January 10, 2022

Conviction

But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Psalm 19:12
In some churches they talk about conviction. And when they do, they're not talking about a criminal receiving a guilty verdict after a trial—though I don't suppose that's unrelated. Conviction in the realm of theology refers to an awakening of conscience: Something that seemed perfectly okay before is suddenly understood as hurtful or wrong. 
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A good analogy would be smoking. There was a time when no one had made the connection between smoking and lung cancer (or other diseases). Smoking was seen as a relatively innocent activity. Even cartoon characters were employed to do cigarette ads.
In theology, conviction is when the Holy Spirit acts upon the mind to convince a sinner that they're in need of repentance. For a non-Christian, this might mean finally coming to understand that they're a sinner in the first place and in need of God's help. Or for the person who's already a Christian, this might mean a realization that a certain activity or habit is contrary to God's will.
For people of faith, our lives should be open to the working of the Spirit within, and a willingness to admit we're wrong when God shows us how something we habitually do, say, or think hurts us or others. This is how true repentance comes about.

The Lord will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
 1 Corinthians 4:5
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Lord, open unto me light for my darkness. 
Open unto me courage for my fear. 
Open unto me hope for my despair. 
Open unto me peace for my turmoil. 
Open unto me joy for my sorrow. 
Open unto me strength for my weakness. 
Open unto me wisdom for my confusion. 
Open unto me forgiveness for my sins. 
Open unto me love for my hatred. 
Open unto me thy Self for my self.
 Howard Thurman
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

This Winston commercial is from 1961
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Text selection ©2021 Evangelische Brüder-Unität. All scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.