This past weekend at church, the preacher said something that hit me hard. I immediately felt conviction, and as we all know, conviction is no one's favorite feeling. In fact, a lot of us try to avoid it like the plague. Sometimes we even go far enough that we try to avoid truth to avoid the feeling of conviction. This is not what we should do though; conviction has some positive aspects if we look at it the right way.
My pastor has always said that even though conviction doesn't exactly feel great, it is another way that God lets us know that we are His. If you sin and do not feel convicted by the Holy Spirit, then there may be something lacking and you should pray about that. That guilty feeling after disobeying God initially is not something I enjoy, but it is further indication that I am a born again believer and have a heavenly home waiting for me.
The main purpose of conviction is to let us know when we are wrong so we can learn to better serve God in the future. If God never let me know when I was wrong, my spiritual growth would be stunted. The same goes for other Christians as well. God loves us too much to leave us alone in our walk with HIm. He does not expect us to figure it out on our own, so He gives us the conviction of the Holy Spirit along with His Word to guide us in the right direction.
If we are all honest here, none of us like to be wrong and especially do not like to admit when we are wrong. Conviction ultimately leads to repentance, when we confess to God that we were wrong and need His help to live for Him and Him alone. The peace that comes when we finally lay our pride down at the foot of the cross is truly the peace that passes all understanding just like He promised. It is such a win-win situation when we finally make things right with the Lord: He gets the glory, and we get Him which is the best thing possible.
An issue I see with Christians today is that we dislike the uncomfortable feeling of conviction so much that we go as far as to avoid pastors and writers whose words are convicting. Instead, we turn to those who "tickle ears" and just say what they know people want to hear. We need to go where the Spirit of the Lord is and where His truth is preached. That is where we will find progress in our walk with God and become closer to Him.
This is not to say that all messages should be condemning and not uplifting, but this is to say the truth has to be embedded in encouragement. It is often said in the Christian community that grace and truth go hand in hand, and I believe this with all of my heart. The truth of the matter is we do not deserve God's love but through His marvelous grace, we have it. Do not be upset the next time the Holy Spirit convicts you; see it as an opportunity to learn and become more like Jesus.