Do you ever just feel, well, EXPOSED? No matter how well I try to keep my schedule organized, my tendencies to extremes in check, and my heart tender toward God and the people He has placed in my life, I somehow seem to accumulate an embarrassing pile of spiritual garbage! If other people don’t manage to point it out first, the Holy Spirit eventually gets around to it — and I am BUSTED! I stand before God with my garbage bags full and no hope of getting them to the dumpster without having to acknowledge that I cannot carry it myself!
GUESS WHAT! That acknowledgment is exactly what God wants from me! He did not design me to bear my own sin and clean myself up. In fact, that is an impossible feat! He wants to remove it and carry it away for me. However, I tend to buy in to the enemy’s way of thinking, which sounds somewhat like this: “You know, this garbage looks very similar to the garbage you always seem to generate. You’ve made these same mistakes many times before. In fact, you really haven’t improved at all over the past several years, in spite of God’s influence in your life. You might as well forget this game you are playing with turning over a new leaf and pretending you are being transformed. Really, admit it! You are a blight to the Kingdom. You can’t even seem to repent properly. You should be ashamed of yourself. Even God won’t want to bother with you anymore. You are incorrigible; even HE can’t fix you.”
At some point (usually after a few days of such tormenting diatribe!), I suddenly recognize the fruit of condemnation: a tendency in myself to begin withdrawing from God and avoid talking to Him, as I feel ashamed and unlovable. Since the Bible admonishes us that we will know good and evil by its fruit (Matthew 7:16; 12:33), and God certainly does not want us to withdraw from Him (James 4:8; Jeremiah 29:13), we can be confident that our withdrawal is the fruit of condemnation, a weapon of the enemy.
Conviction, as opposed to condemnation, is a tool used by the Holy Spirit to expose sin for the purpose of bringing us to repentance and, ultimately, healing. It is the KINDNESS of God, not severity or judgment, that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). In His mercy, God exposes our sins and weaknesses for the purpose of giving us the ability to recognize that we need Him. While the enemy exposes us to bring shame and condemnation, God only exposes for the purpose of healing. He shines His light on our garbage to point out the places He is planning to heal, the places where we feel exposed and vulnerable. God, the lover of our soul, wants us whole. He allows us to repent in order to draw us closer to Himself, to bring greater intimacy in our relationship with Him, not isolation or withdrawal.
The conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding the garbage He wants to remove from our lives is part of the glorious process of becoming new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). He gladly hauls all our mistakes, failings, sins, and bad decisions away to the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18-20; Hebrews 8:12)! God wants us to be reconciled with Him, to remain in intimate relationship with Him, to include Him in all our thoughts, dreams, hopes, plans, and activities. He LOVES us! The fruit of the Holy Spirit’s convicting spotlight on our sin is always a desire to draw closer to the One who loves us, heals us, frees us, and holds us to His heart.
Don’t allow the enemy to trap you into picking through your trash — let God remove it and make space in your heart for what He gives you in return: a huge deposit of His acceptance, healing, peace, and joy!