Is Conviction an Emotion?


If something from the Bible points to an area of sin in our lives, we have a responsibility to respond whether or not our feelings confirm what we’ve read.

If we aren’t feeling convicted, does that mean that there isn’t sin in our lives that we should respond to? 

I think the answer is clearly no. 

The Bible gives us evidence for at least two other means the Lord uses to point out sin in our lives. The first is His Word. The second is our Christian brothers and sisters.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “ For the word of God is living and active. Sharper that any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God’s Word has the ability to judge our thoughts and attitudes. In other words, it has the power to convict us.

For many of us, this seems to be a painful Truth. In the face of Biblical evidence that something we are doing or thinking or feeling is wrong we tend to want to revert back to our emotions. “Well, I don’t feel guilty about that,” or “ God hasn’t convicted me about that, so I don’t need to give it up.”

This is a big lie with dangerous consequences. If a Truth from God’s Word points out an area of sin in our lives, we have a responsibility to respond whether or not our feelings confirm what we’ve read.

The Bible gives us a second source of conviction, the words of others. Before we get into this, I want to warn you it's tricky. Job’s friends thought he must haved sinned in order to deserve the calamity that came upon him (Job 4, 5,8 and 11). They were wrong. And we are repeatedly told not to judge others. Romans 2:1 says, “ at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus warns us not to go around pointing out a speck in our friend’s eye before removing the plank from our own eye. In other words, don’t announce everyone else’s little sins without dealing with your own sin. But the Bible does call us to correct and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.

2 Timothy 4:1-3 says, “ In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word: be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

James 5: 20 says, “ Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

The Bible clearly asks us to be speakers of Truth to our Christian brothers and sisters. This includes correcting, rebuking, and turning them from the error of his/her way.

If we are to do this for others, doesn’t it stand to reason that they should do it for us? I know in my life, God has often used a Christian brother or sister who came to me in love to help me see an area of sin in my life.

All this leads me to an important conclusion—conviction of sin is more than a feeling. It is possible to respond to sin without having an emotional reaction. What’s more, we should be diligent about turning from sin even when we don’t feel guilty or ashamed.

How about you? Has there ever been a time in your life when God used His Word or another person to point out sin? Can you think of any further evidence to back up my claim that conviction is more than a feeling?

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