If we consider those periods from the apostolic age onwards when the Gospel was advanced with the greatest success in the world and conversions have been multiplied, then ask what element was evident at those times that is lacking today, the absence of conviction of sin must be noted first of all. Martyn Lloyd-Jones rightly pointed out that the greatest problem of the present day church is that she is far too "healthy". The church shows little consciousness of spiritual need or distress. As J.S. Sinclair, a twentieth-century Free Presbyterian minister, writes:
Today the sense of sin is absent from many supposed conversions. The important change is now generally reduced to one category, decision for Christ. All that the convert is expected to say is that he believes and intends to follow Christ. There is no word of conviction of sin, and ruin, and helplessness. A lost sinner, crying to the Lord for mercy and pardon and faith through Jesus Christ, and not ceasing until he is helped and saved from above, is not the newer Christian at his beginnings. He believes and decides by his own native ability with hardly a pang of conscience, and this is what is called conversion.
In all periods of revival and spiritual prosperity, including the Puritan era, a sense of sin is common. ...
Genuine revivals are always accompanied by profound conviction of sin.
Hat Tip: Old Truth