“When [the Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:8 (NIV)
A good conscience is powered by the Spirit, but once you take the batteries out of your alarm clock, it no longer works.
This is the reason the sinner’s natural condition is to think he is bound for heaven, when actually he is bound for hell. But when the Holy Spirit begins working in your life, he will awaken your conscience.
We usually think of guilt as a bad thing, but Jesus says it’s good to recognize your true guilt. It is the first sign of hope. Jesus describes three ways in which the Holy Spirit convicts us of guilt:
- In regard to sin: The first work of the Holy Spirit is deeply disturbing—he activates your conscience. He brings you to a place where you see your own sin.
- In regard to righteousness: Before Paul encountered Christ on the Damascus Road, he was confident in his own righteousness. Something changed. Now he knew he was a sinner. He felt the weight of his sins. You don’t know what righteousness is until you know Jesus.
- In regard to judgment: There will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So, Paul says that he strives always to keep his conscience clear before God and man (Acts 24:16).
A true Christian wants more of this, not less: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Are you willing to ask God to shine his light into the dark corners of your life?