REVIVAL – THE LIVING WATER (8) – CONVICTION OF SIN
COME AND SEE A MAN!!!
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled Revival – The Living water (8) (Conviction of sin). Her main text was taken from the Book of John. “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him” (Jn 4:13-30).
We are still studying the wonderful revelation of the Living Water offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a symbol of eternal life, salvation, spiritual maturity, being filled with the Spirit, true worship, and revival. The simplest definition of revival is a repeat of the Book of Acts! The Living Water is offered by the Lord to the Woman at the well. The Samaritan woman is a sinner. She is also religious. She is seeking for truth, for meaning in her life. Our Lord directs the conversation to the point of the revelation of Himself. Please notice how He gently ‘increases and purifies’ the vision of salvation in her heart. Initially she sees him as a man, a needy man, a stranger, and a Jew. Then she sees him as a Prophet. Lastly, she sees Him as Christ, her Savior, and her Lord! He tells her about the true worship and then, He reveals Himself to her. “I who speak to you am He” (Jn 4:26). This is the exact moment when saving faith is born in her heart. She instantly believes that Christ is the Messiah. This is the moment when King Grace saves her soul! This is when she became born again, when she became a true worshipper of the only Living God. This is when, for the first time in her life, she drank the Living Water! From this moment in time, she is never the same person again! Halleluiah! As we read these words, we sense the power and the holiness of that moment. There is a wonderful anointing on this encounter. We feel it too as we read the story. Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved. Our Lord said this: “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7). We join the hosts of heaven and cry: “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev 5:12). In our Christian life and ministry, we all need to come to this holy moment. Eternal life bursts forth when truth is revealed as Love who died for us, that we may live! Glory to God!
SIN – THE HINDRANCE TO THE LIVING WATER
Our Lord guides this woman towards Himself, the only source of Living Water. As a sheep following her shepherd, she trusts, and she follows Him. Slowly, she sees that Jesus offers her a much greater life, much more satisfying than what she has experienced. She sees that He offers her something that no man can give to her. She is making spiritual progress. She comes to the point of faith saying: “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw”. This is a prayer. Talking to Jesus is prayer. At this moment, the Lord reveals to her the hindrance. That hindrance is called sin! She is a sinner. She desires a greater life, but she must repent of her sin. The Living Water comes from the Cross! Her flesh must die so that her spirit can live. This is the Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected, the only hope for mankind. Glory to God!
As you can see, immediately the woman expresses her desire to drink the free-living-water, our Lord suddenly changes the subject. He exposes her sin. “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (Jn 4:16-19). This is the center of the conversation. We should not be impatient and run over it. Doctor Jesus diagnoses her sickness and the reason why she is not fulfilled in this life. That ‘sickness’ is called sin! She now knows that she sin-sick. For the first time she knows that she needs a Savior who will not judge her for her sin, but who will forgive all her sins. She needs peace with God before she can have peace with men. Later, when she runs to the town to tell her people about Jesus, the first words that come from her lips were these: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did.” (Jn 4:29). She did not tell them about worship or the living water. What impressed and excited her the most was that Jesus ‘told her all the (sinful) things that she ever did’. What is the meaning of these words?
The woman has experienced what is called ‘conviction of sin’. We should look at this doctrine closely because without the conviction of sin and repentance no one becomes saved. None can drink from the promised Living water of eternal life. What is conviction of sin? It is the deep work done by the Holy Spirit preparing the sinner to become saved. For the first time in his life, the sinner is aware that he is a sinner and that he has offended God. Before now, the sinner feels good about himself. Even if he sins, he justifies himself calling sin a mistake. He does not see himself as an enemy of God who is going to be punished by God. He sees himself as a good person that occasionally may fall. Once the Holy Spirit ‘locates’ a sinner for salvation, He shines God’s light, God’s Truth, upon him. In that holy glorious light, the sinner now sees the truth, that he is guilty before God, condemned and deserving hell. This awakening of the conscience is purely the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord said about the Holy Spirit: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (Jn 16:8-11). Our Lord defines sin primarily as unbelief in Him! People born in Christian homes assume that they ‘believe in Jesus’ just because they know something about Him. The truth is that all are born sinners. We are all born lacking faith in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not aware of this sin until the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
The doctrine of ‘conviction of sin’ is hated by all religious unbelievers. It is because of this doctrine that Jesus was hated so much and eventually He was killed by the religious leaders. Read the Gospels and see the opposition our Lord experienced when He was telling the Jews to repent of sin. This is the truth: religion is the greatest enemy to salvation. The religious men are ignorant that they are sinners in need of a Savior. They think that they are already saved by their religious good works. That is a common deception even today!
The doctrine of sin is hated by many people. Few pastors preach about it. They present Jesus as the solution of all problems in life. They say that Jesus is the Savior, but they avoid preaching the Cross. Without repentance there is no salvation. True repentance is a change of mind and behavior when the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, any change of behavior is only religion. The spirit of religion is the greatest hindrance for men to be truly saved. Many people experience a superficial form of repentance of sin. That is why there are many ‘Christians’ who say that they are ‘born again’ but in fact, they are not saved. Many churches have a lot of activities but no power to save souls. What a false conviction of sin is? There is a difference between remorse and repentance. Remorse means to feel sorry that you were caught in sin. Repentance is being sorry that as a sinner you have offended God. Just ‘being sorry’ for your sins in general, is not good enough. For example, Judas had remorse for betraying Jesus, but he was not convicted of sin, and so, he did not repent. He committed suicide. Having a guilty conscience, being ashamed of something you have done, or even fearing that God will punish you, all that is still not conviction of sin. Occasionally, the unbelievers experience a guilty conscience when they commit sin, and they feel sorry for that. They try to atone for their sins with some good works. They try to change their behavior, to become more religious. But all these good works are still rooted in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is absent from these religious works. They profit nothing before God. Cults encourage good works as a form of conversion. Many churches are in fact cults. A cult is a religious gathering that follows a man. The people may look ‘Christian’ but they are not saved. They worship their leader. The people have a religious ‘conversion’ but they are not saved. They go to church, read the Bible, pray, fast, and give offerings. But they are not saved. They have never drunk the Living Water. Their leaders are false prophets who try to enter the sheepfold by an illegal door. Their so called ‘Christianity’ lacks the foundation of true repentance. It gives them false hopes of salvation. That is why cults are dangerous and many are trapped inside. But once they hear the Truth, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit convicts them of sin and many run to Jesus!
CONVICTION OF SIN – TRUE REPENTANCE
What then is the true conviction of sin done by the Holy Spirit? First, we need to know the definition of sin. In Greek, there are twelve words translated ‘sin’. For example, sin is called evil, lawlessness, wickedness, deception, slavery, guilt, or hypocrisy. The most common word in Greek is ‘harmatia’. It appears sixty times in the New Testament. This word means ‘to miss the mark’. It is like a man who shuts an arrow but misses the center of the target. The arrow goes astray. Sin is an insult to God! Sin a failure to please God who has a standard of righteousness for all men, how they should stand before Him. His standard is perfect, and it is according to His will. God cannot go down to men’s standard of behavior. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only Man who pleased God and achieved God’s standard of life. Because of Adam’s fall, all men are born sinners. They cannot please God. Because God is holy, He hates it. Sin is punished with death. That is why Jesus died on the Cross as a substitute for sinners. Sin cannot be atoned except thru the death of Christ. This is the Gospel we preach, Christ crucified and resurrected!
Sin is a break in God’s relationship with man. Sin separates man from God. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Is 59:2). Sin hinders man to arrive to glory. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). God made man for His glory. He made man to be like His Son Jesus Christ. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:29, 30). God designed the plan of salvation before the foundation of the World. From eternity God foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified some people. These are the children of God. Because this process is purely by the Grace of God, all the people whom God foreknew will be glorified. In fact, by faith, they are glorified already.
In Greek, the word ‘conviction’ is ‘elenxei’. It means “to convince someone of the truth; to rebuke, to discipline, to accuse, to show to be guilty, or to cross-examine a witness.” Imagine the court of God. You are the sinner in the box. The devil is your useless lawyer. The Holy Spirit acts as prosecuting attorney in the court. He exposes your sin, how wicked your heart is and how much you hate God. The Holy Spirit destroys all your arguments of self-righteousness and convinces you that you are guilty. You must die and go to hell. This process is spiritually and emotionally fearful. Like a Potter and his clay, the Holy Spirit breaks you. The fear of God is now going deep into your soul. You cannot save yourself! You feel like dying, going down and down. Suddenly, at the exact time, God’s time, you see Jesus crucified for you. You finally trust in Jesus! The Holy Spirit lifts you up from the miry clay of condemnation. You feel God’s mercy and grace lifting you up. You feel God’s love embracing you. The battle over your soul is over! King Grace has won! Jesus always wins! Halleluiah!
All sinners who got saved remember this conviction of sin as death to self. Some call it ‘the dark night of the soul’. They saw death face to face. They saw themselves condemned and going to hell. They accepted the verdict of the Judge, that they were wicked sinners and enemies to God. Initially, the sinner depends on the devil, his defending lawyer. He assumes that the devil is God. He is ignorant of the truth. He is deceived by the devil who gives him false hopes. But the Holy Spirit bombards the sinner with truth upon truth. He reveals to him that his lawyer, the devil, is a criminal and eternally condemned. As truth shines brighter, the sinner sees that he is lost. He has lost his case. There is no appeal in this court. God’s court is the highest court in the universe. He now totally surrenders to God trusting in the only Savior, Jesus Christ! At this point of saving faith, the Holy Spirit gives peace and joy. A sinner has been set free. A child of God is born into the Kingdom. There is no other way to be saved. There is no other way to drink from the Living Water. You need to be defeated and die at the Cross, for you to trust and appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ. Death first before eternal life! No other religion gives a sinner access to God. It is only thru Jesus! Only Thru Jesus!
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Cor 7:10, 11). The Holy Spirit convicts of sin bringing you to godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation. The fake ‘worldly sorrow’ leads to death. There is no conviction of sin in worldly sorrow, just a form of remorse and regret at being caught in sin. This godly sorrow is also called ‘conviction of sin’. The Holy Spirit leads on from sorrow, to repentance, and to salvation. This is the road leading to eternal life and to the Living Water. God starts the process, and He always ends it. For his glory! Conviction of sin is terribly painful. But it is ‘the injection’ of the Holy Spirit towards the cure from sin. It is the gift of God. Weeping is always before rejoicing! King David said: “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:4, 5). The weeping led by the Holy Spirit always ends in praise! Halleluiah!
Please observe that the Holy Spirit ‘convicts of sin’ (singular) and not of ‘sins’ (plural). Because of Adam’s fall, we are born sinners. Different sins are the works of the sinful nature. We are sinners not because we commit sins, but because we are born like that. Sin is like a congenital incurable disease. It cripples us, it blinds us, it enslaves us. Because as sinners we do not understand what holiness is, we are ignorant of how much God hates sin. Sin is the root of all our problems. The sins we commit are only branches of a deep root that only God can uproot. At the Cross, when Jesus died, God defeated and destroyed sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). God the Father sent God the Son to die on behalf of sinners, as our Substitute. Nothing else and nobody else can save us from the wrath of God, from death and hell. Only Jesus! Only Jesus! That is why we worship Him! “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev 5:12).
GOD’S METHOD TO CONVICT OF SIN
What is the method God uses to convict of sin? Most of the time the Holy Spirit uses anointed preaching of His Word, especially the preaching of the Gospel of Christ Crucified and resurrected. The Word of God is a spiritual sword that penetrates the hearts and convicts of sin. “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). Men can argue with religious arguments, but none can block the Word of God preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There is no shield against the Word of God. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12, 13). Once the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, you feel naked and exposed before God. You see God as your Judge. God the Father is the Creator of all and the Judge of all. But because Jesus lived and died as a Man, to save men, God gave the Son the authority to judge all men. He said: “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (Jn 5:22, 23). Jesus is not only the Savior of men, but He is their Judge!
EXAMPLES OF CONVICTION OF SIN AND TRUE REPENTANCE
People assume that they can repent and become saved anytime they wish. But it is not so. God has His own timing. The Holy Spirit must do this peculiar work of convicting of sin in you before you can be saved. Give Him glory! To be convicted is to feel in your heart the wickedness of sin. This happens when you see God’s beauty, His purity and holiness. When Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery, he ran away from her. He saw adultery as a sin not only against Potiphar, his master, but against God! Joseph told his mistress: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). You must be convicted of sin and repent of sin before you appreciate God’s Grace and Mercy and be able to worship Him. After David committed adultery and murder, he repented before God. The Lord used the Prophet Nathan to convict him of sin. Immediately David knew that he committed sin not only against men, but against God. He pleaded for mercy. He asked God to give him a new heart and a new spirit. He said: “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight, That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge” (Ps 51:1-4). When Isaiah saw God, he immediately saw himself as a sinner living among sinners. He was terrified before God. He said: “Woe to me! . . . I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Is 6:5). Prophet Isaiah was known as a righteous man. But in the light of God, he saw himself as a wretched sinner who needs mercy. This is the work of the Holy Spirit helping a sinner to repent of self-righteousness and pride.
Read the story of how Peter encountered the Lord. That night they went fishing but caught nothing. Jesus gets into Peter’s boat to preach the Gospel. Later, Jesus tells Peter to go back and fish again. Peter was reluctant to obey knowing that Jesus was not a fisherman. Eventually, Peter obeyed the command. He went back and caught so many fishes that his boat was sinking. Peter’s reaction to this miracle is interesting. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk 5:8). Why did he do that? The Holy Spirit convicted him of sin, especially of unbelief in Jesus. Peter saw the glory of Jesus in his boat! In the light of that glory, Peter saw his sinfulness. This is conviction of sin! It ends in worship and service to Jesus. He and the other disciples forsook all and followed Jesus!
It is the same with the Apostle Paul. He was a religious man, He hated Jesus and the believers. He tried his best to arrest and kill them. One day, the light of the glory of Jesus shines on him. He was immediately blinded. He was convicted of sin on the spot. “As he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:3-6). Apostle Paul was persecuting the Christians seeking to arrest them. But the Resurrected Christ arrested Paul. He tells Paul that ‘he is kicking against the goads.’ That describes a man who is striving with the Holy Spirit. No man can fight God and win! Convicted of sin, the persecutor of the church became the great Apostle Paul, a bondservant to Christ! Praise God!
Read the dramatic story of how the Philippian Jailer got saved (Acts 16:25-34). Paul and Silas delivered a slave girl from a spirit of divination. Her master was making money from her predictions. He got angry and he arrested Paul and Silas as troublemakers. The jailer put them in the inner cell of the prison. Over there, with chains on their feet, in the middle of the night, they prayed and praised God. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the foundation of the prison. All the doors opened, and all the chains got loosed. The jailer assumed that all the prisoners escaped, and he will be killed for that. So, he tried to commit suicide. But Paul stops him. The jailer falls at the feet of Paul and Silas saying: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Ac 16:30). Why did he say that? Paul did not preach to him. But in that moment, he sensed the presence of God. He was convicted of sin. He now sees himself as a sinner fighting God. He suddenly wants to be saved from his sins. He did not ask Paul: “What must I do not to lose my job or my life?’ No! He asked: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved from the wrath of God? I want to be like you, Paul! I want to have the same joy as you, Silas! I want to drink the living water like you people. I believe that Jesus, your God, is the only God who can save me and my household…” The prison became the place for evangelism! Never despise your problems. King Grace can manifest thru them and save many!
The Samaritan woman at the well sat with the Judge of all men. In a moment, she felt convicted of sin. She believed in Him who alone can save her. She drank the Living water. That is why the first words she spoke to the others was “Come and see a Man who told me all the things I ever did”. The nearer you go to Jesus, the greater the conviction of sin and the need for forgiveness. This is the primary work before any revival. The cry of the true worshipper is “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Rev 5:12). The cry of the true evangelist is “Come and see a Man!” (Jn 4:29). May we surrender to Jesus! May we cooperate with the workings of the Holy Spirit! Worship the Lord!