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The Holy Spirit Never “Convicts” Christians

I’ve spent three years of my legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job that usually has one goal when it comes to wrongdoers: conviction.  Once the defendant has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty by a jury, it’s all over.  He has been convicted, and the only thing left to do is sentence him.

Early in my legal career, it struck me how often the word “conviction” gets used in the Christian community.  In Christianese, the word is used anytime somebody feels guilty about something and wants to explain that the Holy Spirit was the source of their guilt (for example, “I felt convicted about speaking in anger”).  But in Scripture, “conviction” is a legal term – not a word used to describe a feeling.

The Bible certainly uses a courtroom analogy when it talks about Christians; but for believers, Satan is the prosecutor, God is the judge, Jesus is our defense attorney, and we’re declared innocent of all charges (Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 2:1, Revelation 12:10).  However, the word “convict” or “conviction” is never once used to describe the day-to-day interactions of the Holy Spirit and believers.  Instead, “conviction” basically describes (1) how the Holy Spirit interacts with people who don’t believe in Jesus; and (2) what happens to Christians who try to follow rules instead of the Spirit (John 8:9, 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:24; James 2:8-10; Jude 15).

So if the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us, condemn us, or otherwise put us on guilt trips, what does He do?  If we look at Scripture, it turns out He’s actually very involved with us in a number of ways.  For example, He helps us in our weakness, teaches us, and reminds us of the words of Jesus (John 14:26; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13).  He gives us words to speak when we don’t know what to say; and He provides supernatural power that we need to walk out our calling (Mark 13:11, Acts 1:8).  He fills us with Himself and with God’s joy, peace, and love (Acts 2:4, 8:17; Romans 5:5, 14:17).  And He opens our eyes to see God’s glory and fervently prays for us in our weaknesses (Acts 7:55; Romans 8:26).  But He does not convict us.

Jesus was already convicted for our sins, once and for all, when He became those sins on the cross and endured God’s wrath in our place (Isaiah 53:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 3:18).  He’s the “convict” who took our shameful death sentence so that we would never have to be “convicted” of anything (Hebrews 12:2).

Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf said, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”  If this is true, then we have a special obligation to watch the words we use to describe God – especially if our portray Him doing something that is fundamentally at odds with His character.

So the next time you’re feeling “convicted” in the truest sense of the word, know this: you are not hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Yes, He will correct us and discipline us like any good parent, but that’s evidence of His love, which ought to be the most reassuring thing in the world (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 12:6).

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54 Comments
  1. Graeme Phillips #

    I suppose I would say that dictionaries are books produced retrospectively that are intended to reflect linguistic trends that already exist, rather than absolute markers of truth. Funny things creep in over time.

    For instance, the word “trash” was the standard English word for “rubbish”. However, over time, it remained in common use in American English and became antiquated in British English.

    Even King James English requires care: – a certain vulgar word for urination (or derivations thereof) appears eight times in the KJV (1 Samuel 25:22, 1 Samuel 25:34, 1 Kings 14:10, 1 Kings 16:11, 1 Kings 21:21, 2 Kings 9:8, 2 Kings 18:27 and Isaiah 36:12).

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    October 15, 2014
  2. Interesting.
    John 16:8 came to mind, where Jesus says the Spirit will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Does this deny your point that the Spirit does not convict Christians? Perhaps not, if it says the world (and presumably the unbelieving world is meant here).

    But then I looked at the Greek text, and it appears that the verb ἐλέγχω (at least according to my lexicons) is not a legal term but a convincing. So perhaps translations like the NET do well to translate this as “prove the world wrong.”

    How do you interpret John 16:8?

    Liked by 1 person

    October 16, 2014
    • If you look at the full context of Chapters 16 and 17, Jesus is clearly talking about people who do not believe in Him anytime he discusses “the world.” So yes, the Spirit will convict the world of sin, but God’s desire is that it will motivate them to look for defense counsel (Jesus) before they appear before the Judge (Father God) for sentencing.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 16, 2014
    • SE, you said what I was thinking. The idea of convince, which is also a definition of convict, is certainly something the Holy Spirit does—as part of His teaching and guiding and bringing to our remembrance what Jesus said.

      This word quibbling isn’t profitable, I don’t think.

      Becky

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      October 17, 2014
      • If it gets people to stop and ponder the many colorful ways the Word describes the Holy Spirit’s interactions with us (which involves a whole lot more than the Spirit just pointing out our sin), I think it’s profitable.

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        October 17, 2014
    • Theodore A. Jones #

      “When he comes he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement:”
      ” Jesus was already convicted for our sins” ? Really. Jesus Christ was murdered when he was crucified. Do you know what unjust enrichment means?
      Just what sin do you think was repented of in Acts 2 in order to be saved? Wouldn’t be the corporate sin of a man’s murder they had committed about 40 or 50 days previously would it?
      Counselor. The sin of any man’s murder can never be a direct benefit.

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      October 22, 2014
      • Isaiah 53 is really informative on this point.

        >

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        October 22, 2014
      • Theodore A. Jones #

        Counselor. Premeditated murder cannot be a direct benefit. Besides no one could have known what the pupose of Jesus Christ’s murder was prior to his murder or he would not have been murdered. 1 Cor. 2:8

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        October 22, 2014
      • Theodore A. Jones #

        Counselor. Scripture dos not argue against itself.
        “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” ROM. 2:13
        Counselor. The law was changed after the murder of Jesus Christ. Paul is referencing the law that has been added. Your statement Counselor, “He, Jesus, was already convicted” could not be further from the truth. He is without sin therefore there is no basis for a conviction. Counselor.

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        October 22, 2014
  3. Alex #

    What would you call it when the indwelling Holy Spirit brings to a Christian’s attention the fact that that Christian has committed a sin (since, as far as I know, this is usually what Christians mean when we talk about “conviction” concerning sin)? If not “conviction”, is there a better or more Biblical term for this ministry of the Holy Spirit?

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    October 16, 2014
    • In the final paragraph of the article, I say, “So the next time you’re feeling ‘convicted’ in the truest sense of the word, know this: you are not hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Yes, He will *correct* us and *discipline* us like any good parent, but that’s evidence of His love, which ought to be the most reassuring thing in the world (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 12:6).” Those are the words the Bible uses, so I think it’s best to stick with that.

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      October 16, 2014
    • Marianne #

      Alex – I would think 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

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      October 16, 2014
  4. Colby #

    While I appreciate the sentiment, the semantic argument you make has a couple of problems. The english word group “convict, conviction,” has a much broader semantic range than you are giving it in the post and shares Latin roots with the word “convince”. In slightly older english than our 20th century usage it held this meaning. In fact in legal settings this is what it means that someone was “convicted”, it means that there was convincing evidence of the illegal activity they have been charged with. Consider the sentence, “He speaks with conviction”. It does not mean that he speaks with a sense of legal guilt. It means he speaks as a person, convinced of the truth of the subject he is presenting. In that sense, it is not inaccurate to say that the Holy Spirit works in Christians to convince them that some activity is not faithful to their identity in Christ. As you know, language is a moving target, so perhaps there are words that would better describe it, but conviction is still not a bad one.

    Liked by 2 people

    October 16, 2014
    • I think it’s worth asking ourselves, if there really are better words from the Bible for the way the Spirit interacts with us (like corrects, disciplines, teaches, counsels, loves, etc.), why don’t we find them rolling off our tongues as easily as “the Spirit convicted me,” when English translations never even use the word “convict” to describe the way the Spirit interacts with believers? I think it says something about the way a lot of us relate to Him – as a God who is more interested in judging us than parenting us.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 16, 2014
      • Elizabeth #

        Thought provoking. Why indeed do we feel the need to classify the role of the Holy Spirit as convicting? Is that not a reason to then avoid hearing the Spirit if all we expect is “convicting”? I am glad you pointed out that the Spirit’s work is much more loving and grace filled than we often say or imagine. Thanks Joshua.

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        October 16, 2014
      • Duane Dudley #

        I believe that by stating “I was convicted” for the offense, we are actually trying to say “I did not know I was doing wrong and now I know”. Anything else implies that I knew and willingly ignored my Father in Heaven.

        Liked by 1 person

        October 17, 2014
  5. Ann Roberts #

    That is the best sermon I have heard in a long time.

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    October 16, 2014
  6. This was quite convicting. Wait.

    Seriously though: well put and an excellent endeavor to examine what we often don’t.

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    October 16, 2014
  7. Conviction or condemnation. I know that when I am convicted of a sin as in “search me Oh Lord” that it is a relief and opportunity to repent. A conviction that God uses through the Holy Spirit in our sanctification conforming us to the image of Christ. Guilt and condemnation are tools that the world and the evil one delight in to steal our joy, because nothing can separate a believer from the love of God. But I do believe that the initial conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit in a non-believer in John 16:7-11 is a different one than the “awareness” of sin by conviction of the Holy Spirit in our dailies. Guess the semantics of legalese call for clarification since so many are burdened by doubt; wondering if the Cross was sufficient.

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    October 16, 2014
  8. This gentleman has not divorced himself from worldly thinking. He does not understand the “biblical” definition of the word “convict”. He is using it in a very narrow way and only in the context of his line of work which is the study of law. Charles Finney also erred in interpreting the bible through the lens of legalistic terms. He too was a lawyer. The word “convict”, biblically, means a few different things depending upon the context in which they were used. In one sense, the Holy Spirit does “convict” or “condemn” the world of sin, however, in many other senses it means (to the believer) to reprove or expose one’s sin. His reasoning is flawed. I pray the Lord corrects him.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 16, 2014
  9. and may I please leave something to think on? I hope it blesses you who are reading these posts:

    Hebrews 12:5 –

    “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

    “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
    Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.”

    The word here “rebuked” is the word elegchō and Thayer’s Definition is as follows:

    1) to convict, refute, confute
    1a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted
    1b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose
    2) to find fault with, correct
    2a) by word

    I am pleased when I am “convicted” of a sin because that means that the I am the Lord’s. Conviction brings blessed assurance to our salvation.

    Liked by 2 people

    October 16, 2014
    • Ma’am, thanks for your thoughtful response (well, except the part where you compared me to Charles Finney); however, you’re completely misreading what I wrote.

      I am not saying that God does not rebuke, reprove, correct, discipline or otherwise take us out to the spiritual woodshed (if you missed that, check out the last paragraph of the article). I’m saying that I find it terribly interesting that the verb that English-speaking Christians most often use to describe the Spirit’s work is “convict,” which isn’t ever used in English-language Scripture to describe how the Spirit interacts with His children. It is, however, a word the English-language Scriptures use to describe how God interacts with people who aren’t Christians.

      The fact that we use a term that has to do with the condemnation of the world when we describe the Spirit’s work in our lives probably is a reflection of how we see God – as being more so our judge and less so our Father.

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      October 16, 2014
      • Alex #

        I’m totally with you on the need for Christians to avoid mindless or misleading Christian-ese clichés (I’ve been involved in worship music ministry for 20+ years – if I wrote down every mindless Christian-ese cliché that has made its way into that sphere of ministry, “even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” :^)).
        But I think this article is a bit of a reach, and the statement “The Holy Spirit Never Convicts Christians” is actually not true unless it is narrowly qualified. We can truthfully say “The Holy Spirit Never Prosecutes And Sentences Christians” (which seems to be the overall thrust of your argument), but the Greek word that is sometimes translated “convict” does not mean that in any context of the NT (check the word ἐλέγχω in BDAG if you want to examine the data); and I don’t believe that Christians who use that term are confusing the advocating ministry of the Holy Spirit with the accusatory activity of Satan.
        As far as whether the Holy Spirit can or does produce feelings of guilt, there is such a thing as godly grief/sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7) even for Christians. The fact that English translations sometimes use “convict” to describe how God convinces non-believers of their sinfulness is irrelevant – sin is sin, whether carried out by non-Christians or Christians; and since sin usually involves deception, both Christians and non-Christians usually need to be made aware of the fact that we have sinned before any genuine repentance can occur, whether for initial salvation or ongoing fellowship with God once we are saved (and 2 Cor 7 seems to cover both of those situations).
        Like I said, I totally get that we need to avoid misleading Christian-ese clichés, but I don’t think that Christians who use the term “convict” to describe the Holy Spirit bringing sin to our attention are using the term in either an unbiblical or inappropriate way.

        Liked by 1 person

        October 17, 2014
      • The word for rebuke which the Holy Spirit does according to Hebrews 12:5 and in other parts of the bible is as follows (and this is the context in which believers use the word):

        elegchō
        Thayer Definition:
        1) to convict, refute, confute
        1a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted
        1b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose
        2) to find fault with, correct
        2a) by word
        2a1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove
        2a2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation
        2b) by deed
        2b1) to chasten, to punish
        Part of Speech: verb

        The “Christianese Cliche” “convict” is interchangeable with words like chastise, rebuke, expose, chide, admonish, reprove, or in phrases like show one’s fault, and so on. To say that we are misusing it is an error on your part. The unbiblical definition according to Webster is: sentence, judgement, guilty of a criminal offense, also, a belief,opinion, view, thought, persuasion, idea, position, or stance. We are 2000 years removed from the actual Greek used in this book. Do you know Greek? I do not, so I define the term using a book that does, like Strong’s or Thayer’s.

        Your comment up there:

        “Early in my legal career, it struck me how often the word “conviction” gets used in the Christian community. In Christianese, the word is used anytime somebody feels guilty about something and wants to explain that the Holy Spirit was the source of their guilt (for example, “I felt convicted about speaking in anger”). But in Scripture, “conviction” is a legal term – not a word used to describe a feeling.”

        This insinuates that we are in error for using the term convict as a noun to express how we feel about a matter between us and God. Your reasoning is because the Holy Spirit does not convict believers of sin in their lives. The Title of the Article is the same “The Holy Spirit Never Convicts Christians”. I would agree that we are not condemned as unbelievers are, but we are certainly rebuked and sharply because when we sin we are on dangerous ground. We should never take sin so lightly as to claim the Holy Spirit never convicts one of it and that’s what you did in the second paragraph as I’ve quoted you up there. In the Bible you will see believers being handed over to Satan, ostracized from the Body of Christ until they repent, and in the case of Ananias and Saphira, struck dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. Your article is off the mark, Sir Rogers. Very much indeed off the mark. Perhaps you should have used the word condemn, since believers are not condemned, not even Saphira or Ananias. “For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” To this, the article would have had merit, but then again, we don’t run around saying the Holy Spirit condemned us, but this is what you are saying the Christian is doing by using the word “convict”. Be blessed of God, I wish no hard feelings, only to correct this wayward thinking and accusation.

        Liked by 1 person

        October 17, 2014
  10. mark #

    Given the nature of vocabulary, disregarding “conviction” as an action of the Spirit in the lives of the believer may not be very helpful. As pointed out by many others, the word “conviction” has a range of meaning. The point of the article (I think) is that the Spirit doesn’t declare Christians as guilty in opposition to our justification. However, the Spirit does know our actual sins as sins and brings them to our hearts so that we may repent of them. Perhaps it is more helpful to say “This is what we should mean by conviction” instead of saying “The Spirit doesn’t convict us of sin.”

    Liked by 1 person

    October 17, 2014
    • Or we could just use any of the many other verbs the Bible actually uses to describe the Spirit’s work in our lives.

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      October 17, 2014
  11. Jay R. #

    Joshua, I believe you are in error. The Bible states that there is “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus, but thankfully, the Holy Spirit — thru the Word of God which is sharper than a double-edged sword, etc.. — does convict us of sin.

    Because when we sin we ARE guilty. God doesn’t sweep unrighteousness under the carpet because of our union with Christ. Rather, the blood of Christ covers our sin, because He has already paid the penalty – the death sentence for our sin.

    To say that we are “convicted” is not the negative thing you are making it out to be, because, it simply shows that the Holy Spirit is testifying with our spirit that we have failed to obey God’s perfect law.

    Just like Paul in Romans 7, we admit that of ourselves we are but wretched men and we need to be saved from the ‘body of death’. We don’t need to be told that the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us. We need to say like Paul did: Thanks be to God, for Jesus Christ our savior — There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And thankfully, we are still convicted by the Holy Spirit when we sin. When we stop feeling convicted by our sin, we’re in grave danger.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 18, 2014
    • Please feel free to read my responses to the previous comments above.

      On Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 10:10 AM, Joshua Rogers wrote:

      >

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      October 19, 2014
    • Jay R. #

      Joshua, I have read them, but you’ve not addressed the many firm arguments against your position. Thus, perhaps you should rethink your original theory, lest you lead others astray.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 20, 2014
      • Jay, thanks for your interest. To the degree it’s not clear to you or anyone else, it is my position that the Holy Spirit corrects and disciplines us (sometimes very severely), but for those of us who are English speakers, we should use the words that English-language scriptures use to describe His discipline – none of which involve the word “conviction.” There are very good reasons why we might want to avoid that word, as I note above.

        I recognize that language is a moving target and that there are people who use the word “conviction” as a synonym for the more fatherly verbs like “discipline” and “correct.” However, if this short essay leads people to start using the many words the English-language Scriptures actually use to describe the Holy Spirit’s interactions with us, great. If it doesn’t, I don’t think all hell is going to break loose. Regardless, I’m glad to see I’ve gotten people to think about how the Holy Spirit truly relates to them.

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        October 20, 2014
  12. firefliesarelove #

    Wow, so much discussion going on here. I think from reading your blog for a fair amount of time, I can deduce that this is not in error. You parent well, and I believe the Holy Spirit talks to you a lot about how that relates to how God works with His people. In turn the Spirit reveals Jesus to you. If you have ‘seen’ Jesus, youve seen the Father.

    Your point seems clear to me: the Holy Spirit is predominantly misrepresented in one word to Christians. We relate to Him more often than not as the person of the God Head who is ‘convicting’ us.

    Which to the point, yes I’ve heard that phrase…a lot.
    What I don’t often hear is: (key word is often)
    “The Holy Spirit taught me today…”
    “The Holy Spirit corrected my way of thinking on…”
    “I was comforted by the Spirit.”

    The Spirit wants to be way more active in our lives. Which excites me because good or bad, this post about the Spirit has gotten atleast 10-20 people thinking about Him.

    To those in disagreement with the blog post: If we know what we should do, and we don’t do it, that becomes sin to you. (James) Why cling to continue needing conviction of sins like the world does? if my little niece does something bad, but she didn’t ‘know’ I’d correct the action. And if I correct the action enough then she won’t continue to behave in that way. But when she sees me I know she doesn’t only see the word ‘correct’ that’s not my personality. That’s ONE FUNCTION, for ONE PURPOSE. My apologies for the CAPSLOCK lol

    Hope that wasn’t too long 🙂
    Way to have the fruit of the Spirit in your comment responses Joshua Rogers!

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    October 21, 2014
  13. Theodore A. Jones #

    “When becomes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin” Jn. 16:8 NIV
    Not all English translations are consistent with counselor Rogers’s allegation.
    Counselor?

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    October 22, 2014
    • Theodore A. Jones #

      “When He comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin” Jn. 16:8
      Were I to be a practicing defense attorney and had the pick of a prosecutor Rogers would be my first choice.
      “For it is not those who just hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13
      Every Unitarian directly contest against the Law of the Spirit and there will be prosecuting attorneys at judgement who have previously defended the Law of the Spirit.

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      January 28, 2015
  14. The Holy Spirit does not convict us (Believers) for our Sin, Jesus was referring to unbelievers not believers. SIN is a NATURE sins are wrong deeds.
    to believers it comfort them, to continue the Journey even when they fail, He does not point the believer of his Sins.

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    March 6, 2015
  15. THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS BELIEVERS BY CONVICTING THE WORLD OF SIN, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUDGMENT

    Shortly before His arrest, Jesus told His disciples that there would be three things the coming Holy Spirit would convict the world of—sin, righteousness and judgment:

    John 16:8
    And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the WORLD of SIN, and of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and of JUDGMENT:

    These three convictions by the Spirit are meant for the world. They are not meant for believers of Christ, because Jesus separated the two groups when He told the Father in the following chapter that His disciples “are in the world” but “not of the world” (John 17:11, 14). Since those who believe in Him are not of the world, then these three Spirit convictions cannot be for them.

    Now, why would the Holy Spirit convict the world (or non-believers) of sin, righteousness and judgment?

    To “convict” means to reprove or admonish. The original Greek word used here is “elengchoo.” It’s a negative word that means, “to convict, refute, confute, generally with a suggestion of the shame of the person convicted…to find fault with, correct…reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove…to chasten, punish” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). So why would the Holy Spirit do all this to non-believers in the three areas of sin, righteousness and judgment, such that they feel some sense of shame for each conviction?

    The answer lies in what Jesus told His disciples just before He spoke of the coming Holy Spirit and His convictions:

    John 16:2–3, 7–8
    They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me…Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

    The disciples would soon face much persecution for their faith in Christ. They would be thrown out of the synagogues and some of them would even be killed by religious zealots crazy enough to think they were helping God.

    Because of this impending persecution, Jesus told them, “Look guys, it’s better I go away so that the Helper can come. When He comes, He will help you by convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.”

    The disciples needed supernatural help to carry on the ministry of Jesus, or the Great Commission. And help was coming to them in the person of the Holy Spirit, aptly named, the “Helper.” And He would help them, as they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, by convicting their non-believing hearers of sin, righteousness and judgment.

    How so?

    1. Of SIN, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9):

    As the disciples preached how Jesus is the Messiah and how one needs to believe in Him to be saved, the Holy Spirit would help them by convicting the hearts of their hearers, telling these unbelievers that refusing to believe in Jesus is a grave sin for which there is no forgiveness, since they would be rejecting the one-and-only final sacrifice for sin that God accepts.

    2. Of RIGHTEOUSNESS, “because I go to My Father and you see Me no more” (John 16:10):

    As the disciples preached how righteousness comes by faith and not by works (obeying the Law of Moses), the Holy Spirit would again help them. He would convict the hearts of their hearers, telling these unbelievers that the only righteousness that God accepts is the righteousness of the One who came from the Father, and who was able to return to the Father because He had successfully finished the job He was sent to do. A righteousness from above was required, and this righteousness is a gift that must be received by faith, not works.

    3. Of JUDGMENT, “because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

    Finally, as the disciples preached about God’s holy judgment against sin and unrighteousness or self-righteousness, the Holy Spirit would once more help them. He would convict the hearts of their hearers, telling these unbelievers that there will certainly be divine judgment for the world, since the devil himself could not escape God’s judgment.

    Friend, that’s how the Helper helps us even today, as we preach the gospel in and to an unbelieving and sometimes hostile world. We may speak with eloquence, passion, boldness and even wisdom, but ultimately, we still need the help of the Holy Spirit. Only He can convict the hearts of our unbelieving hearers with regard to sin, righteousness and judgment, and bring about revelation, repentance and salvation!

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    May 13, 2015
  16. Graeme Phillips #

    I think this is splitting hairs here. Given that the scriptures weren’t originally written in English, this seems a rather pointless thing to debate.

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    May 13, 2015
    • The Bible has been translated into English, and the words we use in English frame the way we think about the things we say. Therefore, I try to be conscious about the way I talk about God and His people. For example, in another case of being cautious about my use of language, I don’t refer to my church service as “church.” The Church is an organic body of believers, not a building or a worship meeting. Maybe that’s splitting hairs to some people, but it’s my nature as a lawyer to be very thoughtful about the words I use.

      >

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      May 13, 2015
      • Graeme Phillips #

        There are some examples where I don’t believe it is splitting hairs to be careful about the language. For instance, in Anglo-Catholic circles, they talk about saints as in canonised people (as if the Roman Catholic church possessed any such authority, *cough*). The reformed understanding of the term “saint” is someone who is elected for salvation and we don’t like the careless Anglo-Catholic use of the term.

        However, what I was referring to regarding splitting hairs is the inordinate length of the discussion.

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        May 13, 2015
      • Oh I certainly think this dead horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp.

        >

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        May 13, 2015
  17. MB #

    I’ve never thought about it like that before. In my discussions with Christians about the Holy Spirit we tend to draw a line between conviction and condemnation. Satan is the Accuser and he is the one who condemns us, heaps us the guilt and tries to make us forget the truth: Jesus has declared us innocent of all charges (I think that’s the way you phrased it 🙂 ). We tend to say that the Holy Spirit convicts us in the sense that He shows us when we are in error.. but there is no guilt or condemnation.

    However I think you make a valid point in distinguishing between the guilt-laden word “conviction” that some Christians tends to use and what the Bible is actually talking about, which is that loving discipline and correction you mentioned at the end of your post.

    Maybe it’s splitting hairs but we do need to be careful about the words we use and the things we say. I don’t mind saying “the Holy Spirit convicts” because I don’t associate that word with guilt and condemnation. However I may be careful with what I say around other Christian who may interpret it as a guilt-trip.

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    May 28, 2015
  18. I think you are mistaken by applying the legal English meaning of “convict” to the word translated as “convict” in scripture.

    Jesus said He would send His Spirit Who would convict (ἐλέγχω)(elegchō) the world of sin, righteousness and judgement.

    You say it’s not OK to use the term “convict” because this is the term used for “the world” who do not know God.

    However, in Revelation 3 Jesus is communicating to John through His Spirit to the Churches in Asia. To the Church in Laodicea Jesus urges them to have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. And very specifically the Spirit here says to these people who know Him, who are not of the world, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” The word for “rebuke” is (ἐλέγχω)(elegchō).

    So regardless of what English word you choose to use or not use, scripture very clearly shows that the Spirit indeed convicts both the world and Christians. You are mistaken that the Spirit never convicts Christians.

    Personally, I’m very grateful that the Spirit finds fault/corrects/reprehends severely/chides/admonishes/reproves/show me my fault/demands an explanation/chastens/punishes me. When He does, I know He loves me by refusing to leave me in a state that’s less than He has designed me to be. When I hear voices that point out my sin/error that condemns me and drives me to feel worthless, I know this is not God’s Spirit. When He speaks, there is much sorrow but His loving presence is there to ensure that the end purpose of my conviction is transformation according to His gracious Work in my life.

    Grace,
    Guy

    Like

    September 15, 2015
    • Tj #

      So then every little thing we must repent of?that would make us the counciler to ourself wouldn’t it being held up buy our own mind and actions wouldn’t that throw grace out the window? jesus died because our way of being sorry wasn’t good enough. I think if we are continually repenting we are not putting enough faith in how amazing and gracious jesus is i don’t think he wants our repentance he wants our love I speak as a man of God jesus dident say to any of his followers repent he said have faith.and also it says in Hebrews let us put aside the sin that so easily intangles us that we can run the race.it doesn’t say repent so we can it says put aside because jesus took that sin.I just don’t think a little act of repentance is what God wants I think he wants us to trust in his son whom without there is no room for any site of sin.

      Like

      October 19, 2015
      • Tj #

        I think I just got covicted I was on the wrong subject repentance instead of conviction..I don’t think the holy spirit convics us i think there is no conviction for the child of God because he is our beloved father I think he is judging us of our sin but he’s given us the conviction 2000 plus years ago so if the Spirit convics us then why does it do that?to bring sorrow and an unsure feeling that we are to weak to be children of God with hope that will cause us to ture from sin?because we fall short so very often thru our weaknesses but it’s thru faith and a hanging on to hope of jesus that should be our conviction through the Spirit if we should fall short..for we do all fall short.

        Like

        October 19, 2015
  19. Jeff #

    very interesting article, my brother and I were talking about this just recently. But as you indicated how we used words is important. So to refer to Jesus as a “convict” would be incorrect. He was sacrifice for our sins he was not convicted for our sins. He paid a price, in our place…the price being death. Jesus and God are one of the same, to say Jesus was convicted is to say God was convicting Himself. But the rest that you wrote about conviction I like. I would rather believe that the Holy Spirit guides or leads, and even teaches us through our conscious state; sometimes by asking us questions.

    Like

    October 22, 2015
  20. Tj #

    If you are talking to me…i think we were convicted through jesus because without him we are condemned just like if you don’t have a lawyer in court when you are being charged for a prison sentence you will most definitely goto prison so the JUDGE gave us a lawyer so we won’t goto prison without that lawyer we are going behind bars so if you deny the lawyer you are taking your own convictions and not doing it the way your judge said you can so it’s a conviction?it’s a good and bad conviction depending what you do?

    Like

    October 22, 2015
  21. Josua #

    Poor article.

    There is legal conviction and moral conviction.

    God has authority of both types for all men.

    Like

    December 2, 2015
    • True, but for those who believe in His Son, He has already legally and morally convicted Jesus for their sins. There is no more convicting to do for those folks. Now he corrects, loves, teaches, and counsels them as their Father.

      On Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 4:13 PM, Joshua Rogers wrote:

      >

      Like

      December 2, 2015
  22. This was thoroughly refreshing, and I want to say a heartfelt “thank you”! We used to have a pastor, a young many, who was a self-described “conviction junkie”. And he preached like it. He preached perfection and works and do, do do. I assume his hope was that his law-preaching would “convict” us and we would all become conviction-junkies as well. But wait! That’s the wrong message. What is the message God has given believers to preach? It is the gospel. Good news for sinners. Payment made by Another for those who were previously convicted of sin. Again, I can’t thank you enough for this message.

    Like

    January 12, 2016

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