“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
People are not judged because they are in darkness or because their deeds are evil. They are judged on their response to the Light who has come into their darkness to save and transform them. It is not being in darkness that brings ultimate judgment, but staying in it when God has made a way out. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of the central sin of not believing in Jesus. (John 16:9) Without Christ, who is the Light (John 1:4), there can be no real relationship with God.
When a relationship with God is established, the Holy Spirit brings light into the remaining darkness of a believer. It is not ours to make ourselves better, but rather to cooperate with the Spirit who alone can bring us into closer union with Jesus and internally conform us to His beautiful image.
I have marveled for years at how wonderful Christ is yet how long it seems to take us to change. Here are four wrong responses to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life:
- “Not now…” This is the response of procrastination. “You are right, I need to work on that area, but not now because I’m busy.” We are often able to put off conviction by simply involving ourselves in something else.
- “Relax, it’s not that bad…” This is the response of justification. “Everybody does this, in fact, I even know pastors who do this so it’s not a big deal.” God doesn’t compare us to other people so it is very dangerous to base your righteousness on what you think other people get away with.
- “It’s not my fault…” This is the response of blame. “What I am doing is okay because I’m in a lot of pain right now; pain, by the way, that You allowed.” God has compassion on our hurts and pains – He is the friend of sinners. However, our pain does not excuse our sin.
- “I agree, so I will now punish myself…” This is the response of works. “I will do more so this bad feeling will go away.” Don’t bypass the cross by punishing yourself. Jesus took the punishment so we could be free from the guilt, shame, and power of sin.