Conviction vs. Guilt
“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)
In this passage Jesus promised to send the Comforter: the Holy Spirit: and we see in the next verse the He will “reprove the world of sin” meaning simply He will bring conviction to the hearts of the guilty….
In this verse, we see a three-fold ministry the Spirit will perform in relation to the unsaved world. He will “convict” the world; that is, He will “reprove it” or show it to be wrong. This reproof will target three areas in which the world needs admonishing: sin, righteousness, and judgment. Jesus went on to explain: “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.”
The world is a sinful place, and one of the Holy Spirit’s tasks is to convict the world of its sin. No amount of preaching, pleading, or pointing of fingers will bring about the conviction of sin, unless the Holy Spirit is at work in the sinner’s heart …..
And “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” however, the good news is we have been “justified by His Grace through the redemption that is in Jesus” (Romans 3:23).
It is the Spirit’s job to convict. And what is the most basic sin of which the world is guilty? Jesus specifies it as unbelief ….
The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is at work in the world “because they believe not on Me,” which is Christ. Once a person responds to the Spirit’s conviction and turns back to faith in Christ, we are restored to right relationship with Him. We are forgiven of our sin. As it is written: “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9).
It is the sin of unbelief; a refusal to trust in Jesus, that is the primary.
The world must also be convicted of righteousness, and this, too, is something the Holy Spirit does.
There is a righteous standard we are all held to, despite the world’s stubborn denial of absolute truth. And who is the standard-bearer of righteousness? Jesus points to Himself as that standard: “because I go to the Father.”
There is only ONE who came down from heaven, lived a life of sinless perfection, and who ascended back to heaven; the Son of Man, who lives to be our Intercessor (John 3:13). This is confirmed for us in (1 Timothy 2:5), that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ. He is our advocate, and He stands at God’s right hand always making intercession for us (Romans 8:34).
The righteousness that the world tries to deny is found demonstrated in Christ. Everything He ever said and did was the consummate expression of God the Father (John 8:28). He is righteousness personified, and none can ever measure up to Him ….
The world is facing serious judgment, and the Holy Spirit convicts them of this truth. There is a day of reckoning scheduled; a day in which the holy God will mete out justice and rid His creation of sin. In fact, this judgment has already begun. With whom did it begin? Jesus identifies Satan as the one on whom judgment fell: “Because the prince of this world is judged.” Jesus had earlier indicated that His death on the cross was when “the prince of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31).
It was on the cross that Jesus redeemed sinners for God and utterly vanquished Satan, as it says, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
That’s a pretty intense statement: “subject to bondage all their lifetime.” I’d say more than cause enough to “rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) because through our Lord’s willingness to give His life for us, we now may have “life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Three days later Jesus rose from the dead, showing to all the world that Satan’s rule has been overthrown. The devil has been defeated! All who reject Christ and remain in their sin will be condemned along with Satan, and this is the warning that the Holy Spirit sounds in the hearts of the unsaved… “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
The influence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life will lead that person to the realization that he is guilty, that God is just, and that all sinners are deserving of judgment. Once a sinner has been awakened to his soul’s great need, the Spirit will point him to Christ, the one and only Savior and Refuge from judgment …..
In all of this, the Spirit uses His “sword,”the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and the result is a regenerated heart. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17). However, as we’ve learned, the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a gift we should strive to receive after we have been saved ….
Therefore, in closing, we see how conviction alleviates us of our guilt. The guilt trip can take us many places. While it’s sometimes good for us to feel guilty about something we’ve done wrong, because it promotes change; consistent guilt can control our actions and mindsets, leading to irrational decisions. We can use the 4 W’s and H, to discover how to deal with guilt ….
Why are we feeling guilty? Guilt can be a slight gnawing feeling in our inner persons that we’ve done something wrong. This is the Holy Spirit leading through conviction. At the moment we sense this feeling, we need to take action. Ignoring these feelings causes our hearts to harden, and it’s difficult for us to recognize our sinfulness, or hear the voice of the Spirit guiding us…
Who are we feeling guilty towards? Guilt can be towards God, other people, or ourselves. The best remedy is to confess our guilt to those we may have offended and move on with our lives….
Where did we first feel this guilt? We need to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth so that we can know the moment that guilt was birthed. Getting to the root of guilt helps to examine whether it’s something we need to deal with or not….
What did we do to make us feel guilty? Our guilt could be spurred by something we said, did, thought, or even something we didn’t do. We have to be willing to lay down our pride and humble ourselves to clearly understand….
How do we get rid of guilt? Guilt is removed from our hearts when we confess our sins to God and receive His cleansing from all unrighteousness. Any other method only buries the guilt, and it will usually return at an inopportune moment. The cleansing grace of God gives us the confidence to move forward without the heaviness of guilt. He wants us to “cast our cares upon Him” because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7).
Those who Christ has freed are free indeed (John 8:36). As believers, we aren’t to be held hostage to guilt from ourselves or other people. God will repair our brokenness so that we can live independently of a constant guilty conscience, “if” we are quick to repent once we feel the conviction come upon our heart….
It is written that the Holy Ghost will “teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance” (John 14:26) and that means when we feel that guilty feeling nagging at our hearts, it is the loving hand of our Comforter wanting to bring something to our mind’s remembrance that we may not be aware of. He is the “Spirit of Truth” and that He will “guide us into ALL truth” (John 16:13).
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).
May my guilt turn toward the Truth, may Truth give way to Spirit-filled conviction, may conviction lead to appropriate repentance and forgiveness wrapped in God’s Grace, and may the Lord bring about in me authentic transformation so that I may pursue living blamelessly before God and all for His glory. May His Grace heal those broken places in my heart that remain where the enemy uses guilt to cause me anguish. In Jesus’s name I pray…. Amen.
God is with US …..
God is for US ….
God bless you!