"I tell you the truth; it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment; in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
- John 16:7-11 NIV -
At some point in the life of every person there comes a time of spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening can be defined as an awareness of things of the spirit, a realization that we are all primarily spiritual beings. It is the consciousness of God, and it brings with it an awareness of righteousness. With this realization comes awareness of sin and of impending judgment. This can occur again and again in our lives, yet a new recognition of the spiritual side of life does not necessarily produce renewal, regeneration of the spirit, or the beginning of a new life. Nevertheless, suddenly we know that the spiritual aspect of life exists and is real!
Spiritual awakenings occur under many different circumstances. Sometimes they happen in the most ordinary way on the most ordinary of days. Sometimes they occur when we are walking our dog, or working in our garden, or taking out the trash. Other times, they transpire when we are singing hymns, hearing a Bible message, or reading our Bibles. They may happen during times of stillness, silence, and meditation or in times of great danger. The most hardened people cry out to God if their boat is sinking or their plane is going down.
The immediate result of such an awakening is three-fold. We think of God and of His righteousness. We think of ourselves and of our sin. Then, we think of judgment. The thought of sin brings with it a thought of the paralysis, of being unable to overcome it. The thought of righteousness brings with it a sense of the impossibility of ever attaining it. The thought of judgment brings with it the realization of a guilty verdict that we pass on our own lives and of the sentence that we feel is hanging over our heads.
These thoughts are not peculiar to Christianity. Mankind has always known the fact of sin, the fact of righteousness, and the fact of judgment. These things were known long before Jesus came, but when He came He said that the Holy Spirit would come to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment”.
With the Holy Spirit's coming He put these three facts of life into a brand new perspective. He saw each one in relationship to Jesus Christ. Listen again to the words. “The Spirit will convict the world ... of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.”
From this point on, instead of dealing with us on the basis of all our individual sins, the Holy Spirit would deal with THE ROOT OF ALL SIN - OUR UNBELIEF. It is our unwillingness to accept the sacrifice Jesus made to offer us a new life.
We most often think of sin as rebellion against the laws, plans, and purposes of God. When speaking of sins, we may name murder, lust, lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, backbiting, laziness... The list can go on and on, but most people would say that the root of all sin is rebellion against the government of God. There is some truth in that, and in line with that thinking we need to add that sin is not an illness to be excused. It is not an inheritance to be pitied. It is not an unfortunate bad habit. SIN is turning our backs on God and focusing instead on ourselves. It is refusing to accept Jesus as the only way to God.
Read what Jesus said in John 14:1-6:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you so. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “ I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I dare say there is not one person sitting here today who can say, “I believe on Jesus, always, in all ways and at all times. I believe every promise in the Bible. I trust every path He is marking out for me. I believe on Him fully and completely!”
We often think we believe. We fervently declare our belief, but do we believe? Let me tell you of a wonderful young woman who sometimes came to see me. She was about to finish college. For several years she had been dating a Christian, and often we had prayed together over their relationship. I had been deeply touched by the way she voiced her commitment to God's plan for her life. Her prayers were always that God would choose His best for her.
One night I received a call from her. Between sobs she told me that the young man had broken off their engagement. She was devastated. As I listened I wondered where her faith had gone. Did she suddenly believe that God had not heard her prayers? Did she think He was not answering? Did she think He had gotten busy with someone else and had forgotten her? What was she thinking?
Another young couple, in love with one another, and in love with the Lord had wanted a family for a long time. The past 5 years had been marked by the financial expense and the emotional roller coaster of infertility. As time has passed their once bright testimony has been almost silenced.They voiced disappointment, frustration, discouragement, and doubt. Is God listening? Does He care? Where is He? Will He ever answer? What good is prayer?
We are all familiar with these stories for we have similar ones. I would guess that at some point in every life these questions are considered.
Where is the point in your life at which you no longer are believing on Him? What is it you can no longer trust Him for? The promises He makes to us are incredible. The promises He has already fulfilled on our behalf are stunning! His promises for our futures are astounding!
“Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself. The Lord will hear when I call to Him.”
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You.”
“My children will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:23-24
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
“Don't be deceived, my dear brothers, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
What is our response? The Holy Spirit speaks it . . . “Of sin, because they believe not on me.” Of sin, because My Word means nothing to them. Jesus lived a life that was directly opposed to doubt. His dedication in all things was to the throne of God. He did not question what His Father said or willed. We know that Jesus' life was lived amid imperfection, yet it was perfect. We know it was lived surrounded by impurity, yet it was pure. We know that amid treason, He was loyal. We know that His surrender and dedication to His Father never wavered. And we know that through His death He made our sin His own.
In taking responsibility for our sin He provides for us far more than forgiveness. He gives us far more than a pardon. He provides justification. He has done away with all of the guilt of our past, and He is waiting to energize all of the weakness of the present. He will strengthen our hearts to believe!
How often we ignore that offer. We fall back into old habit patterns of doubt and fear; and when we do, that is sin. It is the sin of unbelief, and there is no other sin left, because He has dealt with them all. The sins of the past are all gone. In the eyes of God it is as if they have never happened. I remember Mother teaching one Sunday morning that one thing God cannot do is remember our sin. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
There is no sin that exists in our present life that He cannot deal with. Think of it!
POINTS TO PONDER:
- Have you ever had a spiritual awakening?
- What do you remember about it?
- Over time, did it produce any change in your life? Explain.