Many people have no idea that God is involved in their lives before they even know him personally. The Holy Spirit works in our lives before we come to faith in Christ. There are a couple of things he involves himself in with us.
God has been chasing every person, seeking relationship with his tainted creation. Every single one of us contains God’s image whether we have a relationship with him or not. It’s his goal to restore his relationship with us that was lost in the Garden of Eden.
Before anyone gets angry about God working in the background of our lives whether we are his children or not, think about that. God pursues us before we even think about him. He loves us so much that he is willing to invest in us even if we don’t accept him.
Jesus went to the cross and died for every human being that has ever lived. And yet many people will never become Christians or return his affections. You know God’s Spirit is working in your life whether you come to Christ or not.
The Holy Spirit is working in the world and working in you. He wants to show you what relationship with God looks like. So let’s dive in and look at a couple of things the Holy Spirit does to bring us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
One of the first things the Holy Spirit does sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not at all. He is in the world, convicting it (John 16:8-10). John explains that there are three ways in which the Spirit convicts the world.
The first conviction is of its sin. The world is full of sin and people who commit sin because they don’t know God. There are many different definitions of sin throughout Scripture. The most common are to transgress, or cross over God’s laws. It’s like when we step over the line.
Another way the Bible describes sin is “missing the mark.” Think about people who throw darts or shoot arrows. There’s a mark in the middle of the bull’s-eye that they want to hit. But it’s not that easy. Many people don’t even know that God has a mark to hit, let alone be able to hit it without his divine help in the Spirit.
John defined sin for us when he talks about the Spirit convicting the world (John 16:9). Sin for John means to disbelieve in Jesus. The world is separated into two groups: those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. Unfortunately, there are serious eternal consequences for those who don’t believe.
There’s a whole world out there of people who may not have heard the name of Jesus. They don’t realize the eternal consequences of their lives and every decision they’ve made. And it is up to Christians to share their belief of Jesus with them. Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission to spread the name of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).
The Spirit also convicts people concerning righteousness. I define righteousness as holiness and action. Holiness refers to our character but holy character results in righteous action. The way we treat others matters to God because they bear his image. It also matters because we are his children and his representatives on earth. People watch what we do and they connected directly to the God we serve.
When Jesus talks about righteousness, he refers to his own departure from Earth to the Father (John 16:10). What does that have to do with righteousness? We learn righteousness from God, and Jesus taught us about righteousness throughout his earthly ministry.
We must take Jesus’ teachings on righteousness and practice them before others because he is no longer here to show them the way. This makes Jesus not only the authority on righteousness but the source of it. Because he is not physically here, he leaves it to us to demonstrate his righteousness before others in the world.
Jesus also tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world with judgment (John 16:11). More specifically, his judgment refers to the devil, Satan. He will judge Satan because he is the ruler of this world, and look what he has done with it.
While our destination as Christians is to live with God forever in heaven, Satan’s eternal judgment will be the fires of Hell. Because of his deception and misleading the people of this world, he will pay the ultimate price, God’s justice.
He will be judged with the world. Anyone in the world who follows the devil, and that means anyone who doesn’t follow Jesus, will also be judged along with him. That’s the worst part about it. No one who sins is innocent, even though the devil leads that person into it.
No one, not even Christians, should look forward to the judgment of this world while there’s still time. There are many who have been suckered into sinning against God. But they do it with their eyes open. So God’s judgment on this world will be harsh.
His wrath will be poured out in his anger against sin, and then comes his judgment. On the Day of the Lord, Christians will be happy that the world receives its judgment, but until that time, we have the ability to share Jesus with others and see their lives changed.
All the more, we who believe in Christ and know the truth must spread the good news of Jesus. There’s only a short time between now and the end, when it will be too late for them to accept him.
And the best part, which we will talk about in other posts, is that the Holy Spirit gives us the boldness to witness to others about Christ. He will even put the words in her mouth. But we must open those mouths for him to speak through us.
The Holy Spirit, after he has convicted the world of sin, opens the door for them to accept Christ and live for him. Before a sinner can respond to the gospel, the Holy Spirit must regenerate their spirit. Only then can they hear the gospel as a diamond instead of nonsense.
Let’s talk about why the Holy Spirit must regenerate our spirits before we know Christ. Romans 1 gives us some of the characteristics of those who don’t know Christ. Unbelievers start under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).
Because of ungodliness and unrighteousness, he is well with his right to pour out his wrath. Unbelievers suppress the truth of who God is. They don’t want to hear about a righteous God in heaven when they are unrighteous.
By suppress the truth, Paul means those who don’t know God knew the truth about God. But they don’t want to admit it or let anyone else know about it. They would rather live in blissful ignorance. But ignorance is not bliss when they meet God after they die.
Just because people suppress the truth about God doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for that truth. I can refuse to believe a fact. But that fact will hit me square in the face. I can say that gravity is a hoax, but if I fall, the truth of gravity still exists and is still active.
God hasn’t been silent about himself or his plan for every human being that walks this earth (Romans 1:19). But people don’t want to know about God because along with that knowledge comes responsibility to live the kind of life God desires from us.
Nobody has an excuse when it comes to the knowledge of God (Romans 1:20). Even though God is an invisible Spirit, he has clearly made himself known. Creation is the main example. He has made these things that we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands.
His eternal power and divine nature speak to creation itself. In fact, that’s how creation came about, through his voice. He has been showing himself in the handiwork of his fingers from the beginning of time and space.
People have known God exists, but they choose to live their lives their way and ignore God (Romans 1:21). They don’t honor him or give him the honor he is due. And even more, they didn’t thank him for all that he has done. After all, he created this earth, needed a place where we could live, and gave us life.
So the result of people knowing God is there and not acknowledging him made them minds futile. There thinking led them to nowhere. Even their hearts were darkened (1:21). They became foolish in every aspect of their person. Instead of God’s light revealing himself to them, they were darkened and had to rely on themselves.
This is what led to the difference between godly wisdom and earthly wisdom. People claimed to be wise and offer all kinds of advice that didn’t line up with how God designed the world to work (Romans 1:22). They made their own way, scratching out a meager existence in the dark when they could have walked in God’s guidance in the light.
They decided it would be better to make their own images out of the things they saw around them, God’s creation, rather than acknowledge and worship the Creator (Romans 1:23). They could’ve known and had relationship with God himself, but they settled for the stuff he made.
So God had no choice but to give people over to their own desires (Romans 1:24-32). Paul goes into detail about how God gave them over several times. But if you were to continue to read the book of Romans, you would find out that God did not stop there.
This is where his Spirit comes in. He makes it possible for us to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ with fresh ears, a fresh heart, and a renewed spirit. This is when our eyes light up in the gospel lands on good soil. We realize for the first time that all this time God was right and we were wrong.
We see clearly and we want what God has always wanted to offer us. I remember that moment when the Holy Spirit regenerated my heart and I heard the gospel for the first time. I was only five years old, over 30 years ago. But I remember thinking to myself, “Why haven’t I seen this before?” That is the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
He makes our hearts ready for the gospel. He sets our minds to hear and listen. Hearing this one thing, where we allow the sounds to go in through our ears. But listening is when we pay attention and examine them for ourselves. That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us in regeneration.
And we will never be the same again. Sure, there are people who hear the gospel after being regenerated by the Holy Spirit and don’t receive it. Jesus talks about that in the parable of the four types of soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). But the vast majority of us hear the gospel and accept Christ’s offer to change our lives on this great journey of holiness.
Why am I talking about what the Holy Spirit does in our salvation when I’m supposed to be talking about holiness? Simply because without salvation, there is no sanctification or holiness. I will be covering what the Holy Spirit does in sanctification, but we must understand where we were before we can see where we are going with Christ and the Spirit.
You may be able to see now what the Holy Spirit has done even to get you to the point of salvation. But after that, it’s all about holiness and the road to our destination where God is our God and we are his people.
Leave a comment and let me know what you have taken away from knowing all of the attempts the Spirit has made to bring you into a glorious place in Christ. And if you have not yet had the opportunity to see all that God has done for you to bring you to Christ, please let me know and I will introduce you to him.