What does it mean to say that unbelief is a sin? Does the Holy Spirit really convict the world of sin? The word translated convict really means to reprove or to show, to convince, or even to prove. What would the Holy Spirit do to show or convince the world of sin? The word, convict, is a legal term. The law is gone, so convicting of sin is not what this is about. You can’t be convicted of violating something that doesn’t exist.

But on the day of Pentecost, Jews were pricked to the heart (there is nothing stated that the Holy Spirit did this) and realized they had not believed their Messiah had come – and many believed at that time. I’d call that a fulfillment of Jesus’ statement. They had missed it, but then some believed. That does not mean the rest of the world is sinning by not believing, especially when they have not even heard and had a chance to believe. The Jews had 3 years at least. And, again, the thing to remember here is that this is fulfilled!

Think about it. Does it sound like Jesus to say that there will be sin remaining after He did what He came to do? Preposterous. Only those who are still hung up on “sin” would say this.

The Holy Spirit came to call to mind what Jesus said. We did not hear Jesus in person, but we have the gospel witness, and the apostles. They heard Him, and knew God had said that Jesus was His beloved Son, and to hear Him.

It is not the job of the Holy Spirit to convict those in the world. It’s His place to show the believer the truths of God. I don’t want to split hairs too finely. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible or wise to try and figure it all out. My point is that we should not make the Holy Spirit into some sort of judge that convicts people by the law that they are not under.

When we, as believers, feel we have missed the target of godliness, it is grace, the divine influence of God in our hearts, which is showing us the truth. It does work by the Holy Spirit, I think, for the work of grace is a lot like the fruit of the spirit. Grace teaches us to leave ungodliness and follow godliness. It’s not done by convicting or by guilt, but by recognition.