It seems to me that the church today largely ignores the aspect of having one’s beliefs or actions confirmed by teaching. How often have you listened to a sermon or Bible lesson and heard the speaker say something like, “This passage is so convicting to me, because I realize that I don’t do this well enough. Let’s all pray that God will help us to do this better.”
But you’re sitting there reading the passage and thinking, “I don’t know… That’s not really somewhere I have problems. In fact, this is one area of my life where I’m pretty sure I’m walking rightly!”
Am I the only one who does that?
I’m not saying I’m perfect. I know that I have plenty of things to work on, and I know the Lord is growing me in so many areas. I can be convicted by Scripture as much as the next guy, and I am. Constantly.
But when it comes to a teacher making a blanket statement and speaking for the whole class… I have a real problem with that! “We all struggle with this one, don’t we?” Well, maybe we don’t!
That’s why I like to use a couple of words here. I say conviction when speaking of the Bible pointing out something wrong in your life. Ideally here, you realize that you need to repent and get it right, and you take the steps to do so.
Then there’s confirmation, where the Bible points out to you how gracious God has been to have worked on you in an area to a point where you don’t feel convicted when you read a command or principle.
Both are valid, I think, but not enough attention is given to the latter in my experience, at least in the circles I hang around in. And I think I know why.
If you’re in a good, conservative Christian circle, you’re probably hearing a lot about depravity. We were lost, very lost, before Christ saved us (hallelujah, He did save us!). We talk an awful lot about how much God has done for us, how much we needed to be saved from, and how incredible all that is. And it’s good stuff.
While we’re talking about that, we’re also careful to reject the popular lie that every person is basically good. We go to great lengths to make sure that we never come across that way.
As a result, I think we sometimes miss the changed life aspect of Christianity. Yes, we’re sinners. But if we’re redeemed, Christ is sanctifying us! And if we are being sanctified, that means we’re somewhere along the road of that journey, leaving room for confirmation of lessons well-learned.
I think of Paul’s epistles and the letters to the churches in Revelation. How many of those letters begin with, “Hi there! I’m so thrilled that you are walking rightly in this, that, and this other thing!” Read 1 Thessalonians if you want a great look at confirmation. The letter is full of Paul almost gushing over how pleased he is with the spiritual growth of this church.
So the next time you start feeling guilty because you’re just not convicted in the area the teacher thinks you ought to be, remind yourself that it may be that God is saying, “Look at where I’ve brought you. Rejoice with Me that I’ve grown you in this area and you don’t have this problem.”
And then… Pray for the teacher. Because if they are convicted by the passage, they probably have some things to work on. Pray that God would grow them to a point of confirmation.
I do realize, of course, that me telling you to look for confirmation as much as conviction could easily be taken the wrong way, and that you might decide to stop looking for conviction entirely. I certainly hope that’s not the case, because both are very important to the Christian walk. All I’m trying to do is give you permission to stop overlooking confirmation and start rejoicing in what God has done in your life.