The gospel commands us to be witnesses at home and abroad, nearby and far away. We know this, but we are sometimes stymied by a problem. We want to win people to Christ, but we seem to be unable to speak persuasively to them.
Our Lord was conscious of the disciples' need, and He is conscious of ours. He told the disciples He was going away, but he promised to send the Paraclete (John 16:7) who would powerfully convict and persuade the world.
One, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to convict and persuade the world.
The Holy Spirit confronts the world! An analysis of the world "convict" reveals that He confronts the world as prosecutor, judge, and persuader. He does this through the presentation of truth.
Every time we step forward to witness concerning Christ, we know that the Holy Spirit is with us. He will empower us, inspire us, and deal with the people to whom we witness. We are not alone!
Two, the Holy Spirit will convict concerning sin.
Jesus will "convict" the world concerning sin. The reason why is that the world does not believe in Him. The world does not believe the words of Jesus about Himself nor words about Jesus. Thus the persuasive work of the Spirit is needed.
Moreover, sin ultimately is unbelief. Jesus is the Son of God and the unique Savior of the world. Faith in Christ is the only way to be freed from sin. The sin which will keep us from salvation is unbelief. All other sins culminate in this sin. The Spirit convicts inasmuch as sin is unbelief.
Millions of people are locked in spiritual darkness. Many have never heard the truth. Others are blinded by Satan and do not accept the truth. Our responsibility is to tell them the truth. As we do, the Spirit will persuade them.
Three, the Holy Spirit will convict concerning righteousness.
Jesus said that the Helper will convict the world "'concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me.'" Here, Jesus is talking about His righteousness. When He was on earth, Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. Because Jesus has gone away, the Spirit now persuades men of the righteousness of Christ.
Several truths stand out in connection with this verse. The Spirit convicts concerning righteousness inasmuch as the following truths prevail: (1) Jesus has completed His work, (2) Christ's righteousness is available, and (3) the righteousness of Christ was vindicated by His ascension. The Spirit uses all these truths to persuade men to believe.
Let us believe in Christ, accept His righteousness, and begin to live as Jesus would. Our testimony to the righteousness of Christ will be stronger as we live by His precepts. When others see Christ in us, our witness will be strong.
"Let us believe in Christ."
Four, the Holy Spirit will convict concerning judgment.
Jesus said that the Helper will convict the world "'concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged.'" At the cross (Colossians 2:15), the devil was judged and defeated. Because the prince of the world, who is the devil, has been judged, the Holy Spirit will speak convincingly about judgment.
The judgment suffered by Satan is an illustration of the judgment that will be meted out to his followers. Inasmuch as Satan has been judged, His followers will be too. Although the devil has been judged, he still has power. He is still the god of this age (II Corinthians 4:4), but ultimately he will be put away.
The hearts of millions of people who have been oppressed cry out for justice. How often we bereaved people say, "justice must be served." Very often real justice is not obtained in this life. All of this virtually demands a future judgment. That judgment is coming. It will be judgment by God Himself, who alone is fully just.
The Holy Spirit is a powerful persuader. He confronts men with the truth and convicts them concerning their sin, Christ's righteousness, and the judgment of Satan and his followers. But the Spirit works through the Word and through us. Our mission is necessary. He will help us as we obey Him.