence of their continued rebellion.

We have a picture of what it is like to be “under conviction” from David in the Psalms. It happens that he had taken the wife of Uriah the Hitite and tried to cover it up. At first he tried to get Uriah to lay with her so he could shift the blame to the husband; but when that failed he sent a letter with Uriah to the leader of the army to abandon Uriah in the heat of the battle so he would be killed. David would eventually be confronted by Nathan the prophet, but in between the act and the confrontation he was in a state of denial. He went on with life doing what he called, “keeping silent.” We read, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah” (Psalms 32:3-4 NKJV) David was under tremendous conviction, but he still refused to acknowledge what he had done. Silence is the oldest trick in the book. People figure that if they don’t tell on themselves they can never be prosecuted. Denial is the Devil’s strategy for keeping a person from repentance. Pride enters in until a person’s vitality is all but gone. They become a shell of who they once were. The only solution is to stop resisting and allow God to “pour in the oil and the wine.”
 

Many centuries later, in Acts 7, Stephen is contending with the religious leaders in Israel. They had called him to the carpet to answer for his beliefs. After giving his sermon, he concludes with this statement, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV) He puts his hand on the pulse of the problem; not merely among the Jews who refused to believe, but among Gentiles as well. Simply stated God’s message to unrepentant man is, “You do always resist the Holy Spirit.”


Some time later 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 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 uses 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). 

 
Saul repented, was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. From that time forward he was taught of Christ and taught Christ to the people. In Romans he makes this statement that summarizes the examples we have given above, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.’ ” (Romans 2:4-6 NKJV) To resist God’s dealings is to store up (as in a treasury) not wealth, but wrath. God deals with people in a longsuffering, gracious manor. He provides for their needs. In fact, every good thing that we experience in our lives is a call from God to turn to Him in repentance and faith. Every breath we take and every bite of food we eat contains God’s fingerprint of grace. There is an eternal consequence, above the rest of our sins, for resisting God’s dealings. 
 

Convincing The World 


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 David at the first. 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) 


Summary 


The Holy Spirit has come into the world to convince (convict) the world of the truth of God’s claims. He will bring these things to bear upon us with a view to seeing us agree with God, turn from our evil ways, and allow Christ to be Savior and Lord. As ministers we must be conscious of the Holy Spirit’s function in the earth today. He has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. He has come to lead us into all righteousness. He has come to convey to the Saints the will of Christ and to lead us or goad us into fulfilling that will.   

 

New Feet On An Old Path

New Feet On An Old Path
Robert Wurtz II


Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before. (Joshua 3:4)

The children of Israel were preparing to cross over, with much anticipation, into the Promised Land. The people have their concepts of what this new life means, but the reality of the matter is that they have not passed this way before. Their forefathers wasted away and died in the wilderness until only Joshua and Caleb were left to lead. Rebellion springing from evil hearts of unbelief had so plagued the people that they did not enter into His promised rest. God having put all the unbelievers out, He was preparing to lead His people into a place that they could not now conceive of – a place where God would be present in such a way that He would carry all of his enemies before Him. 

Sanctify Yourselves

When God comes near our attention must be arrested and all preconceived notions of God must be cast down – to make way for the God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It was not time to think of God in a way they had thought of Him before or they had seen their rebellious forefathers think of Him: it was time to sanctify themselves and prepare for His arrival. For had God been with them He had driven their enemies out from before them – but rather the devil ran wild among them even as he does in our day. What shall we do Joshua? “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Why Joshua? Because you have not passed this way before. You have been a lot of ways, but you have not passed this way. You have tried a lot of gimmicks, but you have not passed this way before. 

By This Shall You Know


And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. (Joshus 3:10, 11)

God was about to drive the enemies out from before the Israelites. All He needed was to come – just to show up – in His manifest presence and the enemy would flee. Perhaps you’re already thinking of the passage: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7, 8) This has always been the pattern of it. When we are finally prepared to submit ourselves to God, we will know the manifest presence of God. But He must be exalted in our eyes. He must be sanctified in our hearts. We cannot think of Him as anything man-made, for He is the only “only one.” There is none like unto Him. Their forefathers perished  having concocted a “god” after their own lusts and imaginations that they might “play” before it. Jehovah (YHWH) was not a demon, whom they were dancing and playing around as if it were the lord. He is the majestic exalted One that holds all power in His hands. When He moves none can ask Him, What doest thou? You will know what the One True God is among you, because He will drive the enemy out from before Him. 

Jesus the True Joshua

When Jesus came into the world and began His ministry he was moving in an authority that was carrying all principality and power before it. Demons would fall at His feet and beg him not to destroy them or torment them before “the time.” Even the Disciples struggled and could not cast a demon out of one dear child that threw him into the fire and the water. Jesus was not happy. He referred to them as a twisted and faithless generation and demanded that the child be brought to Him. Jesus rebuked the demon and the child was healed instantly. (Matthew 17:15-18) Later they asked him why they could not do it – He said because the type of demon vexing the boy came out only by prayer and fasting. It took an extraordinary walk with God to deal with it. We need an extraordinary walk with God in this crisis hour. 

New Feet on an Old Path

The Disciples were often content in those days to allow Jesus to do the fasting and praying. They allowed Him to spend the time in communion with the Father. But as with Joshua so too with the Disciples, they will need to sanctify themselves and prepare for the coming of the Lord (inward and into man). He was not coming this time to take up residence in a building, but in the very Bodies of the people. Sanctify yourself Peter! Sanctify yourself John! For you have not passed this way before. You have walk with the Lord Jesus and you have healed the sick, but you have not passed this way heretofore. When God came in the book of Acts a history broke out upon the human race never before seen in human history. God was among the people carrying all before Him. Sometimes we forget how dreadful these times were. They watched Jesus ascend into Heaven after He had been raised from the dead. There is nothing like unto that in all of the scriptures. The Spirit was poured out and a transformation took place so complete, that it ushered 120 people into the Kingdom of God at once. They were moving in a reality no human being save the Lord Jesus Christ had known to this point. Sanctify yourselves you 120! Prepare the way of the Lord!… for you have not passed this way heretofore. The Lord Jesus had walked in this reality and now the 120 would take it up. Stunning things happened. Fearful things.

When God Comes

 By the time we get to Acts 5 two people had been smitten dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. Herod made the dreadful error of exalting himself in the presence of God and was was struck dead where he stood and worms ate him. (Acts 12:23) In the next chapter a pretender named Barjesus decides to act out in the midst of a move of God and the hand of the Lord came upon him – blinding him for a season until he could get some sense. Consider these verses to get a feel for what it must have been like to have lived the “book of Acts experience”:

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


“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.” (Acts 5:5 KJV)



“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Acts 5:11 KJV)


“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.” (Acts 19:17 KJV)

Chapter to chapter there are signs and wonders being performed, even demons being cast out. God was near and He was driving out His enemies before Him. The only limitation to this reality is when the people decide it is no longer necessary to sanctify themselves before the Lord. For Joshua and those that came across the Jordon they refused to throw down the gods and altars that littered the landscape. God warned them in Judges 1 and 2 that he would no longer drive their enemies out. Why? because the people were trying to entertain the very thing God wanted thrust out. So He left the enemies in the land to be thorns in their sides. God has often given the people what they demonstrate by their conduct that they want. 



God Came and God Went

The majority of people in Israel did not want God. That is why they died in the Wilderness. Had they wanted God, He would have never allowed them to die there. They wanted their sin and they longed to return to Egypt. They took a look at God on Mount Sinai and wanted no part of “that God.” So they fabricated one themselves to play around. This will be the pattern of the people over the centuries. Finally God is preparing to roll-out again. As bad as He wanted to stay – He cannot live in the filth of sin. The more the prophets called them back to the covenant the angrier and more high-handed the people became. Alas God laid it on the line in Jeremiah 6 when he stated emphatically:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BA)”>
    who have eyes<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BB)”> but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BC)”>
22 Should you not fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BD)”> me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BE)”> in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BF)”>
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BG)”> but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BH)”> hearts;
    they have turned aside<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BI)”> and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BK)”> in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BL)”>
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
 your sins have deprived you of good. (NIV)

It might as well read as a newspaper headline. people are committing sin in such high-handed ways that our forefathers would turn over in their graves. Nobody is asking “where is the Lord?” They are dancing around the golden calf of the man-made gods of much of modern Christian TV and radio. When was the last time you turned on the TV and trembled because He and not men were being exalted? When was the last time a mainline minister – ministered a sermon that so exalted Christ that it made you tremble before a holy God? They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God. 

Passing this Way

There is a way we need to pass that does not travel through the well trodden paths of the lusts of men; but a path like unto Israel walked when it followed behind the Ark of God or when the Church was born in the book of Acts. We cannot look back to a reference point and say “we will do this” or “we will do that” because you have not passed this way before. You have passed a lot of places and you have heard a lot of things, but you have not passed this way before. The way of separation and holiness. The way of set apart unto God – ness. A place of fasting and prayer. A place where the demons will know who Christians are unlike the bygone years of, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) There are no reference points outside of the book of Acts or moves of God like unto that – that we can look to. God has moved in book of acts power in times past, but for the overwhelming majority of us you have not passed this way before. May the Lord lead us into that place of absolute separation and faith that we may do his will in this desperate time. May the Lord speak to us words of direction that we might follow him as they did in the book of Acts. Not falling behind and not getting ahead. May the Lord gives us ears to hear once again what the Spirit is saying unto the churches. 




  

Living In Denial

Living In Denial
Robert Wurtz II

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. (Psalms 32:1-4) 

It is interesting to read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, because both Psalms contain confessions of a great series of sins that David once tried to cover up. In fact, his first attempt was so awful, that it vexes the mind that a human being could be capable of such things. Knowing the wife of Uriah the Hitite was carrying his baby, he ordered Uriah down to his home to lie with his wife. David’s intention was that Bathsheba lead her husband to believe the baby was his. One of the primary reasons for “thou shalt not commit adultery” was made a commandment was to prevent husbands from having to deal with the hellishness of spurious offspring. David figuerd, what Uriah didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. However, Uriah refused to obey. Even after Davil got him drunk he would not do it. Uriah was a man of great integrity; so David ordered his death.  

The Rev. D.L. Burch often said that some people are apt to read the story of David and Bathseeba and get so angry that they backslide. This is just a way of saying that the sin was bad enough to stumble the people on the receiving end of it. There are few things more vexing than trying to live a lie. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; so that is not the issue. The question surrounds covering our sin. It is an ancient practice. Millions upon millions have done it. 

When we come to Christ we are told to acknowledge our sins (1 John 1:9),
but what happens when we continue to live in denial of some serious sin that happened in our past? In a word, “fear.” Fear of discovery that turns into a general fear of almost everything and everyone. Fear leads to anger and hate. This is important to consider. Living a lie has the power to turn us on everyone and everything, including God. Why? People begin to hate the one they fear will discover their secret. Criminals often live in fear that the police will finally find that missing piece of evidence that links them to their crime. So they hate police. This is an oversimplification, but there is truth here. People grow to hate the one they live in fear of discovering and confronting them. Soon, fullblown paranoia sets in. Solomon said that the wicked flee when no one is chasing them. Why? Their conscience won’t let them rest. 




What will people think of me?

“The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)

David tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. This is what Psalm 32:1-4 is all about. He could not cover it forever. His life became a perpetual misery. He was vexed out day and night. He went so far as to try and get the husband Uriah to have relations with her to blame the sin on the husband. When that did not work he devised a plan to have the man killed. Why would he do it? Because he didn’t want anyone to discover what he had done. He had written many psalms (songs) and was in reputation for being a man of God. Pride rose up and told him he had to save face. He was dying within. The old fellowship with God was not what it was. Him and God had fallen out over this sin and rather than confess he did as the old writer wrote, “he told it like it used to be.” He referred to, and lived in, his past experience in God. Why? He had no fellowship. He also knew that he could not live this lie forever. A lying tongue is but for a moment. He knew that he would have to come clean.

Lies come of age

Lies are born and grow up to be monsters that we cannot control. When a lie is conceived it brings forth as surely as a woman with child. The world would say, “It comes home to roost.” It can take 1, 2, 5, 10 or even 20 years to develop. The longer it is allowed to grow, the harder it will be to deal with in the end. So it is best to deal with the thing by prevention. Don‘t commit a sin that you will have to later try and cover up. Fear of disappointing family and friends will drive you to do unconscionable things if you allow it. Denial is a first human and carnal response. David obviously did not want to disappoint the people, so he covered his sin as long as he possibly could. He was the great king and didn’t want people to think bad of him. It was pride. He tried to shift the blame here and there, all the while Bathsheba was the evidence that he had sinned. He could not deny it in the end; he could only postpone the inevitable.

Tired of running and hiding

It is sad that a good man had to die because of David’s sin. Indeed he was probably better off dead, than to live with knowing that his wife had become pregnant by another man. Understand that Uriah was a casualty of David’s sin. Sin always has consequences. In time the prophet Nathan appeared at his door and confronted him. “Thou art the man…” are the resounding words that echo down through the ages. This is God’s estimate of all of us. “Thou art the man… thou art the woman.” It was time to stop running. 

If we acknowledge… 

Over 20 years ago I was subpoenaed to testify in a federal civil lawsuit related to a former employer. As evidence in the case began to mount, so did the resistance. In time I asked why the parties would not just come clean and admit what they had done. One of the lawyers aids simply looked at me and said, “Robert, it is an age old problem known as denial.” 

I must say that denial is the enemy of forgiveness and restoration. The first step is to humble ourselves and acknowledge the sin. It can seem like the hardest thing we have ever done, but if we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ) David discovered this when he looked at Nathan and stated, “I have sinned against the Lord.” God’s response? And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13b) No waiting. No delay. As soon as he acknowledged what he had done, the lie was over with. What a powerful truth. He had to live with many consequences, but he could go forward now on the right path. If he had continued in denial the lie would have become a monster that totally destroyed him. The same is true of us. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can acknowledge our sins and move forward in God. 
 
 

  

 

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