What does the Word of God do? What happens when we read it or hear it proclaimed?
Not only does it challenge but when read/heard God’s Word also brings conviction. It’s as though we can look into a mirror and see ourselves for what we really are. God’s commands are a challenge for us but so is a marathon. Take it from me, marathons are gruelling but they are completely doable. The Word does more than just challenge.
Instead, the commands of Scripture bring about a knowledge of self that is deeply unflattering. It is a surgical work – one that makes us aware of not just our deeds but also our thoughts/desires/motivations. We find ourselves accountable to a Holy God who, in the end, we will give an answer to. We don’t read the Word so much as the Word reads us.
Jesus promised that when His Spirit came, He would bring conviction. He does this, by and large, through knowledge of God’s Word. If you have not felt the convicting power of God’s Word then listen to Jesus for a minute:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:21-22 ESV
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 ESV
How about this?
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. Mark 7:20-23 ESV
God’s commands don’t just call us to something very challenging (although they do that). When we take in the full weight of what’s there, we begin to see ourselves as we are. It is humbling but it’s glorious. How exactly can this type of surgery be glorious? Well, because after the challenge and conviction comes something else …a comfort (that’s tomorrow!).