It was hard for the disciples to understand that it was to their advantage—and ours—that Jesus left them to return to heaven.
John 14:16-17 says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
Without this Helper, the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to withstand the persecution that comes against us.
The Spirit uses us as His instruments to convict the world of sin.
In John 7:37-38, Jesus promised that rivers of living water would flow from the innermost being of those who believe in Him.
The following verse says, "About the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
Acts 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The world is convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit dwelling within believers. We are part of His plan. But just what does He mean by "the world"? Not everyone is convicted of sin, but the Holy Spirit convicts without distinction.
Jesus goes on to explain that the world is convicted in three ways.
John 16:8 says, "And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment"
The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Verse 9 says, "Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
Conviction Concerning Sin
We understand from verse 9, "… but they do not believe in me," that the specific sin the Holy Spirit convicts unbelievers of is their failure to believe in Jesus Christ.
We could compile a list of many sins, but the root of sin is failure to believe in Jesus Christ. The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart. And that problem, rooted in our heart, is unbelief.
As much as we want to believe that we can deal with our issues, our sins, on our own, that's simply not true. We must put our faith in God's Son if we are to be saved from our sins.
God uses those of us who have come to saving faith to share this truth with others.
Conviction Concerning Righteousness
Righteousness means that all of God's character, attributes, and conduct are perfect. But we forget that perfect righteousness also means perfect wholeness. There is nothing out of balance when it comes to God. He is total and complete, lacking nothing. Because He's complete, He's fully righteousness and is the plumb line by which mankind is measured.
Do we exhibit the character, attributes, and conduct of God? No, it's impossible because of our sin nature.
God is true and perfect righteousness, completely perfect and whole. Mankind is broken. Because of this, it's impossible for us to attain God's standard of righteousness on our own. And that's why God sent His Son.
Everyone senses their brokenness, their emptiness. That's why they chase after worldly pleasures and worldly happiness. They want to fill the void in their heart, but it never works.
But when we put our trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, He comes to live within us, and we're made whole. We're made righteous because of Him.
That's how Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
And in Romans 4:5, he says, "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness."
The moment a sinner trusts in Christ, their sins are charged to Christ and Christ's righteousness is put on him.
So, how is it that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning righteousness?
Jesus says in John 16:10, "Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer."
Jesus is the only one who has ever come down from heaven, lived a sinless life, and ascended back to heaven. The Son of Man lives to be our Intercessor (John 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is the measure of righteousness that no man can measure up to.
Paul says in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
But God has provided Christ to cover us with His perfect righteousness if we believe in Him.
Conviction Concerning Judgment
In John 16:11, Jesus says, "… concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
One day we will all give an account of our lives before God. Only those who have trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior will be spared from judgment. All those who have not will spend eternity in hell.
But this isn't what Jesus is talking about here. He isn't saying that the world will learn that there will be a time of judgment. In fact, we only learn this truth after we've come to Christ.
The word judged is in the past tense. It had already happened.
Just who had been judged? "The ruler of this world."
All throughout this text, Jesus has been referring to Satan in this way (John 12:31; 14:30). And as the ruler of this world, he had—and has—blinded the eyes of unbelievers, so they could not see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4).
While he still roams the earth carrying out his evil schemes, judgment is sealed both for him and for his subjects.
Jesus says in John 3:18, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
May we, as believers, be willing vessels for the Holy Spirit to convict the world through us.