The Reading: Acts 2:37-42
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart” (v.37) RSV
Some weeks ago you may have read in these readings that the Holy Spirit would “Convince/convict the world of sin” (John 16:8). Well, here on the day of Pentecost we have a supreme example of that happening. Peter has preached a message that declares the meaning of God’s mighty works, and has then specifically homed in on his hearers’ failure to believe in Jesus. Indeed they had positively failed to recognise, and had been party to, his rejection and crucifixion.
The Holy Spirit never gives a general sense of failure, for that is the work of the Devil (the Accuser of the brethren). Rather, he deals with the key to all sin, which is disbelief in Jesus, as he himself explained: “of sin because they do not believe in me.” (John 16:9). All sins are merely a manifestation of Sin. And Sin is the rejection of God and rebellion against him. Once we are separated from him and so are not living by faith and love, then all our lives are tainted by Sin and fall short of his purposes. We do not glorify him.
The kindly Holy Spirit does not bring condemnation but conviction. His purpose is not to produce guilt, but to lead us to repentance and a change of life. The word ‘repentance’ means ‘to change’; it does not mean to grovel! God wants to lead us out of a futile life, however pleasant or unpleasant it is, and to enable us to have “life, abundant life.” (John 10:10).
The Holy Spirit spoke through the life and testimony of that collection of disciples and through the preaching of Peter. He continues to speak in many and various ways – sometimes simply in our own conscience. Let us not be afraid but welcome his cleansing and healing conviction.
Lord, we thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. May he first do his work in us, and then by your grace use our lives and words to bring the world into a saving knowledge of your Son, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
1 What was Isaiah’s reaction when God drew near to him?
2 How should we respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction?
Hebrews 4:7, 11-13