But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8 NKJV
I often find myself answering questions about how the Holy Spirit works, and how exactly we hear God speak through Him in our lives. I find, too, that many are unfamiliar with the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, so today I want to possibly clarify that role and explain how the Spirit works through us.
First of all, I want to share a few verses with you, and identify an often overlooked point which is very important concerning how the Holy Spirit works.
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. John 15:26 NKJV
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. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:7-11 NKJV
I think the most important word in all of the verses we have read so far is the word you. Why is that? Because so often I find believers thinking the Holy Spirit is all around us, "here" somewhere, as well as inside of us. However I think Jesus was trying very hard to make the point in these verses, as well as others, that the Holy Spirit is in us and not the world around us. Jesus specifically states that the Holy Spirit would be sent to believers, and would then do His work through us.
What then is His work, and how does He accomplish that through us? Look carefully at verse 8 where is says plainly that His work on this earth is to convict. Then, if it will help, insert the words "to you" after the phrase "when He comes". You see, even though they are not there, after saying it so many times previously, and examining the context carefully, Jesus is plainly stating that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world "through us". Since the Holy Spirit comes to us, our lives become the means by which He convicts the world.
Jesus then goes on to state there are three specific things He is concerned with and wants to convict the world of. These are sin, righteousness, and judgement. When we consider the term "convict", we oftentimes feel it has a negative, damning sort of condemnation type of feeling. I don't believe, however, that this is exactly what was intended. I want to share an explanation that has helped me see the idea of "convicting" in a different light, and it comes from Charles C. Ryrie, who has an excellent Study Bible with notes that I have used for many many years in my own personal study. This explanation is in his footnotes for this passage.
"To convict means to set forth the truth of the Gospel in such a clear light that men are able to accept or reject it intelligently: i.e., to convince men of the truthfullness of the Gospel."
In other words, the Holy Spirit will do His work as others are exposed to the truth of the Gospel based on what they see in our lives, and what we say in order to explain why we live the way we do. Understand that in a world without the knowledge of God, there is no conviction because there are no absolutes. This is Satan's master plan; convincing people there is no reason to feel guilty because there is no God, and no such thing as sin. This then, explains the three points the Holy Spirit is concerned with "convicting" the world about.
One...Sin. When the world looks at us, they should see Jesus. In v.9 Jesus says the world is not convicted of sin "because they do not believe in me". The purpose of the church, the body of believers, is to bring Jesus before the world for them to see. The whole purpose of Christ's life, death, and ressurrection was to atone for sin. We need to make the world aware of the person of Jesus.
Two...Righteousness. In v.10 Jesus says when the world looks at us, they should see a different way of life, with different standards of behavior. That is why Jesus said He was going to the Father; with Him gone, the world would now look to His followers to see what they once saw in Jesus' life. We need to imitate the life Jesus led so the world can see Him through us and be convinced there is a different way to live, a life with standards and moral absolutes.
Three...Judgement. The last thing the world needs to be convinced of is that judgement has already been passed on Satan and his way of life. He loses, and anyone who follows him has chosen the losing side. We the church should show the world that the philosophy of Jesus Christ is the winning one by the victory we can already have in this life by the deliverance we can experience from the fears and insecurities of the world. Our lives should reflect the knowledge that we as believers have chosen the winning side.
So the question becomes; "Am I living my life by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way as the world can look at me and be "convinced" that the Gospel is truth?"
If you have made the decision to follow Christ, and have asked Him to come into your life, you then have received the "power" to live the life that you should. May we all use that power in such a way as to show the world the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
PS. Thank you to those who responded to last weeks post and also those who requested copies of my book. If you haven't yet, remember they are free and you can receive a copy by simply e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and asking for one. It will come to you by e-mail as an attached PDF file and you can make as many copies as you want and send it to anyone you think might appreciate it. No surprise, there were at least four articles I have seen so far in the past two days on the internet referring to the possibility of the imminent fulfillment of the Isaiah 17 prophecy. Notice the use of the word "ruinous" in both Isaiah 17:1 and the headline in the Jerusalem Post. Just coincidence?