God speaks to us through CONVICTION brought into our lives by the Holy Spirit. And conviction moves us to hunger for more of God so that we can hear God even more clearly and accurately.
God speaks to us by giving-us an ever-deepening conviction and awareness of His presence in our daily lives. He not only wants us to listen so that He can tell us what to do, but He also wants us to listen so we know what NOT to do. This is His conviction.
Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin (John 16:7-10). When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we see just how desperately we need God. God doesn’t convict us of our sins to expose us, embarrass us, or make us feel bad. Instead, He wants to make us feel desperate for Him, realizing wee have no confidence in ourselves.
Oswald Chambers once said,
“Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin. And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings them into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God.”
Conviction moves us to look at what God offers and challenges us to know this infinite, loving and almighty heavenly Father.
The Holy Spirit speaks to our conscience to convict us of any sin and gives us a disposition (a shove) toward righteousness. The Holy Spirit’s conviction is intended to convince us to repent, which means to turn and go in the right direction rather than to continue moving in the wrong direction.
In other words, if we are behaving in a way that is not pleasing to God, we must be willing to make an adjustment in our lives. If we don’t, our hearts become hardened. Hardened hearts are the result of ignoring the Holy Spirit’s conviction of right and wrong. The more hard-hearted we become, the more difficult it is for us to quickly hear and promptly obey the Lord.
If I am angry with someone, bitterness can grow in my heart. If, however, I allow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to quickly prompt me to forgive, I can receive grace to move on and hear the Lord speak accurately. I can depend on God to convict me to do what is right. But, of course, there is the need to respond to His conviction.
God loves to transform people. It is a promise in His Word. He said that He would take our unnaturally hardened hearts out and instead give us a heart of flesh, a heart that is sensitive to the touch of our God (Ezekiel 36:26). So, God convicts us so that we can make an adjustment in our lives with His help and this will then allow us to hear His voice more accurately and more often because we are listening with a clear conscience.
Conviction vs. Condemnation
True conviction is entirely different from condemnation. God’s voice will bring conviction over sin and a way out. The enemy’s voice will bring condemnation and no way out. For example, Satan may say to you, “You know, you never pray enough” or “If you would read your Bible more, God would love you more.” Condemnation is shame-based and accuses us on our character.
Conviction arouses hope. It moves us beyond failure and causes us to want to know God more fully and deeply. It is about a specific sin, rather than a general accusation of character.
The devil condemns us, but God connects us. Condemnation brings doubt, fear, unbelief, and hopelessness. God convicts us to restore us to righteousness and faith. He always corrects us to build us up, and His conviction always brings hope and a way to escape.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
It is so important to discern the truth and know the difference between conviction and condemnation. If you respond to the Lord’s conviction, you will be lifted up and out of sin; however, condemnation only makes you feel bad about yourself. It is healthy and normal to feel guilty when we are initially convicted of sin; however, if we keep feeling guilty after we have repented, it is spiritually unhealthy.
We could sum it up this way — conviction is our friend. It is God speaking to us about His limits, providing protection for us. Satan’s goal through condemnation is to bring us into bondage — bondage to shame and false guilt.
It is good to know that the Holy Spirit doesn’t spring everything on us at once. He usually convicts us to change or make adjustments in our lives when He knows we are ready. If it is not the right time to face something, then the Lord usually will not convict us of it.
The Lord invites us to approach Him without fear. The Bible says He wants to help us in our time of need. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If we have sins in our lives, our heavenly Father still loves us. He wants us to come boldly to His throne and receive His forgiveness, His grace, and His mercy!
There is one other understanding of the Holy Spirit’s conviction I would like to add here. He will, at times, convict us that there is something He wants us to do or become involved in.
God’s conviction fell on a bakery owner in Bristol, England, while George Mueller was praying for food for his orphanages which relied solely on contributions to feed the children. The children were in dire need of food, and George was praying for this need. God awakened a bakery owner across town who felt God’s conviction to get up, call an employee, and ask him to go to the shop to bake a day’s bread for the orphans. Then on second thought, he told the employee, “Bake enough for a month so I can get some sleep.”
God is speaking to us when He convicts us. This conviction might come from an inner prompting of God’s still, small voice, reading in the Word of God or from hearing a sermon preached or in some other way. God convicts us so we can be released to move forward in His grace and mercy as we continue to develop a sensitivity to hear His voice.