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8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:


The three things that the Spirit would do when He came revolves around conviction. Conviction is a prelude to salvation. “Convict” means to expose facts or convince of the truth. Thus, the word means to expose or bring to light. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to expose the lost to the gospel. It takes more than operation bootstraps to come to Christ; it requires supernatural action.

When the context is human guilt, the two ideas of convicting and convincing come together. The Holy Spirit awakens the conscience to believe what is right but also to prove people guilty of violating God’s norms and standards. The Greek word for “convict” implies more than rebuke; it also includes the idea of building a case for what is true. Thus, the idea of “convict” means the Spirit both personally convinces the world of its guilt and calls them to embrace Jesus as Savior.

of sin,

The first area that the Holy Spirit convicts is “sin.” “Sin” is singular. The Holy Spirit will convict of one sin—the sin of not believing that Jesus is the Savior (Jn 3:18). We will see this in the next verse.

and of righteousness,

“Righteousness” is God’s righteousness. His own righteousness is the standard for acceptance with Him. This shows that human righteousness is not adequate to acquire an eternal standing with God.

and of judgment:

God’s judgment pivots on what people think of Jesus and His payment for sins.


Only the Holy Spirit can supernaturally convict people about eternal things..


Summary of the Holy Spirit’s work:

-the reality of unbelief in Jesus

-the availability of righteousness that Christ provides

-the inevitability of divine judgment on those who reject Christ

The Holy Spirit uses stimuli to bring men to a point of conviction about “sin,” “righteousness,” and “judgment.” The Father draws (Jn 6:44) and the Spirit convicts. There is a proclivity for human beings to suppress God’s truth (Ro 1:18). It takes the supernatural work of the Spirit to breakthrough that resistance.

Mankind is guilty of the singular sin of unbelief. The Spirit convicts them under the standard of Christ’s righteousness. God has judged them together with Satan and his worldview.

The convicting work of the Spirit in some cases will bring conversion and at other situations not. His work may bring forth hardness toward Christ. He will bring both reproof and convincing to the fallacies of the world system and its constituents. He will not leave them in their self-complacency about the three categories listed in this verse. The ministry of the Spirit will establish the world’s guilt before God. Some will respond positively to His conviction, but others will reject the Spirit’s promptings. No one who ever lived on earth will be left untouched by the Spirit’s ministry to their soul.

Those who deliver the message cannot convict people of their need for Jesus; that is strictly the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Man can make no move toward God without the Spirit’s initiative to do so. No one can become aware of his or her eternal need without The Spirit’s work. The first and foremost onus is upon God in that matter. It takes the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit to do that. The human will, independent from God’s will, is powerless, incapable, inadequate, and unable on its own terms to place faith in Jesus. It is important to recognize the impotence of the human will without the work of God.