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CONVICTION AND CONVERSION NOW -
OR A TORMENTED CONSCIENCE FOREVER

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, January 15, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).


When David was in a convicted state, his sin was ever before him. But there was still a way for him to be forgiven because he was yet alive in this world. It was still possible for him to be pardoned. Notice in this Psalm David confessed two aspects of his sin.


1. First, he was convinced of actual sin he had committed. He said, in verse 4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). He showed that he felt guilt for the sins he committed.

2. Second, he went to the root of the matter in verse 5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). In the second part of his confession, he showed that he felt guilt over inherited sin, which had been passed down to him from his first forefather, Adam. He felt unholy and unclean because of the inherent sin that he was born with.


The preachers of the First Great Awakening, particularly George Whitefield, probed sinners in their preaching until they owned and admitted their actual sins. But Whitefield, the greatest evangelist of that time, went further. He then probed their consciousness concerning their inherited sin nature, their natural state of sin, in which they were born, and in which they had lived all their lives. Whitefield often said that a man who does not feel dread for his inherited sin nature, cannot have a true conversion in Christ. He laid great stress on that point, until many people in his services came under deep conviction that they were guilty in Adam, that their sin natures, inherited from Adam, were corrupt and defiant to God. So corrupt and defiant were they by nature, by birth, that if they did not commit one actual, physical sin, they were still doomed to Hell, because their very natures were sinful.

Have you ever felt any of that? Have you ever felt that your very inner being was ruined, rebellious and sinful before God’s all-seeing eye? Have you ever felt that you were shaped in iniquity, and that you were born in sin?

The result of the conviction of the Holy Spirit should make you deeply shamed and guilty for the actual sins you have committed. Furthermore, the convincing work of the Holy Spirit should make you deeply aware that you are a sinner by nature, from birth, having an inherently sinful reaction throughout life to God, making it impossible to please Him in the flesh, because you are a sinner by inherited nature,

“Because the carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).

When a person sees himself in this way, as enslaved by inbred sin, deprived of natural goodness by his own sin-cursed being, he will cry out to God,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

The personal sins he has committed will also weigh him down with an awful load of guilt for his sins, and he will also be weighed down, and crushed by his inherent, inbred sinful nature, which has so bent him and ruined him that he cannot escape from sin within his own heart and mind. Then he will say,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

The first work of the Holy Spirit is to reprove and convince you like that. Concerning the work of the Spirit, Jesus said,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

To be converted it is absolutely certain that this work of the Spirit must occur within you. You must be reproved inwardly, convinced by God that you are a sinner by nature as well as by your actions. Under this work of the Holy Spirit, you will begin to feel what David felt when he said,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

If you wish to be truly converted, you must stay in that frame of mind, more or less, until you find relief in Christ Jesus. You must be careful not to quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). “Quench” refers to putting out a flame. If the Holy Spirit kindles the flame of conviction in your heart, you must take great care not to quench it.

“Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings”
     (I Thessalonians 5:19-20).

Do not put out the fire of conviction. Do not despise the sermons, the prophesyings, you hear from the pulpit.

You can quench the Spirit by excusing yourself for your sin. You can blame someone else. You can compare yourself to someone else, and think “I am no worse than him.” This quenches the flame, and puts out the fire of conviction in your heart. You can neglect to apply the sermons to yourself, and think, “That’s good for them to hear, but I don’t need to pay attention.” This also quenches the fire of conviction and takes you farther away from true salvation in Christ. You can have a feeling of conviction, but deliberately put it out of your mind by thinking about something more pleasant after the service is over. Thus, by the next sermon, you have gained nothing at all. The feelings of guilt you had in the last sermon have been quenched, the fire put out in your heart.

“Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

You must take great care or this will happen to you. The Devil is always ready to snatch away from your heart the convincing words of the last sermon. If each sermon is treated as a separate unit, it will be easy for Satan to “take away the word” out of your heart. Each sermon should convince you more and more that you are a depraved child of Adam, that you are “under sin” (Romans 3:9), and that you have also committed many actual sins in the sight and knowledge of God. Each sermon should take you more and more deeply under the awareness of your sin until, at last, you can say with David,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

Each conversion is different because each human being has a different personality. We are not all exactly alike. Some, like my wife, may be converted very quickly after a very short period of conviction, perhaps only a few minutes. Others, like our deacon Dr. Cagan, go on for a long time in a convicted state. Our great Baptist forefather John Bunyan went on under heavy, nearly mind-snapping conviction for 18 months before he found relief in Jesus.

Also, the degree of conviction can vary. Some, like one person I know, go through a very long period of what modern people would call “depression.” Of course, it was not really “depression.” It was actually the conviction of the Spirit of God. This person could not get out of that convicted state until she turned to Christ for justification and cleansing.

Who can doubt that Nicodemus went through such an inner struggle for several months? He came to speak with Christ at night, probably out of fear that others would see him going there. He admitted that Christ was a great “teacher come from God” (John 3:2). But Jesus pointed out,

“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

There is not one shred of evidence that he was converted that night. But it is obvious that the words Christ spoke to him kept eating at his heart. According to Ussher’s dating, at the top center margin of each page in the Scofield Study Bible, Nicodemus was still struggling with the question of his salvation about two years later. In A.D. 30 Christ told him, “You must be born again.” But he went away still thinking about that. Two years later, in A.D. 32, for the first time he defended Christ openly. He spoke to the Pharisees at that time.

“Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:50-51).

The Pharisees then criticized him as perhaps being one of Jesus’ followers. But Nicodemus was silent when they said that. He had still not taken an open, out-and-out stand for Christ. He was still a lost man, struggling with conviction and thoughts about Christ. This is obvious from reading John 3 and John 7:40-53. Next we find Nicodemus another year later (A.D. 33) coming to bring myrrh and aloes to embalm the dead body of Jesus (John 19:39). It is obvious that he was still unsaved because this action shows he had no faith in Christ’s promise that He would rise from the dead. Yet it still shows he had great affection for Christ, and had been thinking about Christ and his need for salvation for about three years. This action also strongly implies that he was finally converted a short time later. Early Christian tradition places Nicodemus with the first Christians, and I think this is correct, and implied in Scripture, or else the Apostle John would not have recorded his actions at the tomb of Christ in a good light.

Is there someone here tonight who has struggled back and forth concerning salvation for a long time? Have you been convinced of your need for conversion? Have you resisted the full work of God’s Spirit to awaken you to your sin? Will you let the Spirit of God drag you under tonight and bring you face to face with the awful truth that you are unsaved, that you have resisted Jesus, that you are a sinner deeply in need of the Saviour? Can it be said of you tonight,

“My sin is ever before me”? (Psalm 51:3).

Or, perhaps there is someone here tonight who will be converted within a much shorter period than Nicodemus was. The jailer at Philippi only heard a few hymns and prayers from Paul and Silas, as they lay in chains in his prison. But those few hymns and prayers brought about such conviction within him, that when an earthquake struck he ran into the prison.

“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:29-30).

Although in the jailer’s case conviction only lasted a few minutes, it was deep and intense. In those few minutes he would doubtlessly have said words similar to David’s,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

Whether the conviction you have lasts long or is short, whether it is very deep, or a short stab in the heart, like the men at Pentecost felt (Acts 2:37), it is vitally necessary for you to be deeply convicted of sin or you will not see the value of Jesus’ death to pay for your sins on the Cross, and you will not see the value of His Blood to cleanse you from sin. The Gospel of Christ will seem like empty words until you feel, as David felt,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

And now, one final thought. If you are not brought under a sense of conviction in this life, you certainly will be in the next life. In Hell, I can assure you, you will say,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

In Hell you will be overwhelmed by a sense of guilt throughout eternity. For the ages of time, your thoughts will be,

“My sin is ever before me.”
“My sin is ever before me.”
“My sin is ever before me.”

But this conviction will be purely legal and will not lead to salvation then. For pardon through the sacrifice and Blood of Christ will no longer be available to you in Hell.

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

You will go on and on under infinite guilt, convinced of your sin - but everlastingly unable to have these sins pardoned and cleansed by Christ Jesus. For you will then be as reprobate as Satan and his angels.

The rich man in Luke 16 never once asked for pardon or cleansing. The best he asked for was for a drop of water to

“cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

He did not ask for forgiveness in Christ, because he knew he had waited too long and that salvation was no longer available to him.

If you feel tonight,

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3),

then make it the main business of your life to come to Christ now, and be washed clean from your sins by His precious Blood. Do not wait. Press into the kingdom. The Bible says,

“Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

Now is the accepted time for sinners with wounded consciences to come to Jesus Christ for pardon and cleansing from sin. You must experience conviction and conversion now, or you will have a tormented conscience for ever.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 51:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Wounds of Christ” (by Evangeline Booth, 1865-1950).


THE OUTLINE OF

CONVICTION AND CONVERSION NOW -
OR A TORMENTED CONSCIENCE FOREVER

by Dr. Robert Hymers


“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

(Psalm 51:4-5; Romans 8:7; John 16:8; I Thessalonians 5:19-20;
Luke 8:12; Romans 3:9; John 3:2, 7; John 7:50-51; 19:39;
Acts 16:29-30; 2:37; Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:24; II Corinthians 6:2)