Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource



Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic


The Role of the Holy Spirit (Part 3)

The Role of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)
The Role of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)
The Role of the Holy Spirit (Part 3)
The Role of the Holy Spirit (Part 4)



Conviction of Sin and Guiding into All Truth

Construct No. 7: The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.

Construct No. 8: The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.

Because the proof texts for these phrases interlock with one another, we have combined the discussion of these constructs into a single section.

We should also recall that earlier in our study, we took a survey of the use of the word "spirit" in the Gospels in order to locate Jesus' own teachings about the role of the Holy Spirit. From this survey, we found that the term "spirit" occurs 85 times in the Gospels but that out of those 85 occurrences, only 11 verses speak about the rebirth and only 7 provide instructions regarding the role of the Holy Spirit beyond the rebirth. And of those 7, we already covered the first 3 verses during our investigation of Construct No. 3 (the Holy Spirit gives us the right words to speak.) As we move into this portion of our study, we will take a look at the remaining 4 of those 7 verses.

As we begin, we might point out that in the modern Church, the idea of being "convicted of sin" has become synonymous with the idea of inner feelings or impressions from the Holy Spirit, which are intended to let us know that we've done something wrong or perhaps are about to do something wrong. In this way, we are "convicted" of our sin. And conversely, if a person does not feel convicted then the Holy Spirit must not be unhappy with their behavior and anyone else who attempts to criticize that person's behavior, even if on scriptural grounds, might be seen as overstepping the work of the Holy Spirit.

But are any of these concepts what the Bible means by the idea that the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin?

In our previous segment, we demonstrated from Romans 8, that the phrase "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" does not elevate a Christian to a position above criticism of their behavior or doctrine. Instead, as we have seen, Romans 8:1-2 simply declares that a person escapes the condemnation of death prescribed by the Law of Moses IF that person walks in obedience to the Law of Christ.

This is very essential as we move ahead to the idea of being "convicted" by the Holy Spirit. Seizing on the terms "condemn" and "convict," some Christians teach that the word "condemn" refers to the negative, guilt-driven criticisms of men and that, by contrast, the "conviction" from the Holy Spirit is perhaps a more gentle, inward impression from the Holy Spirit. For example, after sinning we might feel sad and we should understand this sadness to be the gentle convicting of the Holy Spirit to let us know that we have grieved him. And again, this idea is directly contrasted with the negative depiction of men (or women) verbally criticizing our behavior or beliefs, which is described as "condemnation."
v So, according to this line of thinking, when Romans 8 says that we are "free from condemnation," some Christians teach that we are free from the outward criticisms that come from men, regardless of whether or not these criticisms include scripture. Now that we are "in Christ Jesus," we are exempt from such "condemnation" and instead we receive awareness about sin, not from men, but through the more gentle inner leadings from the Holy Spirit.

This is the backdrop that must be understood as we examine the Bible's description of the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin. But, as we have already established in our previous segment, the phrase "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" was never intended to exempt a Christian from criticism by other men, including criticism backed by scripture in particular. Instead, Romans 8:1-2 simply declares that a person escapes the condemnation of death prescribed by the Law of Moses IF that person walks in obedience to the Law of Christ.

Now that we know that freedom from criticism by others is not asserted by Romans 8:1-3, we can move on to examine what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit convicting men of sin.

The idea of the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin comes primarily from John 16.

John 16: 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…

(Note: the word "reprove" in verse 8 is translated as "convict" in other translations, such as the NIV, NASB, and NKJV.)

We will start with the most straightforward facts about this verse. Specifically, we should note that in this passage Jesus says that one role of the Holy Spirit is to "reprove the world of sin." From this single phrase, there are three very important items worth noting. All three have to do with vocabulary.

The Greek word for reprove in verse 8 is "elegcho" (Strong's No. 1651). The full definition is provided below.

1651 elegcho {el-eng'-kho}
of uncertain affinity; TDNT - 2:473,221; v
AV - reprove 6, rebuke 5, convince 4, tell (one's) fault 1, convict 1; 17
1) to convict, refute, confute
1a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted
1b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose
2) to find fault with, correct
2a) by word
2a1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove
2a2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation
2b) by deed
2b1) to chasten, to punish

First, notice that "elegcho" basically means to "to convict, refute, confute, to find fault with, correct, to expose." And notice that "Elegcho" includes, rather than excludes, refuting someone "by word." Furthermore, "elegcho" also includes "a suggestion of shame" and "to reprehend severely, chide, admonish." And finally, "elegcho" also involves the idea of "punishing," even punishing "by deed."

So, the first thing that we notice from this basic vocabulary search is the absurdity of the notion that conviction by the Holy Spirit is supposed to be gentler than the criticism by men. From the Greek word used by Jesus in this passage, we should understand that the conviction from the Holy Spirit can be just as harsh and severe, if not more so, than the criticisms of men. And, rather than simply being an inner feeling, this conviction from the Holy Spirit could even be verbal, either in the form of words in our thoughts or perhaps an audible voice, possibly even through other people in our lives. And this leads us to our second point about the word "elegcho."

Second, if we were to do a survey of how "elegcho" is used in the New Testament, we would quickly find that it occurs 17 times. Of these 17 occurrences, 11 times "elegcho" is being used with regard to men refuting or criticizing one another. The fact that "elegcho" is used equally in the New Testament to describe rebuke from men and rebuke from the Holy Spirit is also very significant because this fact erases any attempt to make strong categorical distinctions between the manner in which men correct each other and the way the Holy Spirit corrects us. Or, to put it in more modern terms, we cannot call rebuke from men "condemnation" and rebuke from the Holy Spirit "conviction." Whether from men or from the Holy Spirit, the New Testament describes both forms of correction with the same Greek word, "elegcho."

Third, notice that Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will reprove the world.

John 16: 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The Greek word for "world" here is "kosmos" (Strong's No. 2889). Although, "kosmos" can refer to the entire created realm, the portion of its definition that is in view is "the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family." And furthermore, while "kosmos" can be inclusive of "believers" by definition it typically refers to "the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ."

And, from verse 9 we know that "kosmos" here refers to "the whole mass of men alienated from God" because verse 9 states that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin "because they believe not" in Jesus. By the phrase "because they believe not in me" we know that Jesus is talking about "unbelievers" rather than believers. Therefore, this convicting work of the Holy Spirit with regard to sin applies ONLY to non-Christians, to those who do not believe in Jesus. Since in John 16:8-10 the Holy Spirit is convincing unbelievers of sin, not believers, we can very quickly see that John 16 does not provide support for the idea that the Holy Spirit convinces Christians of their sin though inward feelings or impressions. But despite the fact that this disproves the assertion that John 16 supports the doctrine of the Holy Spirit convicting Christians of sin, we still must move on to establish how John 16 describes the role of the Holy Spirit.

Even though we have established from vocabulary that "conviction" from the Holy Spirit is categorically the same as a rebuke from one man to another and can possess all of the same elements including severe chiding, public exposure of wrongdoing, verbal rebuke, and perhaps even punishment, we still have not yet examined exactly how the Holy Spirit conveys or manifests this conviction. For an answer to this pressing question, we will briefly turn to a broader examination of John's Gospel on these issues.

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 8: 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

From both John 1 and John 8, we can see that Jesus is the light of the world. In John 3, Jesus says something about what this light does in the world.

John 3: 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

The word for "reproved" in verse 20 is "elegcho," the same word used in John 16:10, where it says that the Holy Spirit will, "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." So, in John 3:17, we see that because Jesus is the light of the world, one function that Jesus has as the Light is to reprove or convince men concerning truth and sinfulness.

In John 8, we see an example of Jesus doing just that.

John 8: 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

The Greek word for "convicted" in verse 9 is "elegcho," the same word used in John 16:8 where the Holy Spirit is said to "convict the world of sin." In John 8, the issue is that the Pharisees are asking Jesus to approve of stoning a women to death according to the Law of Moses. How does Jesus prove his case? And remember, that is all that "elegcho" means. It means to convince, to refute, to correct. So, how does Jesus convince them not to stone this woman?

As the text demonstrates, the Pharisees were convinced to leave without stoning the women when the words spoken by Jesus affected their consciences. So, in this instance we see Jesus convincing (convicting) the world through his own words. But why is this significant to how the Holy Spirit convinces men of sin? For this we turn back to John 9.

John 9: 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus words in John 9:5 are very straightforward. In this verse Jesus plainly states that he lights the world while he is in the world. And since in John 3 and 8 we can see that one aspect of lighting the world involved convincing men of truth and sinfulness that according to John 9:5 Jesus would only be convincing men of truth and sinfulness while he was in the world. So, what happens when Jesus is no longer present after he returns to the Father? This question is answered specifically by Jesus in John 16.

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Here in verses 7-11, when Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, he connects this role of the Holy Spirit to his own return to the Father in heaven. In John 3:20 and John 8:9, we saw Jesus literally convincing men concerning right and wrong. But in John 16, Jesus is reflecting on how he is going away. And because he is going away, he won't be around anymore to teach or to convict men of right and wrong, including right and wrong doctrine. That would leave the world and Jesus' own followers without someone to teach them and convict them concerning truth and morality. So, what is the remedy for this absence? The remedy is that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to perform these roles after Jesus goes away.

The fact that Jesus does indeed have in mind that the Holy Spirit will replace him as the teacher for his disciples and the rest of the world is further established by Jesus' continued comments in the very next verse.

John 16: 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

In verses 12-13, Jesus states that although he has many things to say, which his disciples were not currently able to hear, the Holy Spirit would guide them into the rest of these teachings and would speak, not of himself, but only the things that He hears from Jesus. In fact, this idea of the Holy Spirit saying only what He hears is identical of the role performed by Jesus while on earth.

John 12: 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

Notice first of all that here in John 12:46-50, Jesus connects his role of lighting the world with how his own teachings judge the world. Furthermore, in this passage Jesus explains that the Father sent him into the world to light the world and that this lighting of the world occurs by Jesus speaking the words that the Father says. He also explains that he speaks and says only what the Father tells him to say and that he speaks nothing of himself, which is exactly what he says regarding the Holy Spirit in John 16:12.

John 16: 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

(Note: The phrase "he will shew you things to come" is a reference to the role of the Holy Spirit with the gift of prophecy. Since we have already covered this issue and how it relates to our current study under Construct No. 1, we will conserve time and space by not restating those points again here. Instead, with regard to prophecy, we simply refer the reader back to our comments in that previous section.)

Clearly, the Holy Spirit is performing the same role performed by Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus teaches us what he hears from God and says nothing of himself, so the Holy Spirit will teach us what Jesus has said and will speak nothing of himself. In this way, neither Jesus' followers or the world will be left without a teacher or someone to convince them of right and wrong, truth and falsehood. So, as John 9:5 teaches, Jesus is the light of the world while he is in the world during which time he convinces the world of truth and sinfulness by means of his teachings, which are not of himself, but only what he hears from the Father (John 12:49). And in John 16:7-13, Jesus says that when he returns to the Father, the Father will send the Holy Spirit who will then convince the world of truth and sinfulness in Jesus' absence and who will speak not of himself but will speak only what he hears.

So, we can see that by convincing the world of truth and sinfulness, the Holy Spirit is simply taking over the role performed by Jesus when Jesus was here on earth. John's Gospel has more to say on these points.

John 14: 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

In John 14:15-17, not only does Jesus say that while he is going away the Holy Spirit will remain forever, but he also connects our ability to benefit from the Holy Spirit with our ability to keep Jesus' commandments. Keep in mind also that these comments from Jesus in John 14 come before the comments in John 16. This means that the disciples who heard Jesus comments in John 16 would have done so with Jesus' earlier teaching in chapters 14 and 15 in mind. And after his comments in verses 15-17, Jesus goes on to say a little more about the role of the Holy Spirit in verse 26.

John 14: 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15: 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Here we again see a significant theme to Jesus' teaching about the Holy Spirit's role. The Holy Spirit will teach and convict, not by speaking of himself, but by bringing to our remembrance all things that Jesus has taught in exactly the same way that Jesus spoke not of himself but said only what the Father told him to say. So, the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to testify about Jesus and convince the world of truth and sinfulness by reminding us about what Christ Jesus has already taught.

Furthermore, the use of the word "remembrance" in these passages is very significant. The entire concept of remembering requires that we have already come into contact with the item that is being remembered. In practical terms, this means that with regard to doctrine, the Holy Spirit is not going to reveal to us doctrinal concepts that we've never studied or heard before. Likewise, this means that the Holy Spirit is not going to be able to help us understand doctrines that are based upon scriptures that we've never read before. In order for the Holy Spirit to perform this function in our lives and lead us into all truth, we first have to be providing the Holy Spirit with the raw material He needs in order to help us remember. In other words, we first have to be reading scripture so that the Holy Spirit can help us remember the teachings contained in those scriptures and then help us to put together a proper understanding of doctrine and the Word of God.

Thus, there is nothing magical, improvised, or subjective about the way in which the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the teachings of Christ Jesus. Rather than "all of a sudden" or "out of nowhere" realizing or discerning a truth that we haven't really studied, we instead come to understand Biblical teaching because the Holy Spirit helps us to remember and appropriately assemble all the parts of a particular topic, which we have already read or heard, that are scattered throughout the pages of the Bible.

It is within these parameters that Jesus states that the Holy Spirit will convince the world of wrongdoing and truth. By speaking of the Holy Spirit convincing the world in this context, Jesus is clearly indicating that the Holy Spirit will convince the world by bringing into remembrance the things that Jesus has already taught. And, in doing so, the Holy Spirit will carry on the same role performed by Jesus when he was physically present. Just as in John 3:20 and 8:9 we saw Jesus convincing people of truth and righteousness, the Holy Spirit would be carrying on this work after Jesus returned to the Father.

But how will the Holy Spirit perform this work? Jesus was physically present and had a physical voice by which he physically spoke the words from the Father. But the Holy Spirit does not have a physical human body. So how will he convince men? Will the Holy Spirit speak audibly? Will the Holy Spirit convince through inward feelings and impressions? Or will the Holy Spirit communicate through some other means?

Well, here it is no small secret what the primary means of communication would be. Consider what Jesus says of his own followers in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5: 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Here Jesus says that his followers are the light of the world and that they should let their light shine before men. As we have said, it is no small secret that the New Testament presents that the job of convincing the world with the teachings of Jesus Christ would continue after Jesus' ascension through his followers who were commanded to preach his teaching to the world. The role of the Holy Spirit was to enable men to do this by helping them remember the teachings of Jesus Christ and by helping them to understand those things that they had already heard and were remembering.

In fact, the notion that the Holy Spirit would carry out this function of convincing the world through the speech and teaching of Jesus' followers, rather than through internal feelings or impressions, is clear throughout the New Testament.

We have already seen this clearly during our examination of Construct No. 3, which dealt with the Holy Spirit giving men the right words to speak. We started that segment by stating that out of the 85 verses in the Gospel where the word "spirit" appears, only 7 of those passages were about teaching from Jesus concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. 3 of those 7 passages had the following to say.

Matthew 10: 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

Mark 13: 9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

Luke 12: 11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

As can be seen, in these passages, Jesus instructs his followers that when they are testifying before rulers and political authorities, God will give them the words to say by the power of the Holy Spirit. From these verses, we can see ample and clear proof that the role of the Holy Spirit of convicting the world after Jesus ascension was going to be carried out through the continued proclamation of Jesus' teaching by his followers.

And, we can also see that the Holy Spirit would primarily carry out the task of convicting the world of truth through the teaching of Jesus' followers in the Great Commission.

Mark 16: 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Matthew 28: 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Acts 1: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

In Matthew, Mark, and Acts we see that Jesus commanded his followers to spread his teaching and commandments to the whole world after his ascension. What is so remarkable about this simple process was the extent to which it was designed to perfectly preserve the words of the Father. In John 12:49, Jesus says he speaks, not of himself, but only what the Father says. In John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will not speak of himself but will testify of Jesus, speak only what he hears, and bring the disciples into remembrance of everything Jesus' taught. In John 14:17, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will dwell in all those who receive his teachings. And in Mark 16:15, 19-20, Matthew 28:19-20, and Acts 1:4, 8 Jesus commands his followers to spread his teachings over the whole world. And finally, the apostles also repeatedly command their followers to preach and preserve the doctrine of Christ just as the apostles had preached it to them, without modification or corruption in such passages as Romans 16:17-18, 1 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 1:6-8, Ephesians 4:11-15, Ephesians 4:6-7, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, 1 Timothy 4:1. 1 Timothy 4:9-16, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:25, Titus 1:9, 13, Titus 2:1, Titus 2:7, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:21, 1 John 2:24, 2 John 1:9-11, and Jude 1:3.

Similarly, in Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells his followers that they are the light of the world, which is the same role that he himself filled while he was present on earth as he convinced the world of truth and sinfulness by means of his own teachings. Now he was sending them out, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to carry on this work of convincing the world of truth by preaching his teachings, which he had received from the Father and which the Holy Spirit would help them remember and understand.

The entire process is designed to convince the world through the uncorrupted, unmodified, pure teachings given by the Father, proclaimed by Jesus, brought into remembrance and understanding among Jesus' followers by the Holy Spirit after Jesus' ascension, and preached and taught by Jesus' followers to the world. This was the testimony of the teaching of God and the manner in which the world is to be convinced of truth and sinfulness.

What is clear is that it is Jesus' words and teachings, which come from the Father and which the Holy Spirit would bring into remembrance, that are doing the convincing. In John 8:9, the Pharisees who hear Jesus' words are convinced. In John 12:48, it is the words of Jesus Christ, which judge men. And in John 16:8-13 and John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is said to speaking only what he hears and to bring Jesus' followers in remembrance of Jesus' words and in so doing to carry on Jesus' role of convincing the world of truth in Jesus' absence. Likewise, in Matthew 5:14 Jesus says that his disciples are the light of the world and in Mark 16:15, 19-20, Matthew 28:19-20, and Acts 1:4, 8 Jesus sends his followers out to convince the world of truth by preaching everything that he had taught them after they have received the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).

Clearly in all cases, the means of convicting mankind is through the teachings of Jesus Christ, which he received from the Father and which the Holy Spirit would remind Jesus' followers of so that they could carry on this work of convicting the world by preaching Jesus' teachings after he returned to the Father. And, in contrast to this consistent underlying theme in which the world is convicted by the proclamation of Jesus' teaching, we find absolutely no trace anywhere in John's description of conviction that indicates any connection to inner feelings or impressions.

Furthermore, although we have found no trace in any of these passages that the Holy Spirit leads Christians through inner feelings or impressions of any kind, even if there was some capacity of that, it would certainly not be to the point of overriding or excluding what we have seen repeatedly in the scriptures. So, there is no basis for suggesting inner feelings or impressions replace, exclude, override, or remove the need for conviction by means of the teachings of Jesus Christ preached verbally first by Jesus Christ himself as recorded in scripture and then by his followers. In any case, primary means of convicting, even the Holy Spirit's work of convicting and leading us into truth, comes not through inner feelings or impressions, which we've seen no trace of in scripture, but through the teachings of Jesus Christ either preached verbally or read from scripture.

And that is the role of the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament, not to show us which behaviors, which doctrines, which situations, or which relationships we should choose by some inner feeling or impression. But instead, the Holy Spirit shows us which behaviors, which doctrines, which situations, or which relationships we should choose by reminding us of what Jesus' has already taught on these subjects and helping us to understand that teaching.

The bottom line is that the teaching of Jesus Christ as recorded in scripture is the very means, power, and authority by which we are convinced of truth and sin, whether that teaching comes to us from remembering what we've already heard or studied or from someone else speaking to us about scripture. Even when the Holy Spirit helps us remember, the power and mechanism of convincing us resides in the teachings of Christ Jesus, not in feelings or impressions that supercede our understanding.

But, we still need to go just a little farther to further establish this conclusion. What remains is an examination of the striking similarities between John 14 and the Apostle John's comments in his first epistle concerning the Holy Spirit helping us to understand truth.

John 14: 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth hi m: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14: 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Notice in both of these two passages from John 14 that Jesus starts out by stating that those who love him will keep his teachings and commandments. Then Jesus states that for those who have received his teachings will have the Holy Spirit sent to them. This is significant because Jesus is telling us plainly that in order to receive the Holy Spirit we must abide in his teachings. So, if we receive Jesus' teachings then he will send the Holy Spirit to us and the Holy Spirit will teach us to understand all the things spoken by Christ, which we have already accepted, and the Holy Spirit will keep us in remembrance of those things as well.

That is the pattern. Receive Jesus' teachings. Then receive the Holy Spirit who will help us understand, remember, and continue to abide in those teachings. Having heard Jesus say this, John restates the very same thing in his first epistle.

1 John 2: 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

Notice the similarities with Jesus words in John 14. Most importantly, we can see by comparison with John 14 that John's mention of an anointing here (as well as in verse 20 below) is a reference to the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of us who teaches us the true meaning of the words of Christ Jesus. And like Jesus, John begins these verses by instructing his audience to remain in the teachings of Jesus Christ just as they have heard those teachings from the beginning. And then John goes on to talk about how the anointing (that is within them as a result of receiving Jesus' teachings) will continue to teach them so that they don't need anyone else to teach them.

Now, what does John mean that they don't need anyone else to teach them? First, we should notice that this statement is conditional. ONLY IF they stayed in the teaching of Christ Jesus as it had been taught from the beginning were they without need of someone else to teach them. Therefore, this statement does not apply to situations or persons who deviate from the teaching of Jesus Christ as it was taught from the beginning.

Second, notice that remaining in the original doctrine of Jesus Christ as it was taught from the beginning is the theme of this passage.

1 John 2: 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

1 John 2: 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

1 John 2: 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

John's emphasis to his audience that they will remain in the Father and the Son only if they remain in the teaching as it has been taught from the beginning is also echoed in other passages likewise instructing Christians to remain in the teaching just as they have received it from the apostles. (Romans 16:17-18, 1 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 1:6-8, Ephesians 4:11-15, Ephesians 4:6-7, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, 1 Timothy 4:1. 1 Timothy 4:9-16, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:25, Titus 1:9, 13, Titus 2:1, Titus 2:7, 2 John 1:9-11, Jude 1:3.)

Third, notice that John is talking about false teachers in this passage who are trying to lead Christians away from the teaching as it was taught from the beginning.

1 John 2: 18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

In contrast to John's audience who John instructs to remain in the teaching of Christ Jesus, John also talks about such men who started out among the Christians but have not remained. These men went on to deny that Jesus is the Christ. And John even calls them liars, which indicates that they were telling these false beliefs to others, and so these men were teaching false things about Christ Jesus. It is concerning these false teachers that John writes, "if that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you… ye need not that any man teach you." For, these men had departed from the truth and were now teaching falsehood and so John writes to the Christians that if they remain in the doctrine of Christ, they have no need of such men to teach them because they already have the truth while the things that these men teach are mere lies.

But again, the essential point from John's epistle is that exemption from needing a teacher was conditional and only applied to those who were remaining in Jesus' teaching as it had been taught from the beginning. Therefore, this passage cannot be use by those who deviate from Jesus' original teaching. Such persons are not exempt from needing a teacher. Furthermore, in this passage ONLY those who remaining in Jesus' teaching as it had been taught from the beginning could expect the Holy Spirit to help them further understand. Consequently, this passage does NOT support the idea that the Holy Spirit will teach those who do NOT hold to Jesus' teaching as it was taught from the beginning. If a person has doctrine that differs from the original teaching of Christ Jesus, they cannot expect to be taught inwardly by the Holy Spirit. (However, they can receive help for their mistaken doctrine through the external preaching of men who hold to sound doctrine. So, they are not without help.)

Second, in this passage, the kinds of teachers that Christians are exempt from are those teachers who would lead us away from Jesus' teaching as it was taught from the beginning. Therefore, nothing in this passage can be used to support the idea of exemption from teachers who teach us correct doctrine as it was taught from the beginning.

Third, we can clearly see both the first and second points above in Hebrews 5:11-6:3.

Hebrews 5: 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.

In contrast to John's comments in 1 John 2, where John teaches that those who understand and remain in sound doctrine do not need to subject themselves to false teachers, here in Hebrews 5:11-6:3, Paul teaches that those who do not yet properly understand Christ's teachings are still in need of orthodox teachers to teach them.

In this passage from Hebrews, Paul states that he has many things to teach his audience but that he cannot do so because they are dull of hearing and do not yet understand the basics of God's Word. And Paul comments that because his audience doesn't understand the basics of the doctrine of Christ, they therefore still "need that one teach" them. And notice that Paul says that enough time has past that his audience should be teachers themselves by now. So, Paul is not talking about new converts to Christianity. He is talking about people who've been Christians long enough to be teachers but they still need teachers themselves because they have not yet come to understand the doctrine of Christ Jesus.

And notice the list of things that Paul counts among the basic doctrine: repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. This covers every aspect of doctrine from conversion through the return of Christ and eschatology, which ends at the final judgment. All these, according to Paul, are things that a person must understand or else "they are yet a babe." And according to Paul, if a person doesn't understand such things, not only are they immature, but they are still in need of someone else to teach these things to them. Therefore, no one can claim to be exempt from needing a teacher so long as they still do not understand the basics that Paul lists here.

But we would like to add one additional point. If everything from repentance to eschatology are "the foundations" and "the basics" according to Paul, then what is the "meat" of the Word that Paul wants to go on to talk about here? Well, notice in chapter 6:1, that Paul says, "let us go on unto perfection." In chapter 5:7-9, Paul was talking about the character of Jesus Christ, how he endured even suffering with faith and patience. But Paul has to stop talking about the development of the character of Christ Jesus because his audience still doesn't understand the basics, which include everything from repentance to eschatology. In saying this, Paul is defining everything from repentance to eschatology as the milk and the basic foundation and simultaneously defining development of the character of Christ as the meat, which is developed only after that foundation is laid.

In other words, Paul wants to talk about character but he can't because an understanding of everything from repentance to eschatology comes first and provides the foundation of character development and his audience does not yet understand those things. This is very significant in two ways. First, far from having God be unconcerned with our doctrine as long as we focus on character, here Paul is teaching that God first wants us to understand doctrine because that forms the necessary foundation of good character development.

Second, in listing everything from repentance to eschatology as the basics, Paul is defining what he considers to be "essential doctrines." In modern terms, Church leaders often want to define the "essentials" as strictly those things that deal with the Trinity, the nature of Christ Jesus, and how Christ Jesus obtained our salvation through his death and resurrection. But Paul's definition of the essentials is much broader than that. Paul's definition of the essentials spans from repentance to Revelation, so to speak.

And more to the point, according to Paul, anyone who does not yet understand these things is still in need of a teacher. As such, the exemption from the need for a teacher describing in 1 John 2 does not apply to anyone who doesn't yet understand sound doctrine. In short, if you don't understand sound doctrine as it was taught from the beginning concerning topics from repentance to revelation, then you cannot assert that you are exempt from needing a human teacher because you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. A person only becomes exempt from needing a human teacher when they understand and remain in the foundational range of doctrines defined by Paul in Hebrews 6:1-3, and only then can such a person invoke reliance solely on the Holy Spirit to keep them in sound doctrine.