Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that that God will bless you today with ears that hear the Word rather than hear the world. May God give you a sensitivity to what He says, as well as a discernment to differentiate it with what you hear from the world.
We’ve been looking at the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit versus the religious practice of giving ourselves a beat down when we sin. Knowing the difference between these two things – between yourself and the true work of the Holy Spirit is vital to your spiritual health. Let’s look again at the passage where we are being exposed to the Holy Spirit’s convicting work.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. John 16:7-11 (NASB)
The Holy Spirit is going to make a distinction between what He says and what the world says. Note that the passage says that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world concerning some very important things. For now, though, I want to focus in on the fact that He will convict the world. This means the Holy Spirit is going to show us some things and, regardless of what the world has to say on the issue, what the Spirit says is right every time.
This is priceless to us because the world has a lot to say when it comes to the way we live and the morals we hold fast. There are a number of ways that the world can be an accessory to a beat-down. First, the world can say something is right, when it is not. The world may say it is morally OK for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unplanned pregnancy, but God’s Word does not agree. In this case, what is beat down is God’s Word. All aspects of sexual immorality play this hand, saying that it does not matter what a person does in their private life. God begs to differ, and says so numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments.
The second way the world can be an accessory to a beat down is by speaking through religious people. So often religious people – even Christian religious people - say that something is right or wrong, yet do so outside the bounds of Scripture. Over the years religious codes take on a life of their own and are used to beat down those who dare to live contrary to them. Hair lengths, hem lengths, music styles, among others have been added to religious code books, even though they are not specified in God’s Word. Some of the worst spiritual beat-downs ever come from those who use the code book to beat those who do not live by what is written in it.
Another way we see the world participating in spiritual beat-downs is by making those who hold to biblical morals feel like they are ignorant because they do. Arrogance is disguised as sophistication and education in this worldly ploy. People make fun of the Bible and its views, stating that they are old and outdated. One is left with the thought that they are some kind of spiritual and cultural bumpkin who fell off the turnip truck if they hold such views. And God forbid if anyone tries to champion biblical values publically. They are either shouted down or talked to like they are idiots. The lesson is clear – if you want to hold to such things – just realize that you will be considered an illiterate, uncultured moron by the rest of society. Even worse there are those who are called bigots, racists, fear-mongers, misogynists, and just plain evil if they hold to moral views that are contrary to closely guarded societal norms. Beat downs can even move to being physical in some circumstances.
The wise believer though, learns to hear with more than just his or her ears. They learn to filter everything with the Word of God. Thus they avoid either adding to or subtracting from what God has already revealed about Himself and His will. There is one warning you need to hear about thinking like this. What you are avoiding is spiritual beat-downs that are not of God – beat-downs that may seem helpful, but are actually hindering your relationship with God. Seeing and hearing life as God’s Word affirms may actually lead to a different kind of beat-down . . . one that is from the world and those who defend its ways. There is a different name for that kind of beat-down – Persecution. Don’t be upset if you are persecuted by the world, though. That is not a bad thing. Actually, Jesus said that we should rejoice and be glad – because that is how they treated the prophets of God.
Don’t be surprised then when the Holy Spirit rises up within you and says that those worldly actions and thoughts you are having are wrong and sinful. Learn to check that conviction with God’s Word – and – if the Word of God concurs – repent and confess those things as sin. But, if the Word and the Spirit show you that your concerns and conviction were in error, learn to let go of them no matter where you got them (either the world or even religiousness). The Holy Spirit will use God’s Word to guide you in this. Discern from the Word what is God and what is not. If the conviction is His, respond in confession and repentance. But if the conviction is NOT – know that receiving it will do nothing to bring you to peace and an intimacy with God.