Summary: Jesus said the Spirit would convict the world of Sin, Righteousness, and the Coming Judgment. What does that mean, and what difference can it make to us?
OPEN: A woman was taking her mother for a drive, and whenever she went over the speed limit… her mother would give her a hard time. Well. she dismissed her mother’s advice; but it wasn’t long before a State Trooper pulled her over and gave her a ticket. As the policeman was walking away, the woman complained to her mother that the officer could have at least let her off with a warning. Her mother turned to her said “Honey, I gave you the warning. He gave you the ticket.” (Reader’s Digest September 1993)
In our text today, Jesus tells us that part of the Spirit’s job is to give us a warning! Jesus said “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. 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 righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11
Now 1st, I want you to notice WHO Jesus said the Spirit was going to convict. WHO is the Holy Spirit supposed to convict? (the world). Jesus isn’t talking here about the Spirit convicting us – the followers of Christ. I mean, it’s not that the Spirit wouldn’t do that; it’s just that that’s not His focus. The Spirit was sent to convict THE WORLD - to convict the lost. He’s come to convince the world of their need for Jesus - their need to be saved!
Now… why is that important?
ILLUS: Well allow me to share an experience from when I first became a preacher, I was a ball of fire. I knew my Jesus, I knew my Bible, and I knew what was at stake. I was determined to SELL Jesus to anyone who would listen, and I was good at it! I was good at selling Jesus! But then, a few months into my ministry there, I worked for a long time with a young couple and I got them baptized into Christ (PAUSE) and I NEVER saw them again!!!
Now that really upset me. I’d worked hard to get those people to make a commitment to Jesus and they just walked away. That shouldn’t have happened! But then I read THIS passage out of John 16 “when (the Spirit) comes, he will CONVICT the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) and then I realized why I’d failed. It had been all about ME up that point. I was the one trying to the convicting. I didn’t need the Spirit’s help I could do it all by myself. I KNEW how to sell Jesus, I KNEW how to manipulate people. I mean, I’d been in sales for a couple years before entering the pulpit and I knew how it was done.
But once I realized what the Spirit’s job was, I changed. I began to relax. From that time on, I did the witnessing, and I let the Spirit do the convicting. Convicting the lost is not my job! My Job (and yours) is make sure that people know how important Jesus is to us. Our job is to make people jealous of what God has done for us and what He means to us.
Of course, the question is… how does that work? How do I let the Spirit do HIS thing, and then I do MINE? Well, let’s break it down.
1st Jesus said that The Spirit would convict the world concerning SIN. That means: I don’t have to lecture people about their sin - that’s the Spirit’s job.
ILLUS: The Barna Group (they do religious surveys) did an online survey back in April 2011, and they found that fully 1/3 of US adults felt “held back or defined by something in their past”. And about the same number of American adults reported dealing with unresolved emotional conflict or “conflict in life,”
In other words, a lot of people out there knew their SIN is damaging them. They didn’t need your help (or mine) to be told their lives are a mess - they already know that! What they don’t know is how to FIX that!
Now, if someone asks you: is homosexuality a sin? You can reply, “Yeah, the Bible says that.” Is living together without marriage a sin? “Yes.” Is cursing a sin? “Yes.” Is deceiving others and hurting others a sin? “Yes.” You can tell people stuff like that.
But it doesn’t do us any good to NAG non-Christians about their sins. That’s the Spirit’s job. God did not save us to play God and condemn others. Our job is to witness to them. not condemn them. Condemning folks is not your job! (or mine)