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As Christians, we know or we talk about and/or we hear about the Holy Spirit a lot. That is a reflection of how important the Holy Spirit is in the lives of Christians.
The Holy Spirit is not an option in the life of a believer but a must. We cannot successfully live the Christian life without the help of the Holy Spirit.
But in this post, I want to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of unbelievers. The Holy Spirit does not live within unbelievers like He does in those who believe, but still He is involved in the life of unbelievers as I shall discuss.
Jesus had this conversation with the disciples because in a few weeks, relative to that conversation, He would be returning to His Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit would be coming to them to live in them and to help them.
Three Works of the Holy Spirit among Unbelievers
Regarding the work of the Holy in the lives of unbelievers, Jesus said, “He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8, NASB). Let’s look at each of these works individually:
1. Convicts the world of sin. Jesus said “because they do not believe in Me” (verse 9).
It is the sin of unbelief that will cause people to be lost. It’s not because they don’t attend church or because they don’t live holy lives. But because they fail to place their faith in Christ. The objectionable things they do are merely symptoms of the problem. The real problem is that of failing to believe in the Lord.
2. Convicts the world of righteousness. “Because I go to my Father and you no longer see me,” Jesus says (verse 10). These words of Jesus suggest that while He was with the disciples, He was the voice of righteousness. But now they would see Him or hear from Him no more because He was returning to the Father. Going forward, the Holy Spirit would be the Advocate for righteousness.
3. Convicts the world of judgment. “The ruler of this world has been judged” (verse 11). His judgment is hell. But even though hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, all men and women who fail to repent will experience the same judgment (Matthew 25:41). It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict the lost about this reality.
As I reflect on what Jesus says about the work of the Holy Spirit among unbelievers, I think about how it applies to me as a preacher. Anytime I prepare a message, three things have to be true. One, the topic must be relevant to God’s people; two, I need to make sure I understand the text so that I can rightly divide it; and three, I need to find a way to present the message with enough organization and clarity so people can understand what it is that I am trying to get across.
Actually, that’s about my limit as a preacher. I don’t have the power to bring about conviction about the sin of unbelief or of righteousness or about judgment. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
I know how to preach what they call a fire and brimstone message. It may get someone angry, might even make him restless in the pew. But it won’t bring about conviction. No level of theological depth or effective communication can bring about conviction that will translate into a decision for Christ.
That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of unbelievers and not ours. We must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do.
I thank God for the Holy Spirit who enables us to accomplish the humanly impossible mission of reaching the lost!
Copyright © 2021 by Frank King. All rights reserved.