The conviction and conversion experience is the work of the Holy Spirit, sometimes experienced as dramatic and sometimes gentler in nature.
In every case, an encounter with the Holy Spirit arouses an emotional response. And such encounters are not reserved for an elite few, such as the Old Testament patriarchs; they are for everyone.
Jesus guaranteed that all generations would have access to God through the gift of His Holy Spirit.
Remember what He told His disciples before His crucifixion: “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 depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:7–8 NKJV)
Experiential Conviction of Sin
I’m not referring to only the experiential conviction of sin in your initial conversion, but also the conviction of sin and God’s holiness that is meant to be part of your ongoing experience with God.
You don’t emerge from a conversion experience or from the baptismal waters in a perfectly sanctified state. Far from it.
To keep close to God, you require the frequent nudging and prodding of the Shepherd’s staff. You can feel it. With your emotions, you respond to it, possibly with resistant stubbornness but more likely with humble submission, when your heart just falls down before Him.
Whether you are listening to a sermon in a congregational setting or alone at home reading the Bible, a word of truth penetrates your awareness like a shaft of light—and you can’t ignore it.
The Holy Spirit softens your heart and penetrates your soul. Emotionally, you feel the weight of conviction.
You have the gut feeling that a particular thing is deeply displeasing to God and that you must rectify it. Convinced that you must confess your sin, you repent of it and ask His help to change your attitudes, actions, and lifestyle.
You may feel weepy. You may even enter a time of anguished soul-travail. You may long to escape the fears and misery that threaten to overpower you.
The Holy Spirit never overwhelms you with too much at once. Rather, one step at a time, He keeps you on God’s straight and narrow path. His course corrections become part of your testimony, and you learn to value them highly.
Your interactions with Him—even when He must convict you of sin quite often—become precious to you.
In a remarkable way, the emotional pain of an experience of Holy Spirit-inspired conviction tastes almost sweet. He cares about you! This is a demonstration of true love.
He is protecting you from your own sinful desires and bad decisions! He is saving you once again. Thank You, Father; thank You, Jesus; and thank You, Holy Spirit!
You rejoice in the truth. Forgiveness is guaranteed. No longer will God hold your sin—your inexcusable, persistent rebellion—against you. He is faithful.
You can proclaim, “It is well with my soul!” Then a surge of faith rises inside you, and you just want to shout. You just feel like dancing. You just want to put your foot on the devil, for bondage no longer has a hold on you. Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed!
The Holy Spirit completes what He starts. Because part of His job description is to be the “Instigator of Experiential Conviction,” He brings it on and carries it through.
He never lapses and forgets what He is doing. He never misses a chance to communicate with you, and He uses your full range of senses, feelings, and emotions when He convicts you of sin and convinces you of the truth and nothing but the truth.
If you are like me, when you feel overwhelmed with deep sorrow and conviction, you say, “Praise the Lord for feelings!”
Let’s thank God for His holiness and the power of conviction!
Prayer of a Passionate Heart
Father, I come to You in the fear of the Lord. I receive Your word that tells me, “Be holy, for I am holy.” I ask You, Holy Spirit, to point out to me the hard places in my heart. Send a revival into my life, my family’s life, my church, my community, and my nation. Convict me and all Your chosen people. Convict us of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. Cleanse me from sin. Draw me nearer to You. I want to live my life in a way that is pleasing to You. So, I ask that You send Your powerful Spirit of conviction upon me and upon those I pray for. Manifest Your holiness and bring me to Yourself. In Jesus’s perfect name, amen.
Living with Conviction!
James W. Goll
This article is taken from Chapter 8, “The Power of Conviction” in James W. Goll’s book: The Feeler: Discovering How Sensitivity Helps You Discern and Act on God’s Voice.
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