I loved Anne of Green Gables as a child, not this new-fangled imposter gracing Netflix with an E, but L.M. Montgomery’s creation. In Anne of the Island, Anne is talking to Davy, a child that she and Marilla took in.
“That was your conscience punishing you, Davy.”
“What’s my conscience? I want to know.”
“It’s something in you, Davy, that always tells you when you are doing wrong and makes you unhappy if you persist in doing it? Haven’t you noticed that?”
“Yes, but I didn’t know what it was. I wish I didn’t have it. I’d have lots more fun. Where is my conscience, Anne? I want to know. Is it in my stomach?”
“No, it’s in your soul,” answered Anne.
As a pretty self-aware child, I remember frequently feeling that pricking of my conscience telling me I’d done the wrong thing. Sometimes it felt like a pain in my stomach, a heaviness in my head, and overwhelming shame. Back then, I felt enormous guilt and sense of failure and inadequacy.
As I grew older and learned more about the work of the Holy Spirit and conviction in a Christian’s life, I changed my perspective. Conviction sounds like a really depressing word, but it’s the linchpin of the Holy Spirit’s work in a Christ follower’s life. It’s what prompts change, the tingling pain that causes us to see more redemption in our life. I now embrace that conviction from a new perspective because it’s actually a reason for hope!
Hope in the Holy Spirit’s Presence
I can be encouraged because conviction is a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, the presence of God in my life.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”- Ephesians 1:13-14
Each time that I feel that conviction, that voice inside compelling me to action, is a way for me to be sure of my eternal inheritance. I haven’t been forgotten or left behind. God is with me.
Hope that God Isn’t Finished with Me
Conviction also reminds me that I’m a work in progress. God hasn’t given up on me and His Spirit is still working on me and through me, reminding me of God’s work in my life and His promises. Each time my conscience is pricked, I can know that my soul is continuing to be molded.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”-John 14:25-26
Hope in God’s Transforming Power
Conviction through the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen way to work through me. It’s not up to me to grit through and transform myself. God is already at work in me, through the Holy Spirit, through conviction.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”-1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Our conscience, a sense of conviction—these are the works of the Holy Spirit, our Helper. Although guilt might be a default reaction to conviction, I want to remind myself that it’s a sign of God’s transforming power in my life. It reminds me of the presence of God. He hasn’t left me or given up on me. It’s a reason to hope in the One who has saved my soul.