Jesus promised the apostles he would send them the Holy Spirit that he might convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.
8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
There are only two ways the Spirit could convict the world of sin. First, by direct impact of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit, or Second, by the use of means fitted to do the work.
The fact that Jesus promised to send the Spirit to the apostles instead of to the world implies:
…that he intends for the Spirit to convict men of sin, not by the direct method, but by the indirect, by the use of means which can accomplish the purpose.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come to the apostles speaking:
13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
This seems to imply that the Holy Spirit would accomplish his mission, convicting the world of sin, by speaking. This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff)
The Holy Spirit came to the apostles, not to the sinners to be convicted. When the Spirit came to the apostles, they began to speak as the Spirit game them utterance. Thousands of men were convicted of their sins and asked the apostles what to do for forgiveness. (Acts 2:37, 38)
Acts 2:37, 38
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
No one is ever convicted of sin unless it is done by the Holy Spirit; he is still in the business of convicting men of sin today.
But he DOES NOT DO the work by coming into the heart of the sinner and doing his work in some incomprehensible manner better felt than told.
While he does not give the preacher the word in the same manner now that he did on Pentecost, the preacher must use the words of the Holy Spirit to convict sinners.
So the conviction is brought about by the Holy Spirit just as much now as on the day of Pentecost. One may be convicted of sin and yet not be saved. Conviction simply means a realization of one’s lost condition on account of his sins and a fear of the punishment which will follow. After being convicted of sin, people asked what to do for remission and they were told to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of their sins. (Acts 2:38) When they obeyed the commandment , they were saved, they became children of God. l Paul preached the gospel to Felix and convicted him of sin, but Felix was not willing to do what people must do to get forgiveness (Acts 24:24, 25).