“You chicken!” “You didn’t share the gospel with her.” “When are you ever going to get the guts to share the gospel with her?” “God is probably so disappointed with you. You are such a lousy Christian.” Does any of that sound familiar? Have you had those types of conversations with yourself? I have learned over the years those type of thoughts do not come from the Holy Spirit.
How can I know? Because those thoughts aren’t based on the truth of God’s word. Yes, we are commanded to make disciples of all nations. We are to spread the gospel so others can believe. However, God does not call us a lousy Christian. God doesn’t shake his head in disappointment. The Holy Spirit points out sin and convicts us of our guilt, but he does not attack us. His conviction leads us to repentance, not wishing we could crawl under a rock.
Satan has the opposite goal. He wants us to crawl under a rock to render us harmless. He isn’t called the great accuser for grins and giggles. One of his tactics is to attack us with lies once we have sinned. He will use our sin against us, by lying about who we are and God’s response to us. He accuses us with generalities attacking our character and God’s. He wants us to forget that all our sin, past, present and future has already been paid for. He wants us to forget who we are in Christ. He knows the great potential a guilty conscience contains. It can paralyze us, confuse us, defeat us and estrange us from God, if we don’t take care of it properly.
How can we learn to deal with our sin in a healthy manner and combat Satan’s lies? We must remember the truth of the gospel. We have to filter out Satan’s attacks and listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Paul commends the Corinthians for their proper response to his rebuke in a previous letter. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2Corinthians 7:10 NIV) Paul was afraid he might have been too harsh in his letter when he rebuked them, but he said they responded with godly sorrow. What did godly sorrow look like? They repented and were motivated to live godly lives. What else does godly sorrow lead to? No regrets. When we live with regret, we live facing the past. It is hard to move forward staring at what’s behind us. We are to live looking forward, to the future.
Paul wrote to the Philippians concerning his attitude about his past and his goals, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14 NIV) Paul did not dwell on his past as a Christian persecutor. He understood he was completely forgiven for his past. Paul purposely strained toward the future God had for him.
When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, he is specific about the sin. He wants me to deal with the sin, not beat myself up. I usually respond with great sorrow. I am broken-hearted that my sin violates my holy God. I confess it and ask for forgiveness. Once I am forgiven, I can move on without regret. I know that I can ask God for his help so I learn to obey. I pray the Holy Spirit will alert me when I start to go down that same sinful path, so I can immediately stop in my tracks.
Let’s remember the truth of the gospel. We are completely forgiven and face no condemnation. When we hear condemning words in our heads, we won’t believe it! We will acknowledge they come from the pit of hell. Let’s respond when the Holy Spirit points out our sin with godly sorrow, including repentance and pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.