Does the Holy Spirit Convict Us of Sin?

This might be a slightly touchy blog post, but I hope you take the time to read it and let it sink in. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to intentionally go against every thought and belief I have been taught over the years, but it just isn’t the case. What I thoroughly want, above tradition and religion, is truth. I also think there is no harm in going to the Bible to study out the Word on your own and letting Holy Spirit guide you into all wisdom and knowledge, as He’s promised to do. (John 14:26, 1Cor. 2:10-13)

For the longest time, I have believed that the Holy Spirit is the “Comforter,” which He is, but also that He convicts us of our sins. Up until just a week ago, I had never thought of how the Holy Spirit convicting us of our sins is contradictory to Paul saying in Romans 8:1, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” If the Holy Spirit is “convicting” us of our sins (conviction: the act of proving or finding guilty) how could there be no condemnation in Christ if Jesus took all of our judgment on the cross?

Hmmm. Let’s go back to the verse in John 16 where I am assuming we get the idea that the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins.

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11 (emphasis mine)

So what is the sin that Jesus is speaking of in this verse that the Holy Spirit convicts of? Unbelief in Christ, “because they believe not on me.” He is also referring to those who don’t believe on Him because He uses the word “they,” seeing as he was speaking to the disciples who already believed on Him. Every single follower of Christ, at one time or another, was convicted by the Holy Spirit of their unbelief in Christ. Either at an alter call, at home or with a friend, you responded to this conviction and decided to give your life to Christ. This tugging, was the Holy Spirit conviction of sins and the need for a Savior.

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18

What happens after you respond to this conviction and give your life to Christ? As soon as you put your faith in Jesus, you are no longer condemned but instead declared the righteousness of Christ.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

In verse 8 of John 16, it says that the Holy Spirit is going to convict the disciples (and any believer since then) of their righteousness, “because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.” Notice this time He uses the word “ye” instead of “they” because, I believe, He was talking to His followers, not to those who do not believe. Think about this. The disciples were still incapable of living a life without shame and guilt. They were still under the law because Jesus hadn’t died on the cross yet to take away the sins of the world. Had He not died, resurrected and sent His Holy Spirit, we wouldn’t have the assurance of  our salvation and righteousness as we do today. We would technically still be under the law of the Old Covenant because Jesus wouldn’t have fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies.  Jesus was telling them of a time, that is now, when it would be better for Him to leave and send His Holy Spirit to every believer, so we get to be seen by the Father as Jesus’ righteousness, His promise under the New Covenant of grace. So it makes perfect sense that as a believer in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also the one that is convicting us of our righteousness, because that’s what Jesus died to do! Keep us in “right standing” before the Father so we can come before Him “holy and without blemish!” (Eph. 5:27)

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid in Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

And for the last part of John 16:8, “of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Is He telling the disciples that they are being judged? No, quite the opposite. The Holy Spirit reassures us that there is a day coming when the prince of this world will be judged. The devil isn’t going to get away with all of the turmoil and devastation he causes in the world. In John 12:31-32 it says, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” God is drawing all men unto Himself. He wants every single person to believe unto Him for salvation. But since the prince of this world, which is satan, will be judged.. also anyone who does not believe in Jesus will be judged with him. Jesus came, not to condemn (and He is a perfect representation of the Father) the world, He came to give life and to give it abundantly. He also knew that His Father in Heaven is the righteous judge who will one day judge sin because it can’t be left unaccounted for. (Any believer is saved from wrath on the day of judgment because Jesus’ blood covers all of our sins.) “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:47-48

We have got to get into our heads that Jesus came to us as a perfect representation of the Father. (“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.. John 14:11) And what did Jesus NOT want to do? Condemn the world. It is NOT God’s heart that the world be condemned. But since He is God/judge of this world and completely holy and perfect, only righteousness can enter into His holy and perfect Kingdom. His will is for all men to be saved unto righteousness. (The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9)

So remember, the Holy Spirit convicts us that the ruler of this world is to be judged. Believers will be judged according to their righteousness, which is found through Christ living in them; and He longs for the world to be saved from judgment of sin. He loves us, He gave His only Son for us, and wants what is best for us. He gave us a way out of receiving the same judgment as the deceiver.

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10

If the Holy Spirit isn’t convicting us of sin, who is?

We have to think back to before Jesus came. Were the Israelites sin conscience? Of course. That is why they made sacrifices, for a temporary cleansing of their sin. If they were made aware of their sins before the Holy Spirit had the capability to live inside of them, where was it coming from?

First off, we have to understand that the law is what made people aware of their sins. “…I would not have known sin except through the law.” Romans 7:7 When people were “convicted” or condemned in the Old Testament, it was the law that did the condemning.

In the New Testament, and under the New Covenant, Hebrews 10:16-17 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” It goes on to say in Romans 2:14-15, that even the Gentiles, who never knew or were under the law, were still “convicted” of their sin by their heart and conscience; “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”

We can even go further back to Genesis 3 and see that as soon as Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which was a big “aha” moment… knowledge of good and evil was the birth of our conscience) they instantly knew they had done wrong. Was it God that had told them they had done wrong? No. “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?” (v. 9-10 emphasis mine) Sin causes distance from the Father, Jesus came to redeem that. Conscience told Adam and Eve they had sinned, Jesus also came to redeem that.

If you understand as I do, it looks to me that when we do wrong, our hearts and our minds (conscience) are what do the convicting. But God even takes that a step further and tells us that EVEN THEN, our sins and iniquities will I remember no more! Proving  the point that He (Holy Spirit) would not be the one convicting if our sins were remembered no more! Praise God!

What does the Bible have to say about our hearts and conscience? Let’s look again in Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” We MUST believe that everything Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross was for our benefit and our good. HE IS GOOD! Faith in the finished work on the cross is the key to living with a kingdom mindset!

“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” 1 Timothy 1:19

We, as believers in Christ, have to remain assured that through faith in Christ, we are now counted as righteous and forgiven before the Father. If we lose this faith and remain in a guilty conscience, we are as good as shipwrecked.

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

The Father is the cleanser of our hearts and consciences, which convict us of sin as believers. If we are living “sin-conscience” instead of “Christ-conscience,” worshipping the Father is so very hard to do, much less maintain. But God made a way, through right-believing (faith), we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:16

God does not want you believing that He is just waiting for you to mess up so He can convict you of what you’re doing wrong. All along, He has been whispering to our hearts, “you are forgiven, you are righteous, you are part of the redeemed!” We can love and serve our Father with pure and clean consciences if we allow Him to do what He came to do. Set the captives free.

In closing, remember this verse from 1 John 3:20-21, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” We must know deep down in our hearts that we can come to the Father with utmost confidence in who He is. He’s not there to beat you over the head with your failures, He’s there to give life and give it abundantly! Paul, in Romans 7:25 ends the chapter with this statement, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” He knew that he would still sin and fall short. But he also knew he had to believe in who he was in Christ to overcome that sin! He goes on to say in the first of Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! I’m definitely new at this learning process; I’ve never been much of a “studier,” but God is very important to me and I want to know Him as He truly is. In every area of my life, I have been shown an incalculable amount  of grace and I want others to know they can live under that grace as well. Grace has been misinterpreted. It doesn’t empower us to sin as we choose but when understood for what it does indeed mean, completely changes the heart of the believer. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. God is so good. His goodness and mercy amaze me every single day!

Since today we talked about what the Holy Spirit technically “doesn’t” do, in one of the next few weeks I’d love to talk more about what the Holy Spirit DOES do! Until then, I pray blessings over each of you who joined me today. May God work supernaturally in your life to reveal even more of His goodness to you!

Happy Thanksgiving!