John 16:5-15 But now I go away to Him Who sent Me, and none of you asks me, “Where are You going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
In this passage, Jesus said a surprising thing: “It is to your advantage that I go away.” It was to our advantage (profit, good) that Jesus would leave the world. He emphasized this fact by stating “I tell you the truth.” There have been many times in my life when I wished I could talk with Jesus in the flesh, to hear His earthly voice, to see His expression yet he states clearly here that it was best He leave and not be physically present. He actually stated we are better off without His physical presence here on earth because if He had not left, the Holy Spirit would not have come.
The disciples were in great need of a counselor or comforter, because Jesus would no longer be available to be with them in the flesh. The word comforter or counselor (parakletos) refers to one who is “called alongside” to help. While God uses human counselors to minister to us and guide us, the ultimate Counselor is the Holy Spirit, Who guides us into God’s truth (John 16:13). He is always there prompting us, prodding us, encouraging us, guiding us, and maturing us through all the challenges of our lives. He has a divine name – “the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:11). He has divine attributes – omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7), and omnipotence (Zech. 4:6). He creates, convicts, regenerates, baptizes, fills, and empowers believers. He indwells us (John 14:17), teaches us (John 14:26), guides us (John 16:13), and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26). The Holy Spirit would not have been able to do this unless Jesus departed.
This passage of Scripture teaches us some very specific functions of the Holy Spirit. He will convict the world. The word “convict” (elegxei) means both to convict and to convince. It means to prick a person’s heart until he or she knows guilt. The Holy Spirit convicts of three things:
1. There is the conviction of sin. He convicts us of our sinfulness. He convicts us that we have missed the mark and come short of the glory of God (For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23). He convicts us that we trespass, that is, we wander off the right path and trespass where we were never intended to go (And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins Eph. 2:1). He convicts us that we have transgressed or broke the law of God (For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him Heb. 2:2-3).
2. There is the conviction of righteousness. He convicts us of our lack of righteousness – that we have no righteousness that is acceptable to God. (But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. Is. 4:6-7). He convinces us that Jesus’ righteousness is acceptable to God (For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him 2 Cor. 5:21).
3. There is the conviction of judgment. He convicts us that judgment is coming and that we will face a personal judgment of God. (So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God Rom. 14:12). He convinces us that Jesus has borne the judgment of sin and death for us (Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed 1 Pet. 2:24).
The Holy Spirit is called by several different names in Scripture. He is the “Spirit of God” (2 Chr. 15:1), the “Spirit of the Lord” (Is. 11:2), the “breath of the Almighty” (Job 32:8), the “Spirit of the Lord God” (Is. 61:1), the “Spirit of your Father” (Matt. 10:20), and the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). He is unseen but is depicted by certain symbols: breath or wind (Gen 2:7; Ezek. 37:9), the dove (Luke 3:22), oil (Luke 4:8; Heb. 1:9), fire (Mark 9:49), and the guarantee (2 Cor. 1:21; Ep. 1:14). These symbols help us to understand the various aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He moves sovereignly like the wind. He lights on us like a dove, anoints us like oil, and ignites us like fire. He also seals us to the heart and life of God. His presence in our lives is the guarantee (down payment) of God’s grace, and the assurance He will keep all His promises to us.
The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and only Christ. He receives of Christ and declares it to believers. He was sent in the name of Christ to proclaim Christ. He, the Spirit of Truth, leads us to Christ, who alone is Truth. I love how Henry Blackaby says that we worship truth because He is Truth! See here in this passage how Jesus makes a phenomenal claim. All that the Father has is His. He is the Son of God and there is perfect unity in the Godhead. All things of the Father are the things of the Son and are the things shown and declared by the Holy Spirit.
God loves us with a perfect love, more than we can be loved by anyone else. He speaks to us by His Holy Spirit. For those who have not yet believed, He is calling to find eternal life with Him. He is inviting unbelievers into a deep, intimate relationship with Him. For those of us who are already believers, the Holy Spirit’s continual presence is a source of comfort and guidance through every step of life. We are never alone. God literally dwells in us through his Holy Spirit.