Conscience or Conviction?

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”—Acts 2:37 (NKJV) 

Have you ever experienced callous skin? The callous skin on my palms makes it hard for me to a feel pain on my palms. For instance, if I poked the callous skin with a needle, I wouldn’t feel the prick until the needle penetrated the hardened skin. 

Living without the conviction of the Holy Spirit is much like the above illustration. We can try our best to live a good, moral, and ethical life, but our hearts become very callous to the framework God has established for how we should live our lives. As a result, we dance to the beat of the drum that culture orchestrates, sadly missing out on the beauty of living according to God’s Word. 

The beauty surrounding the message of the gospel is that it moves us beyond culture into action. Peter shared the gospel to those he addressed in Acts 2. Their response was to take action immediately. They wanted to find out what they needed to do next. The text says that when they heard the message Peter shared they were “cut to the heart.” This is to imply that conviction immediately took place in their hearts as they came into agreement with their sinful state and their need for a Savior.

Friends, as the Holy Spirit takes residence in our hearts and we experience true regeneration, our desire to grow and deepen our relationship with Jesus heightens. As we cultivate this relationship with Christ, we become increasingly sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. For example, when we sin, we will begin to experience conviction regarding the particular sin we committed. This conviction then calls us to action, which is to repent. Examine King David’s response when he committed adultery: Once he was confronted and came into agreement with his sinful act, we see a broken man who repented for what he had done (Psalm 51). 

The Holy Spirit confronts us when we sin, moving us to take action. It’s quite natural for us to sin and wander off the righteous path the Lord sets before us (Romans 3:23). I’m just glad the Holy Spirit resides in me and confronts and convicts me of my sins, all the while helping to lead me back onto the path of righteousness (Psalm 23).


DIG: Read Psalm 51, Romans 3, and Psalm 23.

DISCOVER: Think about the difference between your ethical conscience and Holy Spirit-led conviction.  

DISPLAY: As the Holy Spirit convicts you of unrighteous deeds, repent. Learn from your mistakes and grow more mature through the experience. Others will look on and see your spiritual growth as well!

About the Author

Darren Bennett