One of the more interesting concepts I’ve come across is this notion of “Holy Spirit Conviction.” When I experience it from time to time it can be both wonderful and frightening. But what exactly is it?
Have you ever had a moment when you’re taken back by how an individual acts out, not because of the person, but because it was something you already did or might have done in the past? Or how about when you see someone conducting themselves in such a manner that you too might be currently guilty of the same? Even though we can lie to ourselves and others, our inner most sins we can’t keep a secret from God. He ALWAYS knows.
And He sometimes (albeit painfully) reveals these things to our hearts in this so-called Holy Spirit conviction.
John 16:7-11 (ESV)
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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
GotQuestions.org says that the word “convict” is a translation of the Greek word elencho, which means “to convince someone of the truth; to reprove; to accuse, refute, or cross-examine a witness.” The Holy Spirit acts as a prosecuting attorney who exposes evil, reproves evildoers, and convinces people that they need a Savior.
As the writers of GotQuestions go on to further explain—to be convicted is to feel the sheer loathsomeness of sin. This happens when we’ve seen God’s beauty, His purity and holiness, and when we recognize that sin cannot dwell with Him.
For example, when the prophet Isaiah was in the presence of God, he was immediately overwhelmed by his own sinfulness…
Isaiah 6:5 (NIV)
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
When we are convicted, we also experience an utter dreadfulness of sin. Our attitude toward sin becomes that of Joseph who fled temptation, crying out, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
We are convicted when we also become reminded of how our sin is a dishonor to God. When David was convicted by the Holy Spirit after his adulterous crimes with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, he cried…
Psalm 51:4 (NIV)
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
The Holy Spirit not only convicts us of sin, but also brings to light our relationship to God by opening our eyes and our hearts to our sins, which allows us to receive His ever-loving grace in exchange. And although the Spirit has a method that can be quite painful at times in calling to our attention our faults, it also has a regenerating effect in the heart.
You see, sometimes God has a funny way of revealing to us what’s truly in our hearts, even if we are too blind to see it for ourselves. Sometimes those revelations come in the form of seeing ourselves in others to call attention to it.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Holy Spirit conviction is one of those occurrences that’s both humbling AND embarrassing.
PRAYER: Lord, you’re absolutely right, I’ve been doing the exact same thing that I truly despise. And now that I see it, thanks to Your mercy and grace, I see how disgusting it really is. Thank You for being so loving as to show me my wrongs in such a manner that demonstrates who I truly am. I thank You Jesus for loving me, despite how awful I can be towards my fellow brothers and sisters. And thank You for being the perfect man that I can model myself after. Help me to shift my focus towards You; to always keep You at the center of every choice I make. Help me to recognize when I’m stepping out of sync with You, and to recenter me back towards the light which You provide in order to illuminate the darkness of my ignorance. Forgive me of my sins and continue to call my heart to recognize them going forward. In You, I know that I am holy and blameless before God. But apart from You, I will fail time and time again, especially when I rely upon my imperfect self to be perfect.