A few years ago, I worked for a state supreme court where we handled a lot of criminal convictions. One day, I looked at the word "conviction," printed on an appellate brief, and it suddenly struck me as an odd word.
I wasn't sure why it had hit me as being so strange until I thought about it for a moment; and then it dawned on me that it was one of the words I most commonly used when discussing my interactions with the Holy Spirit.
"The Holy Spirit convicted me about being so judgmental."
"The Holy Spirit convicted me about my lack of interest in prayer and Bible study."
"The Holy Spirit convicted me about how little I understand God's love."
That day, I thought, "Really, Holy Spirit? Is that how you interact with me? Do You really 'convict' me all of the time?" It just didn't seem right to me, as an attorney. The Bible certainly uses a courtroom analogy, but in it, God is the judge, Jesus is our defense attorney, and Satan is the prosecutor (1 John 2:1, Revelation 12:10). It's actually Christ's job to prevent our conviction, so the idea of the Holy Spirit working against Him didn't really make sense.
I went home that day and broke open Strong's Concordance, determined to pull out and study all the biblical references to the word "convict" or "conviction." You'd think it would be splashed all over the pages of the Bible, as much as we use it. But in the New King James Version, I found the word "convict" or "conviction" a mere seven times in the New Testament.
What is so interesting is that the word "convict" is never once used to describe the day-to-day interactions of the Holy Spirit with Christians. Instead, as far as being "convicted" goes, it basically describes (1) how the Holy Spirit confronts unbelievers; and (2) what happens to Christians who try to follow rules instead of the Spirit (John 8:9, 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:24; James 2:8-10; Jude 15).
So, I wondered, if it isn't the Holy Spirit's job to convict us, what exactly does He do? I figured it was time to reevaluate the way I described His work in my life. I did so by exploring the Scriptures, and what I found expanded both my vocabulary and my understanding of Him, as I learned that He actually does a great number of things that sound much less like a guilt trip and a lot more like good parenting.
- The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, teaches us, and reminds us of the words of Jesus (John 14:26; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13).
- He gives us the words to speak when we don't know what to say (Mark 13:11).
- He gives us supernatural power and clarifies our calling (Acts 1:8; 13:32).
- He fills us with boldness to speak truth in situations where we would've never dreamed of speaking before (Acts 4:8, 31).
- He opens our eyes to see God's glory, and he fervently prays for us as we flounder around in this exhausting life on planet earth (Acts 7:55; Romans 8:26).
- Perhaps most importantly, He moves into our hearts and fills us with God's joy, peace, and love (Acts 8:17; Romans 5:5, 14:17).