THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE SPIRIT OF CONVICTION
The disciples had a powerful role to play in the spread of God’s kingdom on earth, but so did the Holy Spirit, and they were to be sure that they did not get their roles confused. The disciples’ role was to make disciples by identifying them with and initiating them, through mikvah – ceremonial washing – Into the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything Jesus had taught them. Nothing less, nothing more (Matt. 28: 18-20). This was what Jesus had authorised them to do.
The role of the Holy Spirit was the inward part. It was His work to convince three categories of beings who they were and how they were to respond.
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: 8-11)
This statement of Jesus will confuse us if we do not separate the three categories from one another and apply the appropriate truth to each. Who was He talking about?
- The world
These are the ones who do not believe in Him. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the world? No disciple can convince an unbeliever that he is a sinner. One can use logical arguments and even get him to admit that he is a sinner but that will not convince him to the extent that he will turn to the Lord and receive forgiveness of sins and new life. All he does is give intellectual assent to the truth, but that will not save him.
Only the Holy Spirit, working within the heart and conscience of the sinner, can bring life to a dead spirit by awakening him to the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done. The role of the Holy Spirit in the unbeliever is twofold; He convinces him of sin and points him to the Saviour.
- The believer
It is not the Holy Spirit’s primary role to convict believers of sin. We may think it is because we feel bad when we have sinned. We are tormented by guilt and keep on begging for forgiveness as though we need to be saved all over again. But the Holy Spirit is not the accuser – that’s the devil’s role in the world.
Then of what does the Spirit convince the believer? Jesus said that He convinces believers of righteousness. Why do we need to be convinced of righteousness? Satan plays a pivotal role in the life of a believer. He is called “the accuser of the brethren”. He works very hard to get us to believe that the work of Jesus on the cross was not enough. Every time we wander off the path, he comes at us with all his guns blazing. “You see! You can’t be saved. Look what you’ve done? How can you call yourself a Christian when you did that?” Condemnation heaped upon condemnation! That’s who he is and that’s what he does.
The Holy Spirit comes to convince us that we have been made righteous by the gift of righteousness that comes through Jesus. It’s not what we have done for God. It’s what Jesus has done for us. His sacrifice took care of all our sin for all time. In order to lose our salvation, we would have to make a conscious choice to renounce and walk away from what He has done for us.
God expects us to fail from time to time because we still have the pull of the old nature in us. He does not stand over us with a whip to beat us when we fail. He calls us to live up to the righteousness He has already given us through Jesus. We are His sons and daughters. We are in the process of becoming replicas of Jesus, our rabbi and His Son. We are both righteous in our standing with God and becoming righteous through the purifying work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Righteousness, not condemnation, is our motivation for living in obedience to Him.
- The devil
The devil hears only one word from the Holy Spirit – judgment! He hears no word of comfort – only condemnation 24/7. What he hears, he speaks. How can he hear anything else but judgment when he has sealed his own fate? How can he speak anything else but condemnation when that’s all he hears? He wants to take God’s people down with him, to unsettle them and drag them into doubt with his lies. He is a liar. Lies are the only language he knows.
Jesus had this to say to the religious leaders who claimed that God was their Father in spite of the fact that they were planning to kill Him:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8: 44)
How important that we learn to identify the voices we are constantly hearing! The voice of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is always positive – pointing to Jesus and speaking the truth.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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