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No conviction of sin

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by losthope, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    In various Bible passages, for example John 16:8, it says that the Holy Spirit will convict people of sin. Many Christians believe that until a person is convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, they will not have a real awareness of being a sinner, and therefore will not be ready to ask for forgiveness and be saved.

    I have a general awareness of sin, but I have never experienced anything that I could describe as a real conviction of sin. If conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to becoming a Christian, and I never have this, where does that leave me with regard to salvation? Am I destined never to know God? Must I simply wait until the Holy Spirit acts? Or might there be something that I could do to help the process?
     
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  2. God's Word

    God's Word Well-Known Member

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    The Bible also speaks of your God-given conscience.

    Romans 2:14-15

    "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another..."

    The very word "conscience" means "with knowledge" ("con" = with, "science" = knowledge). Have your thoughts ever accused you of having done wrong or sinning against God? If so, then you're ready for a Saviour.
     
  3. Emmy

    Emmy Senior Veteran

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    Dear losthope. God gave us 10 Commandments, ( loving advice to us) and Jesus gave us 2 Commandments, which tell us all what God told us in His 10 Commandments, it is straightforward and easy to remember. In Matthew, chapter 22, verses 35-40, Jesus tells a Lawyer: " The first and great Commandment is: Love thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. The second is like it: Love thy neighbour as thyself." Then Jesus states the great fact: " On these two Comandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." What God wants from us is Love, selfless and beneficial. Jesus also tells us in the Bible: " Be ye perfect as God is perfect," and we know that God is Love, we know that God loves us, God made us in His image, and God wants loving children/sons and daughters. Jesus died that we might live, Jesus paid the prize we could not pay, and now we are free to return to God, our Heavenly Father. But we have to Repent, the Bible tells us again and again. To repent of our selfish and unloving character, and change into loving and charity-filled children of God. Jesus will give us His Love and Joy, and the Holy Spirit will give us His Love,too. Jesus told us to: " Ask and ye will receive," then we lovingly and helpfully will share all with our neighbour. Who is our neighbour? All we know and all we meet, friends or no friends. God will see our sincere efforts to follow his Commandments to love, and God will approve, and give us his Blessings. It is straightforward: all we do, or say, should be from love and charity. It is perhaps not easy to start with, but Love will change All, Love is very catching and very powerful. People will notice the difference and will treat us likewise, the world will notice that we represent a loving and caring God. We might stumble and fall often, but we get up again and start afresh. We ask God`s forgiveness, and God will forgive us as we forgive those who sin/transgress against us. We have been given years to get better and better, and with God on our side, and Love as our sword, what can hold us? Where true and selfless Love is at work, any conviction of sin is futile and powerless. I say this with love, losthope. Greetings from Emmy, your sister in Christ.
     
  4. Biker Angel

    Biker Angel Never coming back to this mad house

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    I don't think conviction by the Holy Spirit is necessarily a prerequisite to becoming a Christian. Maybe you just haven't done any big time sins that require big time conviction. Kids become Christians all the time without the conviction of a heavy sinful life full of murder, adultery, or greed etc.
     
  5. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    I think these are serious questions.

    Can you flesh out what you mean by awareness of sin vs "real conviction?" I can be much more helpful and specific about what you can do to help the process if I know better what you mean about this.

    the sin you're aware of, is it something you agree is wrong, or do you just know the Bible says it is?
     
  6. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    Your conviction is made manifest in your awareness of sin that you have admit to. If you want to "feel" bad about your sin pray and ask for the "feeling" you seek.
     
  7. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Thank you to those who have responded to my questions. I have replied to each of you below.

    To “God’s word”: You asked if my thoughts had ever accused me of having done wrong. Yes, occasionally. Have my thoughts ever accused me of sinning against God? No, I do not think I ever considered it in that way. Certainly I do not have any awareness of being ready for a saviour.

    To Emmy: You write of God’s love for us, and that we need to love God. It sounds good, and it sounds simple, but where do I begin? I have no awareness of God, or of God’s love. Also it is not possible for me to love a God I do not know. For me it has not been so simple, I have not yet found God, and if I try to live the kind of loving life that Jesus speaks about, it might be well thought of, but will it bring me salvation? Unfortunately my own experience of trying to live as a Christian has shown me that something more is needed. Maybe for me that “something more” is having a conviction of sin.

    To “Biker for Christ”: I agree with you that I have not led a life full of big time sins. I do not have a heavy conscience. But so what? If everyone is a sinner in God’s eyes, then somehow I need to see it in the same way that God does, which I what I imagine a conviction of sin is like.

    To razeontherock: You are right when you say that I am asking serious questions. I am trying to find out why I have not yet found God, and one possibility is that I have never had the experience of a conviction of sin through the Holy Spirit. You ask me to explain what I understand to be the difference between an awareness of sin and a real conviction. That is not easy for me to explain, because I have never personally experienced a real conviction of sin, although other people have told me about it when it happened to them. I just have an occasional theoretical awareness of being a sinner in the sense that I do not match up to God’s standard of perfection. But that awareness does not bother me much. Certainly not enough for me to be desperate for forgiveness or for a saviour. I am aware that occasionally I do things that are wrong, but I do not get upset over this. My assumption is that a real conviction of sin would be rather more than what I experience. I hope that this helps you to understand, but please ask again if you need more of an explanation.

    To drich150: You suggest that I should pray and ask for what you describe as a feeling. What I have been doing recently is to pray that God might show me how serious sin is, so that I might be able to regard sin in the same way that God does, to give me what I have described as a conviction of sin and what one person described as a horror of sin. As I said, I have been praying this, but nothing has happened. That is why I started this thread, in the hope that someone might be able to suggest something that might help.
     
  8. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    Reading your response to not only me but Drich, I think you are certainly on a good track! Have you ever considered fasting? I have heard it said, recently on CF from some very strong Christians, that the only reason for fasting is to add power to your prayers. While I can't say that is a Scriptural position, I will say that my first Pastor taught that if you want power with G-d, FAST.

    I think he was right ;)

    So if you are doing the right things, but it seems maybe there is not enough heartfelt conviction on your part, (like not enough depth of root as per the parable of the sower) fasting would be one tool to reach for. I will point out that as much time as you go w/o food, after that try to spend as much time not eating normally before resuming normal eating, to give your system a chance to re-adjust. I had to learn that the hard way ...

    Scripturally speaking, the reason for fasting is to make time for prayer. I am a strong believer in learning to "pray the Word." Meaning, when you find something in there that looks like it would be good, ASK GOD FOR IT. the Epistles are a great place to find things like that.

    Another VERY important topic I should mention at this point is enduring to the end. Those are the ones who are saved! I know of people who went through "dry spells," not feeling G-d's Presence EVER, for over a decade. I have no explanation for how that works or why, I can only hope I never need to endure such a thing and so I have compassion on your current situation. Still, we "walk by faith and not by sight."

    Yet another thing I should mention, is while you want to be very fervent in prayer, you should be wise what you ask for because you just might get it. Asking for patience = asking for tribulation. I find life brings enough of that and I have learned to pray to reap what patience there is in the trouble that heads my way anyway, w/o the need for more. ;) Also, praying "whatever it takes" is something I have seen drastic results to. (Meaning sometimes involving suffering and loss)

    Basically, all of this involves recognizing that Faith is the gift of G-d and starts as a seed. You actively choose to nurture it. Anything to promote that effort will come in handy here. Have you found a good local Church?
     
  9. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    Perhaps you should learn the shepherds voice before you seek a direct command from him. Even if you got a 'feeling" how would you know it to be genuine?

    John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

    My suggestion is learn the shepherd's voice before you go following the first voice that call back to you from the wilderness. Many false religions start out down the path you are on.
     
  10. s_s

    s_s Newbie

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    Losthope, I think i know how you feel. Before I was saved, in my teens, I "tried" many times to get saved, but I couldn't. I had the same lack of conviction, the ambivalence towards needing a Saviour at all. What I did then, after a couple of years of that, was pray for a "kick". I knew it would take something huge to make me commit - and I got what I asked for - something I wont go into here as it was very non-conventional, but God got me and has had me ever since.
    Just keep praying that the Spirit will work on you, and be open to it. I would suggest also finding a good local evangelical church, if you are not already attending one.
     
  11. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Thank you for your suggestions. I have considered them carefully, although I am not sure if they are right for me.

    You suggested that I should try fasting, to add power to my prayers. I recognise that for most people, fasting leads to effects on the hormones and this tends to make people feel healthier, and maybe makes their prayer life becomes healthier as well. It also tends to make people more emotional, and this can cause the person to be more open to influences that affect the emotions, such as reading certain passages in the Bible. I said that this is what happens for “most people”; unfortunately it would not happen for me because my hormone systems do not work properly. Also I am very wary of anything that would increase the power of the emotions, because I suspect that it makes it very easy to think that God is acting on you, when what is actually happening is an emotional response. For these reasons I have not tried fasting.

    You also mention “dry spells” lasting more than a decade. The usual advice to a person in such a position is to hang onto the things that God has done for you in the past. As a non-Christian, I am not able to do that. My own dry spell has been going for 37 years now, and counting. I am not able to continue in faith because to do that I would need help from God, and unfortunately that is something I have never experienced.

    You suggested that I should be careful what I ask for in prayer, in case I get it. Sensible advice. When I pray, I ask for the prayer to be answered in whatever way God chooses.

    You say that faith is the gift of God, starting as a seed and that we need to nurture it. I agree. However, if it is to grow, God needs to nurture the faith as well, in some way. The seed of faith needs living water to sustain it.

    As for a local church, I have been to several, but as a non-Christian I always feel out of place there. For example, I cannot join in worship singing because the words are not true for me. Churches are for believers.
     
  12. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To drich150. You wrote this:

    Perhaps you should learn the shepherds voice before you seek a direct command from him. Even if you got a 'feeling" how would you know it to be genuine?

    John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

    My suggestion is learn the shepherd's voice before you go following the first voice that call back to you from the wilderness. Many false religions start out down the path you are on.


    Yes, it is sensible to learn the shepherd’s voice. But how do I learn the shepherd’s voice? I am not a Christian, and as far as I am aware I have never had any spiritual influences, good or otherwise. If you have any suggestions about learning to know the shepherd’s voice, please let me know.

    However, so far there have not been any voices to follow.

    How would I know if a “feeling” was genuine? I could ask Christians about it, and check it against the message of the Bible. However, I am not really looking for a feeling; I am looking for God.

    I was fascinated by your final sentence. Can a false religion really begin by asking God for something that is described as important in the Bible? Maybe it can lead to falsehood, if the voice that answers is the wrong one.
     
  13. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To s.s. You wrote this:

    Losthope, I think i know how you feel. Before I was saved, in my teens, I "tried" many times to get saved, but I couldn't. I had the same lack of conviction, the ambivalence towards needing a Saviour at all. What I did then, after a couple of years of that, was pray for a "kick". I knew it would take something huge to make me commit - and I got what I asked for - something I wont go into here as it was very non-conventional, but God got me and has had me ever since.
    Just keep praying that the Spirit will work on you, and be open to it. I would suggest also finding a good local evangelical church, if you are not already attending one.


    Thank you for sharing your story s.s. I am glad that your prayers were answered and you received something to help you to commit. In a sense I am also seeking something that will enable me to commit. That is why I have been praying for either a deep awareness or conviction of sin, or for however else God may choose to work on me to prepare me. No answer to those prayers yet.

    There are some good evangelical churches in my area. I have been to several, but as a non-Christian I always feel out of place there. For example, I cannot join in worship singing because the words are not true for me. Churches are for believers. I have also spoken to local Christians and ministers in the churches, but they do not know how to help me. It is partly because I was unable to find help in the local churches that I tried to find answers on-line, in the hope that somewhere someone might be able to help.
     
  14. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    For some reason I feel hesitant to immediately show you many bible verses that led me to full repentance.... :confused:

    I have several questions:
    1. how much do you actually know about christian teachings/doctrine so that I don't type more or less than I need to?
    2. how familiar are you with what the Bible says about sin and the penalty of sin?
    3. do you know much about what is actually viewed as sin by God?
     
  15. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    We are able to identify the words and the manner in which He speaks by reading the bible and learning His precepts. We learn to identify his direction His voice, by a measure of the Holy Spirit. We obtain a measure of the Holy Spirit by following the directions provided by Luke 11:

    5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
    9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

    We Ask in prayer, we seek in the bible and in places like this through our questions, we knock by repeating this process (no matter how long it takes) till we get what our heart truly desire.

    In this I have no doubt that you haven't heard anything.

    That is good because "feelings" can deceive.

    It can if their is no Holy Spirit to guide the one receiving "God's word."
     
  16. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under, thank you for your response.

    For some reason I feel hesitant to immediately show you many bible verses that led me to full repentance....

    You are probably right to hesitate. I am not a Christian and therefore I do not regard the Bible in the same way that you may regard it. I might point out Bible verses if I am speaking with a Christian, but I would be unlikely to draw on the Bible when speaking with an unbeliever. Some people do feel the need to use passages of the Bible when speaking to me, and I appreciate why they do it, but usually it does not help me. Besides, I may interpret the Bible verses in a different way.

    I have several questions:
    1. how much do you actually know about christian teachings/doctrine so that I don't type more or less than I need to?


    I am quite familiar with Christian teachings and doctrine. I may not necessarily believe it, but I am familiar with it.

    2. how familiar are you with what the Bible says about sin and the penalty of sin?

    Again I am reasonably familiar with it. Though in some cases I do not find it helpful to my understanding. Also I have no interest in life after death, and so I gloss over much of what the Bible says about sin affecting life after death.

    3. do you know much about what is actually viewed as sin by God?

    I understand the theory, not only from the Bible but also from the many comments that people have made on it, such as the poem, “Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat, when it’s more lucrative to cheat.” Have I kept all of the commandments? No, because I am human. But does it really matter to me? No, and that is why I started this thread.
     
  17. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    Ack! Sorry to hear that, and embarrassed I neglected to mention anything about physical health. I'm not sure that fasting really works for the 2 physically related reasons you cited, but if there are medical reasons not to, of course you are right. There are many ways of exercising the Spiritual discipline that take this into account ;)

    Christianity is actually much about controlling emotions, so I can't agree that this is valid concern.

    And as a NC, advice for Christians may not fit you! You're looking for the miracle of the new birth, the original transformation ... (or am I wrong about that?)

    A Church is to be a hospital for the Spiritually sick. I think a Church learning how to welcome visitors is basic stuff, and while maybe not the biggest indicator of being a "good" Church or not, certainly the first thing people will see.

    Back to the analogy of seeds growing, what are you aware of that you can do to help?
     
  18. s_s

    s_s Newbie

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    Very true, churches are for believers. It's odd that the leaders aren't able to help though. But you are definitely on the right track, it seems, and as you push forward, God will come nearer to you also and help you to find Him.
    I would encourage you to stick with one of those churches that you tried - there is no requirement for you to sing or join in, but often I've seen people go for long periods of time before everything just falls into place. If the Spirit is in the place, it shouldn't take too long! Also, I feel it would be better to be in than out, for a variety of reasons, and it can't do any harm.
    At the end of the day though, it's all about seeking, seeking, seeking.

    In the Bible, if it's said twice, that means it's both IMPORTANT, and VERIFIED.
    Matthew 7:7
    Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    Luke 11:9
    And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

    Claim that. That's a promise from God. He is legally bound by His own word to answer if you are seeking him! Tell him you are asking, seeking, knocking, and don't give up.
     
  19. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    If you're happy with discussions then I am as well. :) First things first - how do you view the christian God's character? (One of my favourite apologetics radio show has a Monty-Python type skit where a young woman visiting a build-your-own-god/dess shop is asked this question: "do you want her to be kind, loving, compassionate, just, angry, righteous, wrathful".... the saleswoman's voice noticeably changes as the less "positive" traits are mentioned.)

    Which is closest to your current way of thinking? Is the God of the Bible:
    1. too holy to permit unsaved sinners i.e. any non-christians to go to Heaven
    2. too loving to punish any of us for being imperfect or merely human. If the latter, that includes absolutely everybody, from christians, people of other religions, generally moral people, criminals, and even absolute extremes like Hitler
    3. reasonably "fair" and looks at our lifestyle and general attitudes and grades us by the curve
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  20. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To razeontherock, you wrote this:
    Christianity is actually much about controlling emotions, so I can't agree that this is valid concern.
    I had not heard before that Christianity is about controlling emotions. What Christians have said is that a Christian should not use their emotions as a guide to their closeness to God, or the strength of their faith, etc. My concern is that many Christians have an emotional response to some things that happen, and label it as a spiritual response or as something that comes from God, when in reality it just comes from their own emotions.

    And as a NC, advice for Christians may not fit you! You're looking for the miracle of the new birth, the original transformation ... (or am I wrong about that?)
    Quite right, sometimes the advice you would give to a Christian is not suitable for a non-Christian. You are also right to say that I am looking for what you describe as the miracle of the new birth, something I have never experienced. Possibly the reason why I have not experienced it is because I have always lacked a deep conviction of sin and therefore never had a deep need for a saviour.

    A Church is to be a hospital for the Spiritually sick. I think a Church learning how to welcome visitors is basic stuff, and while maybe not the biggest indicator of being a "good" Church or not, certainly the first thing people will see.
    Some churches are better at welcoming visitors than others. I have noticed that when I go to a church for the first time, the type of person most likely to greet me is an unattached female in my age group. But I don’t go to church to meet women, I go in the hope that it might be able to help me to meet God. Or even that somehow I might learn that I am never going to meet God; that would at least remove the uncertainty. Unfortunately it has not happened yet.

    In general, churches have services that are aimed at Christians, and so they include prayers, worship, and so on. When Christians suggest to me that I ought to find a good church and go there regularly, is that an example of advice that would be right for a Christian but maybe not so helpful for a non-Christian?

    Back to the analogy of seeds growing (Basically, all of this involves recognizing that Faith is the gift of G-d and starts as a seed. You actively choose to nurture it.),
    I also once thought that faith could start as a seed, just a small amount of faith, and that if I prayed, God would help the faith to grow. Unfortunately it did not happen. Instead of growing, my faith faded away, because there was nothing from God to sustain it – maybe because I lacked that new birth that you wrote about.

    what are you aware of that you can do to help?
    I wish I knew the answer to this question. That is partly why I wrote the original post. What I am doing is keeping in contact with Christians who will try to help me.
     
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