The words of Jesus were wounding his disciples, because they weighed so heavily on their hearts. He was talking about leaving them, coming persecution, and loads of other things that sounded bad, though they couldn’t quite grasp it all. Their grief was keeping them from even asking the right questions to get clarification on what they were hearing. That’s alright. Jesus knew that eventually they would come to understand, and we too would benefit from this recorded conversation.
So, let’s take a big chunk of John 16 today, as we need it to understand where Jesus was going with all this too:
Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your own good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
(John 16:5-11 NIV)
While we know the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus refers to here as the Counselor, as the person of the Trinity who fills us, guides us, helps us to understand scripture, and many more wonderful things, in this passage, Jesus is telling his followers that the Spirit has an even more expansive role that might be hard to hear.
Christ returned to the Father to enable the Spirit to work, not only in the lives of believers, but the world.
The work of the Holy Spirit in relation to the world all dealt with the world’s reaction to Jesus. It’s important here to know that the use of the word world is to designate any and all who reject Jesus and his purpose of redemption. It’s that rejection that the Holy Spirit addresses with conviction of guilt.
What are the three convictions?
There is a time when the Holy Spirit will prove the world got it wrong. They got it wrong in thinking they could live as they please, according to their earthly lusts and sinful desires.
There is a time when the Holy Spirit will prove the world got it wrong in relation to who Jesus was as the righteous Son of God, who died for our sins, rose from the grave to defeat sin and death, and now stands at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
There is a time when the Holy Spirit will prove the world got it wrong about judgment, because it is coming and it will last for eternity.
When does that conviction come? Perhaps at a time of great crisis. Maybe when a person faces death. Ultimately, it will be upon Christ’s return.
Remember these verses?
For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11 (CSB)
Knees will bow upon his return, some willingly in adoration and worship, while others in fear and trembling out of conviction by the Spirit. Either way, all will know that Jesus Christ is Lord. There’s no getting around it.
Have you been under the Spirit’s conviction? I pray you yielded and surrendered your life to Christ the first time, because there’s a conviction coming with no turning back allowed.
May our world heed the truth of our sinful estate, the gift of our righteous redeemer, and freedom from judgment before the Spirit proves them wrong.
Grace and Peace