“When he [the Holy Spirit] 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 16:8–11, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Guilt, is the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law. Convict has two possible meanings. The first is to make the guilty party aware of their guilt. This is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit and is the meaning in this particular text. The second is to actually declare that party guilty of a criminal offense by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge. This is the role of Jesus. Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18, NIV 1984). It is a matter of fact that the world is guilty. There is no chance for repentance and exoneration if they are not aware of their guilt. The Holy Spirit gives the world this chance. And there is no penalty until the unrepentant party is declared guilty by the Judge in authority over such matters.
There are three charges against the accused.
In regard to sin – The only unforgivable sin is failure to “believe in “Christ.“
In regard to righteousness – In “going to the Father,” after having paid for our sins on the cross, Jesus’ righteousness is validated as acceptable to the Father. By rejecting Jesus, people are rejecting this righteousness that otherwise could be imputed to them by accepting Christ.
In regard to judgment – By not believing in Jesus, and by rejecting His righteousness, we swear allegiance to the Prince of this fallen world. But because God approves of Christ’s sacrifice, the “prince of this world now stands condemned,” and the world of his followers along with him.
My Advice – Do not shut out the Holy Spirit.