Today’s Reading: John 16
In The Grace Awakening, author and pastor Charles Swindoll used an imaginative illustration for how best we can live: imagine driving on a treacherous mountain road with a cliff on both sides. As you approach a hairpin turn, you must decide which is better: a state-of-the-art hospital with the best doctors in the world at the bottom of the mountain or a giant yellow warning sign before the curve telling you, “Danger! Curve Ahead. Drive slowly”? The answer is obvious: a warning sign.
In John 16, we find Jesus giving His followers a life of warning signs so they don’t end up at the bottom of the mountain in the hospital. The warning sign is called conviction and it’s a ministry of the Holy Spirit. Read with me what Jesus says about it:
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 go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:7-11)
When He comes, He will convict.
What is conviction?
It is an inner warning, a big yellow sign that says, “Slow down! This may not be right.”
Conviction of the Holy Spirit is the opposite of peace; it’s a disturbance in the soul that can be silenced only by stepping on the brake when coming to the turn. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is what saves us from crashing and burning and needing the hospital at the bottom of the mountain.
The hospital at the bottom of the hill can be a counselor’s office, a pastor’s office, etc. I’m not saying those hospitals can’t fix the damage inflicted, but think of the pain that people could have avoided had they yielded to the Spirit’s conviction.
Most of the times the conviction comes when we are entering into a compromise, an area of sin, a place that will hurt our spiritual lives. People will confuse conviction and condemnation.
Conviction is the feeling that what I was doing was wrong, and with God’s help, I can change. Condemnation is the feeling that I am wrong and I can never measure up. There is no hope of change in condemnation.
Conviction is from God. Conviction is the warning sign on the hairpin turns.
Our job is to yield, like in this story:
During the Great Awakening—a time of revival throughout our country—Jonathan Edwards was leading a prayer meeting in which eight hundred men were in attendance. In the midst of the meeting, a woman sent in a note asking them to pray for her husband. She described him as unloving, prideful, and difficult. Edwards read the message aloud to the men, thinking that perhaps the woman’s husband was present. Then he boldly asked if the man whom he had described would raise his hand, so the whole group could pray for him. Three hundred men raised their hands.
Really, three hundred men yielded to the yellow sign to avoid the hospital. All because they yielded. May we do the same.