How Does God Convict the World? – John 16:8-15

How Does God Convict the World?
We heard last week here in John 16 of the warning Jesus gave His disciples, that they would be persecuted and some of them even put to death for following Christ and preaching the Gospel. And he had told them these things so that when it all happened they would not be shocked or dismayed and lose heart.

Date: February 26, 2012
Title: How Does God Convict the World?
Scripture: John 16:8-15
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont, Higgins Lake Baptist Church
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Just the opposite would happen. They would not lose heart — instead they would remember that Jesus had warned them and they would believe all the more — they would be encouraged and strengthened as they lived and served for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. Seeing the prophetic words of Christ fulfilled would give them courage to even die for the sake of the Gospel.

But not only did Jesus tell them they’d remember these things, he also gave them another word of encouragement. He knew they were greatly saddened that he would be leaving them. So concerned for themselves were they that according to verse 5 they weren’t even asking where he was going.

But then Jesus gives them these encouraging words. And these are no empty words — this was prophetic truth when he told them in verse 7 that they would receive the Helper.

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Far better off they would be, having the indwelling presence of the Helper to strengthen, encourage, embolden and even give words to them to testify of Christ as they were persecuted and even killed.

And if we don’t think the Helper coming to the disciples made a huge difference in their lives and ministry, all we have to see is the difference between how they responded when Christ was taken from them and how they ministered with great boldness and effectiveness after they received the indwelling presence of the Spirit at Pentecost.

Before the Helper came to them they were weak and fearful and ran. After the Holy Spirit came to them they ministered in the face of great trial and tribulation and yet stood fast for the cause of Christ with great courage and boldness. So obviously the Holy Spirit was at work in them.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would do even more than embolden and equip them as they served Him. Now we come to verses 8-15 and Jesus says,

8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;

10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;

11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

So now we hear that the Holy Spirit will do even more than empower and prepare the disciples for faithfulness to God. The ministry of the Spirit will be more than a private ministry in His disciples. Note what the Holy Spirit will do according to verse 8.

Verse 8 says the Helper will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

Now when we think of being convicted in New Testament terms, the way it’s used here, it means being shown ones sin and being called to repentance. And if you’re a believer you know how God still convicts you of sin in your own life. When you sin you feel guilt and that guilt calls you to confess to God that you’ve sinned against Him. You confess and He forgives.

Along with that is a turning from sin and toward righteousness. Meaning, if you truly are sorrowful for your sin, then not only do you admit to God that you’ve sinned, and not only do you thank Him for His forgiveness, but you also turn away from that sin and toward doing what is righteous.

And I would suggest that one reason the follower of Christ turns toward righteousness and from sin is because he or she is grateful to God that the judgement for their sins was once and for all poured out on Jesus Christ and not on them.

But here in verse 8 we learn that the Helper, the Holy Spirit will also convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement. Bible scholars admit that this is a difficult passage to understand. But I want to try to state in simple terms what I think we’re seeing here.

First, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction and guilt on the world for their sin. The sin for which Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty. But those who reject Christ will not receive forgiveness for sins. So verse 9 says, concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;

The Holy Spirit will also confront the world with the righteousness of Christ. All are sinners, according to Romans 3:10, none is righteous, no not one. But because of the righteousness of Christ there’s forgiveness of sins. And Christ would be crucified and following His resurrection would ascend to the Father. And certainly Christ’s resurrection and ascension testifies to the righteousness of Christ and His oneness with the Father. So verse 10 says, concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.

Then the Holy Spirit will also convict the world concerning judgement — says verse 11, concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. So Satan is judged to be the deceiver he is and is defeated by Christ and Jesus Christ is revealed to be the Righteous One.

But note what we’re told here about how the Holy Spirit will do this convicting work in the world. And this is just as important for believers today to understand this as it was for Jesus’ disciples and the early church.

If we go back to verses 7 and 8 we hear to whom the Helper is sent and we get a pointer to how God chose to have the Holy Spirit do this work of convicting.

Listen to verses 7 and 8 again, where Jesus says, not that He’s sending the Helper to the world but that He’s sending the Helper to believers.

7 …I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world…

So the Holy Spirit is sent to believers and by way of the work of the Spirit in and through believers, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

So what we’re learning here is that the Helper will come upon believers and will certainly comfort and and equip believers, but also working through believers will bring conviction on the world.

But how does the Holy Spirit work through believers to convict the world?

Very simply, God does it through believers who walk in obedience to His Word. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and Christ’s righteousness and the judgement of those who reject Christ through the faithful living and witnessing of believers.

You see, God doesn’t just turn his children loose in the world and say, “let’s see what happens”. He gives us His Spirit and the Spirit emboldens and equips us for a faithful and powerful witness to the world. But there’s even something more here that the Spirit works in believers.

In verse 12 Jesus told the disciples there was much more he wanted them to know but they weren’t ready for it yet? Why? Because they didn’t yet have the Spirit revealing truth to them. Let’s look again at verses 12-15.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

So followers of Christ are not only given the enabling of the Helper, but are also given the guiding of the Helper — a guiding into all the truth.

Jesus knew there was more they needed to know, but instead of telling it to the disciples then he promised that the Helper, the Spirit of truth would guide them into the truth.

And you, if you are a follower of Christ, have great reason for joy today because you also have the Helper to guide you into all the truth. The Spirit of truth has been given to you so that as you humbly read God’s Word, you are changed. And having read the Word and having been guided by the Spirit to understand the truth you move from your reading of the Word of truth not to doing your own thing but to doing God’s thing.

And as you do God’s thing — the things that please God and bring Him glory you are a living breathing testimony and witness and the Spirit of God uses your life to declare truth to the world.

Your life lived for Christ is how God has chosen most often to reveal His convicting truth in this world.

As you submit yourself to the Word of God, and as the Spirit of truth does His illuminating work with the Word in your heart, changing you, He uses you as a powerful witness to the watching world.

So, will you allow yourself to be the channel by which God calls sinners to repentance? Will you read and trust His Word? And will you take daily steps of obedience?

Photo by: Rudolf Getel (Creative Commons)