Which is easier: to ask God for forgiveness of past sins, or to ask Him to take the sin out of your life altogether? I venture to say, it is easier to ask for forgiveness of the past. Some will even argue that we should not concern ourselves with whether we sin against God–just as long as we believe Jesus died for our sins, we are “good to go”.
Others, feeling the pain of conviction and realizing their great unworthiness, hesitate to pray the prayer of David: “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2)
I guess we should not be surprised at our struggle. Even the great apostle Paul struggled in the battle of selfish desire versus God-given longings to do right.
God wants to make us pure.
The question need not be whether God wants to make us pure, holy, true representatives of His character. The Bible evidence on this point is abundant. The well-known 23rd Psalm says, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake,” and “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me….” Where is the room for cowardice? Certainly not in God’s promises!
Has anyone ever tried telling you that you are setting your standards too high? Take a look at 1 Peter 2:21-24: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: who did no sin….”
This same passage gives us a peek into the purpose of the cross, as well: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed….”
Jesus does not want to save us in sin; He wants to save us from sin!
What are we waiting for?
So what are we waiting for? The fact of the matter is, conviction hurts. We hesitate to pray the prayer of David because we know what comes next. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord….”
For this very reason, I like to pray for courage and strength, right along with my prayer for conviction. I know that I, myself, am powerless to change…but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
What we tend to forget, though, is that these verses have another half.
The pain is not the end!
“Examine me, O Lord” is coupled with “I have trusted in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide” and “for thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes”.
“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep” and “Humble yourselves” are followed by the promise “and he shall lift you up”!
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: for he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
Yes, conviction hurts; but the healing that comes afterwards is more complete than we could have ever dreamed.
Now let us look for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Amen!
What are your favorite verses to share with children about the conviction of sin and the hope that follows through Jesus?
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