Conviction versus guilt

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer ...

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer Sargent. 1921. The erinyes represent the guilt for murdering his mother. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is there a difference between conviction and guilt?

I heard that guilt is a good thing. But, I maintain that guilt is never a good thing. Instead, conviction is the good thing that leads us to change our behavior – either via apology and often through restitution. On the other hand, guilt leads to self-loathing and inaction. Guilt comes through demonic forces aligned against the Christian. The demon whispers, “Look what you’ve done! You worthless creature. How can anyone love you? Why would God forgive that?!”

Conviction comes from God, the Holy Spirit. He whispers also. But His whisper is gentle, a reminder that your guilt is taken care already through the shed blood of Jesus Christ but that apology and restitution are your tasks. God says, “Go and tell your neighbor you are sorry, and if you took from him, give it back and give something more for good measure.”

Therefore, I say, guilt is not of God. Conviction is.

Nine Days ( by Carley Evans )

Holy Spirit

(Photo credit: micmol )

For the past nine days, I’ve seen a marked drop-off in visits to Grace Partakers, and a bit – well, that may be stretching the truth — of an increase here at obsecrations. When things are going along merrily and then suddenly not, I take pause. Have I done something to displease others? Wait. That doesn’t really matter compared to the key question: Have I done something to offend the Holy Spirit? I can’t even imagine going through a full day without offending God’s Holy Spirit here and there, so the critical question: Have I done something to offend the Holy Spirit without confessing it? Yes. I imagine so.

Sometimes, it’s quite obvious what I’ve done to offend. Other times, I’m not so sure. Things that I believe offend Him most include: spiritual pride, arrogance, hatred, self-hatred, envy, jealousy, rage, depression, loneliness. I can almost hear you protest — depression? Loneliness?

I’m going to let that percolate in your own minds for a while before coming back to those ‘sins’ later; perhaps much later.

Oh — please forgive me.

The Most Excellent Way ( by Carley Evans )

I’m always disturbed by Christians who denounce that God is primarily love — Christians who proclaim that God is primarily a being of wrath, retribution, punishment. God demands holiness, for sure. Our holiness, however, is due only to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who is, of course, God Himself. Without God within, we are not — in the least — holy.

Paul writes of “the most excellent way” in his letter to the church at Corinth. He says ultimately speaking in tongues, prophecy, generosity, even great faith and hope — if these exist in a vacuum devoid of love — then they are nothing; they gain nothing for us or for God.

The most excellent way is the way of love. Paul writes, “Follow the way of love.” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NIV)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)

Self-flattery ( by Jonathan Edwards )

“All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail.” (Jonathan Edwards, 1741)

The Kingdom is Near ( by Carley Evans )

John the Baptist preaches in the Desert of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2, NIV) He warns the Pharisees to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

Paul writes,

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Jesus says,

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Sovereign Lord, thank You for producing the fruits of Your Holy Spirit through us. Ready us for Your coming harvest. Let us be the full kernel of grain and not the dead root of a barren tree. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Therefore Take Notice ( by Carley Evans )

Paul finds himself in Rome lodging by himself, except for a soldier to guard him. He spends “two full years at his own expense, with a welcome to all who come to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:30-31,NEB)

Earlier in his stay, Paul tells the local Jewish leaders that Isaiah gets his message directly from God, the Holy Spirit when he writes:

“Go to this people and say: ‘You may hear and hear, but you will never understand; you may look and look, but you will never see. For this people’s mind has become gross; their ears are dulled, and their eyes are closed. Otherwise, their eyes might see, their ears hear, and their mind understand, and then they might turn again, and I would heal them.'” (Acts 28:25-28)

Paul tells them the result. He says, “Therefore take notice” God speaks to those who listen. (Acts 28:28) Paul spends two years proclaiming and teaching in Rome. Take notice: Paul teaches the facts and proclaims the truth of the salvation of God “to all who come to him.” (Acts 28:30) He welcomes them into his home for they are ready to listen and understand God’s Word.

Father God, give us Your wisdom to speak to those who are readied by Your Holy Spirit to hear Your Truths. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Grateful? ( by Carley Evans )

Here in the United States, we – as a nation – celebrate the third Thursday in the month of November as Thanksgiving. We give thanks to — hmm? Who do we thank on Thanksgiving? Perhaps many of us give thanks to the unknown god. An unknown god is some thing out there some where.

And for what are we thankful? And why thank this unknown god?

As for me, I’m grateful to the Almighty God, I Am. For what am I grateful? I’m grateful He knows me.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving-kindnesses. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Confess Seventy times Seven ( by Carley Evans )

I’ve had interesting, sometimes frustrating discussions with two or three Christians over the past several years about whether or not Christians continue to commit sins after being reborn into the faith. One of these persons I consider a dear friend, although we have alarmingly different views of what God does in our lives. Another I gave up as an acquaintance on Facebook – something I’d never done before or since – because of constant insults – and the last is someone who apparently gave up on me. The only one of the three with whom I made a huge mistake is the second. Never turn away from a fellow believer, says our Lord. Well, that’s not entirely true, is it? Paul and Jesus command us to avoid the person who refuses to repent when confronted first privately and only later, publicly.

So, the question becomes: do we always obey God? Are we perfected immediately upon being sealed with God, the Holy Spirit?

Yes, it is true God gives us a new life, and He provides power. And if we avail ourselves of that power consistently, then it does follow logically that we would stop sinning completely. However, I believe scripture teaches us that we do not always allow God’s power to fully work in our day to day existence. Sometimes, we cater to our own desires. Sometimes we do not flee our adversary who entangles us so easily in sin, if you believe the Word of God anyway.

If this is not true, then why does James tell us to “confess [our] sins to each other and pray for each other so that [we] may be healed?” (James 5:16, NIV)

Why does James tell us not to “grumble against each other, brothers” if we do not at times deliberately step into sin? Why does he speak at length about the fire our tongues unleash if our tongues are not used to sin against each other? Why does he tells us “not to slander one another?” (James 4:11) Why does he warn us not to “speak against [our] brother or judge him?” (James 4:11) Why does he warn us not to boast about our plans to “carry on business and make money?” (James 4:13) Why does Paul rebuke the church at Corinth in regards to sins even pagans do not commit? Why does he rebuke those who call for circumcision? Why does he rebuke those who treat the communion table as a buffet? Remember, Paul is speaking to Christians, not to unbelievers.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

Peter asks Jesus how many times must he forgive his brother who sins against him, “Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21) Of course, Jesus responds, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)

Here’s the Bridegroom ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus is consistent in His warning that no one “knows the day or the hour” of His return. He encourages us to “keep watch,” to be ready, not to “become drowsy and fall asleep” just because He “is a long time coming.” (Matthew 25:13,5; NIV)

The wise virgins not only carry their lamps; they buy and carry extra oil and so are ready for the bridegroom when He comes to the wedding banquet. The foolish virgins also have lamps, but they do not purchase oil; their lamps burn a short time, then go dark for lack of fuel.

They try to get the wise virgins to give them some of their oil, but the wise virgins know that what they have, they need. They are unwilling to give up the crucial oil for their lamps. They say to the foolish ones, “Go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” (Matthew 25:9)

While the foolish virgins are off purchasing oil, the Bridegroom arrives, taking the wise virgins to the marriage feast prepared for His bride. By the time the foolish virgins return with the purchased oil, it is too late. The door is shut. The virgins whose lamps went dark stand outside and shout, “Open the door for us!” (Matthew 25:11)

But the Bridegroom doesn’t recognize them, and tells them so. “I don’t know you.” (Matthew 25:12)

Why doesn’t He know them? Because the oil they carry for their lamps is not of Him. The oil He provides to them burns up, and is not replenished from its source. Once the Bridegroom returns, the oil is no longer available. It is truly too late for those outside the door.

Father God, help us to cherish Your Holy Spirit, the guarantor of our salvation and the worker of our sanctification. Let us not seek Your Spirit when it is too late to find Him. Today is the Day of our salvation. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


Many Say, “I Am He” ( by Carley Evans )

False prophecy is bizarre, to say the least! From the elderly man who claims the world is ending on this or that date to the young woman who says this or that is happening as a result of something only she understands, we are bombarded by less than intelligent, rather unbelievable verbal dung, if you pardon this expression.

This verbal dung is not surprising. What is surprising, to me anyway, is people believing it — people following after these false gods, these fake representations of our Lord.

Only one explanation:  these people who follow false prophets are unfamiliar with the Word of God, which is the guidebook for right living. Instead, they believe God the Holy Spirit speaks randomly through any source. They forget or do not realize God speaks to us through His Word. His Word is His Truth.

Frankly, if a prophecy is not in the written Word of God, I do not even listen to it, much less believe it.

Dearest Heavenly Father, help us to test the claims of men against the truths of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ Name, amen.