The Lord shuts us up to hopelessness and helplessness in order that he may come, as a God of grace, and display his abounding mercy. All our hope lies in him, and all other hopes are delusions. The great work in conversion is not to make people better, so that they may come to God on a good footing, it is to strip them completely and lay them low, so that God may come to them when they are on a bad footing, or rather on no footing at all, but down in the dust at his feet. The Son of man is come to seek and to cave that which is lost, but it wants* God himself to convince men that they are lost; and the Spirit’s work of soul-humbling is just this - to get man to feel so diseased that he will accept the physician; to get him to feel so poor that he will accept the charity of heaven; to get him to know that he is so stripped, that he will no longer be proud of his fig leaves, but will be willing to take the robe of righteousness which Christ has wrought out.
Conviction is sent to kill the man, to break him in pieces, to bury him, to let him know his own corruption; and all this as a preliminary to his quickening and restoration. We must see the bones in the valley to be dead and dry, or we shall not hear the voice out of the excellent glory, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Ye dry bones live!’” May God in his mercy teach us what all this means, and may we all experience an old-fashioned conversion.
* - that is, it requires
From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "An Old-Fashioned Conversation," delivered March 16, 1873