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CONVICTION (Gr. elenchō, to convince or prove guilty). Conviction is the first stage of repentance, experienced when in some way the evil nature of sin has been brought home to the penitent, and it has been proved to him that he is guilty of it. Although the word “conviction” is never used in KJV, both Testaments give many illustrations of the experience. In the OT one of the most notable is found in Ps.51.1-Ps.51.19, where David, realizing he has sinned against God, is overwhelmed with sorrow for his transgression and cries out to God for forgiveness and cleansing. In the NT the central passage bearing on this theme is John.16.7-John.16.11, where Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (kjv). Here the word “reprove” (niv “convict”) means “convince” (so rsv) or “prove guilty.” The thought is that the Holy Spirit addresses the heart of the guilty and shows how inadequate ordinary standards of righteousness are. The purpose of conviction is to lead to godly repentance.——SB

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)