We have begun our series on Perfect Church?
As we do so I am aware of a risk to our spiritual health. This blog entry is intended to help us head in the right direction.
When Jesus speaks to the 7 local churches in the book of Revelation, he ends each message with a plea for them to listen to what he is saying. Time and time again he urges them to change their direction completely (repent) otherwise they will face the consequences of their actions.
This means that a teaching series on the local church from these messages may result in some pretty tough words for us all. When those words fall upon our ears, we have a choice to receive or to reject them. Jesus makes it clear that listening is the only option.
But what do we do once we have heard Jesus speak to us about the state of our hearts?
At this point we are faced with a choice – condemnation or conviction. Let me explain how we can spot the difference and choose wisely… Imagine each choice is a road we can travel down. Conviction leads to reflections on the sacrificial work of our Saviour. Condemnation leads to reflections on ourselves. The first road ends at Jesus, the second road ends at self.
The fork splitting the two roads is the Cross.
Whilst reading the Bible or listening to teaching, Jesus pins some stuff on you or I about our lives. We know he is right and we feel remorse and the need to change.
The road of condemnation
It feels like conviction by the Holy Spirit, but it is actually a human-driven remorse, guilt and sorrow. It sends us in the wrong direction and we end up in a place where we wallow and drown in the world of ‘me’. This reminds us of what Paul said:
22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Romans 7
The road of conviction
This may also arouse emotions of remorse, guilt and sorrow but there is a subtle difference. This time the feelings have been given to us by the Holy Spirit and he sends us on the right road. The place we end up this time is worship of Jesus.
You see Paul did not finish his his letter at verse 24 of Romans 7. He continued…
24… Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Choose the road of condemnation and we end up looking at ourselves, in a state of entrapment, idolatry, guilt and a hopeless resignation at our behaviour.
Choose the road of conviction and we end up at the Cross, in a state of freedom, worship, hope and the power to change.