The Holy Spirit Will Never Convict You

[The point of the post is to differentiate from conviction as judicial pronouncement and conviction as bringing a right understanding.]

The Holy Spirit does not convict people who belong to God. Rather, the Holy Spirit is our advocate (John 14:26, 16:7) and this is a role Jesus carries out for us as well. (1 John 2:1.) What does an advocate do? An advocate stands up for you.

Satan, on the other hand, is the one who wants to accuse us and make us feel guilty. (Revelation 12:9-10.)

That means that God himself is the one who stands up for you against Satan’s false accusations. The accusations are false because there is nothing to accuse you. God has forgiven you of all sin (Colossians 2:13-14), and will never condemn you for anything you do. (Romans 8:1.)

How do you like that? God is your advocate, not your accuser. He stands up for you.


So the next time someone tells you that your guilty feelings are the Holy Spirit convicting you, tell them that may be what Satan wants you to believe but you know better.

The Holy Spirit is your friend, comforter and advocate. He doesn’t stand up to you; he stands up for you.


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26 Responses to The Holy Spirit Will Never Convict You

  1. Reblogged this on mutteringheart and commented:
    so true!

  2. Jeannie says:

    It’s so encouraging and hopeful to know that God is on our side in this way. I have a question, though: what do you think it means when we are told not to grieve God’s Holy Spirit? And if we were doing something that grieved that Spirit, how would we be made aware of that — by HS himself, or some other way? This might be too big a question to answer here…

    • Tim says:

      Great question, Jeannie. We can certainly experience godly sorrow. The type of conviction I’m talking about here is not using the word to mean being convinced of something, like when people say that they have strong convictions about something. Rather, it’s conviction in the sense of being found guilty, as when people mistakenly say the Holy Spirit has convicted them of a sin. He advocates for them in their sin.

      The Holy Spirit’s work in our life as advocate, counselor, teacher and comforter can open our eyes to seeing what we do that is contrary to God’s will, that which grieves God. But he does not convict us in the sense of finding us guilty as if that were some sort of way God corrects us. The Bible says God leads us into righteous acts by his kindness and grace.

  3. It was a huge milestone in my recovery when I learned the difference between guilt and shame.

  4. Ruth says:

    Wow, this is so opposite to what I’ve been taught in church for 48 years.

  5. “The Holy Spirit’s work in our life as advocate, counselor, teacher and comforter can open our eyes to seeing what we do that is contrary to God’s will, that which grieves God.”

    Totally agree with this statement. That’s actually what I have always, and still do, called “Holy Spirit conviction”. Condemnation on the other hand is never the Holy Spirit. I think these two words mean two different things. I’ve seen people convicted by the Holy Spirit and it always leads to fruit worthy of repentance. Condemnation on the other hand just brings guilt and destroys the soul.

    I guess what I’m saying is ‘opening our eyes to seeing what we do that is contrary to God’s will, that which grieves God” is what many of us call Holy Spirit conviction. It is totally different to being made to feel condemned which sadly happens all too often in organised Christianity.

    I see conviction as a good word if it comes from the Holy Spirit. But condemnation is to do with accusation, which, as you say is never the Holy Spirit.

    • Tim says:

      If what people mean by conviction is that the Holy Spirit helped them see that their sin is bad, then that is a true work of the Holy Spirit. If what they mean is that the Holy Spirit made them feel guilt in their sin, then it’s not truly a work of the Spirit. I’ve spoken to believers who meant it one way, and some who’ve meant it the other.

  6. Tim, this is along the lines of something I wrote a few years ago, though I was not really talking about the Holy Spirit. At our former church, which was at the time a part of Sovereign Grace, the sin/conviction/correction issue was a constant emphasis. The title of my article is “On Walking By Grace Instead of a Focus on Mortifying Indwelling Sin.”

  7. Pastor Bob says:

    Well, after performing a wedding where no one gave the bride away (prior post of yours) – and the Best Man managed to confuse me with the rings – “Well folks, there are days like this.” I now weight in on this post.

    As believers we seem to have confused “condemnation” with “conviction.” Simple to separate, ‘condemnation” the act of condemning one for an action (even truly good) is where the statements go something like this: ” You really blew it! Now they will never come to church, you said too much! You are a _____ !” Accusations and harsh words.

    ‘Conviction’ is very different with conscience is usually in harmony, “Your words did not really convey the right message. You may want to rethink the followup conversation, and your words.” The first only attacks, hurts, and prevents growth. The second allows the mistake (ONLY) to be exposed – with NO negative words attacking the person.

    “law vs Holy Spirit

    How does the Holy Spirit convict us? He does it by turning on the lights, not to shame you (Jesus carried your shame), but to show you the way to life. Ian Thomas describes it like this:
    “The Holy Spirit is like a man with a lamp entering a dark and dirty room, and what you have learned to live with in the dark becomes repugnant in the light.”

    You see what needs to be seen, issue oriented and no doubt the impact of the mistake.

    This part of the work of the Holy Spirit. Think of the parent telling the teenager something that needs to be shared. No judgement, no harsh words, “You need to know this…….”

    As this is read, HAPPY MONDAY – Happy President’s Day!

    • Tim says:

      Exactly. PB. If what people mean by convict is that the Spirit finds Christians guilty (one meaning of convict) then it’s not the Spirit. If what they mean is that the Spirit helps people to have the right beliefs (another meaning of conviction), then this is a ministry of the Spirit. We know this because it’s how the Bible describes the work of the Spirit in people’s lives.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        AHHHHH – did no think of convict as the judge and/or jury would. Thus the apparent confusion. Another one of those “inside words” that needs to used carefully.

        Replace with “pointed out.”

  8. Ruth says:

    Great post Tim, and very timely. I’ve been dealing with Satan’s guilt making, and confusing it with a tap on the heart from the Holy Spirit telling me I need to change something, with His help, and I know the difference better now…if I feel relieved and free, its the ministry of the Spirit, if I feel hopeless and weighed down then there is a devil to be removed from my shoulder by God’s grace.

  9. Carmen S. says:

    This post shows that precise words are important, which requires hauling out a Strong’s Concordance, and allowing Christ to teach His people rather than relying on Chrisitanese cliche’s.

    The KJV translates Strong’s G1651 ( elegcho ) in the following manner: reprove (6x), rebuke (5x), convince (4x), tell( one’s) fault (1x), and convict ( 1x). John 8:9 “And they which heard it, being CONVICTED by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” John 16:8 “And when he ( the Comforter) is come, he will REPROVE ( G1651) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” Revelation 3:19 “And as many as I love, I REBUKE ( G1651) and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

    G1827 ( exelgcho) occurs only one time in the KJV. Jude 1:15 “To execute judgment upon all, and to CONVINCE ( G1827) all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” G1827 means “to convict fully, i.e. ( by implication) to prove to be in the wrong, convict, to punish.

    Revelation 12: 9-10 ” for the accuser ( G2723) of our brethren is cast down, which accused ( G2725) them BEFORE OUR GOD day and night.” Accuser is the name given to Satan by the rabbis. Accused: “a complainant at law.” This accusation of Satan occurs before God’s throne in heaven, which is why it’s important to remember that Christ is our forever High Priest. Christ rebukes those He loves. That’s a far cry from saying either the Holy Spirit or Satan is going around trying to play a guilt trip via feelings.

    • Tim says:

      It’s the modern meaning to condemn that is the subject here. Too many people tell fellow Christians they will be convicted by the Holy Spirit in the sense of condemned. That’s not so, of course.

  10. Carmen S. says:

    Tim, there’s no “modern” meaning that can be corrected without reading Scripture correctly; otherwise it becomes “I think it means this.” Why are there many people telling fellow Christians they will be condemned by the Holy Spirit? Because of “I think it means this.”

  11. iamorual2012 says:

    I love Dr. Brene Brown. She’s a shame and vulnerability researcher who has written many currently popular books. She defines guilt as “I did something bad,” and shame as “I am bad for doing that.”

    Guilt is associated with positive things. One example is going out, drinking too much, being late for work the next day, and letting your coworkers down. Guilt says, “Wow, that was a stupid thing to do. I don’t want to do that again.” Shame says, “I’m so stupid. Why do I always do things like this? I’ll never live this down.” She asks which of those is easier to change. The answer is guilt. What you do is much easier to change than who you are.

    When you’re using guilt, do you mean guilt as in “what I did was wrong (and changeworthy),” or shame as in “I am my sin personified” or both?

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