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In John 16:7-14, Jesus says he will send the Holy Spirit to reprove the world, guiding his disciples into all truth. What does he mean?

In short, the Holy Spirit comes to teach us the difference between right and wrong.

Never has there been a time in history when people have so badly needed clear direction on what is right and wrong. Those who try to give direction, fail because they give opinions without ever listening to God.

Verse 13 says the Holy Spirit is able to guide us into all truth because "He will not speak of himself, but whatever he hears he will speak." He hears because he listens; and he listens to God.

But the Holy Spirit is God! True. But he's God in a special form; he is God in people. If we lay aside our opinions and prejudices and open ourselves to God's voice, his Spirit fills us and guides us into all truth.

The good news of Christ is that you don't have to be religiously correct to receive his Spirit. You just need to be sincere... i.e. totally open to whatever God wants.

But what we hear when we lay ourselves open before God is not always easy. The passage referred to at the start of this article says the Holy Spirit "reproves the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:8) He obviously does not tolerate sin.

This is a far cry from much that calls itself Christian today, including groups making a big fuss about having God's Holy Spirit.

Jesus says that, in showing us what is right and wrong, the Holy Spirit leads us to his teachings. Today's world refuses to believe Jesus.

Jesus says that, if we will work for love, God will take care of our material needs. But who believes him? He says, "The Holy Spirit will reprove the world because they do not believe me." (John 16:9)

Jesus is not with us physically now, but his Spirit is. And his Spirit reminds us of his teachings. (John 14:26) In John 6:63 Jesus says that his teachings are the Spirit of God. In John 16:14 he says of the Holy Spirit, "He will glorify me, for he will receive what is mine and will show it to you." In John 8:31-32 he says, "If you continue in my teachings... you will know the truth..." Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit saying, "He will show the world what is right when I am no longer visible." (John 16:10)

The Holy Spirit is coming to judge the prince of this world (John 16:11). The prince of this world hates judgment. He has made it into a dirty word. But the followers of Jesus -- those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit -- are going to judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2) and we will do it in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. (John 12:48)

We can distinguish sincere people from the insincere on the basis of whether or not they accept what we say. (John 15:20)

So if you want to be filled with God's Spirit, just ask (Luke 11:13); and accept the teachings of Jesus. (John 6:63)

(See also Eight Ways to Know God's Will.)

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