The word “convicted” is not quite in the same category as some of the other words that have recently come to mind for me. “Worship”, “repentance”, “sin”, those words have little or no modern usage except for those who are Christian. But you do hear about “convicted”. The only problem is, it’s almost always something like “He was convicted of fraud and sent to prison.”
Again it’s a case of important words fading out of usage. Would it be right to say “convicted” is a really important word? In John 8 it says of some that they were “convicted by their own conscience”. (John 8:9) The Greek word used there in other places is translated as to correct, convince or reprove. Speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said that he would “reprove the world of sin…” (John 16:8)
All this comes to mind when I was thinking about how sometimes friends of mine will say, “I really felt convicted about that.” But then, that’s not a normal thing to say, perhaps even within Christian circles. Maybe it should be. If we were more tender-hearted, especially in our relationship with the Lord, He could more easily convict us by the Holy Spirit to do things according to His leading.
One of the plagues upon the world now is that so many hearts and consciences are so hardened. And for some, they are proud of it, proud of their hardened hearts. But it says of Jesus, “He looked about with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” (Mark 3:5) It’s very difficult to get through to someone with a hardened heart, they don’t get convicted by their own conscience and they often mock when others try to reprove them or bring them to their senses. But being able to be convicted, being sensitive enough in your heart to have a strong sense of right and wrong, even of being able to feel it when the Lord is leading in some situation, this is how it’s supposed to be within societies and each individual.
Sadly, we’ve come to the place in time where even the principle, the word itself “to convict” has all but disappeared from our language except in criminal courts. It goes without saying that if more folks felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, there’d be far fewer criminal convictions.
The word “reprobate” comes to mind, another virtually extinct word. It means a person who has gone so far away from the truth that they no longer even know the difference between right and wrong. This is written about in Romans chapter 1, “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” (Romans 1:28) That’s where we are today in so many countries. The very words of God, not only the Word of God but the words of God, “convict”, “repentance”, “worship” “sin” and many others are hardily even in our vocabulary anymore. We have not liked to retain God in our knowledge. And the result? God has given such vast multitudes of people in many nations over to a reprobate mind. I wrote about our conscience in “What is a conscience?” But for multitudes, it’s like the Bible says, they’ve “had their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:2) They are “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19). It’s as pretty bleak picture.
“Any solution?” you might ask. I guess, for those of us who know these things, who want to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who don’t want to have our “hearts hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13), it behooves us to “let our lights shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) with all our hearts. Hopefully those who know the truth of these things will show in their words and deeds daily that society has lost so many integral parts of what God would have us to have. So much has been stripped away from the pattern God original gave to us all of how things should be, how we should follow His instructions and operating manual for mankind, the Bible.
Somehow society and the world sputters along but so many feel a sense of foreboding that something is deeply wrong. They are right; our world has gone far away from God’s Will, so much so that we don’t even have the vocabulary anymore to understand ourselves. It reminds me of the obscure verses in I John, “Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” (I John 2:24)