This is Part 3 in a series on the Biblical Process of Change:
There are many reasons why you don't see lasting change in your life, even after receiving help and counsel from pastors, therapists, psychiatrists, and friends. One of the primary reasons is because you aren't truly concerned or have never been taught to care about what your sin has done to your relationship with God. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, conviction is the second step in the process of true, Biblical change. But what on earth is conviction, and how does it help bring lasting life change to someone like you?
Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit that reveals and impresses upon an individual person the way God views their behavior, what it has done to their relationship with God, and gives them a desire for true repentance and restored fellowship with God. Much of modern counseling, even so-called “Christian” counseling, is aimed simply at making a person feel better or happier. This might bring short term results, but apart from the Biblical process, it will not bring lasting change. We need a right diagnosis of the problem before we can find the right solution. While there are many side effects, our ultimate problem is that sin cuts us of from and puts us at odds with God.
If you truly want to change you must understand from God's Word exactly how your sin offends God and destroys your own life. It's easy to see the mess we cause in our own lives and in the lives of people around us, but we cannot miss the offense that our sin is to God. When we understand this fact we can begin to feel the deep conviction the Holy Spirit brings, not just a desire to avoid consequences or get out of trouble, but a true desire to be a different kind of person from the inside out.
If you try to change your behavior without a change in your relationship to God, the entire change will be outward and legalistic. This type of behavior is just as displeasing to God as obvious sinful rebellion. True lasting change can only come from the heart, and ultimately, only God in Christ can change your heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Conviction is not something to avoid, Jesus convicts only those whom he truly cares about (Revelation 3:19). Sinful behavior is not necessary, it is not genetic, it is not predetermined for us, it is not forced upon us by our parents or by the circumstances of life. Sinful behavior is a choice, and true conviction makes this clear to us and leaves us without excuse before a Holy and Righteous God.
BUT, Conviction, like Teaching, is certainly not the end. Conviction is not to be drawn out in some morbid exercise of introspection. Conviction isn't meant to demoralize God's people, but light the path for the true way to change. Next week we will look at the next step, repentance.
Caleb Land is the director of the Gilmer Christian Learning Center in Ellijay, GA. For more information about the work of the CLC, please visit www.gilmerclc.org.