Conviction and the Gospel — (2023)

Justin Lakemacher, Program Director

Part of the sanctification process is learning how to respond well to conviction. When a person sins and they are made aware of it by the Holy Spirit, this is called conviction. Conviction comes from the Spirit through the conscience informed by God’s Word. The Spirit also uses other people to bring conviction. For the non-Christian, conviction serves to bring awareness of sinfulness, God’s holiness, and his righteous judgment of sin. For the Christian, conviction is designed to bring about confession, repentance, and renewal in their relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is good to make people aware of sin because conviction is intended to drive sinners to the rich mercy of Christ found in the gospel.

One of the realities of sin, however, is Christians mistaking the voice of conviction for condemnation. As believers grow in Christ, they become increasingly aware of their sinfulness. As Dane Ortlund points out, “Our sins feel far more sinful after we have become believers than before.” This, of course, shouldn’t be a problem since the apostle Paul said “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

But therein lies the problem: it is a struggle to believe that God’s grace really does abound all the more which in turn distorts what God intends to accomplish through conviction. Rather than seeing conviction as a means of God’s kindness leading to repentance (Romans 2:4), it can lead believers to feel condemned.

Consider the following illustration:

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When the Spirit convicts us of sin, there are two primary responses. We either move toward God or we move away from Him. Consider your first instinct when you are made aware of your sin:

  • Do you beat yourself up and tell yourself to do better?

  • Do you try to hide your sin?

  • Do you wonder if God still loves you?

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  • Do you immediately confess to God and others?

In your response, are you moving toward God or away from him? How you respond to conviction reveals what you believe about the gospel. If your first instinct is to run away from God, you are failing to believe the gospel. Perhaps you are believing the lie that you have exhausted God’s grace and that he is tired of forgiving you. Or maybe you assume God is angry and needs time to “cool off” before you approach him.

Moving Away from God

When we move away from God after we sin, we are attempting to deal with sin in our own way. Adam and Eve did this in Genesis 3. Rather than run to God after they sinned, they ran away and tried to hide from him.

Responding in this way causes shame to grow, driving us to feel further distanced from God. All our attempts at this point to rectify the situation won’t work because there is only One who can deal with sin and all of its effects.

What is striking about the first rebellion in the Bible is that it is God who moves toward Adam and Eve, not in wrath, but in grace. He pursues them and covers their nakedness, a foreshadow of what he would do for sinners on the cross. “But God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

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Pause and think about that for a moment. God, in love, pursues rebels and cleanses them from their sin. If He loved us when we were his enemies, then how much more will he love us now as his adopted children, even in our struggle with remaining sin?

Moving Toward God

The appropriate response to conviction is to move toward God in confession and repentance so that we can experience cleansing and a renewal of joy.

At this point, you may be thinking, how can I turn back to God after I sinned again?

We know we can turn to God when we’re made aware of our sin because of what Christ has done in the gospel. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus who came to earth on a rescue mission to free us from sin and bring us to God. He lived in perfect obedience and died a substitutionary death on our behalf. Three days later he was raised to life and he is currently alive and reigning as King over all.

Sometimes believers talk about the gospel so often that we don’t take time to think about what it really means for us. When we trust in Jesus we receive a new identity (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are now adopted (1 John 3:1), justified (Romans 5:1), and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7) sons and daughters. As this old hymn reminds us, “Our sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross and we bear it no more.”

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The verdict about our sin has been delivered to us: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God has already given us the verdict about our sin now. Imagine you are on a criminal trial waiting anxiously for the forthcoming verdict. Before the judge returns, your attorney whispers into your ear that he knows the outcome and you will be declared not guilty. That’s what God has done for us. We’re still awaiting Christ’s return, but God has already dealt with sin on the cross and the verdict is in.

Faith in God’s verdict leads us to confidently approach God’s throne even after we have just sinned, precisely because we now know it is not a throne of wrath but a throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Conviction, therefore, is an important moment where we need to remember and believe the gospel and God’s promise to us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Believing this will begin to help us see conviction differently and respond accordingly. Rather than see God pointing his finger at us, God is opening his arms to embrace us—because conviction is an avenue by which God pursues us! We can joyfully respond to this amazing truth by confessing to God in repentance when we are convicted, asking him for forgiveness and help to change.

A biblical example of this is King David. In his famous prayer of confession after being convicted of adultery and murder, he turned to God, trusting in his steadfast love and mercy (Ps. 51:1). David asked God to give him a new heart (51:10) signifying his desire to change and for God to restore him to the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:12).

True repentance is joyful because it is primarily marked not by what we turn from but by who we turn to. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, he is inviting us into a deeper experience of God’s love, a sweeter taste of His mercy, and a fresh empowerment of His Spirit to help us change.

So the next time the Spirit brings conviction, take God up on His invitation and come to Him. “Do not minimize your sin or excuse it away. Raise no defense. Simply take it to the one who is already at the right hand of the Father, advocating for you on the basis of his own wounds. Let your own unrighteousness, in all your darkness and despair, drive you to Jesus Christ, the righteous, in all his brightness and sufficiency.” (Dane Ortlund, Gentle & Lowly)

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What does the Bible mean by conviction? ›

A conviction is a strong belief or opinion.

What are your convictions in life? ›

Professor of Psychology, Linda Skitka writes, “convictions are attitudes that are treated more like possessions or aspects of the self.” In other words, convictions are not just mere opinions, but they are firm beliefs that define who we are. They help determine parameters that in turn charts a course for our lives.

What does conviction mean in religion? ›

Religious conviction includes having or not having a religious conviction, belief, opinion or affiliation, and engaging or not engaging in religious activity.

Why is conviction good? ›

Conviction helps overcome resistance, both external and internal. Resistance comes in many forms, but having a foundation of conviction allows you to persevere in the face of it. All of these benefits of having conviction—overcoming obstacles, sparking passion, and overcoming resistance—lead to results.

What is the true meaning of conviction? ›

: the act or process of finding a person guilty of a crime especially in a court of law. : a strong persuasion or belief. : the state of being convinced.

What are examples of convictions? ›

conviction noun (OPINION)

a feeling of being certain about something: He said he was enjoying his new job, but his voice lacked conviction. She had a firm conviction that they would meet again in the hereafter. His speech carried so much conviction that I had to agree with him.

What is the power of conviction? ›

Knowing the Why Power of Conviction? Having the power conviction means having the ability of convincing others of some action that will help you to gain profit. Some people are born with a very convincing power but this does not mean that you cannot learn and acquire the same.

How do you live a conviction of life? ›

It requires thorough exploration of a matter, concentrated thought, and committed practice. Living by conviction means living in accordance with what I believe to be true — according to what I've been convinced is true. I took my first step into a life of conviction when I first put my faith in Christ.

How do you get a strong conviction? ›

13 Keys in Developing Strong Convictions
  1. Remember that what you do when no one is watching matters.
  2. The means matter as much as the ends, if not more.
  3. Hang in there. ...
  4. Often we grow as much through the little things as we do through the big ones.
  5. Truth is critical. ...
  6. Don't rationalize your way around honesty.

What is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit? ›

The Spirit's first work in convicting the world is to lead individuals to think upon their sin as their life-principle that determines their life- expression in conduct. That knowledge must come from God under the tutelage of the Spirit.

What is an example of religious conviction? ›

Examples might include a personal religious conviction to assist people in need, or a conviction to change personal behaviors that are sinful and apart from God's will. Many religious charities, acts of altruism, and entering into the Ministry are due to religious conviction.

Why is it important to speak with conviction? ›

The benefits of speaking with conviction are obvious: it makes you more persuasive, influential and confident. In fact, we all know that when someone is convinced in what they are saying or doing, people are more likely to follow them.

What is the value of conviction? ›

The Value of Conviction

As a differentiating value, Conviction means an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence. There is a solid connection between conviction and faith.

What does it mean to pray with conviction? ›

Praying with Conviction: Making your prayers heard And hearing the answers to your prayers.

Why is conviction important in leadership? ›

One of the greatest attributes a leader can have is the ability to lead with conviction. These are individuals with a strong sense of who they are and what they believe in and they allow those values and principles to come through in the way they operate their businesses.

What is the difference between a belief and a conviction? ›

Explicit beliefs are action equivalents of knowledge when truth judgments are required. Conviction develops in the derivation of value to a feeling of reality that accompanies the actualization of objects as facts.

What is the base word of conviction? ›

Origin of conviction

1400–50; late Middle English <Late Latin convictiōn- (stem of convictiō) proof (of guilt). See convict, -ion.

What does it mean to stay strong in your convictions? ›

phrase. If you have the courage of your convictions, you have the confidence to do what you believe is right, even though other people may not agree or approve.

What is moral conviction example? ›

Moral conviction is, for example, associated with increased political engagement and volunteerism (generally seen as normative goods), but also predicts increased intolerance and unwillingness to compromise with those who do not share one's moral point of view (generally seen as normative bads).

What does love with conviction mean? ›

Sometimes loving with conviction means going against our own human nature to be selfish or defensive. This isn't easy, but I am allowed to be human and so are you. So, love yourself in all the same ways you love outside of yourself, because conviction demands you live like you mean it.

What are two synonyms for conviction? ›

synonyms for conviction
  • confidence.
  • faith.
  • feeling.
  • principle.
  • sentiment.
  • view.
  • creed.
  • doctrine.

What does conviction mean in Christianity? ›

A conviction is a strong belief or opinion.

What is the courage of convictions? ›

to be brave and confident enough to do what you believe in: Although many of his policies were unpopular, he had the courage of his convictions to see them through.

What does conviction mean in leadership? ›

As a leader, conviction is a trait that assures a team that their work matters and it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of success and improves not just an approach to solving issues but to learning how to evolve, adapt and make braver choices.

What do you call a person with strong conviction? ›

resolute Add to list Share. Use the adjective resolute to describe a purposeful and determined person, someone who wants to do something very much, and won't let anything get in the way.

What is a person without conviction? ›

It means the defendant, although guilty of an offence, will have no criminal record. Sometimes there is public criticism of decisions to grant a discharge without conviction, under section 106 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

How long does a conviction stay on your record? ›

If the person was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense (i.e. legally considered to be an adult), then the conviction will be expunged from their record 11 years after the conviction date (not the offense date).

How long does it take for a conviction to go away? ›

Under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016, a range of minor offences become spent after 7 years. This means that an adult convicted of an offence covered by the Act does not have to disclose the conviction after 7 years, except in certain circumstances.

Does a conviction go away? ›

Why is it still on my record? Since 2006, the police retain details of all recordable offences until you reach 100 years of age. Your conviction will always show on your police records but the conviction may not show on your criminal record check that is used for employment vetting purposes.

How does the Holy Spirit convict unbelievers? ›

The Holy Spirit works on the hearts of unbelievers through us to convict and convince them of their sin and of the righteousness of Christ. What is the The Holy Spirit carries out this convicting and convincing ministry to unbelievers through us, through believers, through you and me.

Why is it important for the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin? ›

In what ways do you sense the Holy Spirit working in you? Holy Spirit, convict us of our sin and rebellion against God, so that we may be saved in Christ to live fully in love and service to God in his world.

What are crimes against the Holy Spirit? ›

The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy includes ridicule and attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil.

What does conviction mean in spiritual? ›

A conviction is a strong belief or opinion.

How do you practice speaking with a conviction? ›

Make any spoken message interesting and engaging. Make their audience sit up, listen and take what they're saying seriously. Get their ideas heard in meetings and increase their powers of persuasion. Sound more believable, enthusiastic, passionate and inspiring.

What is the difference between passion and conviction? ›

A conviction is a belief so strong that it governs your decision in such a way you are willing to die for it. Passion without the experience is just that- passion. When you add passion to conviction- you can inspire, and when you inspire, you can change behavior and when you change behavior, you can change a life.

What is the most powerful means of confidence and conviction? ›

One of the most powerful means of communicating confidence and conviction is sustained, focused eye contact. Sustained, focused eye contact makes you feel more confident and act more assertively.

What does a man of conviction mean? ›

Finally, being a man of conviction means you seriously spend time considering whether what you are doing is right or wrong. People with weak convictions tend to wander into moral ambiguity and end up in a place they never thought they would be. They end up doing things they never thought they would do.

What is a conviction summary? ›

A summary offence, also referred to as a summary conviction offence, is an offence which is resolved without a jury or indictment. It is a “less serious” offence versus its counterpart (an indictable offence) and is punishable by different sets of rules, regulations and lower sentencing guidelines.

How do I find my conviction values? ›

To be able to see your current conviction values and the conviction values needed to recruit the characters you don't have, you need to reach Chapter 5 in your New Game+ playthrough.

What is conviction theology? ›

The word "conviction" is not actually used in the Bible. Obviously, it is a word that relates to a person's belief, their principle, their faith, and to being persuaded of vital spiritual truth.

What does it mean to have conviction in yourself? ›

When you have conviction, you're certain of something. With confidence, you feel sure of yourself and your abilities in a realistic but non-arrogant and secure way. Congruence is when your feeling and actions are aligned.

What does sincere conviction mean? ›

the fact of officially being found to be guilty of a particular crime, or the act of officially finding ... See more at conviction. (Definition of sincere and conviction from the Cambridge English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

What does it mean to have conviction in your voice? ›

To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it.

What does a man without conviction mean? ›

If a person pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, an offence, usually they are convicted of that offence. However, a judge still has discretion not to convict that person. This is granting a discharge without conviction. It means the defendant, although guilty of an offence, will have no criminal record.

What makes someone a convict? ›

A convict is a person who has been found guilty — convicted — of a crime and is serving a sentence in prison. When you convict (accent on the second syllable) someone of a crime, you find them guilty. The person is then a convict (accent on the first syllable).

How do you give yourself a conviction? ›

Here are 13 keys in developing your core convictions.
  1. Remember that what you do when no one is watching matters.
  2. The means matter as much as the ends, if not more.
  3. Hang in there. ...
  4. Often we grow as much through the little things as we do through the big ones.
  5. Truth is critical. ...
  6. Don't rationalize your way around honesty.

How do you practice speaking with conviction? ›

Make any spoken message interesting and engaging. Make their audience sit up, listen and take what they're saying seriously. Get their ideas heard in meetings and increase their powers of persuasion. Sound more believable, enthusiastic, passionate and inspiring.

What does it mean to love someone with so much conviction? ›

Sometimes loving with conviction means going against our own human nature to be selfish or defensive. This isn't easy, but I am allowed to be human and so are you. So, love yourself in all the same ways you love outside of yourself, because conviction demands you live like you mean it.

What do you call a person who is not yet convicted? ›

Accused: formally charged but not yet tried for committing a crime; the person who has been charged may also be called the defendant. Acquittal: a judgment of court, based on the decision of either a jury or a judge, that a person accused is not guilty of the crime for which he has been tried.


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