“The Paracletos “ (Part 2)
The paráklētos, or the one who is called to stand alongside of us to strengthen us and to be our counsellor and advocate in spiritual matters is the blessed Holy Spirit of God, or God the Spirit. He who proceeds from God the Father and God the Son and who gives us eternal life and imparts to us His spiritual gifts and empowers us to witness and to work for the Messiah our Lord Jesus.
In dealing with the Holy Spirit we must always keep in mind that we are dealing with a divine person who is God the Spirit and who is Himself the third person within the Tri-unity of the Godhead. He is one who has all the marks of personality in that He has intellect (1 Corinthians 2:11). He has feelings (Ephesians 4:30) and He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He is not some impersonal power or spiritual force to take hold of and use as we will, neither is he merely a force for good in this world. He is not some spiritual influence of sorts that somehow imparts spiritual truth to our minds. He is a person and has all the marks of personality. He is God the Spirit who knows the mind of God the Father and reveals to us the things He discovers and intercedes with God on our behalf according to the will of God which He knows at all times (Romans 8:26-27). He is not a power to get hold of but a loving sensitive and divine person who wants to get hold of us and use according to His infinitely good, acceptable and perfect will.
In the previous study we discovered from God’s Word four things about the Holy Spirit. Firstly, He is given to us to be with us forever upon obedience produced by saving faith. Secondly, He is the Spirit of truth who indwells everyone who has been spiritually reborn from above. Thirdly, He is the one who teaches us all things we need to know to live the life of a New Covenant believer. Fourthly, He ways points to the Lord Jesus, not to Himself, His gifts or those exercising His gifts.
In this second study we will discover four more things we are told in God’s Word about the Holy Spirit.
(Vs. 7) “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (Vs.8) When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (Vs.9) in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me; (Vs.10) in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer; (Vs.11) and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
1. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin
(Vs.9) “in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me.”
The sin that the Holy Spirit convicts men and women of is the sin of unbelief in Jesus the eternal Son of God and the one died for our sins, who was crucified in our place for our sin and rebellion, who was buried and rose physically from the dead as the one who came into this world to seek and to save the lost and to save us all from the power and eternal penalty for sin. Unbelief in Jesus was the sin that the Holy Spirit convicted those listening to Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-37).
Now the Holy Spirit does convict people of such sins as adultery, murder and other sins of the flesh that violate the laws and commandments of God which are summed up in the Ten Commandments. However, He first and foremost convicts the unsaved of their unbelief in the Messiah Jesus to the point where they become desperate to be saved and hearing of the eternal fire that awaits all who do not believe, but also of the love of God for sinners and His power to forgive their sins and rescue and to cleanse them from its power and bring them into His eternal kingdom, and yes, it is also the only fire-escape from hell and ultimately from the lake of fire! Unbelief in the Lord Jesus is the root cause of all the world’s problems we see today in the lives of men and women. It is “the key domino (sin)” that holds in place all of the other dominos (sins). In the work of conviction the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). In all of the sermons Peter preached in the Book of Acts that brought about conviction of unbelief in Jesus was scripture from beginning to end. He was using the Bible!
As the author of Hebrews writes; “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Luke tells us that “the seed” which the Holy Spirit waters in spiritual matters is the Word of God which is planted into “the soil” of the heart deep down on the inside of a person causing new spiritual life to spring up (Luke 8:11) (2 Corinthians 5:17). The “seed” then is the Word of God, the “soil” is the human heart, the seat of the affections and “the sower” is the New Covenant Bible believer (Luke 8:1-15).
The Lord Jesus also affirmed this great Biblical truth when He said; “The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). If we would see people born again we must give them the Word of God without embellishments or personal views. The Bible speaks for itself and when the Holy Spirit goes to work in His convicting and converting power He does not need the opinions or the help of man even though He uses people through whom to work.
The Lord Jesus used the Word of God with Nicodemus. Phillip used the Word of God with the Ethiopian eunuch. Paul used the Word of God with the Philippian jailor. Dreams and visions have their place but it is the Word of God that brings conviction of the sin of unbelief in Jesus and shatters the rocky heart of resistance to the gospel of the kingdom. As God spoke through Jeremiah; “Let the prophet who has a dream retell it, but let him who has My word speak it truthfully. For what is straw compared to grain?” declares the LORD. “Is not My word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that smashes a rock?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29). So then the sin that the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved of is the sin of unbelief in Jesus.
2. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness
(Vs.10) “in regard to righteousness (God’s righteous standards), because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer;”
The Holy Spirit reveals to people the true nature and character of the Lord Jesus. He reveals the facts that as fully man and fully God in the same body He rose from the dead and showed His perfect righteous nature by the way He lived and that without sin even though sorely tempted to sin. There are two things an unsaved person needs to see in order to be saved.
Firstly; that person needs to see their own need of a life that pleases God but that this life is impossible by human effort or will because of the power of sin that has a grip in their life which they cannot free themselves from and because they continue to violate the law of God as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Secondly; they need to see that without a righteousness or righteous standard of living bestowed upon them by God, which He has provided in the life of the Lord Jesus and received upon repentance and faith, they cannot be saved (Romans 3:19-31).
It is then the work of the Holy Spirit to show men and women their lack of righteousness and that no one can match God’s righteous standards and then to show them God’s righteousness or righteous standard of life in Jesus which is given to them by faith in Him to save them (Philippians 3:7-9). The blessed Holy Spirit imparts this new righteous standard of life from God which is His own divine nature. The apostle Peter writing the Spirit-breathed Word of God put it this way when he wrote; “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
While we are not perfect and still have the old nature in us we will be a new spiritual creation in the Messiah and the old way of sinful selfish living will be giving place to the new spiritual life of God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17). In the work of the New Birth from the Spirit God He does not patch up the old nature but gives us a brand new righteous nature, His very own nature that starts to produce the new spiritual creation deep down on the inside of us. After this we are to learn to walk by faith and in step with the desires of the Holy Spirit. As Rabbi the apostle Paul wrote: “Those who belong to Messiah Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).
As we learn to walk by faith in Jesus and in His Word the Bible and in obedience to the inward promptings of the Holy Spirit He will progressively change our desires to align with His desires which are God’s desires. As Rabbi the apostle Paul also wrote; “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). So the second thing we are told is that the Holy Spirit convicts people of their need of the righteous standard that is only found in the Lord Jesus and which God credits to the account of all who repent and exercise saving faith in the Messiah our Lord Jesus.
3. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of judgement
(Vs.11) “and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned (judged).”
Unsaved people in this world need to be convicted of judgement to come. The average person in the street who is unsaved has little or no faith in a future judgement and no awareness of an eternal hell and of a spiritual outlaw called Satan who is propelling them into that place of eternal torment from which there is no reprieve once one passes from this life without having been saved. Very frequently that truth that men and women least like to hear is the truth that they most need to hear. When the Holy Spirit comes with convicting and converting power to a man or a woman they will believe absolutely in hell and in a future judgement. He sees the devil as the source of all sin and trouble in this world and that he has been judged at the cross and his power to keep men and women enslaved to sin broken forever. He sees the Messiah’s second coming to judge the world in righteousness and with justice to rectify everything that the devil has ruined.
The person convicted about the judgement on the devil and on all who follow him in this world, and the judgement to come at the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus, flees for refuge to the cross and at the foot of that old rugged cross with the eyes of faith receives forgiveness of sin and inherits eternal life. They receive redemption and forgiveness for all of their sin through the shed blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7).
They are acquitted of all offences in God’s court of law because their advocate the Lord Jesus stands before the judge of the whole earth having paid their fine in full for them with His own shed blood in their place at the cross. Even though they are unrighteous and know it full well they are declared to be righteous in the sight of God by faith and have the full assurance that the righteous standard of life in the Messiah has been credited to their account in heaven and recorded in the Lamb’s Book of life! On the basis of the shed blood of the Messiah and by faith in Him and in His atoning and cleansing blood they are justified before God and will escape the coming wrath of God when it is poured out upon this world at the end of this present age (Romans 5:9). Also there is a fourth thing that the Holy Spirit does.
4. The Holy Spirit convicts the world through New Covenant believers
(Acts 2:36-37) “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
While the Holy Spirit does His convicting work related to sin, righteousness and judgement He uses us through whom He works. As far as we are told in the Bible the Holy Spirit has no way of getting at the unsaved except through the channel of those who are already saved. There are exceptions as today in Islamic countries where they have no Bibles and have never heard the gospel the Lord Jesus is revealing Himself to them in dreams and visions and this is an exception rather than the norm. While we do see some having visions in the New Testament the bulk of those saved were saved through the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom by men and women through whom the Holy Spirit did His convicting and converting work.
In every conversion in the Book of Acts he Holy Spirit used believers in the process. Some sowed while others reaped but every New Covenant believer was involved in the harvest for souls in some way. Now we are not all fulltime workers, missionaries, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers but we can all be involved in the harvest. We can all hand out gospel tracts or wirness one on one. We all have differing gifts according to the grace God has given us to exercise them in the Body of Messiah when the local assembly meets for worship (Romans 12:6-8) (Ephesians 4:7-8). God has given every believer a gift or more than one gift and expects us to use them faithfully and He will reward us abundantly at His judgement seat of Messiah. When the Lord Jesus comes back He will not be looking at giftedness but faithfulness in using His gifts (Luke 18:8) (Matthew 25:14-30).
The Holy Spirit needs all of us, our lips, our affections, our desires, our due diligence in spiritual matters, our feet, our gifts and abilities, our willingness to do his will from the heart and our daily devotion to Him every morning before we start the day’s activities. However, are we available to Him? He wants to reach others through us but will we let Him to His work? To be used by the Holy Spirit every obstruction of the flesh must be removed when that obstruction is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. No sin must be left unforsaken, unconfessed and uncleansed. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin when we confess it and keep us clean from its power as moment by moment we walk by faith and walk in step with the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:7-9). With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.
We need to be available to Him to send us wherever He wants us to go. For some it will be the ministry, the mission field, the business world, the domestic world such as a woman with a large young family who can reach her children at home, or in whatever situation He wants us to labour in for the LORD. He will choose the avenue or the field of service and the gifts we need to successfully do the will of God. Our response is to ask Him to lead us into that will of God which is good acceptable and perfect and impart to us the gifts He knows we will need to have for the work to which He has called us (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) (Romans 12:6-8).
God can use other means of reaching others if He chooses to do so but He has chosen you and me as members of his Body through whom He can reach others in this world. We need to be ready for the Holy Spirit to use us at any moment and in whatever way He chooses and we need to respond to His leading. This takes time and we need to be developing our spiritual sensors or radar to pick up His signals to us. As we take the time to meet with Him every morning through prayer, Bible reading and even partaking of communion the Holy Spirit will sharpen us spiritually to recognise His voice.
It takes time and due diligence on our behalf and regularity in spiritual disciplines despite how we are feeling. Our feelings and emotional state are no indication of our spiritual state. After all we live by faith and not by sight. The Holy Spirit convicts men and women of sin, righteousness and judgement but He does it through us. The LORD is saying to us as He said to Isaiah; “Who will go for us?” May our response always be; “Here am I LORD send me.”