4 Dec 2008

Believers convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit?

Submitted by theshovel
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This article came from a response to the Shoveletter, Do Believers Sin?

Where in the NT does it even say that the believer is "convicted" by the Holy Spirit? I've found or been shown verses that are said to be the same as conviction of the believer...but the word conviction itself was not used.

That's a good question. :) Now as usual, I will address more than what is asked. LOL. The verse I've seen used to support this teaching comes from John 16

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. John 16:7-11 NAS77

In order to support the teaching that the Holy Spirit was sent to convict believers of their sins, one must ignore who Jesus clearly referred to. For it is "the world" that Jesus said would be convicted concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment by the Spirit's coming. And realize that these words were spoken to the disciples on that last night before Jesus was crucified. If he meant to say that he was sending his Spirit to convict THEM concerning sin he would have said so. As it was, Jesus made such a distinction between his own and the world that one of them said,

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?" John 14:22 NAS77

So regarding sin, the world would be convicted because they did not believe in him. Notice, they were to be convicted CONCERNING sin, rather than OF sin - or even of sins - as if particular sins were being referred to in his statement. Some have even worked this so that the sin being convicted of is the sin of unbelief. But it does not really say that, either.

Consider the meaning of the word, "convict". Are we to assume this means that a person is brought to the point of owning up to their sins (i.e. feeling guilty for them)? I realize that many have experienced extreme guilt for what they've done, but is this what Jesus meant?

The Greek word for "convict" carries these meanings: confute, admonish, convict, convince, reprove, rebuke. If you take into consideration that "confute" means "prove to be false" (and this is one of the primary meanings connected to the Greek word), it can give some clarity to the direction of the other words used. In other words, whether one favors either admonish, convict, convince, reprove or rebuke, they can all carry that same sense of being presented with, confronted with, convinced about, showing or revealing something to be false.

This confuting or convincing hinges upon the reality that the world (i.e. the system of man) does not understand the things of God. And isn't this what Jesus had often told the crowds, and especially the religious leaders? When Nicodemus approached Jesus, he did so as a representative of the rulers of Israel. What did Jesus say to him? He spoke about being born again, that is, born from above. Nicodemus simply could not understand Jesus meant. It went like this:

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things? "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness." John 3:9-11 NAS77

Now, if Jesus was telling them that the Spirit would come and make the unbelievers aware of their sin, how would this be different from what they already were aware of from living under the Law? For it is the Law that reveals sin, and the people Jesus spoke to and about were already convicted of many, many sins. The Spirit that Jesus was sending would continue his presence in the world. Regarding sin, Jesus confronted unbelieving Israel (especially the leadership) with its blindness, for it called sin righteousness, and called righteousness sin. Their perceptions were all wrong! As Paul would later say:

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:1-4 NAS77

But if you bear the name "Jew," and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written. Romans 2:17-24 NAS77

I could easily quote the whole chapter, but you can read that for yourself. I just wanted to include a couple portions to give a better idea of what it was that the Spirit would prove to the world to be false. The world loves to get on its high horse and pontificate so as to convict everyone else of sin. Because the world (aka the natural man/mind) cannot believe in Christ, the Spirit simply by its presence confutes or convinces the world of the fallacy of perceptions. And hasn't the world (especially the religious system) had its nose stuck in its own stink every time it tries to point the finger at another? And hasn't the Spirit of Christ often come right in the midst of such exposure of hypocrisy to bring grace to those undone by it? For it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance, that is, to a new mind and the perception connected to it.


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New Testament: 


When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to,pray, why did Jesus tell them to say…..Our Father which art in heaven….forgive us our sins as we forgive thse who sin against us? Was this prayer temporary until Jesus was crucified? Are we not sinful at heart until we have our new bodies in heaven? Bmac
theshovel's picture

Believers have it pounded into them from every which way that they are still sinful at heart, but then, what of the cleansed heart? What of the righteousness that we have been made in Christ? I do understand that it makes a lot of sense to regard myself as a sinner, for I was instructed to see myself that way in the world and according to the religious mind.

Never forget that when Jesus spoke to the people in Israel that they were still in bondage to their sins, for they were under the Law. They were still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled, which is what happened when the Spirit was given.

Regarding the passage in Matthew 6, I do have something already written that may help a bit: Forgive as we are forgiven.

I was told if the Holy Spirit convicts you and you don't to the altar , God won't hear your prayer in the pews . I was wanting Scripture from the King James Version . I hope ou can help me.

theshovel's picture

Hello Lois, thanks for writing.

I’m going to assume you want me to show you KJV Scripture to contradict or to disprove what you were told about God not hearing your Spirit-convicted prayers from the pews — because I surely can’t give you any Scripture to prove it. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to Scripturally validate having an altar at all, since the one and only acceptable sacrifice has already been made. Consider the reference in Hebrews:

We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. Hebrews 13:10 KJV

While men might use this to establish the installment of altars in “New Testament” church buildings, it speaks of something that cannot be understood by the religious mind. For the very nature of the altars found in “Christian” churches are of the same kind as that which has been done away in Christ. This altar is not located in a place where men serve. Like the city Abraham saw by faith, this altar cannot be seen with the eye. It is not found in the sanctuaries built by men, but rather it is found outside the camp. It is the one and only sacrifice for sin that ever meant anything to God, and it is not found in a building.

I think the real hearing problem is found with men, for they are the ones who cannot hear your prayers unless you come up front and plead at the altars. They don’t believe that God can save you without their involvement. Even before Jesus Christ sacrificed himself on the one true altar — the one that was foreshadowed in the Old Testament altar — religious leaders did the same. They thought God saw according to the outward.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:9-14 KJV

Interestingly, neither one of these men is said to have gone forward to the altar. Maybe it is to be assumed that the Pharisee who stood did approach it. Either way, in view of how the publican (a prosperous Jew who collected taxes from his fellow Hebrews on behalf of the Roman government) stood “afar off,” the Pharisee was not standing far way. No, he stood where all could see his “godliness.” So, basically, we see one man who stood within the acceptable limits of God’s hearing (the Pharisee) and one man who did not. It doesn’t seem as if God had any problem hearing the man who stood afar off, does it?

Like I mentioned already, I don’t think that God is the one who has a problem with his hearing. What do you think?


thank you so very much for always calling attention back to Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished and provided for those who belong to Him.  :)  i am so thankful that an altar according to man is NOT needed nor required by GOD for us to be in HIS presence and to be heard!  I am thankful that HE sent the promised perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ to deal with sin completely, and that those who belong to Him are no longer separated from Him, but are united by HIS very SPIRIT of Life, Love and all that HE Is!  :)   He is the Author and Finisher of our miraculous Faith and i dare say that would include our prayers for He has become our very heart and mind in the New Creation that He has made us.  :)

Lois, i do hope and ask you to go back up to the very top of the article and start reading the whole thing again.  there is so much encouragement there, as well as in the reply to you from theshovel.  :)


what aboutRevelation 3:19 As many as i love I rebuke and chasten.

theshovel's picture

Hello Janis. I remember the conflicts that kept popping up as I slowly began to realize the depths of what it meant to be alive in Christ, to have been made a new creation. It was daunting, to say the least. At first, it was often easier to put off dealing with some of the more familiar objections by simply emphasizing the realities of grace — things like rebuking and chastening. To me, it seemed as if those concepts belonged to the legalistic framework from which I was emerging, and I assumed that I would eventually be able to better understand them. I mean, I knew there were verses in the New Testament that referred to the rebuke and chastening of the Lord, for I had been instructed regarding many, if not most, of them. Some of those who found this freedom along with me simply disregarded certain verses or made up new meanings for them. I could not.

What I have discovered — and I think much depends on one’s entanglement in the legal mindset found in many Christian circles — is that we have been so inundated, so immersed in the whole framework of viewing our Christian lives according to sin that when words like chastening or rebuking come up, we automatically associate them according to that sin-centered framework. Some have become convinced that they will lose their salvation; others, that they will still be saved but be punished for their sins. Somehow, we lose sight of the heart of our father who does not judge us or deal with us according to sin. Not any more.

Can there be a connection between God’s discipline and sins? Of course. But there is a night and day difference.

  • We have been taught that God deals with us as if we were sinners who need to get honest about our sin so that fellowship might be restored; but in reality, God deals with us as holy and righteous sons who get blindsided into believing our sins have caused our unbroken fellowship to become broken and must be dealt with in order to get back into fellowship.
  • We have been taught that our sins come between us and our father; in love, our father deals with us in the midst of those sin-conscious perceptions so that we can see how we’ve been duped by the law of sin.

You see, God chastens or disciplines us as SONS, not as SINNERS. And he does so, even though we sometimes turn it all around while it’s happening. In Christ, he rebukes us for things like constantly bringing our former sins into the picture, as if he hasn’t done anything about it. Or for so quickly insisting that those sins are greater than his forgiveness through Christ. As a good father, he consistently corrects us for entertaining such lies regarding the ineffectiveness of the work of his son on the cross. He rebukes us when we try to stand upon that which has been done away with. He rebukes us for trying to revive the thing he put to death in Christ.

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? Matthew 7:9-10

I think most agree that a good father would never do such a thing to his son. Somehow though, we’ve bought into a perception of God as one who deals with us according to that which he has taken away in Christ.

I hope to hear back from you. :)

Jim I FINALLY had a few mins to read this..or at least some of it!


So encouraging my dear brother. I see it[as you know] quite the same in the eyes of my thoughts and understanding of Him. I wouldn't mind doing an audio on this again someday.



i think it would indeed help to know what the apostle John and those to whom he wrote understood about what was considered dead, die-ing, unworthy, overcome, hearing, etc.  we look at these words today through the eyes of religious concepts that have been taught to us from the perspective and reasoning of the world.  the Spirit of GOD teaches us that HE has a completely different perspective and meaning.  dead is empty/devoid of HIS Life.  a die-ing 'church' would mean one that is no longer thriving according to the gospel of Christ Himself as the Source of all things concerning the Life and Nature and work of GOD in man … all things Godly … etc. 

what has always been the issue with the Church in the world?  has it not always been whether or not the Foundation and all that is built upon It is Christ or the Law … the Spirit of GOD or the mind of the flesh … the darkness of the world or the Light of Christ … works that originate from the Spirit of Life or works that originate from the law of sin and death? what have we been 'saved' from?  is it not the bondage of the law of sin and death and all the fear and insecurity, guilt and shame, compare and compete 'games' and all that goes along with that?

what has always been the deception in the Church and with the child of GOD, whether in the days of Sardis or today?  has it not always been the lie that convinces us that we are still under the law and must answer to the law of sin and death?  has it not always been the arguments of how GOD is pleased and made proud by the works of man as opposed to the works of GOD in man and the works of man Sourced from the heart and mind of GOD in the man?  (that was a mouth-full! blush)

{today's typical version of all that insecurity and fear is to view ourselves and each other as being merely 'sinners saved by grace'?  have you ever considered that we are NOT sinners saved by grace?  once we were dead in our trespasses and sins, but now we are made ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST JESUS because of His grace and love and all that He Is.  :)    'sinner' is no longer our identity.  we are children of GOD, children of Light, children of Obedience (the Obedience of Christ), children by His Spirit, children of the True King!  :) NEW CREATIONs!  :)  the identity of 'sinner' belongs to the old identity we had in the fallen first Adam.  children of GOD is the New Creation Identity we have in Christ.  :) we are not both.  we are either one or the Other.}  :)

i have a hardy suspicion that the Church in Sardis suffered most of the same issues the Church does today with the infiltration of worldly wisdom and lies … the influences of legalism … the usual ensnaring of 'compare and compete' lies of worth and value according to the cultures, superstitions, self-righteous influences, (paganism of their time) etc. surrounding them and inundating them daily … convincing them away from what they originally heard and learned of Christ as their very Life, freedom, peace, love and confidence.  they originally learned and knew Him to be their very Source of everything concerning GOD and Godliness, value and worth according to GOD, not according to man/men! 

what has the Spirit of Christ always messaged to the Church/Body of Christ?  go back and read John's writings, Paul's writings, the Church's experiences in the Book of Acts.  the Spirit of Christ is always about Christ!  Christ as our Life … our all … our hope … our righteousness … our miraculous New Creation identity!  :)

the works of the Church in Sardis had become works 'before men' and according to man, not according to and before GOD.  it is the works of GOD in and through a man that concern GOD … not man's works according to and for himself.  the Church at Sardis had been lulled into such a deep sleep that they no longer recognized or acknowledged what the Truth and work of the gospel of Christ really was, much less what the truth about them was. 

 ”… remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.”  Rev. 3:3 ~ what did they originally hear and receive?  was it not the gospel according to Christ?  what were they to keep and change their minds about (that is what 'repent' means). was it not the gospel according to Christ, as opposed to what was according to man? 

as far as their garments be soiled and defiled?  we know there was/is certainly no cleanness, value or worth before GOD found in or according to 'man' or anything else in the wisdom and practices of the world.  i would think that worshipping and paying homage to the gods and goddesses of the time, (which included worshipping their current emperor god), engaging in their various orgies and festivals, would be quite the defilement and soiling of garments spoken of.  engaging in such practices was certainly not how or what they learned concerning Christ, nor what they learned of how the One True GOD and FATHER is pleased.  from Whom was their true 'cleaness' and value and worth found?  was it not from and because of Christ Himself?

anything and everything concerning the Church/Body of Christ is all about GOD in Christ Jesus and Christ in us!  apparently not so 'plain and simple', as it is all the miraculous work of GOD.  :)


i was thinking how opposite the things of GOD can be in reality compared to what man interprets.  i was reading how some of the pagan temples in Sardis required that the people have clean white garments before they could enter.  they thought that made them 'clean'.  but GOD viewed that practice as 'soiled' or 'defiled', because they were entering in and worshipping other gods, their clean white garments being worn while they were about to join in and engage in pagan practices.  what man considered clean and white, GOD considered soiled, dirty, defiled, unclean … whatever you want to call it. 

the young Church of the Age needed to be encouraged and instructed and reinstructed, etc. about how the child of GOD has been made clean by the blood and sacrifice of the Lamb.  the child of GOD 'enters in' according to what Christ has already provided and made true concerning them … all those who are His. 

the apostle Paul addressed the same issue with the church at Corinth where they had been infiltrated with idolators, self-righteous jews, etc. being influenced and drawn away from the Truth of Christ that they had originally heard and learned.  he reminded the Believers there that their sacrifice had already been made and it was Christ.  he reminded them that they were already washed, sanctified, and declared righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6

he reminded and explained to them that there was no need to go into any other sanctuary or temple to engage in any other practices to 'cleanse' themselves and/or offer up sacrifices, etc.  they had been bought with a price of GOD's own Son, and their bodies and spirit were for glorifying HIM, no other.  they themselves had become the temple/sanctuary of the Living GOD!  that was the point!  :)

to give you an idea of the atmosphere and culture that the young Church was living in and around and being influenced and distracted by daily at the time of the apostles and john specifically,  i discovered this bit of history concerning the Ephesians living at the same time and with the same influences and cultures as Sardis … not too very far away:

“Ephesians would process along city's main streets carrying images of Artemis from the temple. At the harbor, the images were washed to restore her virginity; she was the perpetual virgin. Worshipers engaged in sex with thousands of temple prostitutes; through orgasms they became one in spirit with the goddess. Such was the religious atmosphere of Ephesus at the time of John, and the daunting task faced by the city's fledgling Christian community.”

the apostle Paul would remind and instruct the Body of Christ every where he went, no matter where they gathered together that: 

“… through Him (Jesus Christ) we have the access – we both (jew and gentile) – in one Spirit unto the Father.
 Then, therefore, ye (Gentiles) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being chief corner-[stone], in Whom all the building fitly framed together doth increase to an holy sanctuary in the Lord, in Whom also ye are builded together, for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”  Eph. 2  (YLT)

“… in Christ Jesus our Lord in Whom we have boldness and confident access through the Faith of Him.”  Eph. 3 (YLT)

it makes so much more sense knowing the comparison he was using between the temples of idols and the true Temple of the True GOD - themselves in Christ Jesus.  :)   this made sense to them and had to be very encouraging and eye opening when they heard it, even tho' at the same time … it could bring them persecution and hardships of all kinds by not engaging in the worship of the Caesars and gods and goddesses in the perspective temples of their era … depending on the town they lived in, etc.

i just find it all quite interesting and thought i would share it as i learn it, relearn it and call it to memory, which is a miracle in itself.  lol


theshovel's picture

Sherri, this a great insight into what was going on for those people during that period of time in that area of the world. I encourage you to keep posting stuff like this, as I think it can be a great help. :)

Love, Jim

Yes, I have noticed a sudden surge of posts from you two!smiley




LOL   yes, completely unpredictable.  i don't always have the clarity of mind to share, but when i do, then i love and enjoy it.  :)  other times i just don't have the time or energy.  for whatever reason, i really enjoyed reading up on the churches written to in revelation.  it is all very interesting, and as i read about it all, i try to imagine what it must have been like with the information available, but of course, i know the imagination can not do the actual reality of it all any justice. 


Hey, I am not complaining. lol.. It's good to see you and The Shovel posting as you are able.


I always love it when it all sincs up for me too.




PS: And I think it's great stuff too!

When Jesus said He would send His Spirit Who would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement, "convict" is translated from the Greek word "ἐλέγχω" (elegchō).

If this same word is used in clear reference to believers, then we have no choice to be recognize that Jesus' Spirit indeed convicts both the world and believers.

In Revelation 3 Jesus is having chats with seven Churches in Asia and after delivering some severe words to our brothers and sisters in Laodicea about being wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, needing new clothes to cover their shameful nakedness, and needing eye-salve so they can see, Jesus reminds them that He "rebukes" and "disciplines" those whom He loves. He is not addressing the world here. The Greek word translated into English as "rebuke" is "ἐλέγχω" (elegchō).

Jesus sent His Spirit to address the world of sin, righteousness and judgement through His display of the unified lives of those in whom He Lives and Indwells. He convicts the world of their sin so they will confess their sins and repent enter His Dominion. He convicts His own whom He loves so we will confess of our sins, repent and become more pure and holy for His Glory among the lost world to whom He has sent us to declare His Good News and make disciples of Him. Same conviction, same Spirit, both designed and purposed to bring humanity to Himself through seeing our sin and offering confession and repentance.

Personally, I’m very grateful that the Spirit finds fault/corrects/reprehends severely/chides/admonishes/reproves/show me my fault/demands an explanation/chastens/punishes me. When He does, I know He loves me by refusing to leave me in a state that’s less than He has designed me to be. When I hear voices that point out my sin/error that condemns me and drives me to feel worthless, I know this is not God’s Spirit. When He speaks, there is much sorrow but His loving presence is there to ensure that the end purpose of my conviction is transformation according to His gracious Work in my life.


Dear Guy, thank you for sharing your position.smiley

I see this passage as referring to the WORLD, as it says on it's own. It is the WORLD that is still appealing to the Law and or simply living from the knowledge of good and evil. But those who are of God are not of the world. Nor are those of God under the Law or bound by the choice of Adam and Eve. We have a new and living Way. The 'living” part of this way has everything to do with growth in the knowledge of every good thing we have in Him. No other thing can replace Christ. No other person [or thing]can cause the growth.

That is my personal position at this time. I thought I would share it for others to see.

God Bless you,


PS: Anything you want to add Jim?

theshovel's picture

Thanks for this, Adam! Yes, I will also respond shortly. :)


theshovel's picture

Hello Guy, and thanks for jumping in on the discussion. :)

Yes, the difference between being made to feel condemned and worthless is definitely not from God’s spirit, no matter what Greek word we may find to support our position on confession and repentance. I appreciate you ending with that thought. :)

It just seems rather extreme to go to such lengths to find a similar Greek word to support a belief, especially when you consider that no one during the time of the writings had a Strong’s Concordance to do a cross search. I think our modern conveniences might skew the way we view the scriptures, though. Believe me, I understand the desire to ascertain the exact meaning of God’s word for such important topics, especially when they are being challenged. I also used to bring out my Strong’s whenever I studied, as it seemed dishonest not to at least check it out before going too far out on a limb with only the context of a single writing.

Finding the same word for convict in a statement to one of the seven churches in Revelation 3, however, might not be the best support for a message to believers, at least, not as strikingly stated by Jesus in John 16.

Consider the description you wrote out as if it validated that believers were in view:

…wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, needing new clothes to cover their shameful nakedness, and needing eye-salve so they can see…

Do you actually read anything there that demands that those who received the message were believers? Doesn’t it seem more in line to consider that this rebuke was written to one of the apostate churches? Why would we imagine that Jesus could forget that he changed the nature of a bunch of wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, naked rejects so that they would no longer be called such?

Don’t let the slavish disciplines of those who search the scriptures to prove a point cause you to see yourself in that letter to a group whose candlestick (the light of Christ) was being removed.


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