“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
“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).
God promises to fill those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The entire Trinity is devoted to this. The Father sent Jesus to save the world. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10) and to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8); this includes setting us free from the power of sin as well as its punishment. The Holy Spirit will bring satisfaction to those who crave it.
Jesus gave His most detailed teaching about the Holy Spirit the night before His crucifixion (John 13-17). Among other things, He told the disciples that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would convict the world regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment.
We will not address how the Holy Spirit convicts the world regarding sin and judgment at this time. Today, I will focus on the matter of righteousness. What did Jesus mean when He said the Holy Spirit would convict the world regarding “righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me”?
Jesus is pointing out that, even though He would soon die and then return to the Father, the Holy Spirit would continue His work on Earth through His disciples. For three years, Jesus had confronted the Jewish people regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment. Many—particularly the religious leaders—had rejected Him. His work would not end with the cross. Another Helper—one Who would come alongside to help and dwell within His disciples—would come and continue His work. It would spread around the globe.
Jesus would no longer be physically present to convict the world regarding righteousness. This would become the apostles’ mission, as the Holy Spirit would dwell within them, fill them, and empower them.
During His earthly life, Jesus accepted certain limitations of being a human in a physical body. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, spoke of this by saying that Jesus emptied Himself:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7).
Among other limitations, Jesus could be in only one place at a time. He could not preach in Capernaum and Mexico at the same time. His ministry was confined to a small region, probably about the size of New Jersey. News about Him could have reached Caesar’s palace in Rome (“We hear there is some guy in Galilee who has the leadership in Judea worried; they say He claims to be the king of the Jews”), but His actual impact was limited to what is now Israel and, perhaps, a few small areas just beyond its borders.
However, by the end of the first century—about 70 years after His death, resurrection, and ascension—Jesus had followers throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Today, there are Christians in every country on Earth. His apostles and other disciples would bring the Good News of Jesus everywhere. If you call upon Jesus for salvation, it is because the Holy Spirit led someone to share the Good News with you, and then He stirred your heart to accept the message.
Beyond that, the Holy Spirit works in us to produce the fruit of righteousness in our lives:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).
The Holy Spirit does not stop working when we hear the Word of God. That is only the beginning. He dwells within every believer, empowering us to say “yes” to God’s will and “no” to our passions and desires.
We will be tempted. We will even fall sometimes. However, we should not give in to discouragement. The Holy Spirit is greater and more powerful than any sin, habit, hangup, or addiction that seems to hold you captive. Turn to Him and surrender to His guidance, and He will give you victory. He will satisfy your longing to be set free and to experience righteousness.
Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who will not leave me as an orphan but remains with me always. Give me a renewed awareness of His presence and power in my life so that I may do Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
How have you seen the Holy Spirit work in your life? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.