“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – John 16:8 (NKJV)
One of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is in connection with the Lost World. He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. But, what does it mean He’ll convict the world? First of all, I wonder what the ‘world’ means? Many times the world just means all humanity: John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…” speaks about everybody. It doesn’t speak about the lost or the saved, He just loves His creation. But here, the way this is going to be used and interpreted seems like He’s talking about the world, that system apart from God; that functioning organized humanity that has no relationship to the Lord God. I believe that because the next few verses interpret what sin, righteousness, and judgment mean. Notice in verse 9, “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;” – I really think we’re somewhat very guilty of making our relationship with Christ, a series of things that we do not do, or a series of things that we do. We are very guilty of having something like a checklist, and we check certain things often, and mark certain things off, and then we feel extremely righteous when we haven’t done some things, and we have done other things. I submit to you, Christianity is not what you do or don’t do. Basically, Christianity is not caught up in a long list of theological creeds, and a long list of what we do as a church, and a long list of theological kinds of things. Primarily, the Christian faith is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything flows from that relationship. The relationship does not flow from anything we do, but it flows from the grace and love of God. Because we have a relationship that is totally undeserved, totally unmerited; we cannot buy it or work for it. Because we have a relationship like that, we do certain things. But we never do certain things to get that relationship. And when we try to witness to a person, we don’t say to him, ‘you need to clean your life up,’ or ‘don’t do this, and this, and this and you will feel one of us’. Why? Because to tell a man not to do something before you introduce him to Christ, is to orient that person toward work>righteousness. What we tell the man is, ‘If you come to Jesus, Jesus will take care of all the rest’. We focus in on the relationship, and then the Holy Spirit will take care of all the appropriate things as soon as that believer can understand. The greatest thing we do detrimentally, is to give a guy a list of rules and say, ‘don’t do these, and God will love you’. God help us! God loves him irregardless! And every part of our Christian life flows out of gratitude, not anything else. Now notice where it says, “He will convict the world of what? Not about doing sin, but about sin. You see, we think of sin as doing something or not doing something. That is not what John means ‘sin’ at all. This ‘sin’ that John talks about is not things that man does, it’s unbelief. Unbelief is the sin of the world. Unbelief is the sin that will send man to hell. Unbelief is the problem of mankind. You see, what it says is, “…convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me”. That’s the problem. John 3:17 through 21 says, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved…”. And this is the problem, “…that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”. Jesus came to bring light, not judgment, but man judged himself by rejecting the Son. You see, it’s not what man does or does not do that gets a man away from God, it’s unbelief in the Person of Jesus Christ. It’s not establishing a relationship with Jesus that sends man to hell. Now there has been a lot of misunderstanding about the word ‘believe’, because the English word ‘believe’ has the idea like, I believe that 2 plus 2 is four, or I believe that Jose Rizal was really a hero, and all of that. You see, we think ‘believe’ is something you assent in your mind. But that is not all what the Greek word ‘believe’ means. The Greek word ‘believe’, the Greek word ‘faith’, and the Greek word ‘trust’ are all the same word. It’s not primarily an emotion, like how deep you feel about something, it’s not how much you cry, or how high you jump. The primary thing about the Greek word ‘believe’ is a volitional commitment to God through Christ. It’s exactly the same kind of thing you did when you married your wife, or your husband. You didn’t understand all about them. You didn’t know all their faults. You didn’t know how terrible your wife cooks. You didn’t know everything about it, but you said, “I will” in the presence of God, and that means you would. Now you had to start working on that relationship, and understanding that relationship, but you had already committed yourself to that relationship. That’s exactly you do when you commit yourself to the Person of Christ. You may not have understood everything He wants you to do. You may not have understood everything that He wants your life to be. But you did commit yourself to Him. So, it’s a volitional commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”.