GOSPEL READING: John 16:5-11
5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 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. 8 And when he comes, he will convince 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 more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Meditation: Why does God seem far from us at times? Separation and loss of relationship often lead to grief and pain. The apostles were filled with sorrow when Jesus spoke about his imminent departure. Jesus explained that it was for their sake that he must leave them and return to his Father. He promised, however, that they would never be left alone. He will send in his place the best of friends, the Holy Spirit.
Paul reminds us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39). By sending the Holy Spirit to his followers, the Lord Jesus makes his presence known to us in a new and on-going way. We are not left as orphans, but the Lord himself dwells within us through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:9; 6:16b).
The work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus tells his disciples three very important things about the work of the Holy Spirit – to convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. The original word for convince also means convict. The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier. He makes us holy as God is holy. He does this first by convicting us of our unbelief and sin and by bringing us humbly to the foot of the Cross. The Spirit convinces us of God’s love and forgiveness and of our utter dependence on God for his mercy and grace. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us from the error of our unbelief and sinful ways and to show us the way of love and truth.
The Jews who had condemned Jesus as a blasphemer and false messiah thought they were serving God rather than sinning when they crucified Jesus. When the Gospel was later preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37), many were pricked in their heart and convicted of their sin. What made them change their mind about Jesus? The Holy Spirit opened their hearts to recognize Jesus as the true Messiah sent by the Father in heaven.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to both convict us of our unbelief and wrongdoing and to convince us of God’s truth. The Spirit convinces us of the righteousness (moral truth and goodness) of Christ, backed by the fact that Jesus rose again and went to his Father. The Holy Spirit also convicts us of judgment. The Spirit gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. God’s judgments are just and good. He not only forgives those who repent of their wrongdoing, he also vindicates the innocent who have been unjustly treated and restores their rights and he rewards those who have done what is just and good. When we heed his judgments we find true peace, joy and reconciliation with God. Do you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life that he may set you free from the grip of sin and set you ablaze with the fire of God’s love?
Come Holy Spirit, and let the fire of your love burn in my heart. Let me desire only what is pure, lovely, holy and good and in accord with the will of God and give me the courage to put away all that is not pleasing in your sight.”
1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the angels I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted above everything your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me, my strength of soul you increased.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures for ever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Whatever is not of faith is sin, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“When the Lord said of the Holy Spirit, ‘He shall convict the world of sin,’ he meant unbelief. For this is what he meant when he said, ‘Of sin because they believed not on me.’ And he means the same when he says, ‘If I had not come and spoken to them, they should not have sin.’ (John 15:22). He was not talking about [a time] before they had no sin. Rather, he wanted to indicate that very lack of faith by which they did not believe him even when he was present to them and speaking to them. These were the people who belonged to ‘the prince of the power of the air, who now works in the children of unbelief’ (Ephesians 2:2). Therefore those in whom there is no faith are the children of the devil because they have nothing in their inner being that would cause them to be forgiven for whatever is committed either by human infirmity, ignorance or any evil will whatever. But the children of God are those who certainly, if they should ‘say that they have no sin, deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them,’ but immediately (as it continues) ‘when they confess their sins’ (which the children of the devil do not do, or do not do according to the faith which is peculiar to the children of God), ‘he is faithful and just to forgive them their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness'” (1 John 1:9). (excerpt from AGAINST TWO LETTERS OF THE PELAGIANS 3.4)