Read John 16:4b-15

And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:8-11)

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)

How does the Holy Spirit work? What does he do? How do you know if he is at work in you? Jesus tells all in John 16.

He comes to prove the world wrong. To upset the applecart. To throw the merchants out of the temple. To judge. To stir up the complacent. To pacify the overheated. To guide and speak and declare. To share all that the Father has. To glorify. To set the world on fire.

Surely ‘the world’ includes non-believers, and no doubt there is a good interpretation of verses 8-11 involving non-believers. But surely ‘the world’ also includes believers, some in the church. In fact, isn’t everyone in the church also in the world? The Holy Spirit comes to prove the worldly church wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.

“Wrong about sin: because they do not believe in me.” They believe that sin is inevitable, that perfection is heresy, that anyone who claims to be without sin is a liar. John, well, John says that too, but he also asserts that no one who abides in Christ can sin. Jesus has proven that perfection is possible, and he gives us his Spirit now.

“Wrong about righteousness: because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me.” They say that we will finally be righteous when we see him face to face, when our sins are forgiven. Jesus says, I am going to the Father now. I give you my Spirit, the Spirit of righteousness, now. I give you glory and radiance now. Wait for it in Jerusalem. Gather and pray.

“Wrong about judgment: because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” Already. Judgment was and is and is to come. Judgment is eternal. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of judgment. He throws down and builds up. He sets the world on fire. I send him to judge the world now.

He comes to guide you into all truth. Do you know how you should live, how you can overcome sin? Do you know how God works in the world? Do you know God himself? He will whisper in your heart about what was, and is, and is to come.

The Holy Spirit remains hidden for a time even though he is already at work. You may not see him or hear him distinctly. And yet his work is not hidden. You can see it in your conscience telling you when you are off the narrow path. You can see it in the abhorrence you feel toward the idea of stealing or cheating or killing. You can see it in your wonder at the glory of God and the crushing weight you feel when you become aware of who and what you are. You can see it in the fear you feel about turning back or letting down the one you love.

There will come a day when the Holy Spirit is no longer hidden to you. There may be tongues of fire or tongues of other peoples. There may be gifts of discernment or prophecy or healing. You may be given words to speak and power to speak them with. There will be fruit. You may be carried away into the third heaven. Head back to Jerusalem, and wait there for the Spirit.

Over time, as you can bear it, the Holy Spirit will take what is Jesus’, his knowledge and wisdom and love, his life, his glory, and declare them to you. Every day pray for more of the Spirit of love.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and