Summary: On His final night with the disciples, Jesus reassured them that the Holy Spirit would come. He defines in John 16:5-14 three roles the Holy Spirit would have.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
5"Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ’Where are you going?’ 6Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (New International Version)
We all know the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, but what is His role in the life of the believer. Jesus shared with His disciples on His last night with them before He was crucified about the Holy Spirit and how He would strengthen them in adversity.
No doubt the disciples would become afraid and disillusioned when Christ was arrested and crucified. They had spent three years with Him, and suddenly the One whom they believed to be Messiah would be taken away from them. What would they do?
Of course we know that after the crucifixion of Christ, He rose again and spent some time with the disciples, but He soon ascended into Heaven. I am sure after the ascension the disciples must have felt all alone again. Jesus knew the disciples would feel alone, but He also knew they would not be alone.
He knew the Holy Spirit would come and empower them to do the same work He did on the earth. On that last night with the disciples Jesus explained the role the Holy Spirit would play in their lives. Jesus listed three tasks the Holy Spirit would do in His work on earth.
I. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (Jn 16:8-11)
“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
The American Heritage dictionary defines convict as meaning to “find or prove guilty of a crime.” The Greek word for convict is elencho. This word can mean to “expose, rebuke, convince, or prove guilty.” The Spirit does not merely point out our sin, but rather brings us to an undeniable realization of our shame and guilt before God.
Indeed, conviction of sin occurs when we see ourselves in the light of a Holy God. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction book written by Douglas Adams, there is a device that is considered the worst form of torture a person could be subjected to—the Perspective Vortex.
What the Perspective Vortex does is show its victims the entire infinite, unimaginable universe, and where they are in perspective to it all with a tiny marker that says “You are here.” The shock of beings seeing themselves in perspective to the entire universe would be so great that it would destroy their brains.
The main character of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is Zaphod Beeblebrox, an alien with two heads and an ego of cosmic proportions. Well, at one point in the book, Zaphod is sent into the Perspective Vortex. Instead of being destroyed by it, however, he comes out thinking he is the greatest thing in the universe.
When I think of the reality of facing God, however, it is quite a different story. God in one way is like the perspective vortex in Douglas Adams’ story. When we stand before God in light of His holiness and majesty, we see ourselves for who we really are. In our sinfulness, we are completely undone in the light of a Holy God. This is what happened to the prophet Isaiah.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: