14 Oct Words of Grace – The Holy Spirit and the Heart
We live in a day when we have little room in our lives for feeling bad. Taken to the extreme, this kind of thinking leaves no room for the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
There is no virtue in self-loathing, shame, and sorrow over deeds when these things are ends in themselves. But when did we get the idea that the gospel leaves no room for the conviction of sin?
In Acts 2, after hearing a sermon on the Lordship of Jesus and their guilt over killing him, the people are cut to the heart. The gift of the Holy Spirit in that moment was to convict their conscience. The Holy Spirit actually caused the internal pain of these people. In love he afflicted them with a deep sense of remorse and regret. Fear came upon them as the Spirit exposed the intentions of their hearts and the sinfulness of their deeds.
The time spent with a guilty conscience is nearly unbearable. We want it gone and we want to relieve it in others. We soothe an unsettled conscience as quickly as possible. But we need to understand that being cut to the heart is a gift of the Holy Spirit and a necessary part of repentance that leads to life.
Peter was the designated preacher on the day these people were convicted of the sin of rejecting Christ. With contrition they asked him, “What shall we do?” Peter did not say, “Don’t feel bad. God knows your hearts and he knows you’re really good people.” Nor did he say, “Too bad. What you’ve done is beyond forgiving.”
Peter knew that the Holy Spirit cut their hearts for a purpose. He knew that godly sorrow leads to repentance. He took full advantage of their contrition and told them to turn to the very one they had crucified by the hands of lawless men.
And they did.
The Spirit’s work worked. Three thousand people received the message to repent of sin, were baptized to publically identify with Jesus the Lord, and were added to the church. We then read that their sad hearts were filled with gladness, generosity, and praise to God.
Are you sensing the seriousness of sin and experiencing a growing sorrow of heart? Pay attention. The Holy Spirit is working. He is guiding you into repentance and into life in Christ. Please reach out to another Christian who can talk to you about these things.
Are you praying for someone who has yet to be cut to the heart over sin? Pray for that very thing. In love, pray for conviction. Trust that God’s Spirit is active when conviction happens. Respond by sharing the real remedy of repentance and faith in Christ.
Will you take ten minutes to pray this weekend for the work of the Holy Spirit among the people of Grace Community Church?