Have you ever experienced the uncomfortable pricking of your conscience? Doesn’t it make you feel miserable and tie your insides up in knots after you’ve done something you shouldn’t have? It’s been said that the conscience is man’s internal moral compass pointing out the difference between right and wrong. Well, the world also has a conscience whether it knows and appreciates it or not. Its name is the Holy Spirit.
Although the Holy Spirit was promised in John 14, Jesus goes back and continues to share its purpose in John 16, with one of them being to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
So the world has a conscience named the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit also works in our conscience to reveal and point out our shortcomings.
“Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me”
Sin. No one likes that word. In fact, many would rather use words like mistake, accident, or slip-up. However, the Bible makes it very clear that violation again God’s law is sin. And one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit as the world’s conscience is to convict sin. In “Without Excuse” we learned that the Pharisees were guilty of sin because they rejected Jesus as the Promised Messiah. Likewise, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin because they do not believe in the saving name of Jesus.
“Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father”
Righteousness basically means “right standing in the eyes of the law”, without sin, and blameless.* Jesus alone lived a perfect, sinless life, and therefore embodied perfect righteousness. He lived out the example of what a righteous life looks like. However, since Jesus returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit now works in the heart to point out the stark contrast between sin and righteousness, right and wrong, good and bad.
“Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged”
When the king or leader of a country is conquered, his people also fall into judgment and captivity. Likewise, Jesus has conquered Satan, the ruler of this world, and all who follow him also fall under judgment. In the original Greek, judgment means damnation or condemnation. So the Holy Spirit is a siren-call to the world, proclaiming the demise of Satan’s reign and that all who follow him are doomed for judgment. This is also a message of encouragement for the Christian, reminding us that Satan, the ruler of this world, has already been conquered and judged and that Jesus has won the victory. Praise the Lord!
While the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of these things, it also is at work in us as Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God [through the Holy Spirit] who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Thus for the world, the Holy Spirit might be an unwanted conscience, but for those who believe, it is God working in us to will and to work for His pleasure. What an amazing gift, and something we should most definitely want and desire! However, we often times forget this truth while feeling the uncomfortable pricking of conscience and would rather not have the Spirit of God at work in us. Nevertheless, we must humble ourselves and yield to guidance and direction from our God-given Helper because it is possible to quench the Spirit and sear our conscience. We might not think of conscientiously and permanently silencing the Holy Spirit’s voice, but seared consciences happen over time after repeatedly ignoring the warnings, which is why Paul commanded the Thessalonians: “Do not quench the Spirit.” (I Thess. 5:19)
So now the question is…have YOU been pricked by your divinely given conscience? Is the Holy Spirit constantly making you more aware of your need for a Savior? Or have you quenched and blocked out its voice and seared your conscience, making you ignorant of the slippery slope you’re headed down?
May we not be like the world, which does not what a conscience telling them what is right vs. wrong. But may we always be governed by the Divine Helper Jesus sent and mindful of its voice guiding us into the way of life and truth!
*For more on the definition and meaning of righteous visit this Who is God? post here.