Thanks for your sharing that Lee. I know I really love to be convicted. That is the just the right place to be and is a sign of the ongoing (actually miraculous) process of sanctification. It is a supernatural evidence of one's genuine faith. And confessing activates the power and grace which then moves to make the real spiritual transformation of a soul on The Walk.
Having now lived a goodly chunk of years . . . I observe something ominous and profound which happens (or not) in peoples' lives. It is this: Many people , through self discipline, focus of mind, will-power, talent and dedication . . . can perform amazing, seemingly superhuman feats. For instance, runners or other athletes can start from having an average, un-developed body and will . . . to becoming . . . over time . . . amazing specimens of near physical perfection and mental ability. They transform radically from what they once were to practically a whole new kind of creature.
Some people can train their minds to have photographic memory and Sherlock Holmes-type observational skills. Some study and perfect the methods of entrepreneurship and business and learn to create highly successful businesses and financial windfall, over and over.
Others start out as shy, retiring, insecure bumblers--but then study and apply the rules and techniques of leadership and go on to become renowned inspirational leaders and teachers.
Yet, in almost all such cases I have witnessed or looked into . . . SPIRITUALLY such people rarely change at all. SPIRITUALLY they are the same at the peak of their "success" as they were when they started. Now, many of them mistake material, worldly success for spiritual success and will even pontificate on how to have great "spiritual" acumen . . . but when you look into their private lives, behind the scenes, and if you could look into their minds and hearts, most often you find great spiritual dysfunction and degeneracy. They lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, murder (in thought at least, if not also in deed) and they have nothing going for them except a profound love of self--never considering Jesus or the commands of God In fact, they are usually flat-out servants of the devil, though they delude themselves to be "workers of light".
Then there are those who have an inkling that spiritual growth and development is to be preferred above material, worldly success . . . and they take on all kinds of "spiritual" practices and beliefs intending to become an advanced "spiritual" person. Just think of all the New Ager types and self-help gurus and "experts" who claim to have "transcended" ego . . . selfishness . . . "negativity" etc.
In nearly all such cases--and I've looked at a lot of them, up close and in depth--I observe that these "spiritually minded" people . . . are THE most self-centered, sensually obsessed, privately negative, devious, phony-baloneys of any I have met!
THE MIRACLE is when someone--a fallen human . . . born utterly degenerate and depraved from the get-go--ACTUALLY transforms from a person who is dead spiritually, deluded, enslaved to sin etc. INTO someone who genuinely begins to crave righteousness and correction from the Holy Spirit! NOW THAT IS SOMETHING!
It is not uncommon to see people who have transformed themselves from a lessor physical, mental--even emotional state . . . into a paragon of the same. Such "success" stories abound.
But it is very rare to see or know someone who has changed--transformed--SPIRITUALLY! Despite many self-deluded claims, it just doesn't happen that often. There are plenty of frauds who on the surface portray an "advanced" spiritual state . . . but if you were to scratch the surface a bit, or look behind the curtains . . . or catch them off-guard . . . you will find the same "old man"/"old woman" just as unregenerate as from the beginning. Nothing has really changed. No transformation has actually progressed. They cannot HONESTLY say, "I am not who I want to be, but I am not who I once was." No . . . indeed, they are pretty much exactly just who they "once was". . . .
But I'll tell you this. Such people, the false converts, the deluded still PRACTICING sin . . . are not troubled at their duplicity. It does not bother them that they know they are living a lie for the most part. No, their biggest concern is only in getting FOUND OUT!
But to the one who has genuinely begun The Walk (with The Lord)--who has entered The Way (of Holy Spirit, of Christ)--it is always a troubling matter. Their conscience is pricked when they realize a pattern of error or some habitual sin. They genuinely WANT to overcome.
The dead-in-sin . . . unregenerate . . . don't care. It does not bother them, their constant companionship with darkness and deceit. Only getting caught is a worry for them. So long as other people believe they are the paragons of "spirituality" they seek to display . . . then "all is well in Zion."
Which is a horrific situation . . . because what it really means is that they don't really believe in God. They don't really believe that Anyone is watching . . . their inner reality--the REAL them.
But when you have legitimate faith and belief in the all-knowing God, you know perfectly well that you are not slipping anything by Him. Regardless of what good things people think of you, YOU know that GOD knows . . . the real situation! And this gives you trepidation, as it should. A genuine, holy and healthy FEAR OF THE LORD is the BEGINNING of wisdom!
The frauds don't really believe. Or they have such a twisted, self-designed version of God--an idol they've fashioned from their own fallen heart and mind--and an idea of what God OUGHT to be like (ie., "all-loving", "non-judgmental", "all-forgiving", heedless,) in such a way as to accommodate their particular sin proclivities . . . that they can transform their material lives in all kinds of fantastic ways . . . without EVER transforming one iota in terms of their actual character, soul, spirit. . . .
So, I know whenever I feel the sharp edge of conviction--which is all the time!, virtually every day!--I revel in it. I am so glad! I thank God! I AM ALIVE this means! My conscience is supple, living, breathing. My heart is NOT a heart of stone, dead to spiritual reality; but is ALIVE, a real heart of flesh, living, pumping, breathing, seeing, hearing, feeling . . . those parts of this existence which ultimately matter. This world--all the impressive feats and achievements of the worldly in it--passes away . . . and quick like! But those matters pertaining to relationship with the real, one and only true and living God GO ON FOREVER! All is else is burned in the fire.
But these moments of growth, conviction, repentance, brokenness, honesty in the Light of Truth ARE WHAT IT IS REALLY ALL ABOUT! THIS remains! This is where actual transformation happens. This is where the miracle of one dead . . . being brought to life . . . and then entering the path of spiritual regeneration proves itself! Really, everything else is pretty much filler, props and mere accoutrements to this supremely glorious activity God is carrying out in space and time, in His adopted children--the initial phase of ETERNAL LIFE being begun and existentially underway!
Now THAT is something! The dead coming to life and ACTUALLY transforming into holy spiritual beings? THAT is success! THAT is a miracle! And it is further proof of God, because it is easy to see that people don't really ever change (spiritually) regardless of how impressive their surface changes and material "growth" may exhibit. Inside, they stay the same. Oh, they often try. They seem to have a nagging sense that material "success" and transformation is ultimately empty . . . so you will see them adopting all kinds of social causes and big world saving issues--being "do-gooders" and busy-bodies . . . projecting their own inner dysfunction on everything and everyone else . . . wanting to "change the world" . . . when what they really need is to be saved by God.
You (every authentic believer) can take comfort in the fact that you ARE convicted, that you DO care and realize your complete need for and reliance on God . . . and know also that He is loving and incredibly patient with us, merciful, full of grace . . . and that having begun the sanctifying and spiritually transformative work in us, He will finish it; and that we cannot lose our salvation, for He has promised that HE will not lose a single one of His sheep. And the evidence that you ARE one of His sheep is that your conscience is alive and you are aware of your condition and yearn to be at last free of it. Those without the Spirit indwelling do not fret such things. This kind of talk just sounds like jibber-jabber, another language, boring, irrelevant, bears no conviction at all.
Praise God, this is all good, good, good!