On the Witness of the Holy Spirit

I will send the Advocate to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation

The Lord Jesus here promises to give us the Holy Spirit, who will lead us, the Church, as we proclaim the Gospel to the world. Jesus shows us this by explaining what the Holy Spirit shall do when He comes. As we shall see, His words are a rough outline of the Gospel message.

He will Convict the World of Sin

Before a doctor can deliver the good news of a promising treatment, he must deliver the bad news of a troubling diagnosis. In like manner, no one is in search of a savior unless he realizes that he needs saving. Thus, the first thing: the Holy Spirit must lead the Church to convict the world of is sin. Not merely as a breaking of an arbitrary moral code, but as a violation of man’s relationship with himself, his neighbor, and God.

As a disorder which has thrust man and the rest of the world into a misery which causes him not to do what he wants to do, but what he hates. (cf. Romans 7:15) As a blindness which renders it difficult to see the good. As a weakness which makes the good a burden to do. This is the reality of the Fall and knowing it, is the first step to embracing the salvation that Jesus brings.

He will Convict the World of Righteousness

Jesus says, “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to […] righteousness because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me” (John 16:10). The good news follows swiftly behind the bad: through His Incarnation, Life, Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, Christ has restored us to right relationship with God.

In His unfathomable love, He has opened for us the gates of heaven. We are no longer barred from God by the barrier of sin. Note the emphasis Jesus places on His Person, e.g., “I am going” and “no longer see me”. This salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. As He has come from the Father and returned to the Father, He is the only one that can bring us back to the Father (cf. John 13:3).

He will Convict the World of Condemnation

“Convicting the world” is not a general condemnation, but one directed at “the ruler of this world”, i.e., Satan (John 16:11). Yet the Holy Spirit will convict the world of it because we all shall experience the same judgement, the same division based on how we respond to the Gospel, to the good news of the salvation offered by Christ. We are not merely spectators in the drama of salvation. God has created us with the ability to choose. Jesus highlights here that the choice is ultimately for or against God and that the consequences of that choice are very real.

He will Send us the Advocate

We see that the promised Holy Spirit is being sent to guide the Church in the proclamation of the Gospel to the world. Who would have a hope of salvation if he heard only about sin and condemnation? Who would really receive the good news if he doesn’t first know of sin? By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be emboldened to proclaim these truths to the people that God places in our lives.

[Readings: Acts 16:22-34; Jn 16:5-11]

Connor Szurgot

Through his reversion to the Faith at the end of high school, Connor experienced first hand both the power of grace and the intellectual rigor of the Church’s teachings. He continued to grow his knowledge during his college studies at NC State, where he was also blessed to meet his future wife. He now lives in Raleigh, NC with his beautiful wife and young son, where he is a parishioner of St. Luke the Evangelist. He is excited to give to others some of the fruit that God has given to him and hopes that it can help those who read it grow in holiness. Email: [email protected]

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