John 16:8-11 (ESV)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. 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.
Jesus told his disciples that the world is wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment, and that the coming of the Holy Spirit would convict the world of its error.
Jesus here tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that will convict the world of its sin. Of course Christians need to inform the world of God’s word and what sin actually is, but too often the Christian speaks to the sinner with disdain and a sneer seemingly to get the worldly one to convert to faith right then and there. And while I cannot claim that many have not had a genuine conversion to faith in this manner, I still don’t think it’s my job to attempt to convict people of sin—because frankly, the Holy Spirit is a much more compassionate convector of sin that I am.
So how is the world wrong about sin? Simply, according to verse 9, anything that attempts to deal with sin without Jesus is incorrect.
Our world is full of the attempt to get to heaven without Jesus, it rejects the words of our Lord from John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me – as too exclusive and not encompassing enough. But I have never done a funeral where the loving family didn’t expect that their loved one was enjoying the fruits of God’s Glory even though they knew well enough that the person was not a follower of Jesus. The world is wrong about sin, when it doesn’t consider itself as sinful and Jesus as sin’s only solution.
It’s often the case that we preachers feel like we are the ones who need to convict people of sin by our many words rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to use our simple proclamation of Christ to convict the sinner. Remember, verse 8 informs us that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin; not the Christian.
In verse 10 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning righteousness because He goes to the Father and the world can no longer see Him.
Too often we look to what we can see and observe in order to determine our own righteousness. We look to whether we are obeying the laws, following the rules, or doing what is moral and right in order to determine if we are righteous or not. This however, is the wrong standard of righteousness. The correct standard of righteousness is not observable by sight or sound or any other standard of physical measure. The correct standard is that of faith: faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ upon the cross.
2 Corinthians 5
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Holy Spirit will have fully convicted us concerning righteousness when we understand that the righteousness of God is not what we do (or don’t do) but what Jesus Christ has already done for us when He died on the Cross; the righteousness of God is not determined from what we can observe from our own actions, but must be believed by faith alone in Him who is not seen.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Finally the world will be convicted concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
The world is obsessed with the future judgment of God upon the world. We talk of the Judgment Day, when Christ will come and judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5). But the good news is that satan has already been found guilty and sin and death defeated when the Christ died on the Cross. Too many of us trudge along each day waiting for The Day to come, when in fact no judgment need yet come.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
When the world is convinced that the judgment of the devil is a present reality, then it will rejoice in the Victory of Jesus.
And so it is that when the Holy Spirit came, He came to convict us concerning the truth about sin, righteousness, and judgement. Have we been convicted concerning these things? If you have not, please be sure to seek the wisdom of Christ by asking the Holy Spirit to convict you of such things right now.