I wonder—when was the last time you heard another Christian preach or speak about conviction of sin? When was the last time you saw someone on the brink of salvation in tears of anxiety and burden because of a distinct awareness of their sinfulness? It seems to me that true conviction is not present as much as it should be today. If Spurgeon is right, if anyone has not experienced it, we should be very concerned about the validity of their salvation.
“First, regeneration will be shown in conviction of sin. This we believe to be an indispensable mark of the Spirit’s work; the new life as it enters the heart causes intense inward pain as one of its first effects. Though nowadays we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation, we are very dubious as to the value of such healings and justifyings. This style of things is not according to the truth. God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law.
When you meet with persons in whom there is no trace of conviction of sin, you may be quite sure that they have not been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit; for “when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” When the Spirit of the Lord breathes on us, He withers all the glory of man, which is but as the flower of grass, and then He reveals a higher and abiding glory. Do not be astonished if you find this conviction of sin to be very acute and alarming; but, on the other hand, do not condemn those in whom it is less intense, for so long as sin is mourned over, confessed, forsaken, and abhorred, you have an evident fruit of the Spirit. Much of the horror and unbelief which goes with conviction is not of the Spirit of God, but comes of Satan or corrupt nature; yet there must be true and deep conviction of sin, and this the preacher must labour to produce, for where this is not felt the new birth has not taken place.”