Sermon – May 17, 2020

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John 16:4-15 – Conviction and the Spirit (mp3)

The church is left with a daunting task – to persuade a world that hates God and loves their sin to leave their sin and love God. How are we to persuade the world to give up what they love and embrace that which they despise? What logic, what reasons, what beauty can we portray to the wide world that might lead them to Christ? There is none, really. No mixture of words, no special music, no stirring of the heart, can effect the change that the world needs. But we have good news, there is a helper sent to us: the Holy Spirit, who convicts the world and leads them to the repentance and faith that Jesus requires. He does this because he has come to convict the world about:

1. Sin
The Holy Spirit convicts the world about sin because the world doesn’t know Jesus. The entirety of anyone’s past sins hinges on their belief and trust in Jesus. If you believe in him, trust in him, then the work of Jesus on the cross will remove all your sins, as far as the east is from the west. And, at the same time, unbelief will mean that you sins will always hang on you, and nothing that you do can remove them. The Holy Spirit comes to convict the world about their sin.

2. Righteousness
Here is probably the one truly loaded term in this three-fold action of the Spirit. Much can be made out of the nature of the righteousness that the world is being convicted about. Most likely is the fact that they are convicted about Jesus’ righteousness. After all, this is why they don’t believe! If Jesus is right and good in all he says and does, then the ignorance of unbelief would be removed. At the same time, his righteousness becomes the righteousness of all who believe. Just like the Jews believed that their forgiveness would come on the basis of knowing their God – so now that we know the righteousness of Jesus, and are unified with him, we too get his life as our life, his death as our death, his righteousness as ours. He is our God and we are his people!

3. Judgment
The cross is not just a past event, but it is a picture of the future reality. We know who the winners and losers are in this battle. Jesus condemns death and the ruler of this world by his resurrection from the grave. If we know who the winner is, who else would we choose to run with? Why choose the world, when you know the world will lose? The Holy Spirit comes to convict us that, in the end, even those who look like they have lost will win in Christ. That conviction helps to keep us in the faith, just as the previous ones put us in the faith.