Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Does the Holy Spirit convict you of sin?

This is a question that came to me some time ago after God revealed to me His awesome grace.  If Jesus died to take away all sin and God does not see our sins anymore, he only sees us as He sees Christ, perfect forever, then how does the Holy Spirit see us. Is is his job to convict Christians of their sins? I wrestled with this because I had been taught that he does. The truth is the accuser, Satan accuses us night and day of our sin. So how can it be that the Holy Spirit would fill that same role. The truth is He doesn't. There is no specific Scripture in the Bible to tell me that the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin. Why would He do that, why would that be true anyway? What then is the Holy Spirit's job if this is not the case? 
I don't know about you but I certainly don't need the Holy Spirit to point out my faults. I have a conscience, a family, that though they love me, they are not shy about telling me what I have done wrong and let's not forget our enemy, the prosecutor Satan. Even non-Christians who do not have the Holy Spirit in them are quite able to discern when they have failed. So what then does the Holy Spirit convict us of?
We need to be constantly reminded and reminded, like the word of God says "to renew our minds", that we are indeed already forever forgiven and in God's eyes perfectly righteous. When I fail, I need to be reminded of this truth so I do not fall into condemnation. If the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin constantly I would think about my failures a lot more than I already do. I would think that is how God sees me and wonder if He was happy with me or not. I may feel very stressed out and not realize I am under condemnation because  I think it is obviously God's will to show me my sin, if it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict me of sin. But the truth is that is a lie, the enemy wants us to feel defeated. God wants us to reign in life, He wants us to triumph over sin. How can we ever feel able to triumph if we are constantly being told both by the enemy and the Holy Spirit we are in sin! Please tell me how this could possibly work! It can't work and it doesn't, because it simply isn't true! 
Jesus has completed the work, he has erradicated our sin through his death on the cross. There is power available to us now through his shed blood, He was condemned in our place so that indeed there would never be one iota of condemnation for those who are in Christ. Isn't this amazing!  I am washed completely by Jesus blood and his blood never stops cleansing me! Now that is what I need to hear over and over. 
Okay so there is one Scripture in John 16:8-11 that is important to understand,  "And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged." 
I am going to quote a portion from Joseph Prince's book, "Destined to Reign" because I think he does a fabulous job of explaining this, 
"It is important to always read Bible verses in their context. Many people end up misinterpreting Bible verses because they fail to do this. One way to read Bible verses in their context (and this is a key Bible interpretation principle) is to identify who are the verses talking about. So who was Jesus talking about in John 16:8? Was He talking about believers or unbelievers? 
When He said that the Holy Spirit would come to "convict the world of sin" because they do not believe in Him, it is clear that He was referring to unbelievers because they are of "the world." And notice that the Holy Spirit does not convict the world of "sins" (plural). It is only one "sin" (singular) that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of, and that is the sin of unbelief, the sin of rejecting Jesus and not believing in His finished work. 
Jesus died for the whole world, but does that not mean that the whole world is automatically saved. Each individual must make a personal decision to receive Jesus as his Savior. So the Holy Spirit is present to convict unbelievers of that one sin of unbelief. But when people take John 16:8 out of its proper context, they start to believe erroneously that the Holy Spirit is here to convict believers of their sins. None of us need help in that department. We all know when we have failed. 
If the Holy Spirit never convicts you, the believer, of your sins, then what does He convict you of? Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts you "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more."  Now, who was Jesus referring to here? Clearly, with the use of the second person pronoun "you," Jesus was referring to His believers, as represented by His disciples whom He was talking to. This tells us that the Holy Spirit was sent to convict believers of righteousness. 
Now, are you made righteous by your works or by faith in Jesus? By now, you should know that you are made righteous by faith, for righteousness is not right doing, but right standing before God because of your right believing! So when you miss it, the Holy Spirit comes to convict and remind you that you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. He is present to remind you of the main clause of the new covenant - that God will be merciful to your unrighteousness, and your sins, and your lawless deeds He will remember no more. (Heb. 8:12)  The Holy Spirit is your Helper. (John 14:16) He was sent to live in you to help you, not to nag at you and point out all your faults. Nobody can live with a nag. The Holy Spirit is not a nag. No, He was sent to help you by convicting you of your everlasting righteousness."
I also want to include verses 13 & 14 of John 6, Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." I believe that the Spirit leads us into the truth of Jesus. What does that mean.....as He is so are we in this world. He brings us the truth of who we are in Christ, that is fully forgiven and 100% perfectly righteous forever. 
I am so grateful to have gained clarity and revelation on this truth. After all God really is FOR us! I think what happened in the past for me was obviously not the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, but the accuser and in addition to that still I was still living under the law in an old covenant, fading glory mentality. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase and show us our need for a Savior. The law was not meant to be kept, it was meant to show us how we could never live up to it and we needed a Savior.  Thank you Jesus - you did it all for us!
Now I like to think of the Holy Spirit as a comforter(John 14:26), like a warm blanket enveloping me, kind of like a reminder of His robes of righteousness that have been placed upon me!! 


jul said...

great post! I must to get that book eh?

lydia said...

Thanks Jul, yes it's a good one, try the library, that's where I got it.....

silent wings said...

Enjoyed this post Lydia. I was thinking about how often when I tried to point out sin in others (thinking I was "helping" them) I was reminded by others not to take over the Holy Spirit's job. Hmmmm...guess I was really being a vessel for the enemy. Ouch.

Julie, I have he book if you'd like to borrow it. :)

jul said...

love to Cirra, thanks! I heard you might be coming on Saturday night?

lydia said...

Hi Cirra,
Glad you stopped by and enjoyed the post. Yeah, it's rather alarming to me, that so many Christians (and I was one) talk about how the Holy Spirit convicted them of this sin and that sin and never see Him as the comforter, how is it comforting to have our sin pointed out to us!! It's an even bigger ouch when we look at how many Christians are believing having sin pointed out is the Holy Spirit and are vessels for the enemy!!
Thanks for sharing - I guess you live near Julie, aha the dots are connecting.....Much Grace!!!

Jonathan said...

I came across your blog this weekend as i was doing some research on the question you posted here. i DO believe that the Holy Sprit convicts believers as well as unbelievers of their sin and thought i'd pass along some of the info that i found.

In Revelation 3, Jesus is addressing his church (believers) and says, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline"

The Greek work used in Rev 3:19 is elegcho. It is the same word used in John 16:8, “And He, when He comes, He will convict (elegcho) the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”. The word elecho can mean to convince, convict, rebuke, discipline, correct, punish and bring to light or expose wrong doing.

So does the Holy Spirit convict believers of sin? Absolutely! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:22) It is part of the sanctification and regeneration work of God in our lives. We know the devil won’t convict us of sin, he only condemns. It is very clear that it is the Spirit who will convict sin as mentioned in John 16:8.

I do have an idea as to how the Holy Spirit can both convict the believer of their sin and still be full of grace and mercy. It started when i read Proverbs 3:12, "For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights." (or Heb 12:6) I also started to think about Ecc 3 (a time and place for everything).
So, knowing that its the goodness of God that leads men to repentance, is it possible that to the degree we have a realization of how bad our situation was (or is) is the degree that we have realization of how good God was (or is). Perhaps that Holy Spirit conviction and the grace/mercy of God go hand in hand and are used as tools by God to get us into right relationship with him - One pushing (conviction) and the other pulling (grace/mercy) - much like the rod and the staff of a shepherd. One shows us where we miss the mark and the other is waiting to receive us in spite of our faults, knowing that justification has taken place.
I would think this process starts with salvation and continues on into sanctification because he who began that good work is faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6).

lydia said...

Hi Jonathan,
Thanks for your thoughts on here!
I still have to say I don't fully agree. I do agree that the Father is a loving tender shepherd that will train, discipline and correct us into His truth through the Spirit. But I do not believe it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict believers of sin. The verse in John 16:8, is talking about the world, or unbelievers, not believers. The passage then goes on to talk more about what the role of the Holy Spirit is like in the believer. verse 13, when He the Holy Spirit (the truth giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth.)For He will not speak His own message (on His own authority); but He will tell whatever He hears, from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him, and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come. He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of what is Mine and will reveal it to you.
Anyway, I think it is important to understand that God will never point out our faults, He is not a fault finder! Therefore, I believe the Holy Spirit in His role would not point out our sin to us. I believe as we are corrected by Him, He shows us truth, His truth, His ways, and thus encouraging us into it. Does that make sense? You see I think if we see the Holy Spirit's job as convicting believer's of sin it can become confusing, there is a difference between correcting and pointing out sin. Instead of telling my kids what they did wrong, I tell them what they could do instead, a better way! God's ways are always better!! There is no condemnation coming from God, he does not want us to ever sense condemnation as a believer whatsoever. So He sets us up to succeed in this, and will not ever be the One to condemn us our point out our faults!
It's just a slight difference in the way we look at it. I came from a church culture that was so bogged down in a sin consciousness because they thought the Holy Spirit was constantly pointing out their sin to them. I don't think God is that intense. He is loving, patient and kind. He also took all of our sin away and sees us as perfect forever! So to then come back and point out our sin, would be a contradiction.
So please don't misunderstand, I do believe God corrects His sons and daughters, I just do not believe it is by pointing out sin to us! It is by leading us into all Truth!!!

lydia said...

Here's what I found regarding the greek work elecho



Signifies (a) "to convict, confute, refute," usually with the suggestion of putting the convicted person to shame; see Mt. 18:15, where more than telling the offender his fault is in view; it is used of "convicting" of sin, Joh. 8:46; 16:8; gainsayers in regard to the faith, Tit. 1:9; transgressors of the Law, Jas. 2:9; some texts have the verb in Joh. 8:9; (b) "to reprove," 1Co. 14:24, RV (for AV, "convince"), for the unbeliever is there viewed as being reproved for, or "convicted" of, his sinful state; so in Lu. 3:19; it is used of reproving works, Joh. 3:20; Eph. 5:11,13; 1Ti. 5:20; 2Ti. 4:2; Tit. 1:13; 2:15; all these speak of reproof by word of mouth. In Heb. 12:5; Re. 3:19, the word is used of reproving by action. See FAULT, REBUKE, REPROVE.

I guess if you want to believe God puts you to shame, that is your choice, but I believe it to be a grave mistake,and an old covenant mindset, based on living by the law, and one the devil really wants believers to fall into, so that they can fall into condemnation and not clearly discern between the voice of God and the devil's accusation, leaving a believer confused and not understanding the reality that they are in God's eyes perfect forever! The devil doesn't want us to get a hold of our position, our true identification, which is in Christ!!!

Derrick said...

Oh before i forget, excuse my English grammar. I'm a Filipino so please consider my grammar. God bless you. :-)

Shane said...

Great post but I am with both you and Jonathan on this one... I do believe that the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin in our lives, which the Bible tells us we will always have, but its not a harsh task master thing.

The Holy Spirit is HOLY GOD who abides within us as His Holy of Holies... just by His very presence we will be "convicted" of the sin in our lives.

Like meeting a prince in a dirty top - just His Holy and beautiful presence will shine a light on the sin your life - but only so you can repent of it and move on from "glory to glory"... never to make you ashamed or guilt ridden.

Jesus bore our shame and guilt on Calvary but we do need to pursue righteousness :D

Be blessed beloved.


MichaelEvans23 said...

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

lydia said...

Hi Michael Evans, I am not certain of your point in leaving the above Scriptures. I am also not fond of Bible bashing. So in case you have a point and are not trying to bash me, could you be more clear in your intent on why you chose to leave me these random Scriptures - I am more than open to hear what you actually have to say - Thanks!!

Alex F. Martinez said...

Hey Lydia,

It seems I am troubled to read what you post and have to agree with Johnathan. See I do believe the Holy Spirit convicts us, just as Johnathan stated the devil condemns us.

See in my times with God and in my failures (which were plenty) I have felt the conviction of the Holy spirit not in a "your a evil little child" way but in a loving way.

But at times I have let the enemy speak to me, telling me I am condemned and that I am a failure. So if the Holy Spirit never convicted me, I would have no discipline to to get my life together.

My mother loves me that I know of, but if she never corrected me and punished me out of love for being disobedient or whatever the case may have been I would have never grown to know from right and wrong and how to respect.

I also have to be honest but I believe that your preaching a love message which is an amazing message but the Holy Spirit Correcting us is out of love. If we go around thinking that we can mess up and know that he won't convict us then we are growing in a wrong manner.

It sounds as if the enemy has one either way. So we can go along blaming the devil for anything but remember the devil is not God, he can't be ever where that God can be.

You can't give the enemy more power then he already has. I say this out of love and pray you did not take this offensively, of course we are all entitled to what we believe, but we will all be held accountable at one point in time. How about we spend time in God about this one?