Summary: The Holy Spirit has a vital role in our conversion. This lesson shows how the Spirit uses His sword to convict us and to bring us to repentance.
We don’t think about the Holy Spirit’s role in our salvation enough. Whenever we think of the work of God saving us, we tend to think about Jesus' work on the cross, which is understandable. So much of the New Testament focuses on Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for our sins. But we need to also see how vital a role the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation.
We already began to see this in our last lesson. The Holy Spirit has inspired and confirmed both the Old and New Testaments so we don't have to be in the dark when it comes to knowing God's will and what it is we must do to be pleasing to Him. But this is usually where our focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in conversion ends. We at times may fall into the trap of seeing Him as not doing much more than giving us the word of God so we can come to salvation and know how to live as Christians then stepping away from the scene. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Holy Spirit does give us the word, as we saw last week, but He has done more than we give Him credit for at times. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, salvation would not be possible! This lesson and the following two on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit are meant to show us why.
CONVICTION THROUGH HIS PIERCING SWORD
First of all, we know from the New Testament that the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in bringing the sinner to conviction over his/her sin. Jesus says:
“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 depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” -John 16:7-8
Jesus makes it clear that it would be the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of their sin, which is necessary if anyone is to be saved. But how does He do this? He does it through the Gospel. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:12 that the Apostles “have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” The Gospel is a powerful message. It is the message that God the Spirit uses to bring men to salvation. Also take note of 1 Peter 1:22-23:
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever”
The Spirit, through His word, has given us the ability to be born again by the power of God. We obeyed the truth and were born again through the work of the Holy Spirit. He uses His word to convict.
Some may at this point say, “The Holy Spirit only gave us the word so we can know what we must do to be saved. Other than this, He is not that active in the process." Whenever we stop at the Holy Spirit only giving the word then backing away from the scene), we miss what Jesus said earlier about the Holy Spirit. When the Gospel is being preached, the HOLY SPIRIT is the one who is convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We at times separate the sword of the Spirit from the one who is wielding it! (see Ephesians 6, Hebrews 4:12)
Consider the following illustration:
Whenever a plumber comes over to your house to fix something, do you give the tools all of the credit for doing the job? Or after your mechanic fixes the car, do you say, “Well, I gotta hand it to your wrenches and other tools. They did a mighty fine job fixing my car?” No. The mechanic gets the credit for the work he did.
The same should be the case with the Spirit of God. He is the One working. Jesus didn't say that when the word of God comes, it will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He said, “And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” We must give credit where it is due! We were born again through the word of God. We obeyed the truth. But this happened because the working of the Holy Spirit. This, in my opinion, is what makes the Bible different from every other book. This is what makes it living and active: the One who is wielding it! We must give credit to the One using the tool and not give all of the credit to the tools. The tools play a part in the work being done, but they cannot do anything unless they are used by the worker.