"But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocatewon’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment." – John 16:7-8 NLT
The more Jesus talked about His coming death, the more confused and depressed the disciples seemed to get. Jesus saw it and commented about it: “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you" (John 16:5-6 NLT). And it made sense. They had just spent the last three years of their lives following this man and now He was telling them that He was going to die. Their concept of death, like ours, was permanent. In their understanding of things, once Jesus was dead, He was gone. In spite of all His talk about coming back. That part was a mystery to them. So Jesus somewhat muddies the waters by telling them, "it is best for you that I go away" (John 16:7 NLT). That had to have sounded so strange to the disciples. How in the world could His leaving them be best for them? But Jesus knew something they didn't know. He knew that when He ascended back to heaven, God the Father was going to send the very Spirit of God to be with the disciples. And that could not happen until Jesus left. For the last three and a half years they had enjoyed the presence of God in the form of Jesus. He was God in human flesh. He had lived with them, talked with them, done miracles among them, and taught them the truth of God on a daily basis. But when the Holy Spirit came they would not only have God with them and among them, but in them. They would be empowered by the very Spirit of God. This was going to be a game-changer for the disciples and for the world, mainly because of the three things Jesus said the Spirit would do when He arrived.
The NET Bible translates verse 8 this way: "And when hecomes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin andrighteousness andjudgment." The very presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers would be proof that the world's view of Jesus was wrong. It was their rejection of Him as Messiah that was their most condemning sin. The Holy Spirit would also convict the world about righteousness because He would only indwell those who had placed their faith in Christ and not on their own self-righteousness. In other words, the Spirit proves that man's righteousness before God depends not on his own efforts but on Christ’s atoning work for them. Finally, the Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment, because His very presence would prove that Jesus had conquered sin and death by His resurrection and glorification. The Spirit's presence in the world in the lives of believers would be proof that Satan had already been defeated. His was a lost cause. And the fact that the Spirit of God only lives within the people of God, is a daily judgment on all those who refuse to believe in Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of salvation and as Paul puts it, our down payment on the future promises of God. "…and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us" (2 Corinthians 1:22 NLT).
So when Jesus told the disciples that they would be better off once He was gone, He knew what He was talking about. Jesus was limited to the restraints placed upon Him by a human body. He could not be everywhere at once. He could not indwell His disciples. He had all the limitations we suffer from as humans. His coming to earth was for one purpose and that was to act as the perfect sin substitute. He came to die. But the Spirit came to indwell, empower, convict, and teach. Jesus told the disciples, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future" (John 16:13 NLT). He would teach them, enlighten them, encourage and empower them. They would perform miracles in His power. They would preach and teach in His power. They would spread the Gospel around the world by His power. Not only would the disciples be better off when Jesus returned to the Father, the world would be too. The rapid expansion of the Gospel message immediately after the Holy Spirit's coming at Pentecost is proof of this fact. Thousands would come to Christ daily and the Good News of Jesus Christ would spread around the world like wild fire. We, as modern believers, are the beneficiaries of the Holy Spirit's convicting presence in the world. We should be grateful Jesus came, but also thankful that He left and sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. His presence and power are proof of Christ's resurrection and the reality of our own salvation.
Father, what more can I say than, "Thank You for the Holy Spirit"? I would not be who I am without Him. I would not have proof of what Jesus has done for me without the presence of the Holy Spirit within me. Thank You! Amen.