Being Offended vs. Being Convicted

Tree with storm clouds

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the differences between spiritual sheep and spiritual goats. In this post, I want to consider another difference in the way sheep and goats respond to God’s truth when it’s taught.

Concerning offenses that rise among unbelievers from hearing God’s truth…

“The disciples came and said to Jesus, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” [Mt. 15:12-14, ESV]

Jesus made this remarkable statement after finding out that the unbelieving Pharisees were offended by the truth He had taught.

Whenever the truth of God confronts the prevailing sins of the day, the spiritual goats of the world typically respond with offense and rejection.  This was the context of Matthew 15:10-14, as quoted above.

When the disciples came to inform Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what He taught, Jesus didn’t change His approach. Far from it. Rather, He said…

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

God’s truth offends spiritual goats and they reject it. That’s why when goats gather into their “religious herds,” there’s little, if any, truth being taught.

And even if God’s truth is referenced, its interpretation is tailored to suit the moral and spiritual tastes of the goats. In this way, truth is suppressed and twisted according to the pathology of their religious unbelief.

However, it’s not this way among Christ’s sheep.

When spiritual sheep hear God’s truth, they are convicted that it’s true.  As a result of this conviction, they repent where sin has been exposed and their lives conform to embrace God’s truth. Such repentance is a necessary element of biblical regeneration.

In actual practice, we know there are certain aspects of God’s truth which are found to be palatable even to spiritual goats, at least in theory.

And by that same token, there are certain aspects of God’s truth which are found to be initially offensive even to some of Christ’s true sheep, at least for a season.

But in general, the original analogy holds true: spiritual goats are typically offended by God’s truth and spiritual sheep are convicted by it.

So our response to God’s truth says more about the nature of our hearts than it says about the style or word-choice of the messenger. If you are offended by God’s truth, it is a sin and true sheep must repent of known sins. Spiritual goats won’t repent.

God’s grace does not make repentance optional in the Christian life. It’s a fundamental element of the gospel. Repentance is not a human work that “earns God’s favor;” rather, it is the outworking of God’s favor within you as a direct result of His grace.

In the biblical gospel, you and I must repent of sin. It’s the most basic element of what God’s grace produces in the heart of every regenerate person (2 Cor 7:10; 2 Tim 2:25).

Salvation and repentance are so closely united that the New Testament writers used these terms interchangeably to describe God’s work in the lives of His people.

Throughout the Gospels and on into the epistles, the word “repentance” is frequently used as a synonym for belief, salvation, and regeneration (Mt. 3:8; Lk 3:8; 5:32; 15:7; 24:46-47; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10; 2 Tim 2:25; 2 Pet 3:9).

Ask God to change your heart of stone. If you’re convicted by God’s truth, take it as a love gift and repent of whatever sin His truth has exposed within your heart.

In the spiritual world, it’s far better to be among a minority of sheep who are convicted by the truth of Scripture than it is to be among a majority of goats who are offended by it.

In our gatherings at church, it is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error.

And as a preacher, it is more blessed to be hated and thought “cruel” for telling people the truth than it is to be loved and considered “kind” for telling people a lie.

God’s sheep respond to biblical conviction with repentance. Goats respond to the same truths with offense and rejection.

May God prepare our hearts to always be open to His convicting truths with obedient hearts as His Word is preached and explained from the pulpit.

For our joy in Him,
Pastor Kevin