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Day 14: The Conviction of the World

"I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." – John 16:1-11

Text: John 16:9-11

John 14-16 is known as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. John has showed much of Jesus’ public ministry so far in his Gospel, but now the apostle transitions, giving the reader a look into Jesus’ last private teaching to His beloved disciples before He goes to the cross. Our Savior prepares His friends for what is coming, particularly His death, resurrection, and ascension; He also teaches them many things about the Holy Spirit: 1.) He will send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, 2.) the role of the Spirit in their lives as the Spirit of Truth, the Helper, and the Comforter, and 3.) in this final section, He teaches the disciples about the Spirit’s role in convicting the world. This third piece is what we will look at today.


Concerning Sin

"Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; " - John 16:9

The immediate context of this section is Jesus’ prophecy about the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. That is important to keep in mind; otherwise, we might think that Jesus is saying that people are sinners because they do not believe in Him. Instead, we should see this first as a picture of what happens during Pentecost in Acts 2. Peter preaches to the crowd, and they are cut to the heart concerning their specific sin: Jesus was their Messiah, but they did not believe in Him (Acts 2:37). And this is how the Spirit always works to draw people to the Lord. He first convinces (that is, convicts) us of our sin and misery, and thus our need for the Savior.

Concerning Righteousness

"Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer;" – John 16:10

Next, He convicts the crowd of righteousness. What in the world does that mean? Jesus tells us in the second part of that verse. He is going to the Father. Why does Jesus connect conviction of righteousness with His departure from this the world? Here our Savior sums up His death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation in one statement. In His resurrection the Father would vindicate Him, and He would prove to the people (and to the world) that Jesus is the Righteous One. (Acts 2:22-24, 36). Further, as He is the Righteous One, and they put Him to death, they prove themselves unrighteous. So they were convicted of His Righteousness, their own unrighteousness, and brought to an understanding that God that through Jesus, the unrighteous sinner can be made righteous before God (Acts 2:38-39). Again, this is how the Spirit operates in general: after convincing of particular sins, He convinces us of our unrighteousness and opens our eyes to the righteousness provided to us in Christ.

Concerning Judgment

"Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." – John 16:11

Finally, Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will convict concerning judgment. What does this mean? Again, we turn to the account of Pentecost for clarification. In condemning Jesus to death on the cross, the people at Pentecost had rendered judgment against the true ruler of this world. They condemned Him as an unrighteous sinner, hated by God, and hung Him on a tree. But their judgment could not stand. As we said above, in the resurrection, the Father vindicates His Son. When Jesus bursts forth from the grave, the judgment they made against Him was reversed. The implication cannot be missed: Jesus is proved not guilty, and that proves you are guilty. Because they erred in condemning Jesus, they now stand condemned before God. In this way the Spirit opens their eyes (and our eyes as well) to their need of the Savior, and in doing so, He moves them to cast themselves upon Christ for their salvation.

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