Thursday, June 21, 2012

John 16:5-11

Today is the last day of school for our district. It has been such a long year, filled with grief and many challenges for our staff. We will be saying goodbye to several beloved teachers/staff who are retiring. And I will be sending off to middle school thirty students, some of whom are not quite ready. It’s an exciting day, but it’s also mixed with sadness at the parting and a bit of regret that I could not do more for some of my students. How I wish I could give them the hope and encouragement that Jesus gives His disciples as He prepares them for His parting from them. We are going to spend some time in these next verses to try to grasp the importance of what Jesus is saying:

“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:  in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;  in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;  and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:5-11)

The bad news? Jesus was leaving them. The really good news? The Holy Spirit would be coming to live inside them! Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit’s job among the world will be to convict men - first of their guilt of the sin of unbelief. Jon Courson reminds us in his commentary that this is really the only sin that the Holy Spirit will work on in an unbeliever. He doesn’t convict them of their smoking, swearing, drinking, or sexual sin. No, the only sin that truly matters for an unbeliever is their unbelief! 

Now, as believers we DO get convicted of other sins in our lives that the Holy Spirit will help us to overcome, because He wants to complete the work begun in us and to transform us more and more into the image of God. However, He does this conviction gently, because His goal is always to draw us to the Father - not drive us away. And that’s the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of Satan. Satan wants to condemn us and make us feel so loaded down with guilt that we cannot lift our heads to look up to God. He wants us to stop praying and to stay out of God’s Word and the fellowship of other believers.

If you are feeling completely unworthy of God’s love or attention, to the point that you can no longer bring yourself to pray, you are NOT feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You are being oppressed by the condemnation of Satan. If the joy of your salvation is gone, it is not because God has moved away. You have allowed Satan, the liar, to whisper words of discouragement in your ear. Maybe he’s telling you that you are a mess - too big of a failure to ever change; or maybe he’s encouraging you with the lie that you are a victim of others and you have every right to hold onto your anger and unforgiveness. Those are NOT the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

Who has your ear today? Are you feeling drawn to God or are you wanting to run in the other direction? If you are an unbeliever, and have never committed your life to Christ, the Holy Spirit is going to come after you and will continue to convict you of your sin of unbelief, because He wants to bring you home to the Father. THEN He will begin the sometimes painful work of transforming you. If you are a believer who is feeling oppressed or depressed, sinking in a dark hole, listen to the Holy Spirit. He wants to draw you TO God. He is our hope, our comforter, and our encourager. We’ll look at some of His other roles tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m praising God for another year of teaching, and I’m committing my 30 students to His care, and praying that He will follow them to middle school and continue His work in their lives!  

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