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Holy Spirit Conviction



Scripture: John 16:8-9; Acts 2:1–41; 1 Corinthians 2:14

Memory verse:  John 16:8–9
“When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin... because men do not believe in me.”


Begin this study by displaying a variety of safety items or warning devices. For example, display a potholder, goggles, pictures of traffic signs, a surgical mask, or any other security/safety item that may be available to you. Ask the students what each of these items is used for. Discuss what these items have in common. Explain that all of these are safety or warning devices that help keep us from harm.

Ask the students what would happen if we ignored those devices or refused to use them. Stress to them that we could be seriously hurt.

Tell the students that the Holy Spirit is like a spiritual warning system. He lets us know when we are about to do something that is not pleasing to God. If we fail to listen to the Holy Spirit and ignore His warning, we will be separated from God.

The Holy Spirit watches over us to protect us from spiritual danger and harm. Without the Holy Spirit’s power, we are helpless against Satan’s schemes to get us to sin. However, because the Holy Spirit came to help us, we can live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God. Encourage the students to listen closely to find out more about this.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “What does the word conviction mean?” (Encourage the students to answer.)

When a criminal is convicted of a crime, it means a judge and a jury have decided the person is guilty of committing that crime. (Open your Bible to Acts 2 as you teach.)

The Holy Spirit Speaks to Us

The Holy Spirit is, in a sense, a type of judge for us. He lets us know when we have done wrong. He convinces us of sin. Sometimes we say our conscience is bothering us, but it is really the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit reminding us of our sins.

At other times, we might feel a heavy burden because we know we have sinned. This makes us feel uncomfortable, but we should be thankful the Holy Spirit does convict or convince us of our sin. Unless the Holy Spirit comes to us in this way, we might not realize we have sinned. Our communication with God would be interrupted. When we feel conviction, we need to ask God to forgive our wrongdoing to restore that communication.

The Holy Spirit Deals with the Unsaved

Ask: “How many of you know someone who is not a Christian?” (Ask for a show of hands.)

You do not have to answer this question aloud, but have you tried to tell that person about Jesus? As Christians, it is our responsibility to tell others the good news that Jesus died for their sins. Because they do not know God, they cannot understand the way the Holy Spirit works. We cannot force them to become Christians, but the Holy Spirit can use our words and actions to convict them of their sins. (Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 2:14.) We should pray that we will be sensitive to the Spirit so He can use us as witnesses.

The Trinity Shown in Salvation

The Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts, but He uses individuals like you and me to bring the message of salvation to those who have not accepted Jesus. Here we see the work of the Trinity again. No one can be saved or brought into a right relationship with God the Father unless he or she accepts Jesus as the Son of God. But no one can believe in Jesus unless the Holy Spirit convicts him of his need for a Saviour. It is beautiful how each Person of the Trinity plays a part in our salvation.

Peter’s Sermon

On the Day of Pentecost, many people were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came and filled the apostles, the people in Jerusalem heard the apostles speaking in other languages. They did not understand what was happening. They even accused the apostles of being drunk. That is when Peter stood up and preached his famous sermon to the people who were there.

Before Jesus was crucified, Peter was so spiritually weak and scared that he denied Jesus three times. But now he was speaking to thousands of people, boldly telling them this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.

Peter reminded the Jews of Joel’s prophecy about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then he explained that Jesus is the Messiah, promised as a descendant of King David. Peter was an excellent speaker that day, but the Holy Spirit was the one who worked through him, convicting the hearts of the people listening.

Ask: “How did the Holy Spirit deal with the people?” (Allow responses.)

Acts 2:37 says that when they heard this, they were “cut to the heart”. That is a rather interesting way to describe conviction

Sometimes it does really feel almost like a pain in the heart when we are convicted of our sin. But sometimes conviction of sin is just an uncomfortable feeling about what we are doing or thinking.

Responding to Conviction

Being convicted of sin is not enough. Once we feel the conviction, we must do something about it. The people in Jerusalem asked the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter told them to repent and be baptized.

Probably not everyone believed on the Lord. The Bible says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41). That was some revival service! Yet this was not the result of Peter’s sermon alone. This was possible because of the convicting power of the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit had not been present, Peter’s words would just have been a good speech.

Our memory verse speaks of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power. “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin... because men do not believe in me” (John 16: 8, 9). The Holy Spirit convicts those who do not know Jesus. He lets them know their sin is not pleasing to God and they need forgiveness.

Even after we are Christians, we need to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence to convict us when we do something wrong. Becoming a Christian does not mean we become perfect. Satan will still tempt us and try to get us to do wrong. We need to pray daily and be open to the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

Tools of the Holy Spirit’s Conviction

The Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin, but we need to be aware that He uses the Word of God to convict us. For example, it is not necessary for us to test ourselves to see if we “feel” conviction when we lie or steal. The Bible clearly tells us those things are wrong.

At times the Holy Spirit speaks through our conscience. We will remember that we were told not to do a certain thing. We will know in our minds that we are doing wrong.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit uses people such as the pastor or Bible teacher to show us things that are not pleasing to God. No matter what methods the Holy Spirit uses, we need to be sensitive to His conviction so we can ask forgiveness and make things right with God. Sometimes the Spirit will convict a person of something he or she did years ago. There are many stories of men and women who have returned money they stole long before they became Christians. The conviction of the Holy Spirit will sometimes cause us to make things right, not only with God but also with people we have wronged.

Listening to the Holy Spirit

Ask: “How do you know when the Holy Spirit is convicting you of something? ” (Allow responses.)

(Get personal examples. Begin by giving a situation, such as, “If you were tempted to do something you knew was wrong, how would you know the Holy Spirit was convicting you?” Try to get specific statements.)

Has the Spirit convicted you of something? You don’t need to tell me or anyone else, but you do need to tell God and ask His forgiveness. If you have never repented of sin and would like to ask Jesus to forgive you, you can.

Accepting God’s Word

Help your students understand that God wants every person to be His child. No one can make this decision for someone else. Each individual must decide for himself to respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction by repenting of his sin and accepting Jesus as Saviour. Explain our need of salvation and how to receive this free gift from God.

Elderly Woman

An elderly woman shared with me about the history of the village. Nearly 100 years old, she has a son of whom she is justly proud and who holds a high position in the national government.

“If you could live your life over again, what would you do different?” I asked her.

She thought for about a minute and then responded, “I would give more money to the madrassa.” It is easy to see that she is a true devotee of Islam.

Pray for a Spiritual Awakening

1. Light of salvation in Christ to dispel the darkness of Islam,
2. Elderly Machinga to see the deception of Islamic teaching,
3. Grandparents to allow grandchildren the freedom to serve Jesus.

Prayer Promise

"…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10–11).


Memory verse:  John 16:8–9

“When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin... because men do not believe in me.”

1. Sometimes I do things that are not pleasing to God.
2. I trust the Holy Spirit to show me when I have done something wrong.
3. I will be quick to confess, repent and ask for the Holy Spirit's help in the future.

Pray for the Machinga to experience a spiritual awakening.

Study 4 | Prayer Power / Holy Spirit | africaatts.org/go-teach


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