A friend of mine from England commented on a recent post. He feels condemned a lot when I write. If you do too, I can’t write things that are less convicting, but I can share how I deal with conviction. (I wrote this in a comment, so this is a repeat.)
Here is what I believe, Jon. I believe that he who has begun a good work in me will continue it until the day of King Jesus (Php. 1:6). I believe that Jesus will confirm me to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8). I believe that my Father is able to keep me from falling and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24).
Back when I was giving in to my pornography addiction, I was pretty sure I was going to hell. I’m not doing that anymore, thank God.
I believe everything I wrote in my post because it is what the Bible says. I believe everything I just wrote because it is what the Bible says. God has a vested interest in making sure I live up to the things he shows me. He has a vested interest in you living up to the things he shows you.
Thus, I expect when he convicts—or even frightens me—I expect it to be impossible for me not to succeed in going forward. God does not convict to condemn. He desires the repentance of everyone (2 Pet. 3:9). He takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but that they should come to repentance (Ezek. 18:23).
By the saving power of Jesus Christ, I am zealous for good works (Tit. 2:11-14). Thus, when he convicts me of something, it is good news. He is going to help me get closer to him. That is especially true in this case because repentance means spending more time with him. Time with him is the best of the best of good works, though it’s probably not accurate to call it a good work.
So, yes, I think what I wrote is good news.
I read about a preacher a long time ago who said, “I will preach the truth even if the truth condemns me.” I do not know what it is like in England, though I have heard it is better than the U.S. Here, a true biblical standard is in desperate need of being set. My posts—and the Bible—set an impossible standard, but that is biblical. Meeting that standard is supernatural.
One of my favorite early Christian writings is Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho. In it, Trypho (the Jew) says he loves the precepts that are in the Gospel, but he doubts that anyone can keep them. Christianity is a miraculous religion. It depends on, not just amazing grace, but miraculous grace. It also depends on abundant mercy, for none of us live up to it perfectly. What I described in this post is what I am going to fight for, confident in Christ that I am going to succeed, for as long as it takes. I will get closer and closer to God, turn my riches over to God more than I have, cast my cares on him more, and leave the pleasures of this world further behind. I am less touched by those things today, and I will be even less touched by them tomorrow. Next week, I will need to read Luke 8 again and refire my desire to please him, and I will advance even further.
A friend shared this from Clement of Alexandria recently. It is from The Instructor, written about AD 190 or 200. It says:
Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father’s will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand, and with the form of God is God. He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because He alone is sinless. As far, however, as we can, let us try to sin as little as possible. For nothing is so urgent in the first place as deliverance from passions and disorders, and then the checking of our liability to fall into sins that have become habitual. It is best, therefore, not to sin at all in any way, which we assert to be the prerogative of God alone; next to keep clear of voluntary transgressions, which is characteristic of the wise man; thirdly, not to fall into many involuntary offenses, which is peculiar to those who have been excellently trained. Not to continue long in sins, let that be ranked last. But this also is salutary to those who are called back to repentance, to renew the contest. (Bk. II, ch. 1).
That is how I look at following Christ. Even if I did not look at it that way, I would still write what I write because that is what the Bible says. I sin, but I nonetheless am a captive of Christ. I cannot but do what he has called me to do. My heart burns at his word, and like Jeremiah, if I am silent, it burns in my bones. I will write these things even if they condemn me, but I know that in the end they will not because he has promised to present me faultless before his throne.
He promised you that, too.