by Matt Slick
There are two main reasons for not feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit when a person sins. One is that the person is not born-again, and the Holy Spirit is not indwelling him. Therefore, he would not feel the conviction that the Spirit of God brings.
- John 16:8, "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment"
- Romans 8:9, "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him."
The dire warning here is that such people who have tasted the heavenly gift via the knowledge of what Christ has done on the cross (but have not truly trusted in Christ), are not truly born again, and are then under condemnation.
- John 3:18, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
- Hebrews 10:26, "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,"
Such people are self deceived, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5). They must also realize that there is a false repentance that leads to death (2 Corinthians 7:10). After all, people can be self-deceived, believing they are saved when they are not.
Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith
- 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?"
Paul the apostle tells us to make sure we are in the faith. But that can sometimes be difficult thing to do. How do we know are truly born again? The answer is in Scripture.
- Romans 8:10–13, "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
If a person is truly born again and Christ is in him, then he will not live according to the flesh (v. 12). A true Christian will seek to put to death the deeds of the flesh and live according to the spirit of God. The deed to the flesh are such things as, "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed," (Col. 3:5) and "idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing," (Gal. 5:19-21. See also 1 Cor. 6:9).
Those who are born again, sin because we are still in our fallen form. But, we war against our sin (Romans 7:14-25) in such a struggle is evidence of being born again. After all, dead men do not struggle for life; only those who are alive struggle. Those were dead in their sins, do not struggle against them. But, those who are born again, do.
What to do
If what I've described is you, then you must confess your sins to God. You must ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins. You must receive him (John 1:12) call upon his name (Romans 10:9-10), and receive the forgiveness that Christ brings (1 John 1:9). Trust in Christ, for now is a time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
The other reason a person may not feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit is because he has committed so much sin, that his heart is hardened.
- Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.'"
- Ephesians 4:22, "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,"
In this case, there is a warning for such a person who may indeed be regenerate, but is committing sin enough that he no longer feels conviction. The warning is that God may kill that person.
- 1 Corinthians 5:5, "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
What to do
In this case, if a person's heart is hardened, he must turn to Christ and confess his sins and receive the forgiveness that Christ gives us (1 John 1:7-9). Then, such a person should read the Scriptures and meditate on their truths so that the word of God might indwell that person and be a means by which sin can be resisted. After all, the Scriptures are powerful and convicting (Hebrews 4:12) and performs its work in those who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).