St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

How The Holy Spirit Helps Us

Sermon on John 16:5-11

Text: Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

During much of the church year, we focus our attention especially on the work of Jesus Christ, as he won salvation for us. Indeed, Jesus’ work is most important, because, if he had not done what he did, we would be lost forever. We, also, focus our attention on God the Father. We remember that he is the one who promises to hear our prayers and to help us in all our needs. He is the one who sent his Son into the world to be our Savior. Probably the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the least spoken of during our church year. Today is Pentecost Sunday, which is often called the birthday of the Christian Church. We remember on the day how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples mightily. On this Pentecost, we will take some time and see HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US. 1. He Convinces Us Of Sin. 2. He Convinces Us Of Righteousness. 3. He Convinces Us Of Judgement.

The words spoken by our Savior were spoken on Maundy Thursday evening. He spent a great deal of that evening comforting and building up his disciples, because the next three days would be very hard on them. He, especially, wants them to realize that they were not left alone. He promised that the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. What this Holy Spirit would do is spoken of in the last four verses of our text.

We read in verse 8, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” Note that the NIV uses the words “prove the world to be in the wrong” in this verse. That probably isn’t the best translation of that word from the Greek. Yes, it is possible to prove someone to be in the wrong when it comes to sin, but do you prove someone to be in the wrong about righteousness or of judgement? When you hear the word “prove to be in the wrong,” you might think of a courtroom. Perhaps, another idea or picture from a courtroom would give us a better translation. That is the telling of the facts to someone until they are convinced of the truth. When they are convinced, they make their decision of guilt or innocence, beyond a shadow of doubt. In the same way this morning, the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace convinces us of three things. These three things are found in verses 9-11. We will look at each of the verses individually.

We read in verse 9, “About sin, because people do not believe in me.” The first thing the Holy Spirit does for us is to convince us that we are sinners. He shows us in God’s Word that we have failed to live up to God’s perfect standards. The most concise and concentrated summary of God’s will is found in the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet.” One after another, we read them and find ourselves to have fallen short of God’s commands. There are no commands that we have failed to keep.

This is the first thing the Holy Spirit does for us. He convinces us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are sinners. Why does he do this? He does so to show us that, on our own, we have no choice of gaining heaven. He wants us to realize that we cannot do anything on our own. He wants us to look elsewhere for our salvation. However, for us to want to look elsewhere, we have to be shown, in no uncertain terms, that we have fallen into many different sins. So, the Holy Spirit brings God’s law before our eyes and shows us where we have failed. This is very important because many people even fail to believe that they have sinned. They feel that all they have done are some small mistakes and, after all, no one is perfect. However, as Scriptures say, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The first thing the Holy Spirit does for us is to convince us of the fact that we are sinners, who deserve God’s wrath.

However, this is not the main focus of the work of the Holy Spirit. He convinces us of sin, so that he might convince us of righteousness. We read in verse 10, “About righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.” The Holy Spirit convinces us of righteousness. The word “righteousness” means to be in a right or correct relationship with God. Of course, the only way to be in a right relationship with God is to be perfect. Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Of course, we realize that we cannot be perfect, because we have sinned. So, the Holy Spirit points us to our source of righteousness, Jesus Christ.

On our own, we would not believe in Jesus and, thus, receive the righteousness essential for entrance into heaven. As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” You cannot believe in Jesus as your Savior without the working of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, we would not want to. Again, St. Paul writes “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Without the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to understand about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus’ death would seem meaningless. ‘Why would a person willingly give up his life?’ Jesus’ resurrection would seem like foolishness to our ears. ‘After all,’ says the material mind, ‘once a person has breathed their last, we know that this is the end.’

However, the Holy Spirit entered our lives through the washing of baptism and God’s Word. He created the faith that accepts all these things as being true. ‘If God said so, that’s good enough for me.’ The Holy Spirit has created a faith in our hearts. Through that faith, we are able to accept the gift of righteousness that Christ won for us on the cross. Because of that faith, we know that salvation is ours. We are saved through that faith in Jesus. As Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles Creed says, “I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel.” The Holy Spirit introduces us to and gives us the righteousness of God.

These two things that the Holy Spirit does for us are most important. They are the basic building blocks of our salvation. First, we realize that we are lost sinners, but that Jesus died for our sins and now salvation is ours. This is also something that we need to be reminded of every day, because we sin every day and need to come to God for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit convinces us of sin and righteousness.

There is a third thing that the Holy Spirit convinces us of. We read of this in verse 11, “About judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” The Holy Spirit dwells within us for another reason: to convince us of judgement. Just because we are Christians doesn’t give us the freedom to live in whatever way we wish, figuring we can always go to God and ask for forgiveness. I’m not speaking about those sins that are committed out of weakness. What is being spoken of here are the willful sins, those things that we know are wrong, but we do them anyway. We try to find excuses for them, saying that they are not a big deal. We try to console ourselves by thinking that we have an easy way out and we can sin as much as we want, because we can always go and ask for forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit convinces us of judgement. He teaches us that they are sins and, if we think we can do what we want now and repent later, he tells us that this is not the way that Christians act. Jesus adds, “The prince of this world now stands condemned.” (Verse 11) Jesus is speaking of the devil. He has already been sentenced to an eternity in hell. By adding these words, Jesus is giving us a warning. If we want to follow the devil’s lies, look at where it led him. If you rebel against God and don’t care what you do, you may end up with the devil.

The Holy Spirit has been placed in us, not only to warn us of judgement, but also to encourage us to live God-pleasing lives. He points us to the blood-stained cross and the empty tomb and tells us, ‘He did this for you.’ What can our response be but to serve him with our entire lives? Let us do what God places before us to do. May our lives be a constant thanking of God for all that he has done for us. The Holy Spirit lives in us, encouraging us to do what is pleasing to God. May we listen to his urging.

Today is the first Sunday in the Pentecost season. The focus of the Sundays from now until the end of November will be different from the other Sundays. The other Sundays in the festival part of the church year deal with the special events in Christ’s life, from his advent, his birth in Bethlehem, his suffering and death and his glorious resurrection. These Sundays focus on what Jesus did for us. The Sundays of the Pentecost season focus on what we do to say “Thank you” to God for all he has done for us. May the Holy Spirit continue to dwell in each of us as we look for ways to live God-pleasing lives. May he increase our faith and our zeal to do them. This morning, we especially thank the Holy Spirit, for all that he has done for us. Amen.