Repentance, With Conviction
©2012 Stan Hallett
I once knew a man who sought the Holy Spirit for many years. I asked the Lord why he did not receive it, even though he appeared to seek the Lord often. He often appeared to be broken and contrite, yet still he did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
During the service later that same morning a message was preached, and part of the context at the end was about repentance, a simple about face, a changing of direction, or turning from your will for your life to God’s Will. A concept I knew very well . . . but then the words came to me “with conviction”.
I remembered about how in my younger years I was a heavy cigarette smoker. Many times I made attempts to quit smoking. I tried to quit for many reasons, such as smoking was bad for my health, smoking caused me to have shortness of breath, smoking smelled, getting on my clothes and person, on my family, inside my car, and inside my home. Smoking was costly on a monetary level. Smoking was looked down on in many circles. Smoking was not allowed in many public places and many homes, making it more a more difficult to be a smoker.
For all of these reasons and more, I tried to quit smoking many times in my life. Sometimes I waited until I finished my last cigarette. Sometimes I put them aside and tried. Sometimes I threw away cigarettes and tried. Every time I tried, I failed. Most times I only went for a few hours, or a day, before I caved in and just had to have a cigarette.
The problem was that even though I knew that I should quit, and I knew of the good reasons why, I simply could not quit because I did not really want to quit. The truth was that I enjoyed smoking and I wanted to smoke, more than I wanted to quit.
It was not until I had made up my mind that I did not want to be a smoker anymore with firm conviction, a made up mind, that I was able to quit. Was there an slight addiction and desire from dependency and habit? Yes, but desire and conviction can override that. I simply replaced it with a piece of hard candy (butterscotch was my favorite) every time that I felt the urge to reach for a cigarette. I simply replaced it with a piece of candy instead. After a week or two I no longer had the urge. In fact the smell of cigarette smoke became repulsive to me. This was all on my own, I was not walking with the Lord at all at the time that I quit.
What was the difference from all the other times that I made attempts to quit earlier? It was that I had conviction, and my mind was made up. . . . there was no going back.
Repentance can be a very difficult thing for some people. They want God in their life and they believe His Word. They may have been baptized in Jesus’ name, which was easy for them to do. They just had to present themselves and be baptized. But sometimes they have some sinful habit in their life, perhaps some secret sin or sins that they just cannot let go of. It has become an addiction to them. They want to be saved, but they want the pleasure of the sin more. It may be fornication, pornography, or something else.
They know that they have this problem, and feel that if they can just get God to heal them from this thing, they can make it. But the truth is that they desire it, and because they desire it more than they want God’s Will in their life, they are not truly repentant and God knows it.
Does this mean that one must be a non smoker before they are filled with the Holy Ghost? No. Does it mean that one has to be living a righteous life first? No, not at all. But nether can we know we are doing something that is of a sinful nature, not be repentant of it, and expect God will fill us with His Spirit.
Perhaps, they feel that if they can just be filled with the Holy Spirit that this thing will be taken away from them. The truth is that as long as we are here on this earth, in this mortal body, we will always have our flesh. God does not make us robots. He does not circumvent your own will with His. We have to chose His Will for our life over our own will. In other words repent, with conviction.
Yes, the Holy Spirit will give us the power to be able to withstand the temptations of the flesh and Satan, but until we die, or God raptures His Church, we still will have our flesh.
I once taught a teen Sunday School class in which I taught a lesson on what true repentance is. It is a complete letting go of our flesh and the things of this world and a taking hold of the things of God. I placed two throw rugs on the floor several feet apart representing opposite sides of a great divide. One side represented Satan, this world, and things of the flesh. The other side represented God, Heaven, the things of God, and His Will for our life.
The only way that one could reach the other side was to leap free of this world leaving everything behind. No way to cling onto anything that is bound to this world and still reach the other side. If you hung onto anything it would keep you bound to this world, making you unable to reach the other side.
One needed to be convinced that this world held nothing for them, to have conviction and purpose of mind that they we going to make a decision for permanent change. . . God’s Will for my life and not mine.
Naturally this is a spiritual leap and not a physical one, but is every bit as real. The battlefield is in the heart and mind of every individual.
Yes, sin separates us from God. None of us are righteous, no not one. However, regardless if you committed adultery last night, watched pornography, or lied yesterday, or stole money this morning. . . if you truly repent with conviction, then God can save you and fill you with His Spirit right where you are. To do this we must desire His Will for our life more than that thing that we need to repent of.
Yes, when we comprehend the salvation message, the Gospel, and understand that He died for us and paid the price for our sins, we can be pricked in our heart, sorrowful for our sin, we can become contrite and even weep. This is natural. But realizing our position with God and becoming aware of our sin, and being sorrowful is not what is required to be saved. It is repentance or a turning away from sin and our will with conviction. It is a made up mind that we want God’s Will for our life, and that we are going to be obedient to His Word from that moment on.
You can’t fake it with God. You can fool the congregation and the pastor, but God sees the heart. Repent with conviction, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
How do we overcome sin? The same way that I overcame smoking; every time a sinful desire comes our way, we simply replace it with worship, prayer, some time in God’s Word, and the sweet things of God.