“The Spirit will come and show the people of this world the truth about sin and God’s justice and the judgment. The Spirit will show them that they are wrong about sin, because they didn’t have faith in me. They are wrong about God’s justice, because I am going to the Father, and you won’t see me again. And they are wrong about the judgment, because God has already judged the ruler of this world.

I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand. The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen. The Spirit will bring glory to me by taking my message and telling it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine. That is why I have said that the Spirit takes my message and tells it to you.” (John 16:8-15)

We don’t need to do the Holy Spirit’s job. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was a part of the creation, hovering over the primeval waters of the Great Deep. The Holy Spirit empowered prophets, judges, kings, priests, and artisans. But after the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was about to take on a new task.

And what was that task? Jesus said the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. What is sin? To not believe in Jesus. What is righteousness? Jesus returning to the Father. What is judgment? Satan standing condemned.

What does that mean? Because Jesus died for the sins of the world, Satan has been defeated and condemned. Because Jesus died, rejecting what Jesus accomplished is the definition of sin. Since the Holy Spirit could not come until Jesus left, righteousness in the lives of people was the consequence of Jesus leaving: his departure allowed the Spirit free reign in their lives. The Spirit would then convict people of sin, lead them to repentance, and change them so that their behavior was righteous.

The Holy Spirit is real and powerful. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need our help. We don’t have to make up rules, or establish supervision, in order to force people—or ourselves—behave better. You can’t have the Holy Spirit in you without that having a profound impact on your behavior.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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