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Celebrating Conviction: Learning to Find Joy in Repentance

Conviction has a terrible reputation. At times, we say it’s a prick of conscience when you consider doing something wrong (think Jiminy Cricket). Or it’s discussed as a heavy emotion we feel wrestling with our brokenness. Setting definitions aside, is conviction something you welcome in your spiritual life?

Ultimately, conviction is the awareness that we’ve sinned, and it’s a gift from the Holy Spirit. Without it, we’d often be blind to our sin. When we step into disputable matters or places where Scripture is silent, the Spirit’s conviction offers us a guiding light of discernment.

Unfortunately, as with anything that leads to repentance and growth, the enemy follows close on the heels of conviction. He distorts the words of hope and wisdom we find in the gospel—the promises of God’s faithfulness, despite our weakness—and replaces them with shame.

“God won’t use you. God can’t use you.”

“You’ll never be freed from this.”

“If they knew this about you….”

“Withdraw. Retreat. Give up.”

Friend, I hope you’re surrounded by Christian brothers and sisters who call those thoughts what they are—lies. The cross was a rescue mission, and praise God, you’ve been rescued.

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


That confidence has nothing to do with approaching God with a bargain or anything to offer in exchange for His grace. It’s the confidence that comes from a relationship with our High Priest, Jesus. Confidence that comes from following the Good Shepherd’s voice back to the sheepfold when we wandered. Confidence knowing our struggles matter to the King of the Universe.

When you face conviction and prayerfully approach God’s throne, what posture do you take?

The Old Testament presents several examples of conviction. Here’s one from the Book of Nehemiah as Israelite exiles resettled and rebuilt Jerusalem.

“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

The Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.’

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Nehemiah 8:9-12, NIV)


“Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”


This passage presents such a different picture of what conviction can look like in our lives. I love that last verse. They celebrated with great joy. Why? Because, now, they knew the truth.

These Israelites had been stumbling through their lives, unaware of the ways they’d been violating God’s law. And they were cut to the heart by that. The passage said they weren’t just discouraged or frustrated. They wept over their sin.

And, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with weeping. But I love how the leaders stepped in to bring a different perspective. After the people had spent the day, broken by their sin, the leaders encouraged them to celebrate in community. What a way to press reset culturally, to grieve and start fresh together in a spirit of truth and hope and loving generosity.

Friend, conviction isn’t something to be avoided. It’s a blessing. Conviction is God speaking through the Bible, the Spirit, and the counsel of other believers. If obeyed, it’s another step along the road of sanctification. That road leads to life and freedom.


“Friend, conviction isn’t something to be avoided. It’s a blessing.”


Let’s pray for that together.

God, You know my heart. You know my thoughts and sins. You know the ways I honor You and dishonor You, the ways I build up the bride of Christ and harm her. You placed Your Spirit inside me, but at times, Lord, I know I’ve grieved Him. Forgive me, Father.

Thank You, God, for the blood of Jesus that washed me clean and continues to remove my sins far from me. Open my eyes to the ways I fall short. Draw me back to Your Word. I want to be changed by it. I want to be shaped by it. I want to experience conviction because I know obeying it brings life.

God, give me wisdom and strength to approach You with confidence when I fall. Help me to know You more and more. I want to celebrate the good fruit that begins with conviction, Father. When I encounter Your truth, I want to respond with joy because I know You’re at work. Thank You for pursuing and adopting a sinner like me.

I ask this in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

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