One of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had as a minister involved my presentation of the gospel to someone who spoke very poor English. She was from a Latin American country and my Spanish is pretty much non-existent. She really wanted to hear about Jesus and she was highly intelligent, but I was just not up to the task.
So, I did a conference call with a Spanish minister friend of mine in Odessa. He and the lady had what sounded like a wonderful conversation. They talked for about 30 minutes and I didn’t catch 99 percent of anything that was said. But I was confident in my preacher friend’s ability to present the gospel in an understandable way. So, when the conversation was done, I fully expected him to say, “Okay, she wants to get baptized.”
Instead, he said, “Sorry, Jim… she’s nowhere close to being ready.”
I was shocked! I said, “Marco… what part did she not get?”
He said, “She doesn’t believe that she’s ever sinned. I asked her if she’d ever lied. She said no. I asked her if she’d ever had impure thoughts about another person. She said no. Had she ever uttered a curse word, hated someone who’d done her wrong, struck someone in anger, dishonored her parents? No, no, no, no. She says she’s never sinned.”
Well, Marco was right. She was a long way from being ready to give her life to Jesus. Even though I knew she had sinned, she just couldn’t see it. She hadn’t been convicted of her sin.
In Romans 7, Paul tells us that the purpose of the law was to awaken us to our sin. He says, “I didn’t know what coveting was until I saw the commandment against coveting. Now I find that coveting is all I want to do!”
I read scripture to find out God’s idea of holiness only to realize that I’m nowhere close! I fall far short of God’s standard for holiness. And yet, He commands me to be holy. It’s no wonder Paul would say, “What a wretched man I am! Who can save somebody like me?”
The answer that comes back? “Praise be to God through Jesus Christ, my Lord!”
Paul was convicted of his sin. Only then could he realize the need for a Savior. Thankfully, God provided His Son.
Our world doesn’t talk much about sin. We talk about mistakes, missteps, and oopsies. “Oops, my bad!” Maybe we would do well to call sin sin—missing the mark for what God expects of me. We are sinners. Every single one of us. Those who say they have no sin are simply deceiving themselves. When we claim we have no sin, we make God a liar and His truth is not in us (1 John 1:8,10).
All have sinned and fallen short of God’s grace. No one is righteous. No not one.
The Greek word for convict means “to convince someone of the truth; to reprove; to accuse, refute, or cross-examine a witness.” The Holy Spirit acts as a courtroom prosecutor—exposing evil, accusing evildoers, and convincing them that without a Savior, eternal death awaits. One who is convicted experiences the sheer loathsomeness of sin. He sees the purity and holiness of Almighty God and realizes that he is not in the same ballpark. It’s why Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips… a sinner! I have beheld the Almighty King and I am ruined!”
David was convicted by the Holy Spirit through Nathan the prophet. He cried out, “I have sinned against the Lord! I have done what is evil in His sight.” David viewed his sin as an affront to a pure and holy God. We are convicted when we become aware that our sinfulness has exposed us to the wrath of Almighty God. At that point, we, like the Philippian jailor, must fall to our knees and cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” He was convicted of his sin and became certain that without a Savior he would die. Jesus told the twelve that the Holy Spirit, the Helper, was coming. And a primary duty of the Spirit is to convict the world in sin, righteousness, and judgment.
We are all guilty as charged. This verdict cannot be appealed. But the Holy Spirit also brings the guilty to repentance. When we confess our sins and repent, God restores us to a relationship with Him by His grace.
The relationship between Joseph and his brothers takes some preliminary steps toward reconciliation in Genesis 42. The brothers are convicted of the wrong they perpetrated on their brother some twenty years earlier. They confess their sin among themselves. Unknown to them, Joseph also hears their confession of wrongdoing. And the wheels of reconciliation begin to turn.
May the Spirit convict us so that we will seek Jesus. Only He can resolve our sin problem so that our relationship with God can be reconciled.