Without conviction there is no conversion. Without the recognition of sin there is no need for the Savior. A critical component of the gospel is the recognition that we are all sinners. The vital truth that we need to see is that while we have sinned against other people, we have primarily sinned against the holy, sovereign God of the universe.
It starts with the right comparison. We look around us and think we’re not that bad. Compared to the extremely evil people we might even think we are pretty good. Then God comes along and declares the comparison is not with one another but with Him – “Be holy as I am Holy.” There is no comparison. That is why Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (ESV). Conviction comes first when we understand who we are in comparison to God.
Second, it’s not just a right comparison with God’s character because God also gives us commandments based on His character. God hates sin. He demands holiness in us just as He Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). God’s commands show us what sin is, stop our mouths from boasting in our own righteousness, and legally condemn us (Romans 3:19-20). Once we see that we cannot keep God’s law and that it condemns us, we see our need for a Savior. The final purpose of God’s commandments is to bring us to Christ.
There is a penalty for our sin. We must all realize that we not only fall short of God’s righteous character and His holy commands, but also know there are grievous consequences. God’s Word states clearly that we all are going to give an account for our lives before Him (Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:3-5; Hebrews 10:31; Revelation 20:11-15).
If there is anything that should IGNITE a passion for proclaiming the gospel it should be our general understanding of how conviction works. God saves people; we don’t! That means the gospel never fails because God never fails. God is going to bring all His children under the saving grace and Lordship of Jesus (John 6:37-40). All whom God has foreknew, He predestined, He called, He justified, and He glorified (Romans 8:29-30). God is sovereign in salvation! We can’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully share the gospel. We only fail if don’t share at all.