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THE DANGER OF DISAPPEARING CONVICTIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Thursday Evening, July 26, 2012

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4).


Tonight I will give you another sermon adapted from Robert Murray McCheyne. As I have told you, he died at the early age of twenty-nine. Yet he made such an impression by his holiness, prayer and zeal that F. B. Meyer said, “Oh that we could have more of the spirit of McCheyne, and see again the work of those days” – for they were days of mighty revival. Tonight I am giving you an adaption of his sermon on Hosea 6:4,

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4).

In these words God said He did not know what to do with Israel because their good convictions did not last long, but quickly disappeared like a morning cloud, and evaporated like dew in the morning. He had hewed them and cut them to pieces by the prophets, and had slain them by the words of His mouth (v. 5). God had spoken awakening messages of His coming judgment, and then had spoken of His love and grace. But they did not repent. Their convictions soon dried up and were gone like a cloud in the morning or dew that soon evaporates and disappears.

It is the same with some of you who are unconverted. God has sent you awakening sermons, and has cut you to pieces and slain you by the words of His mouth. He has also sent you encouraging messages, but none of this has made a lasting impression on you. You have been impressed for a short time, but your convictions soon dried up and passed from your minds.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4).

From this we see three things.

I. First, the fact that the convictions of unconverted people often quickly fade away.

This is proved again and again in the Bible. Think of Lot’s wife. She was greatly awakened. The two angels came to her with awful words and also words of mercy. What they said made a strong impression on her to flee from Sodom. The fear of her husband, and his words of warning to his sons in law sank into her heart. She fled from Sodom, but as the morning went on, her convictions began to dry up. She looked back to Sodom, and was destroyed with the city.

Think also of Israel at the Red Sea. When they were led through the sea, and then saw their enemies drowned, they sang praises to God. They sang praises to God, but they soon forgot His works. Only three days later they were murmuring and complaining in unbelief.

Then think of the Rich Young Ruler who came running to Jesus. He said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He felt conviction of sin in his conscience, as he knelt at the feet of Jesus. But he never knelt there again. He went away sorrowful. His good convictions dried up like the dew of the morning, and passed away like a morning cloud.

Again, remember what happened to Felix, the Roman governor. When Paul spoke of judgment to come, Felix trembled. Felix trembled with conviction, but was he saved? He was not. He told Paul to go away for a time. But conviction of sin never came to him again. His good convictions were gone like a morning cloud.

Yet again, when Paul preached to King Agrippa his heart was troubled. For a moment he thought about becoming a Christian. He said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” But his good convictions soon passed away like a morning cloud and the early dew. In all of these their good convictions soon passed away.

These Bible examples show that the convictions of unconverted people often pass away quickly.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4).

This is also proved by our experience. Most people experience conviction of sin when the Gospel is preached. If the convictions of unconverted men were permanent then most of them would be saved. But we know that doesn’t happen to most people. Jesus said, “Few there be that find it.” I have preached to many hundreds of people who felt conviction but were never saved.

When God’s Spirit is moving many receive deep convictions. Many have their feelings stirred, and see that they need to be saved. Many weep and pray. But when the services are over they soon go back to sleep. Their good convictions pass away like a morning cloud. Hell is full of people who once wept and prayed. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?”

Let us see how conviction passes away. When a lost man is under the fear of Hell, he begins to pray. As long as his conviction lasts he prays when he is alone. But when his convictions pass away he prays less and less when he is alone, until at last he gives up praying when he is alone. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?”

When a lost person is first awakened he listens carefully to the sermons. He leans forward and listens with great attention. But as his convictions begin to pass away he slowly drifts into a sleepy state, where he may sleep on until the Spirit of God departs from him forever. We have seen this happen again and again across the years. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?”

When someone is under conviction he avoids sin. He flees from sin with all his might. He reforms his life, and tries to live better. But when his conviction dies, his temptations come back, and he goes back to sin, like a dog to his vomit, and like a pig that was washed to its wallowing in the mud.

If there was anything about conviction of sin that could save a lost person they would continue to live a holy life. But instead, when they lose their convictions, they become worse and worse. Seven demons enter into such a person, and their end is worse than their beginning. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?”

II. Second, why the convictions of unconverted people fade away.

First, because they were never made to feel truly lost. Sometimes it was just a quick feeling of terror that frightened them. Sometimes it was only the sense of one great sin they committed. They may say that they are sinners, but they never felt the deep sin and rebellion in their hearts. They think that a little prayer and sorrow is all they need. They have never seen that they are so lost in sin that they cannot change. They never felt that they were completely lost. So they never felt their need for Jesus’ Blood to cleanse them.

Second, they never saw the beauty of Christ. A feeling of conviction of sin may make you cry, but it will not bring you to Christ. Only seeing the love of Christ can draw you to Him. A lost person, under conviction of sin, does not see the beauty of Christ or his need for Christ. When you see the sweetness and love of Christ, and experience His pardoning love, you will never go back to sin!

Third, they never hated sin in their hearts. The convictions they had were only the fear of Hell. Thus, they feel the dangers of sin, but not the filthiness of it. They still love their sin. They have no change of heart. The Holy Spirit is not in them. Therefore their convictions soon fade away like a morning cloud. In times of temptation, their convictions easily disappear.

III. Third, the sadness of your condition.

God mourns over you – “O Ephraim.” You must be in a terrible condition for God to weep over you. He weeps over you as Christ wept over Jerusalem when He saw the awful judgments that would soon fall on them. He knew they would soon be in Hell, without any hope – for all eternity.

God has no other method of awakening you. That is why He says, “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?” There is nothing else He can do. You have heard convicting sermons. You have heard the warnings of the Bible. You have heard about the love and pardon Jesus offers. You have heard of His cleansing Blood, and that He loves you and that He can save you. “What else shall I do unto thee?” What more can I say to you? You have gone through several services where several others were hopefully saved. But the harvest is passed. The meetings are over. And you are still not saved! What more can I say to you?

Past convictions will do you no good. When the cloud dries up and the dew melts away, the rock upon which it fell is as hard as ever. But when convictions fade away the heart of an unconverted man is much harder than it was before. When convictions are gone it is less likely that you will ever be saved. You will be worse then than you were before.

Every day your heart will become harder, because your heart gets used to its old way of thinking and feeling. Since you have offended the Holy Spirit by hardening your heart, it is much less likely that the Spirit will come to convict you again. Since you have now become used to rejecting conviction, it is much less likely that you will yield to conviction in the future. When you are in Hell, you will wish you never had such convictions, because they will make your punishment much greater.

That is why I plead with you to yield to your conviction of sin now, before it is too late. Do not neglect your convictions of sin. Do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Escape for your life. Do not look back. Escape to Jesus before you are consumed.

(END OF SERMON)
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THE OUTLINE OF

THE DANGER OF DISAPPEARING CONVICTIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4).

I.   First, the fact that the convictions of unconverted people often
quickly fade away.

II.  Second, why the convictions of unconverted people fade away.

III. Third, the sadness of your condition.