Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

A Health-Giving Injury

2 Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! 
This is what the Lord says: 
“The children I raised and cared for
have rebelled against me. 
3 Even an ox knows its owner, 
and a donkey recognizes its master’s care— 
but Israel doesn’t know its master. 
My people don’t recognize my care for them.” 
4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are— 
loaded down with a burden of guilt. 
They are evil people, 
corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. 
They have despised the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him. 
5 Why do you continue to invite punishment? 
Must you rebel forever? 
Your head is injured, 
and your heart is sick. 
6 You are battered from head to foot— 
covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds— 
without any soothing ointments or bandages. 

(Isaiah 1:2–6, NLT)

We may feel good about ourselves. But what if God thinks we’ve done wrong, a lot of wrong, and not much right? What if he wants to talk to us about it because he also has a remedy for us? What if he can see that our self-protection is really self-imprisonment? God lovingly confronts us with truths embarrassing enough to save us.
What is conviction of sin? It is not an oppressive spirit of uncertainty or paralyzing guilt feelings. Conviction of sin is the lance of the divine Surgeon piercing the infected soul, releasing the pressure, letting the infection pour out. Conviction of sin is a health-giving injury. Conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit being kind to us by confronting us with the light we don’t want to see and the truth we’re afraid to admit and the guilt we prefer to ignore. Conviction of sin is the severe love of God overruling our compulsive dishonesty, our willful blindness, our favorite excuses. Conviction of sin is the violent sweetness of God opposing the sins lying comfortably undisturbed in our lives. Conviction of sin is the merciful God declaring war on the false peace we settle for. Conviction of sin is our escape from malaise to joy, from attending church to worship, from faking it to authenticity. Conviction of sin, with the forgiveness of Jesus pouring over our wounds, is life.  (Raymond Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, p. 26)

39 Look now; I myself am he! 
There is no other god but me! 
I am the one who kills and gives life; 
I am the one who wounds and heals; 

(Deuteronomy 32:39, NLT)

5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, 
crushed for our sins. 
He was beaten so we could be whole. 
He was whipped so we could be healed. 
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. 
We have left God’s paths to follow our own. 
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all. 

(Isaiah 53:5–6, NLT)

9     Help us, O God of our salvation, 
for the glory of your name; 
        deliver us, and atone for our sins, 
for your name’s sake! 

(Psalm 79:9, ESV)

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