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The Holy Spirit Convicts You (2010)
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Series: The God Within: What the Holy Spirit Does (Week 2 of 2)
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
March 22, 2010

Woodrow Kroll: The Holy Spirit convicts us in order to convince us.

Tami Weissert: convince us of our need for a Savior.

Woodrow Kroll: And of our need for confession. Find out more about what the Holy Spirit does in today's study. Hi, I'm Woodrow Kroll.

Tami Weissert: I'm Tami Weissert.

Woodrow Kroll: And this is Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Well, it's Monday, the beginning of our second week on the Holy Spirit. And Wood, the word of the day is conviction. Now we're going to see that the Holy Spirit convicts both believers and nonbelievers.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, he does. And to be honest with you, Tami, being convicted of something--that's not any of us looks forward to. This sounds like something we're not going to like, but stick with me on this because the Holy Spirit's conviction is a good thing, both for the Christian and those who are not.

Tami Weissert: OK, so what you are telling us is being convicted is more than simply being labeled "guilty as charged."

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, much, much, more than that. It's a little like getting an x-ray or a CT scan. The Holy Spirit looks inside us. He sees in there and He knows the things that are detrimental to us. He convinces us that they have to come out or they have to be dealt with, they have to be fixed. We don't always like CT scans but we certainly prefer them to the alternative--not knowing what's going on in there that could kill us.

Tami Weissert: So if you've ever been confused about the conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit, stay with us and pick up a little encouragement as you listen to our study.

Woodrow Kroll: You know, there are lots of people who are confused about conviction. Some people don't understand it at all. They don't understand where it comes from.

Dick Innes has a little book entitled, I Hate Witnessing. And in that book he tells a story about a little boy who wouldn't eat his prunes at dinner. His mother made the ultimate threat saying, "God won't like it if you don't eat those prunes." 

And yet he continued to sit there stubbornly, and not eating. So she sent him to his room.

And later that night there was a severe thunder storm so the mother tiptoed into the room just to soothe the little guy, make sure he wasn't scared. But as it turned out, he was sitting by the window, watching the lightning play across the sky.

And he had an amused expression on his face. As the mother drew near she overheard him say to God, "Such a fuss over a few lousy prunes."

You see, folks, this is the kind of conviction that mothers bring to children. But it's not necessarily the kind of conviction that God brings to us, God the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit convicts both the non-Christian and the Christian. Let me talk about the non-Christian first.

I want to take you today to John 16 because in John 16, the Lord Jesus was about to be dragged from the garden. He was about to be taken to the Judgment Hall and sent to Calvary to die on the cross.

But just before this happened, He spoke to His disciples, and this is what he said—John 16:1, "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

"And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

"And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?'  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart" (NKJV).

Now, listen to this. This is verse 7 [and 8]. "Nevertheless 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" (NKJV).

Well, now, there Jesus talks about the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Helper. The Spirit will come and he will reprove or convict the world. The word here in Greek is the word meaning "to expose," or "to bring to light" with the result of being shamed about one's wrongdoing.

And that's exactly what the Holy Spirit will do to every unbeliever. He's doing that in the world today.

While the world is not as bad as it could be, because of the restraining power of the Holy Spirit of God, some individuals within this evil world are still being convicted of their sin. And shame is the result. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

Now these verses that I just read, John 16:7‑8, they do not record all that the Lord Jesus had to say about the Holy Spirit when He comes and what He'll do. Listen to the next verses.

They give the details of the Spirit's convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. In verses 9 through 11, Jesus says that the Spirit convicts "of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler [prince] of this world is judged" (NKJV).

Now, that's where we need to put our focus today. When the Spirit of God convicts the unsaved world, when the Spirit of God convicts those who have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as Savior—it's of sin and righteousness and judgment. But what does that mean?

Well, these three categories here, convicting of sin and righteousness and judgment--these are the three things that the Spirit of God is active today, doing in the hearts of people who do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior.

First of all, of sin.

See, it's not the task of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of murder, or of manslaughter, grand-theft auto, things like that—that's what the law does. The law of the land convicts a person of those kinds of offenses.

When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, it's not of particular sins, plural, but of sin in general. And we're very, very wrong if we think the word "convict" simply means to make a person feel guilty. If that were the case, most people would never be convicted because it's evident that not many people feel guilty anymore about anything.

Now, when the Spirit convicts, it means that the unsaved person is found guilty as charged. Whether he or she feels guilty is not the issue. He or she is guilty, and the Spirit convicts that person of sin.

It's this knowledge that leads a person to acknowledge his or her need of the Savior. Before the Holy Spirit convicts someone, there's little sensitivity to God and the message of the Gospel.

That's why Paul says, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost, in whom the God of this world," that's Satan, "has blinded the minds of those which believe not" (2 Corinthians 4:3).

But, you see, that's what the Holy Spirit does. He reproves the unbeliever, He convicts him of his sin, and reveals the Gospel to him, showing him his need—a need which before he may never have perceived that he had.

Tami Weissert: You're listening to the Monday edition of Back to the Bible. We’re looking at what happens when the Holy Spirit convicts a nonbeliever. Here again is Dr. Kroll.

Woodrow Kroll: Now it may be that that is happening to you right now. Maybe you have never trusted Jesus Christ as you Savior, and as you hear the Word of God explained to you, something down deep inside happened. That's the work of the Spirit of God showing you that you are guilty of sin and without Jesus Christ, you can never be saved. That's the convicting power of the Spirit of God. So the Spirit convicts the world of sin revealing the necessity of salvation. If that's happening to you, listen carefully to the rest of that I have to say today.

Now, let's move on to the second area that the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved person, and that is convicting him or her of righteousness.

Actually, it's the lack of righteousness. See, when the Spirit begins to work in the heart of an unbeliever, the first thing He does is to show the need for a Savior because of sin.

And then, immediately, the Spirit shows the "flip side" of that coin. That the unsaved person lacks the righteousness necessary to please God.

See, you and I don't have the necessary righteousness to go to heaven when we die. So, when the Spirit does His work, a person who has never trusted Jesus as Savior, sees that he is sinful. And therefore, is shut out of God's heaven.

At that time, that person lacks the righteousness which would qualify him to get into God's heaven when he dies.

Now, you see, it's one thing to say that we are sinners. It's quite another thing to say that we are unrighteous.

Most people would admit that they're sinners. Isn't that true?  But they still think that their good deeds somehow will outweigh their bad deeds. They foolishly think that their righteousness will somehow be sufficient to hide their sinfulness. But they never got that idea from God. In fact, quite the opposite.

Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah? "But we are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are is as filty rags." That's Isaiah 64:5.

Do you remember the words of David?  David said, "There is none who does good. No, not one" (Ps. 14:1, NKJV).

And do you remember the words of the apostle Paul. He said "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10, NKJV).

Do you remember the words of Moses?  "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5, KJV).

Now, here's the dilemma that we're faced with, folks. We can either believe what God has to say about our righteousness, that it's non-existent, we don't have any.

Or we can foolishly believe that we have done enough good that God surely will let us into heaven.

The Bible says He won't. There's no reason why God should. And that's what the Holy Spirit does in the life of the unbeliever. He convicts a person of a lack of righteousness—so that we stop believing that old devil's lie that our good works will somehow outweigh our bad works.

Folks, we don't have any good works to weigh! 

Tami Weissert: Wood, it is so easy to get caught up in how we're living our lives; I mean, what we've done for others, what we're doing that's good and right and wholesome. But if we don't know Christ, it's all for nothing as far as eternity is concerned.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, it is all for nothing. And we've bought into the lie that we need to do good things in order to go to heaven when we die. You know--pet the dog, live a good life, help the poor--that's Satan's lie. Now helping the poor certainly is a good Christian thing to do but it's not what makes us a Christian. That takes faith in the death of the Lord Jesus in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. Faith is the key to the future, not our works.

Tami Weissert: OK, but so many people believe that it is about works so how do you counteract that? How do we get the truth out there?

Woodrow Kroll: Well, for one thing, I think we can make certain of the truth. How do you know that what I say is true? Maybe my way to God isn't any better than your way to God. And in fact, it really isn't--unless it's also God's way. So the best thing we can do to get the real truth out there is to become familiar enough with our Bible by reading it and studying it daily so that we can live it out in world that is searching for truth and can't find truth. They ought to be able to find truth in our lives as our lives direct them to God's Word.

Tami Weissert: OK, I feel a burden for personal witnessing and living it out in my life so beyond that, is there something we can proactively do to get the message out there?

Woodrow Kroll: Ah! Carpe diem! Remember "sieze the day" in Dead Poet Society?

We can be intentional. We can invite our friends and our family to a Bible study in our home or maybe to a special event at church. We can introduce a Christian book into our book club. We can be intentional in our conversation with our neighbor who comes over just for a cup of coffee. Intentionality is the key. Witness shouldn't be haphazard. It ought to be intentional.

Tami Weissert: OK, we've been talking about nonbelievers. Now let's flip to beleiievers because good works means something completely different to us if we're a believer. In fact, it's designed for us.

Woodrow Kroll: It really is designed for us. Good works are what  completes the apostle Paul's teaching about salvation. You've heard me say it before: We should never quote Ephesians 2:8-9 without verse 10. "For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." Then it goes on to say, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

See, God has a plan. He has a plan for your life and He has a plan for my life. He has a work for you to do and a work for me to do. That's why He saved you and me. So for the Christian, we need to find out what that plan is so we can get going on it.

Tami Weissert: Wood, there's a book you recommend called The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, Torrey was a pastor. He was an evangelist. He was an author who wrote this book back about the turn of the 20th century but he wrote it to quell some controversies about the Holy Spirit, the same controversies that we deal with today. Now, Torrey felt that to correctly understand the work of the Holy Spirit, you must first understand the Person of the Holy Spirit. So it's from that perspective that The Work and Person of the Holy Spirit was written.

Tami Weissert: And really, his book still speaks to us today.

Woodrow Kroll: Oh, very much so! It's a very personal introduction to the Person of the Spirit of God.

Tami Weissert: It's a great book to put on your reading list and we have it available right now, right here at Back to the Bible. So if you'd like to order a copy, give us a call at 1-800-759-2425.

Let's rejoin Dr. Kroll as he goes back to the Bible to see what it says about being convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Woodrow Kroll: The Holy Spirit's work in the life of the unsaved person, the unbeliever, the non-Christian, is first of all, to convict him or her of sin. And then convict him or her of a lack of righteousness.

Now, here's a third way the Spirit convicts the unsaved person. He convicts them of their need of the Savior because of sin. And He convicts them of their lack of righteousness because of that sin.

And now, third, He convicts the unsaved of judgment.

That's what John 16:11 says. Now, judgment is the Greek word krisis (K-R-I-S-I-S). It means the kind of judgment that a judge would hand down after he heard arguments, after he discovered the truth, and after he handed down a verdict.

Again, remember the word "convicts" does not mean to make you feel guilty, but to pronounce you as guilty. The Holy Spirit pronounces the unsaved person guilty of sin, guilty of a lack of righteousness and, therefore, deserving judgment.

The Bible always depicts God's eternal judgment as hell. Now, that's the meaning of John 3:18. "He that believeth on him [Jesus] is not condemned:  but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (KJV).

You see, the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved person of a lack of faith, of a lack of trust in Jesus, what Jesus did for them at the Cross of Calvary by taking their place and paying the debt for their sin.

And, you know what?  When a person refuses to believe this, refuses to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, he's reproved by the Holy Spirit of God. He is convicted and he is sentenced to the death penalty.

"For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23, KJV). So, in the life of a non-Christian today, the Holy Spirit is restraining them from all the vile wicked things they would do if they were left to themselves.

And at the same time, He's convicting them of their sins, of their lack of righteousness, and of the judgment that awaits them with without Christ.

But I have good news for you today. If you're not a Christian, you can become a Christian simply by trusting what Jesus Christ did for you at the Cross of Calvary.

Tami Weissert: You're listening to Back to the Bible and so far today, we've learned about how the Holy Spirit works to convict the unbeliever. But He also convicts the believer. Let's see what that looks like. Here's Dr. Kroll.

Woodrow Kroll: When you express faith in Jesus, when you trust Him as the only Savior you will ever have, then you become a new creation in Christ Jesus. You are born again.

Does that mean then that the Spirit of God has stopped His convicting work in your life?  Oh, not at all. See, the Spirit of God convicts the believer of sin just like He convicts the unbeliever—but in a very different way.

You see, before we were saved, we were ignorant of our sin. In fact, many times we did things we didn't even know were sin. But the vast majority of times, we knew that what we were doing was wrong and that it displeased God. And, even so, the Holy Spirit wouldn't let us alone.

Sometimes He used gentle prodding. Other times He hounded us to convict us of our sin. But convict us He did. John 16:7-8, tell us about that conviction.

But that conviction led to our salvation from sin. See, we were charged with guilt for our sins, and then we were wooed by the Spirit of God to the only One who could deliver us from that guilt, and that's the Lord Jesus.

And, now that we're saved, the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is still strong in our lives. You know, every day He continues to point out our sin to us and to convict us of the consequences of our unconfessed sin.

Now, in this regard for you as a believer today, 1 John 3:20 is a very important verse. John is writing about the compassion we should have toward someone who is in need, when we have the ability to meet that need.

And then He counsels that we should not just talk about good deeds but that we should actually do them. We should not just talk about meeting that person's need; we should dig deep into our own pocket and find a way to alleviate the need.

And then, immediately thereafter, John says this, 1 John 3:20:  "For if our heart condemn us, greater is God than our heart who knoweth all things." 

You see, if your conscience, Christian, if your conscience is pricked, when you fail to perform in a way that pleases Christ, that's good.

But that's not always the case, is it?  But you have the Spirit of God. And He is greater than your heart. He is omniscient; He knows everything in our hearts and our minds. He convicts us when we do wrong and when we fail to do right. It's just one of the ways that the Spirit of God ministers to us.

Horatio Bonar was right. He said, "A new view of God's holiness gives us a deeper view of our own sinfulness. The more we realize that God of glory, the more we feel our unholiness and cry out in fear, 'woe is me.'" 

Conviction must come before cleansing. And when you and I discover as Christians that we have not done what pleases the Lord God, we have the 1 John 1:9 principle—"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NKJV). Conviction must come before cleansing.

And the work of conviction in your life, even today as a believer, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you know what He does for you? 

He convicts you of your sin now, so you can confess it and get it cared for so that one day, you don't have to give an answer for that sin. That's the kind of work the Spirit of God does for you because He loves you.

Tami Weissert: Wood, thank you for not being afraid to deliver a message today that might convict us. But you made it clear that the purpose of conviction isn't so much about declaring guilt as it is about helping us to open our eyes, to see the truth, to grow closer to God.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, that's certainly true. It really doesn't do me any good to sulk and say, "Boy, I am really a slug, you know?" What needs to happen is this slug needs to be convicted of sin and repent of that sin and then get up and start to make my life count for God.

Tami Weissert: OK, so what do we do when we're convicted about a sin, we confess it fully, but then that conviction just doesn't seem to go away? It just keeps nagging at us.

Woodrow Kroll: That probably means one of two things: 1) Either we really weren't repentant of that sin and our confession wasn't genuine, or 2) We haven't realized that once sin is forgiven, it's behind us forever. Now either way, when we truly come to grips with our sin and we forsake it, the bad feeling that accompanies sin ought to go away as well.

Tami Weissert: OK, now what if someone is thinking, It feels like the Holy Spirit is always convicting me of something and I'm starting to wonder, Am I really saved?

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, first of all, I'd say that's a good thing. Listen, if we aren't saved, the chances of us being convicted of our sin are really greatly reduced. So if conviction makes us concerned about our salvation, then it's probably an indication that we really are saved.

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The Oberammergau Pageant--it only happens once every ten years and 2010 is your year to see it. For more information, contact me at 1-800-759-2425 or visit our website at backtothebible.org.

Tami Weissert: As hard as it is, today we found that it's necessary to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. After all, Wood, if you're not convicted that God is God, how likely is it that you'll allow yourself to be influenced by Him?

Woodrow Kroll: Not likely at all. But when we come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of God can and will influence us. And that's really what we're going to talk about tomorrow on the program.

Tami Weissert: So I see a progression of thought here, from conviction to influence. So how does the rest of the week line up then?

Woodrow Kroll: Well on Wednesday, we're going to talk about how the Holy Spirit guides us. And then Thursday, it's all about sanctification by the Spirit. And finally, on Friday, we'll talk about what it means to be filled by the Holy Spirit. We have quite a week ahead of us.

Well, thanks so much for dropping by today. It's always good to have you as part of our listening family. God bless you. I'm Woodrow Kroll. My prayer for you is the same every day at this time--that you would have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it's not also a godly day?

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