“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 judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;” (John 16:8-11)
The Word of God, and specifically the New Testament, reveals many works of the Holy Spirit. We may be most familiar with the Spirit’s work among believers. This includes regeneration, sealing, indwelling, gifting, baptizing, and filling.
However, He not only works among believers in Christ but also among unbelievers. Today’s text gives us three specific areas in which the Holy Spirit works upon the lost. He convicts the world of sin, He convicts the world of its lack of righteousness and He convicts the world in judgment.
First, He convicts the world of its sin. The word convict (ἐλέγχω; elencho) refers to a rebuke, a reproving and a reproach. The word world (κόσμος; kosmos) in this context means the fallen world system of thoughts and behavior which are rebelliously anti-God. The word sin (ἁμαρτία; hamartia) means to engage in wrongdoing and evil.
The Holy Spirit points out to sinful people when they have done wrong or how they have sinned against God. The reason the fallen world sins is because it does do not believe in Jesus. The world is not committed to, dependent upon, trusting in or worshiping Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior.
Second, He convicts the world of righteousness. The Holy Spirit not only points out to sinners what they have done wrong, but He also shows them what God requires. The word righteousness (δικαιοσύνη; dikaiosyne) means doing what God says is right or righteous from His Word.
More than being a source of moralistic, therapeutic deism, the Holy Spirit brings sinners to an understanding that their self-righteousness before God is comparable to a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6).
Thirdly, the Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment. This refers to the Spirit’s evaluation of a person’s standing before God. The word judgment (κρίσις; krisis) is a legal decision handed down from a judge. As Satan, the ruler of this world, stands condemned before God, so too are those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
As one theologian explains, “The death and resurrection of Jesus were a condemnation of Satan (12:31; Col. 2:15), the prince of this world (cf. John 14:30). By Jesus’ death, He defeated the devil, who held “the power of death” (Heb. 2:14). (Though defeated at the Cross, Satan is still active [1 Peter 5:8]. But, like a condemned criminal, his “execution” is coming [Rev. 20:2, 7–10]. People in rebellion should take note of Satan’s defeat and fear the Lord who holds the power to judge. As the fact of coming judgment (both Satan’s and man’s) is proclaimed, the Spirit convicts people and prepares them for salvation (cf. Acts 17:30–31).”
Immediately prior to my conversion, the Holy Spirit convicted me in all three areas. He convicted me that I was a sinner. He convicted me that my righteousness fell far short of God’s righteousness. He convicted me that I was destined for hell.
It was in His sovereignty that God by His grace regenerated me by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). He made me spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:4). He clothed me in the righteousness of Christ (Zechariah 3:1-5). I no longer stood condemned before God.
Do you have this assurance that your sins are forgiven? Do you know that you are no longer condemned? Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin, righteousness and judgment even at this moment in time?
If so, repent of your sin and trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. May the Holy Spirit regenerate and enable you to become a child of God.
May truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!