Because He Lives, Jesus Sent the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7–11).
The context leading up to this passage speaks of the anticipated persecution that his disciples would face following his departure. Three times in the above passage, Jesus referenced his departure. Each time, Jesus emphasized the advantage of his departure — the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The word advantage refers to what is helpful, beneficial, profitable, useful, or better. The term Helper (Greek paraklete, cf. Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26) described an advocate or better yet an intercessor, and so we learn what kind of Helper Jesus promised to send—an indwelling Intercessor for his disciples as they faced persecution. Think about it this way, the same Prayer Warrior Helper who accompanied Jesus on his way to the cross has been sent by the resurrected Christ to dwell in the believer. Pending persecution prompted the promise of the Paraklete.
After Jesus explained the benefit of the coming Intercessor, he revealed another function of the Holy Spirit’s anticipated advent—convicting the world. Convict meant to “bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing.” Some related meanings included scrutinize, examine carefully, or “express strong disapproval of someone’s action.” Jesus taught that the Spirit would convict the world in three areas: (1) concerning the sin of unbelief in Christ, (2) concerning the righteousness of Christ, and (3) concerning the judgment of the evil one by the work of Christ. The Spirit testifies that Jesus has disarmed and defeated the ruler of this world — “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The verb judged expressed a heavenly perspective. The Spirit convicts the world that the work of Christ has brought knowledge of the devil’s future doom into the present. The world system that he has built has been sentenced.
Therefore, the reason that Jesus anticipated persecution for his disciples comes into clear view. The local church is the present base of operations from which the Holy Spirit continues and advances this ministry of conviction in the world. What does this mean? Well, the Spirit must scrutinize and expose the world, but it doesn’t always welcome such a ministry, as even our Lord himself experienced. The Spirit has been commissioned with conviction concerning Christ, and the church is his vessel through which he makes his appeal to the world to be reconciled to God through Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5).
Take heart. The grace of God is at work through the Spirit’s work of conviction. This conviction has the power to direct a sinner out of the world and onto the path toward faith and repentance. Remember, it is to our advantage that Christ has ascended and that the Spirit has descended. For as we faithfully yield to the Spirit’s ministry of conviction in the world, we also experience his help, his intercession. While Christ too is an intercessor for us to the Father (1 Jn. 2:1), the Holy Spirit indwells, groans along with us in our weaknesses, and aims in all seasons and difficulties to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:26–29). As you think of the resurrection of Christ this week, remember and give thanks that “Because He Lives,” Jesus sent the Spirit to help us and to convict the world through us.
Other Scriptures about the Sending of the Holy Spirit: Luke 24:45–49; John 14:25–31; 15:26–27; 16:7–15; Acts 1:5–8; 2:29–35; 1 Corinthians 2:9–13; 2 Corinthians 3; Ephesians 1:13–14; 1 John 2:18–27