If you’re a Christian, you have the ability to hear God speak every day, because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, lives inside you. Ephesians 1:13-14 describes this:
“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession . . .”
The Holy Spirit speaks to us in different ways, but today I’d like to focus on two, found in John 16:8: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness . . .”
First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. This is how he calls us to himself for salvation and how he enables us live a godly life after salvation. To be saved, we must first become aware of our sinfulness and our need for a savior.
Oswald Chambers described it this way:
"Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses the conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God."
To be a child of God, we must first realize the depth of our sinfulness and how our sin separates us from God. Once we understand this, we can confess (agree with God about our sin), repent ( want to change), and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf. Romans 10:9 puts it this way:
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit’s job changes. Now, he convicts us of sins that hinder our relationship with God and each other.
The Holy Spirit is not our conscience, although sometimes he uses our conscience. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, he applies the truth of God’s Word to our present situation or behavior. If our thoughts or actions don’t agree with Scripture, he alerts us. We feel a check in our spirit, or a sense that what we’re doing isn’t right. It’s a warning designed to steer us away from dangerous or ungodly thoughts or actions.
The second way the Holy Spirit speaks to us is to convict us of righteousness. Unlike the first example, where he points out behaviors that are harmful, when he convicts us of righteousness, he nudges us toward good and helpful behavior, behavior that is part of his will for us. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of our purpose:
“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will bring someone to mind. Perhaps we need to pray for them or reconnect. Other times the Holy Spirit will plant a thought in our minds. Send Jackie a card. She’s been discouraged since her sister died. Or Sarah just had a baby. I bet she could use a meal and an offer to babysit.
Sometimes we wonder if what we’re sensing is really coming from the Holy Spirit. The most dependable litmus test is to compare what we think we’re hearing to Scripture. The Holy Spirit will never tell us to do anything that contradicts the principles in God’s Word.
When we sense the Holy Spirit instructing us, it’s important to obey. James 4:17 warns us,
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” A favorite Bible teacher of mine often said, “To delay is to disobey.”
The more we grow in Christ, the better we’ll become at discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit. A sure sign God is speaking to us is that the words we’re “hearing” in our hearts come directly from the Bible. This is why it’s so important to learn and memorize Scripture—so the Holy Spirit has a wealth of material to draw from.
I’m often humbled and comforted that the God of the universe has not only invited us to have a relationship with him, but desires to talk with us every day. Many times, that conversation begins with a whisper from the Holy Spirit in our hearts. I love this promise of Jesus:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).
The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of sin so we can become more like Jesus. He also convicts us of righteousness so we can be his ambassadors in the world today. What a comfort. What a privilege.
Now it’s your turn. How have you sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment there.
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