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Mature in Faith’s Conviction of Sin

When is disillusionment a very good gift?

by Andy Davis on March 12, 2024

sanctification and seeing yourself clearly
"Faith is the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
"Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me-- it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it." Psalm 141:5  


The Christian life begins with conviction of personal sin. Jesus said plainly, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31). If someone thinks he is spiritually well, healthy, and righteous in himself, Jesus can do nothing for him. He did not enter the world to throw bouquets of compliments around to a world of already righteous people. He came because the world was universally drowning in sin and there was no remedy apart from him. So, when the Holy Spirit is regenerating a person, he is both filling him with attraction toward Christ and with repulsion toward himself. The Holy Spirit is working conviction of sin within his heart to show that, apart from Christ, he is most certainly lost for all eternity. But that convicting work by the Spirit only begins at the moment of saving faith. It must develop and continue for the rest of the sinner’s life.

So, maturing Christians develop a deep and detailed conviction of personal sin. We learn progressively over the whole of the Christian life how very deeply stained within we truly are, how far our minds and hearts and lifestyles are from Christ, how radically we must continue to be transformed. Every single new convert vastly underestimates his inner corruptions. The Spirit is given to help educate him. So, as a new convert begins to mature, he reads more and more of the perfect word of God. He sees within its pages the perfect divine law, summarized by the Two Great Commandments—love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength; love your neighbor as you do yourself. He sees how selfish his tendencies are, how godless, how independently of the King he tends to live his life, how shameful are many of his motives. He sees habits of the heart that are hateful, lawless, and destructive toward others. This progressive enlightenment is very painful but necessary.

"Maturing Christians develop a deep and detailed conviction of personal sin."

The second half of the “faith definition” in Hebrews 11:1 is rooted in a Greek word that has to do with reproof or rebuke for sin. Faith is the eyesight of the soul; some of what faith sees is self, seen truly and accurately in the “perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25). He begins to realize more than ever before that the work of salvation from indwelling sin has just begun. As Paul did in Romans 7, he sees that often the very things he has learned from the word to hate, he does; the very things he yearns to see develop in his life, he doesn’t do. He has learned to delight in God’s law from his innermost being, but he progressively sees that when he wants to do good, evil is immediately there with him. He is truly wretched in heart and body and yearns for a full and complete deliverance from indwelling sin. He knows that someday God will do that through Christ. In the meantime, he is ready to be convicted of sin. A spiritually mature person welcomes honest and constructive rebuke or correction from anyone. He expects it, needs it, and humbly receives it as a profound kindness. Over time he has learned to slay the pride that rises within him when someone brings such a correction.

So, a truly mature Christian man or woman is continually developing a heart-felt, detailed, and accurate conviction of indwelling sin.

Tags: sin, holy spirit, sanctification, internal journey