Second, the Spirit will convict the world in regard to righteousness. God has to teach us that our righteousness is totally insufficient. It is hard for people to recognize that our righteousness amounts to nothing before God because we do not possess righteousness within ourselves. We do not have good works and right living apart from conforming to the will of God. This is why the apostle Paul could powerfully declare that there is no one who is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:9ff). Our goodness is nothing when referenced to the depths of our sins. Jesus declared this truth earlier in this gospel in John 6:63. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 ESV)
We must be convicted of the gravity of our sins and see the complete insufficiency of our actions before God. The standard of righteousness is God, not ourselves. We want to compare our righteousness to other people for then we think we are fairly righteous people. But we must compare our righteousness to the righteousness of God and then we will see the infinite gap between us and God. Then we can see how woefully short our actions measure up to God. Most people have played the board game, Monopoly. The game contains all kinds of denominations of money in all kinds of pretty colors. But no one can take that Monopoly and go to the store to buy groceries. The money will not be accepted. In the same way, our righteousness does not work in God’s economy. Our works do not set us free but condemn us. The work of the Spirit was to show us that our righteousness is totally insufficient.
Third, the Spirit will convict the world is regard to judgment. The world’s judgments are profoundly wrong and morally perverse. Our judgments, values, and discernments are all based on the wrong standard. We make false evaluations all the time. The world defines life by all the wrong things. We try to find importance and value and pass judgments based on wealth, appearances, status, standard of living, success, career, and so many other things. Paul plainly declared that we are corrupted by deceitful desires and darkened in our understand and must be renewed in the mind and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:18-23). God is the standard for judgment. Satan is already condemned for his false judgment and evaluation and all who follow in his ways and in his lies are also condemned. The Spirit would come to set the standard for proper, right judgments.
How was the Spirit going to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Please remember John 16:7 that Jesus is promising the Spirit to these apostles yet his coming will convict the world. The Holy Spirit would come to the apostles who would write down what the Holy Spirit revealed so that we when we read and listen to the word of God, it is the Holy Spirit working on our hearts to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We experience this when a lesson hits our hearts hard. It is not the teacher’s words. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the word that is causing our hearts to be moved. The word of God is living, active, and powerful (Hebrews 4:12).