What Does the Bible Tell Us about Conviction?

When you see the miracles that Jesus performed and the lengths He went to in order to save your soul, you will be convicted by the sin in your life. Let’s take a closer look at what the Bible says about conviction.

What Is Conviction?

One definition of conviction is the state of being convinced and confident that something is true. People can be convicted that a belief or opinion they hold dear is true. Then there is also a definition of conviction which means a formal declaration in a court of law that someone is guilty of a criminal offense. The Bible speaks of both. When you’re convicted of a belief in Christ, you will also feel convictions when you sin and go against God’s ways and laws.

Conviction is when a sin you’ve committed is exposed, and you admit that it is sin. You can realize it in your own mind, or someone else can point it out to you. You own the wrongness of what you’ve done. This is repentance.

Conviction, according to the Bible, is a good thing. It is good when our wrongdoing or sin comes to light, and we see it for the ugliness that it is. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God’s ways. We all need to realize this.

Conviction can hurt, but the sting causes us to repent and change our ways. This is the sorrow that God wants His people to have, a sorrow that leads us away from sin and results in salvation (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

What Does the Bible Say about Conviction?

People don’t like the light that uncovers their sins. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed (John 3:20). But God wants His Word to be preached so that people will be aware of sin when it pops up in their lives. When the Word is fully preached, people are patiently corrected, rebuked, and encouraged that they can do better (2 Timothy 4:2).

The Lord wants and needs to correct you when you go astray (Hebrews 12:5). Everyone can clearly see the intricate world that God created, so they have no excuse for not knowing and being accountable to that God (Romans 1:20). But God also sent us the Holy Spirit to convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment (John 16:6-8).

Sin can be tricky. It never wants to be exposed. So, it often takes something outside of us or even another person to make us see what we’ve done wrong. We can simply be reading the Bible, see someone in scripture doing something wrong, and be convicted of something we’ve done that was similar. We can also go to a church and hear the pastor speak about some kind of sin that we have fallen victim to and be convicted.

We are also told in Matthew 18:15 that if another believer sins, we should go to them privately and point out their offense. Sometimes the other believer will listen, realize their sin, and confess it to you and to God. One of the best examples in the Bible of convicting someone of their sin is when the prophet Nathan rebukes King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-25.

Pointing out another person’s sin should be done as gently as possible. If they become defensive with a gruff approach, they won’t see their sin clearly, and conviction won’t happen. Nathan decided to tell King David a story. He told him of two men in another town. One of them was rich, and the other was poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb. A guest arrived at the home of the rich man. Instead of killing one of his own animals for a feast, the rich man got the poor man’s lamb and killed it. David was shocked at this atrocious behavior and said that any man who would do such a thing deserves to die.

Nathan simply told David that he was the man that he had been talking about. King David had a house full of wives, but one night he saw Uriah’s one wife and took her for himself. Then when this woman turned up pregnant, to hide the adultery he had already committed, David added murder to his sins and had her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. The Lord told Nathan that David’s sins would bring bad consequences for his life. You cannot hide sin from God. King David hung his head and confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied that the Lord has forgiven him so David would not have to die for his sin. But as punishment, the child of David and Uriah’s wife would die. David fasted and begged God to spare the child. But the child died. Even though David didn’t want it to happen, he realized that it was his punishment and accepted it. In due time, Bathsheba became pregnant again. David loved this baby because it represented the Lord’s mercies despite David’s terrible sins.

David truly repented of his sins and even wrote a psalm about God’s mercy (Psalm 51). He praised God’s unfailing love and great compassion to blot out the stain of his sins when he repented of them. He felt washed and purified from his sin because he had been convicted of it. He had done evil in God’s sight and deserved all punishment that would come because of it. He realized that even though brokenness hurts terribly, repentance and forgiveness cause joy to return eventually. He begged God for a clean heart and a thankful spirit so he could continue on. He also asked God to not take His Spirit from him. And to give him the joy of obedience for the rest of his life. David was thankful for his broken and repentant heart and was grateful that he would get second chances because of God’s mercy.

a woman sitting in a church, Bringing sin to light is not a distraction from the churchs mission
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/FluxFactory 

3 Ways to Recognize Conviction

Read the Bible. The Bible will speak to you as you read it. It will convict you of your own sin that you need to repent of. We read that we shouldn’t murder, but even more than that, we shouldn’t be excessively angry with another person. We are convicted that we need to repent and bring our temper under control. We also read that it is wrong to commit adultery and smugly think that we haven’t done that. But then we also read that lusting or fantasizing is committing adultery in your heart and, therefore, just as egregious. Conviction comes.

Pay Attention to your Conscience. Your conscience was put there by God to give you a sense of right and wrong. For instance, you are running late, so you run for the elevator. You are about to push your floor, so the elevator will take you on your way. But you notice someone with just as much determination to make the elevator as you have. They are focused but much slower than you. You could pretend you didn’t notice them, but something stops you. You press the door open button to hold it and wait for them. Conviction has caused you to do the right thing.

Be Open to Other Believers’ Opinions about your Life. Nathan spoke the truth into David’s life. He did so gently but in a way that David realized what he had done wrong. David could have said that it was none of his business, but conviction caused him to repent wholeheartedly. God uses other people to teach us how to live.


So, in conclusion, what does the Bible say about conviction? Conviction is knowing that you did wrong and repenting to God. It is a good thing. God doesn’t just want us to feel better. He wants us to live better.

Conviction is for our benefit, but sometimes Satan takes that good thing and turns up the volume on it. Satan can make you feel bad about something you’ve already repented of. He tries to convince you that your conviction wasn’t enough. This is a lie. The Bible says that when we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. We only need to repent again if we commit that sin again.

Satan can also make us feel guilty just because we fail at something or feel bad about our weaknesses. Failure is not a sin, and neither are weaknesses. Both can be overcome by the power of Christ.

Satan doesn’t want us to repent and be forgiven. He wants us to stew in our bad feelings, so we give up our God-given hope. He wants us to fall into condemnation by dwelling on our past sins or feeling guilty about our weaknesses. But don’t fall for this delusion. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Conviction brings hope. It never condemns.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Srdjanns74 

headshot of author Jenni HeerenJennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.


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