And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin….
— John 16:8
Do you remember times as a child when you did something wrong and thought no one was watching — but then you got caught? Do you remember how it felt to realize that someone had been watching you all along? What horror and dread to be caught in the middle of the act!
You couldn’t lie your way out of such a situation, especially when someone was watching you the whole time. You were unmistakably guilty and couldn’t escape facing your sin. Can you remember what it was like to feel so exposed?
This is what a sinner feels like the first time the Holy Spirit convicts him of sin. Before that happens, it is amazing how long that same sinner can live without conviction or sorrow for his behavior, almost numb to any sense of the wrongness of his actions.
The Bible says that sin makes people hardhearted, spiritually blind, and past feeling (Ephesians 4:18,19). Add this to the fact that they are spiritually dead and therefore unable to respond to God, and you will better understand why lost people can do what they do over and over again.
But all these factors change instantaneously when the Holy Spirit touches the human soul and exposes its sinful condition. A sinner feels exposed, naked, embarrassed, and confronted when the Holy Spirit wakes him up to his real spiritual condition.
In John 16:8, Jesus spoke of this exposing work of the Holy Spirit. He told the disciples, “And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin.…”
Notice that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would reprove the world of sin. The word “reprove” is the Greek word elegcho. It means to expose, to convict, or to cross-examine for the purpose of conviction, as when convicting a lawbreaker in a court of law. In this case, it is the image of a lawyer who brings forth evidence that is indisputable and undeniable. The accused person’s actions are irrefutably brought to light and, as a result, the offender is exposed and convicted.
This tells us that by the time the Holy Spirit is finished dealing with a lost, sinful soul, the unsaved person will feel exposed and convicted. As the Holy Spirit enables him to hear the Word of God for the first time, that Word is so razor sharp that it penetrates his soul until he feels as if he has been cross-examined on a witness stand. Finally, the court is adjourned, the verdict is announced, and he is declared guilty.
John 16:8 expresses this idea about the “convicting” work of the Holy Spirit:
“But when He [the Holy Spirit] is come, He will present such convincing evidence about the world’s sin that the entire world will stand guilty and convicted — so exposed that they will feel they have nowhere to hide from the facts.…”
A major part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict sinners of their lost condition. The whole world stands guilty before God (Romans 3:19), but until the Holy Spirit does His convicting work, the world doesn’t realize it is guilty. That is why this special “convicting” work of the Spirit is so essential. Without it, mankind would remain comfortable in his sin — but as the Holy Spirit convicts, man becomes aware of his sinful condition and his need for God.
Jesus taught, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44). No one argues that God draws us to Him through the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminded us of this when He said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin…” (John 16:8). It is just a fact that without the work of the Holy Spirit to expose our sinful condition, we would still be in darkness today, eternally lost and without God.
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Have you ever tried to share Christ with family members or friends and felt as if you were “hitting a brick wall”? You shared, talked, and pled with them to receive Christ; yet it seemed like they just couldn’t hear what you were saying. Even though they knew they were sinners, they didn’t seem to be convicted by this knowledge. Ignoring that horrible fact, they pressed on as though they were numb to or ignorant of the degree of spiritual decay in their lives.
The Bible says that the lost person is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). How can you make a dead man see or feel? How can you convince a dead man that he needs to change? It is impossible for a dead man to respond because dead people don’t feel anything. They especially don’t feel the conviction of sin. It requires a special, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to rouse the human consciousness to its sinful condition.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s call that touched our souls, we were awakened to our sinfulness. Once we were brought to this horrible place of undeniable conviction where we recognized that we were sinners, the Holy Spirit then beckoned us to come to Jesus. At that divine moment, our souls heard Him say, “…Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14).
As you begin to share Christ with your family and friends, first stop and ask the Holy Spirit to go before you, to touch their hearts, and to open their eyes and ears to the truth so they might be supernaturally roused from the spiritual deadness that clutches their lives. Let the Holy Spirit be your Partner, for without His help, a sinner is unable to see the truth. But when the Holy Spirit’s convicting work begins, the sinner’s eyes are opened to his true spiritual condition, and he realizes that there is no escape from the facts. The only answer for a sinner in this case is to come to Jesus!
There is no greater miracle than a sinner who sees the light for the first time and then receives Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life. And there is no greater blessing than to know that, with the help of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power, you helped a dead man see!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, thank You for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, for it was this act of the Spirit that first brought me to the place of my salvation. When I do wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts me of what I have done, help me be sensitive enough to recognize that He is pricking my heart to get my attention. Help me slow down to see what He is wanting to show me and to take the necessary time to properly repent and deal with the issues He is wanting me to change.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit and live a life that pleases Him. But when I fail to do what is right, I am sensitive to His voice and quickly repent for the wrong I have done. My heart’s desire is to please Him, and I will do everything I can to live a life that honors His Presence inside me
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How has the convicting power of the Holy Spirit transformed you since you first received Jesus as Lord?
2. Who are five people you can ask the Holy Spirit to touch today with His convicting power of repentance and salvation?
3. Have you thanked the Lord recently for the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart to convict you of sin and keep you pure and powerful for the Lord’s use?