I read a story the other day that started some problems in my thinking. It involved a Church's judgment on a matter. I am not going into the story itself. I have always tried to share here things that God has taught me, and in that matter I am not sure if I have learned what I was supposed to. But what I would like to talk about was my reaction.
I apologize for being vague here. I want to get to what I did learn without bringing in what I have not. Basically, the situation in the story had a vague, backdoor pseudo-application to a situation I went through- a situation Satan likes to keep at the forefront, because it is a weak spot in my emotional-spiritual armor. Because of that backdoor "connection", the story re-ignited a debate in me about whether I was in the Will of God on the subject. While it wouldn't invalidate anything I have tried to share here, it would have invalidated ME as the sharer- at least in my mind. And what God showed me was, that that very thing proves this debate was not from God.
You see, God, through His Holy Spirit, CONVICTS us of sin.
John 16 7 Nevertheless 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 depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He [c]will take of Mine and declare it to you.
The word convict here has nothing to do with sentencing or levying of punishment. Among the words the concordance uses to translate the word "elegcho" are reprove, admonish- and yes, convince. This is to a Christian, the Spirit working through what we call our conscience. When God has a problem with your actions, He has the Spirit admonish and convince you of your wrong-ness.
On the other hand, the Devil's very name means, "false accuser". He was false when he tried to accuse Job; he was false in his accusations of the High Priest Joshua. Like with Eve, he accuses with just a fragment of truth- enough to convince you to doubt. To throw you into trauma, make you question things that you shouldn't. As I write this, I just finished reading Paul's trials before Felix and Festus in Acts 22-25. Over and over, the Jews made accusations they could not prove- such as claiming Paul had brought a Greek into the sacred part of the Temple, with their only proof being that some had seen him in the city with Trophimus, and they made the assumption. But Paul knew the difference between conviction of the Spirit and the accusation of Satan. And he had confidence in God.
Act 25:10 But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well.
Act 25:11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar."
Act 25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, "To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go."
Now if you are a Christian, you can count on one thing- God will not convince you by driving you nuts with guilt. I want to prove that in two ways.
First, remember Satan's goal is to destroy. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. And Peter would know more than most about that destruction. Jesus told him at the Last Supper, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat." And sift he did- not even the first crow of the rooster kept Peter from denying Christ three times. Consider that next time you commit that habitual sin. And also this- one of the first things the Risen Jesus did was to have an off camera reconciliation with Peter- and later, a public one. His conviction came with love and sorrow- and Peter responded in repentance and renewal.
On the other hand, look at Judas. And, if you would, his parallel in King Saul. Both had the tremendous, beyond-other-men chance to be WITH God and to serve Him. Both turned the chance down- and without God, they were unable to silence the accusations ringing in their minds. Both committed suicide, and that is no coincidence. Like I said, Satan's height of creativity is destruction, and with destruction these two men paid for their rejection.
As I have been studying the concept of SERVANThood as I described last time, I had to look fresh at the "breastplate of Righteousness" and how we are to "put on the whole armor of God." And I realized that I was doing this all wrong. Making a mental image of God's righteousness in front of you makes no more sense than trying to "put on" that helm of salvation. This is going to be difficult to explain what I mean. You see, you think you "put on" this breastplate, and you go around trying to be righteous like Christ, and then an arrow of sin hits you, and you think, "Well, I didn't have THAT mounted in the right spot, because the arrow got me."
When you are saved, God puts that breastplate on you- not over your body, but your SOUL. Sure, your body gets hit all the time with arrows of sin. But your soul? Once Christ forgave your sins, He forgave them both proactively and retroactively. Past, present, future. His breastplate- HIS righteousness snuffed out that arrow before it ever got to your soul. Got your flesh? Don't matter, soul-wise. BUT...
Here's the thing. You commit that sin, you feel bad. Bad enough, sometimes, you wonder if a God who has ALREADY forgiven you for it could EVER forgive you for it. In the dark moment on my face in my bedroom, I tell God, "I'm so worthless, so sick of my sin. Why should You even bother with me?" Which has a fragment of truth- I AM that worthless, AND I would be just as worthless if I never committed that sin, or any other. But that is what Jesus died for- to give us His worthiness, His righteousness. In feeling bad about one sin, I commit the worse sin of saying that Jesus was incomplete in His sacrifice, fickle in His promises, and not able to forgive the way He commanded us to forgive. My sin didn't destroy my witness- my worse sin was BELIEVING it had.
So in the end, while I am not sure I learned anything from the original problem, I learned a LOT from my reaction. I learned that even were I outside God's will (don't want to speak for Him on that matter), He would have brought it up A) with loving admonition, not accusations; B) at the time of the fault, not years later like a goad- 'remember that time when you...' and C) it would have been through a story like the one Nathan told David, that matched ALL the details, and not just a less-than-a-tenth part of the story being "just like what happened to me." So let me end this by bringing up anew the story of the High Priest Joshua, and let you see what God's reaction is in Heaven when Satan accuses a believer:
Zechariah 3:1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
6And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7“Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.