Just as God sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sent His disciples into the world to redeem people from its power and from the power of its prince. They, and we, are called to overcome the world through the witness of the Holy Spirit, the witness of their own transformed lives, and the witness of their words. And God will continue to call out from the world a people for Himself. And that’s the theme for this next section.
John 16:5-15 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Holy Spirit has a threefold ministry.
1. To comfort the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus. They were depressed because He told them He was leaving them. He tells them here they will be much better off. And the Holy Spirit couldn’t come unless Christ left. While Jesus was on earth He was confined to His human body and could only help people He was near. But as the Holy Spirit He would fulfill His promise from Matthew 28:20 which says, “And surely, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The Holy Spirit would also help them understand Jesus’ Glory and who He is.
2. To empower the disciples to witness to the world. Jesus told them that in themselves they could neither convict the world of its sin as sin, nor could they hope to convince the intellectual (as well as the ordinary man) that the Man Jesus is the unique Son of God and that to reject Him as the Lord results in judgment. Therefore, Jesus deliberately told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem to witness of Him until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Under this part there are 3 points to notice about the Holy Spirit’s work toward the world when He indwells believers. He convicts the world of sin (in people), of righteousness (in Jesus) and of the fact of God’s judgment of the world and its prince.
A. He convicts the world of sin –
When the world (the Jews and the Romans) crucified Jesus, the Jews refused to believe they were sinning. Instead, they rationalized that they served God by seeking to eliminate the people’s delusion (that He was the Son of God) by eliminating Jesus Himself. However, after Jesus ascended into Heaven and the disciples prayerfully had waited God’s appointed time, the promised Holy Spirit came. When He indwelt Peter, he was transformed. From denying Christ to a little servant girl to boldly preaching to the Jewish leaders. He accused them of crucifying Jesus, the Messiah! And he did it so powerfully that over 3000 were saved that day. They were cut to the quick with guilt when they heard him speak. And it is only the Holy Spirit that can convict us about what we believe about Jesus and that God holds us personally responsible for our attitude toward His Son whom God sent into the world for the sinner’s sake.
B. He convinces the world of righteousness –
He convicts the world also on the grounds of the complete righteousness of Christ because Jesus is no longer where we can see Him. Jesus lived the perfect life that God intended for all of us to live. However, the proof of His perfect righteousness is seen in His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation at God’s right hand. This means if He is perfectly righteous and died for my sins as the unique Son of God and is now exalted by God to power, this means that God accepted His sacrifice made on Calvary on our behalf. This means that God counts us as righteous by His sacrifice. Because He bore our sins on His body on the cross means we can be delivered from both the guilt and the power of them. It’s the Holy Spirit who also convicts us that our good works and any attempt at our own righteousness are like filthy rags in comparison with the spotless linen of God’s required righteousness.
C. He convicts the world of judgment –
The judgment of the prince of this world is also the judgment of the person who chooses to follow his directions and opinions. Satan is called the prince of this world because the world of fallen humanity is under his control. We can’t be neutral. We are either governed by the prince of this world or by Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Satan was judged at the cross and because he was judged we are free from his power. And then the Holy Spirit begins to transform believers into the image of the Son. And the Holy Spirit witnesses to the world by the personal honesty, business integrity and loving family life of the believer. He witnesses to the world when the believer loses his life for the sake of the needy, the socially rejected. It’s the poured-out life that convicts the world of its selfishness of what true righteousness is and of God’s judgment upon social indifference and selfishness.
3. To teach the disciples –
This refers to verses 12 and 13 - “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
Jesus was pointing to the future, when the disciples would need to explain the meaning of many of His words that could only be understood in the light of His death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation to supreme power as the Son of Man, as well as the Son of God.
Only when the Holy Spirit is free to work in us to illumine our minds with God’s thoughts and move our emotions to desire His truth do we truly understand God’s truth, delight in this truth and receive it as from God with power to communicate it to others. The Bible becomes clearer to us! We wonder why we never saw these things before!
The Holy Spirit also showed the disciples and Paul the future. Paul wrote about the rapture for one thing! John the book of Revelation.
John 16:16-33 16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’?20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
There are many symbolic expressions in this last conversation of Jesus with His disciples as He speaks of going and coming, of grief and joy, or asking and receiving, of parables and open speech, of faith and unbelief and of tribulation and peace.
He talks about both immediate fulfillment and later more complete fulfillment. Immediate being the brief time Jesus was buried and the disciples didn’t see Him. This was followed by His resurrection and seeing Him and great joy.
But later during His ascension “a cloud hid Him from their sight”. Then at the day of Pentecost they saw Him, by means of the Holy Spirit.
Even later a “little while” is also descriptive of the present age. Jesus is up in Heaven right now, but soon the day will come when we see Him face to face.
The disciples told Him they believed. And Jesus accepted their belief. However, He knew that they did not realize the horror of the fire in which that faith was to be tried. Therefore, His last words were a mixture of warning, prophecy, encouragement and a promise of victory.
“You will be scattered…and will leave me alone.”
Their boasted faith in Him would fail at the test of the Cross, but it would be reborn at the Resurrection.
“I am not alone, for my Father is with me..”
This is a comfort for them and us. So long as we have Christ we are never alone. God is with us.
“In me you will have peace.”
In spite of tribulation, in spite of world upheavals, nothing can touch the peace that Christ gives His own.
“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
To be in Christ is to overcome as He overcame. Later John would write in 1 John “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one wo is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”