Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 25, 2011

He “will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”.

Today’s devotion is John 16:5-11.
 
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 
                                   
 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
                                    

 “But 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 He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;

 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

 10  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;

 11  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”  John 16:5-11. 

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Verses 8 through 11 are particularly puzzling.  Calvin helps us understand them in His Commentary.  There are three steps.  Following my brief description of these three steps, I quote part of what Calvin states about each step.

First, the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin.

“The import of these words is as if he had said, “When the Spirit is come, he will produce full conviction that, apart from me, sin reigns in the world;”  and, therefore, unbelief is here mentioned, because it separates us from Christ, in consequence of which nothing is left to us but sin.  In short, by these words he condemns the corruption and depravity of human nature, that we may not suppose that a single drop of integrity is in us without Christ.”

Second, the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning righteousness.

“By righteousness must here be understood that which is imparted to us through the grace of Christ.  Christ makes it to consist in his ascension to the Father, and not without good reason;  for, as Paul declares that he rose for our justification, (Romans 4:25) so he now sits at the right hand of the Father in such a manner as to exercise all the authority that has been given to him, and thus to fill all things,  (Ephesians 4:10.)  In short, from the heavenly glory he fills the world with the sweet savor of his righteousness.  Now the Spirit declares, by the Gospel, that this is the only way in which we are accounted righteous.  Next to the conviction of sin, this is the second step, that the Spirit should convince the world what true righteousness is, namely, that Christ, by his ascension to heaven, has established the kingdom of life, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, to confirm true righteousness.”

Third, the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment.

The meaning therefore is, that Satan, so long as he retains the government, perplexes and disturbs all things, so that there is an unseemly and disgraceful confusion in the works of God;  but when he is stripped of his tyranny by Christ, then the world is restored, and good order is seen to reign.  Thus the Spirit convinces the world of judgment;  that is, having vanquished the prince of wickedness, Christ restores to order those things which formerly were torn and decayed.”


Responses

  1. I don’t believe Calvin answered the question of the need of the Holy Spirit to convict a totally depraved mankind from those who are the elect. It doesn’t make sense to me when the “dead” can’t respond anyway.

    • Thank you for your comment.

      I think the most relevant part of Calvin’s quote to your comment is the following: “The import of these words is as if he had said, “When the Spirit is come, he will produce full conviction that, apart from me, sin reigns in the world;” and, therefore, unbelief is here mentioned, because it separates us from Christ, in consequence of which nothing is left to us but sin. In short, by these words he condemns the corruption and depravity of human nature, that we may not suppose that a single drop of integrity is in us without Christ.”

      In my words of summary, there is hope for the elect, who although may be currently unbelieving before the work of the Spirit, will be convicted of his sin and totally depraved nature and be drawn by the Spirit to Christ.

      Likewise, we read of the role of the Spirit in 1 Corintians 14:24: “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”


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