“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; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
And when He comes, He will convince 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 more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:4-11
There is a lot going on in these eight verses that are very important for us to understand regarding our trust in God. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 men and women gathered in the Upper Room who were praying for God’s will to be done in their lives. (See Acts 2)
The Holy Spirit fell on them with the sound of a mighty wind and flames of fire rested over the heads of each praying person. These two elements, wind and fire, symbolize the power and purifying strength of the Holy Spirit that would now inhabit these men and women and transform them into evangelists of the Kingdom of God.
When we read the Gospels there is nothing outstanding in the lives of the disciples. They often didn’t understand what Jesus was teaching, they thought the Kingdom of God was a military adventure; they couldn’t comprehend the miracles, signs and wonders that accompanied Jesus’ ministry. But after Pentecost these were not the same men. Now they were emboldened and strengthened because the Holy Spirit dwelt within them, and through the Spirit God dwelt within.
The role of the Spirit is to bring judgment on the world. Every man and women, boy or girl in the entire world has to make a decision regarding the cross of Christ. The Holy Spirit filling us with joy, wonder, excitement, assurance and peace regarding our salvation through the cross then compels us by our love for God to share the joy of salvation to the lost. This presentation of the cross is what brings judgment because everyone must make a decision on whether or not they desire Jesus to enter into their lives and receive salvation.
When Jesus lived on this earth He was one person in one body, but now that He is leaving to return to Heaven, the Holy Spirit (Counselor) can come and dwell within the hearts of each of us. This is what Jesus is saying in John 16. The Holy Spirit working through us will convict the world of sin, which does not believe in Jesus.
In his little book, The Gospel of the Kingdom George Eldon Ladd writes, “The root of sin is found in his (humanity) refusal to acknowledge in grateful dependence the gifts and goodness of God” (Rom.1:21). He further points out, “The primary manifestation of satanic influence and of the evil of This Age is religious; it is blindness with reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How often we fail to understand satanic devices! A man may be a cultured, ethical and even religious person and yet be in demonic darkness. Satan’s basic desire is to keep men from Christ. His primary concern is not to corrupt morals nor to make atheists nor to produce enemies of religion. Indeed religion which rests upon the assumption of human adequacy and sufficiency is an enemy of the light. This is the character of the Age of this world: darkness.” p. 31
For Ladd the root of evil stems from, blindness, darkness, and unbelief. Notice carefully what Ladd is saying to us, sin is a refusal to allow Jesus to reign within our hearts and be Lord of our lives. This is the great goal of Satan and he works tirelessly to keep us from having the blinders removed and experiencing the wonders of grace.
Ladd is not pulling his beliefs out of thin air but roots them deep in Scripture. “And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Paul goes on in the next verses to show that the antidote to Satan’s (lord of this world) holding the world captive is Jesus.
And how does the world hear about Jesus? Through our preaching and teaching of the Gospel of God’s unlimited grace and love. The Holy Spirit whispers into the ear of every person the truth of God’s amazing grace and He pleads with each individual to open the door to his/her heart and let Jesus in.
The Spirit convicts us of sin and turns our hearts to the righteousness of Christ that clothes us in His salvation gift. As the Spirit ministers to every person each one has to decide to let God into their heart or resist Him and continue to live blinded by the god of this Age.
When the Spirit enters our life the blinders fall away and we see Jesus standing before us in the light of our redemption and salvation. When we accept Jesus into our hearts we become “in Christ” and that means we have such a deep connection to God that He actually dwells within us through the ministry of His Spirit.
There is no reason for us to live broken and defeated lives because the Holy Spirit lives within us. Yes, we will fall, stumble and mess up until the day Jesus returns for us, but we are not blind unbelievers. When we surrender our hearts to Jesus we are transformed into “children of God” and we cannot be snatched out of God’s hand. The Spirit works in us and through us to allow Jesus to be ruler of our lives and give us the strength and courage to share the Gospel with the world.
Remember the quote from George Eldon Ladd? Go back and read it again. Look carefully at what he is saying. He says that what Satan wants more than anything in this world is to cause men to rely upon their own strengths and abilities and not upon the grace of God. Satan has stormed the walls of the church when men and women begin to believe they can do anything to earn merit with God. Legalism is the great tool of Satan that keeps so many earnest Christians from depending upon the goodness and wonder of the cross.
Let me close by saying this. Too many wonderful people have rejected Christ because they never saw Jesus, but a caricature of Him as played out in the legalism and judgmental views of Christians. Take the time right now to pray that God will fill you with His Spirit and overwhelm you with a love for the lost. If you seek God’s will it will be revealed. Our lives will be transformed from nominal and a bit indifferent Christians to powerhouses of the Holy Spirit filled with a mission.
I long for a deeper and more sincere walk with Jesus where my words have power and authority because they are not my words but the words of the Spirit working through me. The world is in darkness and captive to the lord of this Age and God has determined that humans filled with the Holy Spirit will be His messengers of hope to this lost world.
Are you with me?
* The persecution continues even though it’s seldom reported in the media. Our prayers are needed for those we do not know but share the same belief that we are all redeemed citizens of the Kingdom of God. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/