Sunday: Conviction of Sin

Read John 16:8-9. What crucial work does the Holy Spirit do for us, and why is this so important?

Jesus has called the Holy Spirit the paraclete, a word rich in meaning and that conveys the idea of helper, advocate, and comforter.

Convicted of Sin

Image Copyright Kevin Carden

The Holy Spirit does not enter into this important work of conviction as the accuser of the brethren or as our prosecutor. He is not sent by Jesus to condemn us but, rather, to help us see our need of grace.

Only a comforter will be received as a helper. It is a great tragedy that Christians, however well-intentioned, often approach sinners with an accusing spirit rather than a helping one. If we go around pointing out sin in the lives of other people, then we do something that Jesus has not called us to do. After all who are we to point out sin in others when we are hardly sinless ourselves?

Read Romans 2:1 and Matthew 7:3. What message must we take from these verses?

We are His witnesses, not His prosecutors. We are called to be witnesses of His redemptive power, not to condemn others for their wrongs. In trying to convict other people of their sins, we assume a work that is not ours; it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Comforter—not us—who shall “convince” (John 16:8, RSV) the world of what sin really is. People who have not committed their lives to Jesus often have no real sense of what sin truly is, and just how destructive it can be.

The idea here is not that the Spirit will list specific erroneous acts. Instead, He goes to the fundamental sin of all: unbelief in Jesus Christ (John 16:9). Our deepest misery and alienation does not consist in our moral imperfection, but in our estrangement from God and our refusal to accept the One whom God has sent for the purpose of rescuing us from this condition.

The fundamental problem of all sin is that we do not believe in Jesus and, thus, reject the only One who can save us from our sin and guilt. This is the sin that puts self at the center of things and refuses to believe the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can open our hearts and minds to our great need of repentance and of the Redemption that is found through Christ’s death in our behalf.



Sunday: Conviction of Sin — 26 Comments

  1. Need clarification, if one breaks his vows,taken during baptism,going against the will of God (by breaking the ten commandments).Which is the best way to come back and be re-admitted/accepted as a member of the church both here and eternity.Church,as defined by appostle Paul in 1cor 12:13.
    Keeping in mind the work of the Holly Spirit.

  2. After reading today's lesson I thought about how little I know. Even my own history on this earth is often sketchy. During Infancy, early childhood, youth and young adulthood more experience is forgotten than remembered.

    I can't even begin to decipher the lives of others. They too, tell me what they know of themselves over time or in the moment.

    This 'not knowing' of myself and others certainly disqualifies me from the role of accuser, convictor, judge, jury, authority or anything else of that sort spiritually. How could I be, when I'm often in the dark about myself.

    Thank God for the provision of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows every detail of my life, motivations, mistakes, sins, intentions and desires. He will not fail, make a mistake or mislead me. Thru His leading there is sound hope and assurance that Jesus is for me and He will cover and transform me according to His promises.

  3. I've learned that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin. It is not our duty. We are not worthy to point out the sin in others, for we are all sinners. We are not to judge others but pray for our brothers and sisters that they may be receptive to the Holy Spirit.

  4. The fundamental problem of all sin is that we do not believe in Jesus and, thus, reject the only One who can save us from our sin and guilt.

    You must not be talking to the choir here, as I've believed in Jesus all my life, So guess this don't apply to me, correct?

    • I believed in Jesus too all my life, but I did not follow or fulfill all of the commandments of God all the time which Jesus advocate us to follow, therefore I sinned. There are times when we believed on what others said instead of what the Bible said and chose to go to the wrong path. I'm Thankful for the Holy Spirit who woos the sinner back to the fold of God's children and convicts the erring one. When we acknowledge and accept that we sinned and repent then we do not reject the Only One who can save us from our sin and guilt.

    • Evie, good question. One needs to understand by what, or by whom, may be classified or identified, as "the world". To say that we do not believe in Jesus, is a conditional comment. John 15:18-21. There is no doubt that we each one would certainly pray to the Deity, that we know and trust. The verse that is being discussed is John 16:8, should not be taken out of context. Jesus is clarifying some of the conditions that the Disciples will face. John 15:26,27. It may be interesting to wonder why the Disciples were not curious as to where Jesus was going. John 16:5. The answer is found in verses 6 &7. The promise of the presence of the Holy Spirit. One of the other convictions of the Holy Spirit is Righteousness. I would think the only source of Righteousness is not ours, but is God
      the Fathers. Judgment as we know is the final end of Satan.

      John 16:12 seems applicable to us in that The Holy Spirit will fill us with all of our needs.

  5. "we are called to be witnesses of His redemptive power".

    In which way/in which occasions have you been able to do that? Sometimes it feels uncomfortable or not fitting the situation...

  6. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, we have but to look and live. Not work and prove.)

  7. I think there's a difference between pointing out sin and judging. If we don't point out sin, how are supposed to correct ourselves or one another? I think for me this lesson fails to emphasize this point clearly. We can't live without pointing out. What kind of church are going to be if we don't.

    • I agree with you Linda. Isaiah 58:1 Tells us to point out and show people their sin. The lesson has used verses that talk about judging others to vilify the pointing out of sin which are two different things. How do you call people out of Babylon if you do not point out the sins of Babylon?

      • Tell "my people" their transgressions and the "house of Jacob" their sins. This does not call for pointing out sins to individuals. There is a way to speak of sins in such a way (led by the Holy Spirit) so that one will know. Jesus did not go to each individual person and tell them what they were doing wrong. He preached and yokes were broken. When he did speak to an individual, most of the time it was to encourage them to go and sin no more after being shown mercy.

        • I agree with these answers differentiating between accusing to condemn and pointing out sin in order to restore. The apostle Paul puts it this way: Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted (Galatians 6:1 RSV). To be spiritual means that we leave room for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us in the work of restoration.

          Winfried Stolpmann

    • A Christ centred church looking to Him the author and finisher of our faith. Maybe even treating people like Jesus did. Maybe even a church bursting at the seams because there is so much love there for God and each other. Maybe a church full of joy and kindness. Wouldn't that be something. Jesus pointed out the sins of the religious of the self righteous.

  8. Linda, I think we all know our faults, no~one needs to point 'em out to us or another person in the church. Now if that person ask your advice, that's different. W/out that not happening, keep your mouth shut. Go home & pray for that person & the Holy Spirit will do His whispering, all we R to do is love that person. Maybe all they need is just a praying friend.

    • I think we should distinguish between judging/condemning a sinful behavior and judging/condemning a sinful person. If your spouse commits infidelity, I would hope that you would point that unfaithful behavior out as sinful and wrong. However, that would not give you the right to judge or condemn your husband (e.g., John 8:11). Only God can judge a person.

  9. As I can remember Jesus did not call me to be a prosecutor or an accuser but to be a witness .
    So why should I not use my gift to disciple others instead of a prosecutor?Christians have left their calling to do other works,that is why there is drought in evangelism.We are to talk the gospel and allow the Holy spirit to do His job of conviction.Remember tha judgement will start from the church.

  10. Thank the lesson writer for this days theme.
    All my life i had never and still struggling to understand being my brothers keeper. Many at times people enjoy the comfort zone of sin and as such never want to hear someone mention their faults. In my understanding judgement is wrong actually its sin but letting someone know that the path they have taken is leading them astray, i feel this is okay. It was until someone said to me ''Irene watch out for you may become another Paul, let God Himself through the Holy Spirit correct, for you may end up persecuting ....'' I have struggled to understand this subject of correcting/pointing. Need more light, everyday is a learning day and i want to patiently learn. More light on this brethren for i feel so guilty if for sure someone messes and i simply keep silent and watch.

    Of late, am told that there are those people in the church who are called to do this, may i understand for i am a sinner who needs correction too.

    • Irene, your comment is very perceptive. We often get the idea that we have to point out the faults of others, when in fact we should be leading by example. It is very easy to be judgemental, but very difficult to set an example in such a way that others relate to it.

      The parable about the beams and motes in eyes should be read before we decide to tell someone what they should or should not be doing.

      I think of the example of my grandmother, who for 50 years lived a quiet Christian life with my un-churched grandfather. She never told him off, never raised her voice, just lived a wonderful Christian life, until Grandad in his 80th year suddenly said that there was something in the Chritianity thing and he would like to be one too. Quiet patience and persistent Christian love won out.

  11. It is the Holy Spirit that positions me to have access to the Eternal God through his daily nurturing, helping me to know when and how to act and what to say in every situation.... Thank You God

  12. In all truth telling a person you need Jesus is simply saying you are a sinner, and that is not wrong. Throughout the ancient history of patriarchs and prophets, God used humans to tell his children about their sins Hebrews 1:1, from Moses, Judges, Prophets, even disciples Paul condemns Galatians, Corinthians etc. Jonah was send as well to Nineveh to tell them that their sinful ways will prompt Gods judgement. However Jonah ended up Judging the Ninevites and demanding God to destroy them. That is the danger of Proclaiming the message that reveal sin, many end up declaring judgement. The Holy Spirit is the one that will convict/ judge us and then guide us to redemption. If are sent of God to tell a brethren of his sinful tendencies like Nathan always exercise wisdom and love lest you became a judge like Jonah who out of hatred of Ninevites pronounced their judgement.

  13. Chapter 7 in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, will help us to understand that the attitude in which we deal with others in relation to their sin and our own sin is very important. When we are convicted of our own sin, we are in a better position to minister to others.

  14. John & Judas: both spent nearly 3 years with Jesus, walking, talking, eating, sleeping, watching, listening - being very close to Him.
    At the end John was changed from a Son of Thunder to the Beloved.
    At the end Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.
    The lesson - if we spend our time getting close to Jesus one of two things will happen - we will be separated from sin or we will be separated from Jesus.
    Don't point out how bad people are - point out how wonderful Jesus is!
    When our hearts are filled with love our character will be changed to be in harmony with the character of the LORD.
    "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Rom 5:5"

  15. Ellen G. White comments as follows on the Sermon on the Mount:"Christ here gives no liberty for any man to pass judgment upon others. In the Sermon on the Mount He forbade this. It is the prerogative of God" (Gospel Workers, p. 502). Further she says this about the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13): "Not judgment and condemnation of others, but humility and distrust of self, is the teaching of Christs parable" (Christs Object Lessons, p. 74)." At the same time she makes the point that the Church may not abrogate its God-given authority to exercise discipline "The Lord desires His followers to exercise great care in dealing with one another. They are to lift up, to restore, to heal. But there is to be in the church no neglect of proper discipline" (Testimonies for the Church, 7:264).

    Often the problem lies in judging others hypocritically. Christ says: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brothers eye." This caution is intended to teach us not to hastily pass judgment on others. This point is further stressed by what Mrs White wrote: "In dealing with the erring, harsh measures should not be resorted to; milder means will effect far more. Make use of the milder means most perseveringly, and even if they do not succeed, wait patiently; never hurry the matter of cutting off a member from the church. Pray for him, and see if God will not move upon the heart of the erring......... If those who deal with the erring had hearts full of the milk of human kindness, what a different spirit would prevail in our churches. May the Lord open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who have a harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting spirit toward those whom they think in error. Such men dishonor their office and dishonor God. They grieve the hearts of His children, and compel them to cry unto God in their distress. The Lord will surely hear their cry, and will judge for these things" (Review and Herald, May 14, 1895). Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong.

    Also Ellen G White says: "Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church." We are to discern between good and evil (Heb 5:14); between the righteous and the wicked (Malachi 3:18). But we are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously. Jesus commends “right judgment” (John 7:24). The church is not impotent on matters of disciple. It cannot be seen to lack backbone. In the context of church discipline, we are exhorted to exercise church discipline gently (Matthew 18:15–17); “always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2), telling sinners the truth about their sin and assuring them of God's willingness to forgive sin. As children of God we should approach every situation with humility and forgiveness and communicate the truth in love. "Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Paul tells us that “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24–25).

  16. This reminds me of a story of a grandmother. She beats herself whenever her grandson is naughty. Her grandson repents because he could not bear the self-inflicted sufferings of the granny(that he loves).

    Likewise, Christ paid for our sins at Calvary. We should not merely rejoice because our sins are forgiven.

    Rather we sin no more, not to grieve the "granny"(Christ).

  17. Winfried, Have U heard the saying, "You can tell me about my faults, when your perfect" I think all we've been ask to do is love our Bro. & Sis. into the love of Jesus. the Holy Spirit can do His work all by His self. Now the Pastor may need to council w/one of his sheep, but us bro. & sis. are to do the loving.

  18. Without question, something that Jesus said that morning--along with what He twice stooped to write on the floor of the temple--"convicted" the "conscience(s)" (Jn 8:9) of an adulteress' accusers. Apparently, He positively impacted the life of the accused as well (Jn 8:11).

    It is interesting that Jesus taught that He would send another like Himself (Jn 14:16-17), who would do a similar work (Jn 16:8). Jesus called this gift from the Father "ANOTHER HELPER" (Jn 14:16). "ANOTHER" suggests a predecessor, and so based on the similarity of their ministries (Jn 13:13; 14:26), Jesus Himself had to be the first or prior Helper. While self-reliance is a worthy and heavily prescribed virtue among humans, when God twice sends Helpers, is it impolite, irresponsible or downright dangerous to refuse such Help?

    Since Helper #1 and Helper #2 appears to be, well, all about the helping business, what is their particular specialty? Clearly, help isn't generally intended for the capable (Mk 2:17), but if God has offered Help to ALL (Jn 3:16-17) perhaps even those feeling no need of Help might want to reconsider (Ps 143:2).

    Speaking of "feelings", how reliable are our feelings? From where do they emanate? Is the individual the ONLY one behind their production? Is there a suggestion that humans need Help in the "truth department", given that Helper #1 calls Helper #2 "the Spirit of Truth" (Jn 14:17)? Scripture reveals that the place from which "our feelings" arise is, in its present state, unreliable (Jer 17:9) and under siege (Jn 12:31; Eph 2:1-3). In fact, according to Scripture's revelation, the "conviction" that we "feel" are the result of God's Helpers ministering to our unreliable and weak "conscience(s)" (Heb 4:15-16; 2:14-15, 18; Rom 8:26-27; 1 Cor 8:12). Perhaps Help comes when we BELIEVE the truth from the reliable (2 Pt 1:19; Jn 6:44; 1 Cor 12:3) over the UNreliable source.

    With God's HELP, let ALL the weak declare "their Strength" (Ps 121:1-3,7; Eph 3:16-17,20-21)!!


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