Conviction: A firmly held belief or opinion
Today, we will be discussing the conviction of the Spirit, or the conviction of sin by the Spirit. Before going any further, we are not talking about conviction in an eternal judgement way. Rather, we will be discussing conviction as a firmly held belief in regard to sin. The second part of this sermon will be dealing with a question brought to me which pertains to the conviction of the Spirit, or conviction of sin by the Spirit.
The Word of God tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts or reproves the world of sin.
John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”
By the way, the definitions for the words “convict” and “reprove” are exactly the same.
Reprove: 1) By conviction to bring to the light, to expose. 2) To convince someone of the truth.
Of all the things the Spirit does, He also is like a prosecuting attorney. He exposes sin, reproves evil thoughts, evil actions, and convinces, at least some people, that they are in desperate need of a Saviour. If we are to be truly convicted of the disgust of our sins, we have to recognize that in God’s perfection, grace, and beauty, sin cannot live.
Psalm 5:4 “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”
We know we have been convicted when we come to the full realization of how offensive sin is to God. There are some fantastic examples throughout Scripture that display what this conviction is all about. Please understand that though our sins affect other people, the offensiveness of sin is primarily directed toward God. This is a truth of which David was convicted.
Psalm 51:4 “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
The prophet Isaiah received his conviction when the presence of the Lord in all His beauty filled Isaiah with a true understanding of the filthiness of his sin.
Isaiah 6:5 “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Just as a little side note: did you notice Isaiah’s reaction when he saw the Lord? He immediately knew that because of his sinfulness he could not stand in front of the Lord and live. We see this same thing throughout Scripture. When Moses realized he was standing in front of God, he immediately hid his face in fear.
Exodus 3:6 “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
These men of God understood the eternal truth that no man can look upon the Father and live.
John 1:18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
John 5:37 “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”
1 John 4:12 “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
We experience this same fear when we become convicted of our sins and understand how desperately we need a Saviour.
Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit don’t just convict us of our sins and call it a day … they call us toward repentance so that we would be saved.
Luke 13:5 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
Conviction of sin is not merely a feeling of guilt or shame or the fear of eternal death by hellfire. Moreover, conviction of sin is not an intellectual or academic understanding of good versus evil or right versus wrong. A great many people read their Bibles and understand that the payment for sin is death.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Understanding that sin will eternally separate us from the Godhead on an intellectual level only, and allowing this understanding to change everything we think, feel and believe, is the difference between an obedient servant of God and a theologically informed heathen.
Reading the Bible and believing its words is fine. However, without the conviction of the Spirit, the person continues their lives in sin. All the knowledge of Scripture without a fully repentant heart is the opposite of faith.
Satan, being the most intelligent and powerful angel ever created was still cast out of Heaven. Not for his lack of belief, but for his lack of obedience. In like manner, Adam and Eve were not cast out of the Garden for lack of belief, but for disobedience.
The Word of God teaches us that human, by nature, are rebels against God and are dead in our trespasses.
Ephesians 2:1 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
Jesus tells us that no man can come to Him unless the Father draws them in.
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Part of that “draw” is the conviction of sin.
The question that was brought to me, that I mentioned previously, goes like this: “How am I to know and experience true Godly repentance?”
I believe the answer to this question is multifaceted and I will do my best to answer as thoroughly as possible.
Jesus said the following …
Matthew 9:13 “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
I am bringing up this verse because I wanted to make it known (if it wasn’t already) that there is a difference between the righteous and the sinner. An obvious statement, I know, but it needed to be said before continuing. Jesus also said the following …
Mark 2:17 “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In this verse, Jesus likens the sinner to a sick and diseased man … which is true. Spiritually, when someone sins, they are considered filthy and diseased. That is why if someone twice rejects the Scriptures, we must end the relationship. Their unbelief may cause others, such as us, to become diseased and fall away from the faith.
Titus 3:10 “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;”
Of course, as we have discussed, if the person repents to us, we must forgive and allow them back in once confidence is restored. There is more to be said about Titus 3:10, but for the sake of this sermon, we will move on.
Okay, at this point it is pretty clear that righteousness and sinfulness are polar opposites, right? We knew that before I even said anything. We know what sin is because the Lord said in …
1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
That means righteousness involves the keeping of God’s Law. Looking into the Word, we witness the characteristics of those who walked in the righteousness of God. From Genesis to Revelation, the men and women of God reflected the perfect character traits of Jesus Christ. So, what are these character traits? There are a few universal ones which we know as the fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
With faith comes the moral conviction to obey.
Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”
Hebrews 10:16 “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;”
Remember, the question we are answering right now is: “How am I to know and experience true Godly repentance?” The short answer is this: a truly saved and repentant Christian will display each of the fruits of the Spirit. They can’t help it! These are the qualities which are apparent in every Christian because it is no longer them that live, but Christ who lives within them.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Matthew 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Keep in mind that these are fruits, not gifts. The difference between the two is that fruits are what all Christians bear to the world while gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit based upon His will and will vary from one Christian to another.
1 Corinthians 12:4 “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
Here is my point: the Spirit only enters someone who has fully repented. When the Godhead dwells inside the saved person, they will naturally present themselves with the character of Christ. Just as sin is natural to the flesh, obedience is natural to the saved Christian. Why? Because they have crucified themselves to the cross of Christ and have been born again with a new nature; that new nature is that of Jesus Christ.
So, “How do we know and experience true Godly repentance?” The honestly repentant sinner will know it because they are blessed with a new nature. This new nature doesn’t just hate sin, it actively rejects sin. The born-again nature foresees temptations and makes real moves to ensure that the temptation is, at minimum, weakened by the time it is encountered.
The sinner knows they have truly repented when their desires actually change. The temptations and sins of the old man have been crucified with Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Galatians 5:24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Things like gambling, drugs, fornication, cheating, stealing, drinking, smoking, etc. are no longer appealing and the power they once had over us is broken. Don’t get me wrong, the saved still experience temptation and sin. The difference between the saved and the lost is that the saved will actively seek to learn what sin is, what their sins are, and will actively fight against the sin they just committed and repent immediately! They will do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again. They will remove themselves from the things and people that Satan used to get them to sin in the first place.
Make no mistake, brothers, and sisters, if the enemy has once succeeded in tempting us to sin in a particular area, he will try again a second, third, fourth, and fifth time. He was successful once and knows there’s a weakness there. In refusing to separate ourselves from a circumstance where he once caused us to fall, regardless of how we may feel, or our opinions on the matter, we open the door for sin to enter again. That is why it is so incredibly important to flee from those people and those things.
A Christian will sin for one of two reasons.
- They are either ignorant that something is sinful, or
- They have fallen back to their carnal nature.
The flesh is weak, and God knows it. In any case, the saved will repent and do everything possible to not let it happen again.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 14:38 “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
For me personally, the best evidence in Scripture for how the change in man works and how it is the Lord who performs His work through the saved, is with Paul. In his own words, Paul says the following.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Galatians 1:13 “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:”
Galatians 1:23 “But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.”
Acts 22:4 “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.”
As we know, Paul, after becoming convicted of his sins, became one of the great men of God and mighty works were performed through him. Again, “How am I to know and experience true Godly repentance?” It will be known when the persons desire to please God outweighs their desire to please themselves and others.
Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
It is easy for someone to say, “I already desire to please God more than people.” To which I would say … prove it. Not to me or anyone else, but to Him! People need to be released from their previously sacred thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, and learn of Him in truth … not as the world has taught, but as He has taught!
Galatians 5:16, 25 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Upon true and honest repentance which brings about new life in Christ, His Word becomes everything to us!
Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
And to obey Him is our joy!
Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”
True Godly repentance is known when one’s desire and need to be obedient supersedes any potential discomfort or loss. Our faith, our very need to please God will be at the sacrifice of all we hold near to our hearts.
Now, bear in mind that I am not saying that the Christian will have to sacrifice everything and everyone in the pursuit of God. What I am saying, however, is that God’s children will be perfectly willing to let go of all things which dishonor His name. If He calls us to lose our homes, jobs, income, food, family, friends, and all other relationships to follow Him on a deeper level and to become more obedient … then so be it.
When God and obedience to Him become one’s #1 priority, they will have known true Godly repentance. And Godly repentance is known … when conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is given.
James 1:22, 25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”