I was sitting in Missions class in Bible college. The professor was explaining the term repentance in Scripture. As he continued teaching God's Word, the Spirit was doing a work in my heart. I realized I was not saved. I had never repented of my sin. And I felt the weight of conviction bearing down on my shoulders and gripping my heart.
A few years ago, a friend pulled me to the side privately after church and did something I didn't really like. It was uncomfortable. It was embarrassing. It was, however, necessary. She pointed out something I was doing that wasn't wise. Correction... followed by conviction from the Holy Spirit.
Just a few months ago, another friend messaged me on Facebook. Again, correction. Reproof. My flesh didn't like it. It wanted to defend and get angry. But I kept reminding myself she is a friend. She isn't being mean. She cares about me. As I took time over the following days to reflect on her words, the Lord pointed out some things in my heart and actions that didn't please Him. Conviction.
Last month I went on a bicycle ride. I popped my earbuds in my ears and turned on a sermon to stream on my phone as I rode. As I listened to the sermon... conviction. The Holy Spirit took the Word of God and aimed it at my heart.
Psalm 19:11 "Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."
Moreover by God's Word (law, statutes, testimony, commandment, fear, judgments) we are warned. God's Word confronts our sin. The Holy Spirit takes that Word and convicts.
John 16:7-8 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"
Our flesh hates it. When we are confronted, we want to find fault in the messenger. Names like pharisee and legalist start popping up in our minds. Phrases like "You are so judgmental" roll off of our lips. It seems that our measuring stick to decide if something is true is if we agree with it or if we like it. But if it offends us then the messenger must therefore be a pharisee judging me.
Conviction is the third page of the Psalm 19 Gospel tract. Without conviction of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot even be saved. Without being confronted about sin and seeing ourselves as sinners, we would be destined to die in those sins. We would never know that we even needed a Saviour!
Should the measuring stick of truth be how we feel? Should our measuring stick be whether or not we are offended? If that were the case, we would be in trouble, because the Gospel itself is offensive!
The measuring stick of truth is God's Word. When we are confronted, if we will take the time to check God's Word and inspect our hearts in light of God's Word, it is quite possible that what we are dealing with isn't being offended, but it just may be conviction from the Holy Spirit.
The next time you are confronted by something or someone, don't react immediately. Take time to search the Bible to see if what the messenger is saying is true. If you are offended by what the messenger said, do not allow that offence to dictate whether their message was true or not. Allow God's Word to be the measuring stick of truth. Then respond to how the Spirit works in your heart based on God's Word. You just may find that the messenger is a faithful friend who simply cares enough about you to confront you.
Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."