And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:…
Here surely is the true and abiding blessing for those who labor to look under the surface, and see Jesus dealing with the deep, ancient, and malignant causes of all human trouble. Jesus came teaching, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness. The blessing of his incarnate ministry was just as deep, just as shallow, as the recipient chose to make it. But when the incarnate Jesus departs to make room for the Paraclete, the work must be deep, or practically it is nothing. You shall know the Spirit's blessing only as you accept the two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. The Spirit can only bless as it works into the very depths of the conscience and affections.
I. NOTE WITH WHOM THE SPIRIT HAS TO DEAL. His work is with all who are comprised under that wondrous and frequent word in this Gospel, "the world." Elsewhere Jesus speaks of the world hating the disciples. But that very world which hates is not merely to have its malignities warded off; its hatred must, if possible, be changed to friendship, its opposition must give way to support. The spirit of the world in all of us is to be beaten down and starved out by the persuasions of a nobler Spirit ever striving to make friends with the conscience within. This word "reprove," or "convict," is a grand word. It shows us what noble thoughts God has of us. There is no true submission to God in Jesus unless through persuasion. The door of the heart must ever be opened from inside.
II. THE OBJECTS OF HIS CONVINCING WORK.
The connection of these three words is obvious. The presence of sin is the absence of righteousness, and vice versa. And the possibility of sin and the possibility of righteousness mean the coming of a judgment which shall settle with authority whether sin has overcome righteousness or righteousness overcome sin. The Spirit comes, making it clear to men what is the deep, underlying cause of all human unrest and weariness. The work of conviction as to sin, righteousness, and judgment all goes on together. It is, of course, not so much an appeal to the intellect, though the intellect cannot be left out of the operation. The process is one in which there goes on contemporaneously a revelation of self and a revelation of Jesus. Old words have to be emptied of old, insufficient meanings. When the Holy Spirit brings the word "sin," he brings no new word. The old covenant was full of it, the thoughts of men were full of it, but as of something which could be easily put away by the blood of some slain animal. The Holy Spirit makes us ask the question why we are so different from Jesus. The image of Jesus to our understandings should always be a rebuking image, filling us with a deep sense, in no way to be removed by mere lapse of time, of our shortcomings and pollutions. The greatest miracle about Jesus is his pure and perfect character, and the more intense becomes our desire after likeness to him in this respect the more it is evident that the convicting work of the Spirit is going on in us. Ever the humbler we become at the sight of ourselves, the more hopeful shall we become at the sight of Jesus. For, as Jesus goes on to say in a sentence or two later, the Spirit's work is not only a revelation, but a guidance. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: