The Comforter’s Conviction of Sin

John 15:26; John 16:8,9
       When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
       And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me.

JOHN CLAYTON (1754-1843): The great characteristic of a gracious operation is a conviction of the soul of unbelief in Christ.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The word here translated “reprove” also signifieth to convince.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Convincing work is the Spirit’s work; He can do it effectually, and none but He; man may open the cause, but it is the Spirit only that can open the heart. The Spirit is called the Comforter, and here it is said, He shall convince.

J. C. HARE (1795-1855): The Comforter came to “convince” the world. The Comforter! Does it seem a strange name for Him who came on such an errand? Does it seem to you that, in convincing you of your sins, instead of comforting you, He must needs cover you with shame and confusion, and make you sink to the ground in unutterable anguish and dismay? No, dear brethren, it is not so. Those among you whom the Spirit has indeed convinced of sin, will avouch that it is not. They will avouch that, in convincing them of sin, He has proved that He is indeed the Comforter. If the conviction and consciousness of sin arise from any other source, then indeed it is enough to crush us with shame, and to harrow us with unimaginable fears. But when it comes from the Spirit of God, it comes with healing and comfort on its wings.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): There’s nothing so terrible as the wrath of God, when it looks a soul in the face.

J. C. HARE: Remember what the sin is, of which He convinces us—that we believe not in Christ. All other conviction of sin would be without hope; here the hope accompanies the conviction, and is one with it. If we have a deep and lively feeling of the sin of not believing in Christ, we must feel at the same time that Christ came to take away this along with all other sins.

MATTHEW HENRY: One would think this were cold comfort, but it is the method the Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort; first to lay open the wound, and then to apply healing medicines.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The Spirit of God never heals save as He wounds…He smites men’s consciences to make them judge themselves. The first great step when a man desires to be saved is unqualified self-condemnation…Unbelief is in man’s sight no sin at all whilst in God’s sight, it is of all sins the greatest.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): When therefore the Saviour says, the Spirit shall “convince of sin,” He adds, “because they believe not on me.” And no guilt will affect such a soul like this. And till we are led to the evil heart of unbelief, we overlook the root and the spring of our ruin, and stop only at the branches and the streams.

JAMES DURHAM: Man’s misery is never well known till his original corruption is known, which shows the fountain cause that misery comes from. The corruption of nature being seen, is the most humbling thing. There is nothing so abases man, and heightens God, nor puts man to make use of a Mediator, than the sense of that corruption of nature that man brings with him in the world. This humbled David (Psalm 51) and Paul (Romans 7)―he lays out this to make the righteousness of Christ to be welcomed.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Most under the gospel know that unbelief is a damning sin, and that there is no name to be saved by but Christ’s, yet how few of these know this so as to apply it to their own consciences, and to be affected with their own depraved state.

WILLIAM JAY: In bringing a man to this state, we may observe that, commonly, some one particular sin, gross in its nature, and to which he has been addicted, is charged home upon the conscience. But though it begins, the conviction does not end there; and the man is soon led to more general and more spiritual views of his own depravity; till he discover the natural root of all transgression, which is the heart; and sees it to be “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” But a broad surface is not likely to penetrate; it must be pointed to enter. The indictment which arraigns this criminal, like every other, exhibits some specific charge; and the man exclaims, “O my swearing, my lying, my Sabbath-breaking, my prayerless life!” Thus Peter charged the Jews with crucifying the Lord of life and glory; and “they were pricked in their heart, and said Men and brethren, what shall we do?

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature, the danger they are in of perishing eternally, and that it is of great importance to them that they escape and get into a better state.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Until you realize that, you cannot possible have felt the need of Christ; you may have felt the need of help and advice and comfort, but until you awake to the fact that your nature itself is evil, until you realize that your trouble is not that you do this and that which is wrong, but that you yourself are wrong, and that your whole nature is wrong―until you realize that, you will never have felt the need of a Saviour.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Speak now, poor creature, did ever such an act of the Spirit of God pass upon you as this?

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): Did the sight of your own deformity never make you start?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Oh, my friends, have you yet felt this? God have mercy upon you if you haven’t. You need not be a rotter or a scamp to be a sinner. It makes no difference who you are or what your are, it makes no difference how good you may appear to be or how much good work you may do. You may have been inside the church all your life and actively engaged in its work, but still I say―and I am merely repeating what is said in the Bible―that unless you have at some time or other felt that your very nature itself is sinful, that you are, in the words of Paul, “dead in sins,” then you have never known Jesus Christ as a Saviour, and if you do not know Him as a Saviour, you do not know Him at all. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): No man yet ever did, or ever will believe in Christ, unless he feels his need of Him. No man ever did, or will feel his need of Christ, unless the Spirit makes him…As long as the world stands, we shall need the Holy Ghost, not only as the Comforter, but also as the Convincer, who will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”


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