We feel trapped and alone. Our spouse is distant with no interest in the Christ. They may be apathetic, distant, self-absorbed or living in sin. Or maybe it’s our teen or a dear friend, someone we love and yet their passions, interests, perhaps their world view, is at odds with following Christ. How do we live in the tension: feeling alone and knowing our close relationships are far from God?
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. “But 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 He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:5–11 (NASB)
Christ Promised To Send The Helper
Sorrow filled the hearts of the eleven at the prospect of Jesus’ departure. If we can place ourselves in their situation, like them, we would prefer Jesus remain. As Jesus spoke to His close friends, He promised them He would not leave them alone but send the Counselor, the Helper, His Holy Spirit who would come, be with them, and have a critical ministry in the world.
Jesus promised to send the Counselor. The word paraklētŏs literally means “the one called alongside to help” but different Bibles translate the word Counselor, Helper, Advocate, or Comforter. Now don’t miss this. Note again we are confronted with whether we will trust Christ at His word? Jesus promised to send the Counselor. He made this promise to His friends – and us – a promise that He kept.
Jesus was not speaking metaphorically. Jesus promised to send His Spirit. Now if we need “evidence” that the Holy Spirit came, we only have to look at the change in the disciples. During Jesus arrest and trials, His friends cowered and fled. But in Acts 2, we see a miraculous transformation. Men who feared now boldly proclaim Christ to those who aided and abetted His crucifixion. Jesus made good on His promise; He sent the Holy Spirit. And the disciples were completely changed by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence.
If you have trusted Christ and Christ alone, His Spirit indwells you. He is at work, transforming you into something you are not yet. He is in the “business” of sanctifying us to be less like our sinful selves and more like our Savior.
The Holy Spirit Convicts
Note Christ’s precise words in John 16:8 He (the Holy Spirit) will convict the world about sin… Not to put too fine a point on it, but in John’s gospel the world is in opposition to Christ yet Christ loves the world. In other words, John 16 seems to state the Holy Spirit will work in the world convicting those who do not know Him. This does not mean the Holy Spirit does not bring conviction to believers, but here Jesus says convicting the world about sin.
Convicting means exposing something, bringing something to light, bringing a person to the point that they recognize their wrongdoing. Students of the Bible illustrate this like a courtroom procedure. The prosecution brings charges and evidence to prove a defendant’s guilt. So the Holy Spirit shows the evidence: a smoking gun, fingerprints, DNA and video tape proving we are sinners and guilty as charged. He is convicting the world about sin.
But the Holy Spirit is not merely convicting to make people feel bad or to pile on guilt. Someone said “The Holy Spirit is better than a guilty conscience.” A guilty conscience can plague us. We may try to repress guilt, but it seems to mutate. Or worse, we drink the world’s Kool-Aid and call evil “good” to try and rid ourselves of guilt and shame. The Counselor is working to convict a person to admit their sin and to help them. The Holy Spirit is not here to make us miserable, He is here to make us holy.
Two things we can know about God’s Holy Counselor:
When We Feel Alone Remember He Is Present
It is important to remember Christ’s Spirit indwells the Christian. He is with us. He is present. He knows our sin, fear, anxiety, pain, loss… and He loves us and cares about us and is powerful to help.
When We Feel We Have To Correct Others, Appeal To The Counselor
We’ve all heard the bad line about playing the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. Sure, as parents and friends we speak the truth in love and at times we must confront. But how and when we take those steps requires great care. But all along the journey, nothing stops us from praying for God’s Holy Counselor to convict the world about sin.
Christ had to die and ascend to heaven in order to send the promise of His Spirit and His Spirit is at work convicting the world of sin. Draw near to Him and know you are not alone and trust Him to do the work only He can do.