Sabbath School Lesson for March 18-24, 2017
The Holy Spirit was given a very special name and description by Jesus. He was called paraclete, which means our Comforter, our Helper, our Advocate. This week we will review the many ways the Holy Spirit lives up to these friendly names. He is indeed crucial to salvation, because He initiates and sustains relationships with our Creator and Redeemer.
Central to the Holy Spirit’s work is His ability to deliver conviction. Without conviction, we would be unaware of what our sins are, and our need to forsake them. We would also be devoid of any mechanism that would free us from sin, because we would lack the faith needed to repent of those sins.
One usually thinks of the word conviction, as it applies to the judicial system, when we are convicted of some crime. On the other hand, everyone marvels at someone who lives up to their convictions, or beliefs. So, being convicted can be beneficial. It doesn’t always just point to something we did wrong.
We saw this demonstrated in the life of Desmond T. Doss, a decorated conscientious objector during WW II, who refused to carry a gun, because he held a strong conviction that made him against the sin of killing. Holding to this conviction resulted in many lives being saved on the battlefield.
Memory Verse: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NASB
What an abundance of blessings given by the Holy Spirit in this one verse! Through His power, we may be filled with joy, peace, and hope. Each one of these blessings are dependent on the others for their lasting benefit.
Without them, we would be lost. We would be sad, disturbed, and hopeless–a state that describes our lost condition pretty well. The Holy Spirit is the only entity capable of correcting the wrongs in this world by giving us joy, peace, and hope through His work of conviction.
Let’s find out exactly what these convictions are.
Sunday: Conviction of Sin
“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.”
John 16:8-11 NKJV
We will explore all three of these convictions to have a total picture of the work of the Holy Spirit. We see in number one here, that we need to be convicted of sin, because of our unbelief in Jesus.
Our fundamental need then is not to be told of our sin in specific detail, but how these sins have alienated us from the Son of God. Only when we have a sense of our loss of friendship with Jesus will we be inspired to forsake our worldly ways and negative attitudes. Only then will we desire to know more specifically what those sins are.
The Holy Spirit, as we’ve discovered, is all about uplifting and promoting God the Father and God the Son. We too must make that our approach with sinners. If we come to them with accusations, focusing on their wayward lifestyle, we will not be approaching them as the Holy Spirit does. We must display a loving desire for them to know Jesus, to believe in His ability to save us from whatever hinders true happiness and peace.
Discussion Questions: Read John 16:8, 9 and Acts 1:8. What makes not knowing Jesus the most fundamental sin?
Read Romans 2:1 and Matthew 7:3. What makes it difficult, if not impossible, for us to point a finger in judgment to anyone?
Read John 3:27. Why must we be careful not to sound condemning as we witness to others, even if we don’t intend to be? How can keeping our love of Jesus the main focus avoid this?
Monday: The Need of Righteousness
2. of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; John 16:10 NKJV
Feeling convicted about sin must not be our final destination. We must also know what constitutes righteousness, the opposite of sin. Our world today certainly lacks a knowledge of what sin is, but it also fails to understand the kind of righteousness that God desires from us.
There has always tended to be a measure of self-righteousness in God’s followers, and not enough true goodness that was exemplified in the life of Christ. So, the Holy Spirit must not only convict us of sin, but also show us how we can be covered with the righteousness of Christ, even though He has left this earth and gone back to heaven. Only His righteousness is pure enough to save us from the pride and hatred we see so often in the world.
The Holy Spirit must use His conviction powers in showing us what righteousness looks like, so we reflect it in our own lives.
Discussion Questions: Read John 16:8, 10 and Isaiah 64:6. Why does the Holy Spirit need to convict us of righteousness?
Read Romans 5:10 and Hebrews 4:15, 16. How important is Jesus’ righteousness in our reconciliation with God and our salvation?
Read Romans 8:4 and Galatians 2:20. What is the relationship between living in the Spirit and having Christ live in us? How does this lead to righteousness, and whose righteousness is it?
Tuesday: Conviction About Judgment
3. of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:11 NKJV
There’s another aspect of conviction that Jesus spoke to His disciples about, as John recorded in John 16:8-11. At first glance, we might think Jesus was talking about our own judgment. But notice that the ruler of this world is mentioned; so Satan must be the main one Jesus was referring to in this instance.
The Holy Spirit does not have to convict us of our own judgment. Most of us already feel convinced that our wrongdoing will bring us consequences at some point in the future.
The wonderful news is that the devil, “the ruler of this world”, is also under judgment. As a matter of fact, he was already defeated at the cross, the most important battlefield of all. We need not feel anxious about Satan’s judgment. Someday soon, the war will be over. This is good news for anyone battling on their own. Jesus has already won the victory for us.
Once again, Jesus is the central figure in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
Discussion Questions: Read John 16:11 and John 12:31, 32. How is this message of Satan’s judgment linked with lifting up Jesus?
Read 1 Peter 5:6-9. How do these verses verify that the message of the judgment is good news?
Read Ephesians 6:11, 12 and Romans 8:1. Why is it important to know the fate of the devil? How do we avoid his judgment and condemnation?
Wednesday: The Assurance of Salvation
One of the greatest acts of the Holy Spirit is when He seals us with the assurance of His salvation. With the Spirit of Christ in us, we are pledged with the special gift of His love. Nothing can change our status with the Father when we become a part of His family, except our own unwillingness to belong to Him.
This certainty is what gives us strength to battle the enemy Satan. It also gives us hope of eternal life, conquering our fears of death. It provides us with true happiness, consisting of peace and joy that has no match in the world today.
Being born in the Spirit and then sealed in the Spirit are both experiences available to us. No other religion offers this kind of assurance that our salvation is totally a gift. There is nothing we can do to earn it. God loves us unconditionally and died for us, even while we were His enemies.
The only thing we can do is to show our love and appreciation by following Him as the Holy Spirit enables us. When Christ abides in us, we naturally want to reflect His character and share Him with the world.
Discussion Questions: Read 1 John 5:12, 13, Romans 8:15-17, and 2 Corinthians 5:5. What is the basis for our assurance or guarantee of redemption?
Read Ephesians 1:13, 14 and John 3:1-5. What was Nicodemus seeking that night, and why was Jesus pointing Him to the Holy Spirit?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. How is this event of the resurrection that happens at the Second Coming the greatest assurance that we have from the Holy Spirit? Why is it appealing to so many?
Thursday: The Holy Spirit and Hope
The reason we crave assurance from our heavenly Father, as Nicodemus did that night when he came secretly to Jesus, is that it leads us to hope. Only when we have that assurance of belonging can we fully enjoy hope for the future. The impossible future becomes full of possibilities.
This hope is different from blind optimism. It’s more than a belief that things will get better for no better reason than we desire it.
The hope the Holy Spirit delivers is based on God’s faithfulness, not ours. It comes from all the promises He provides for us in His word. The full story of redemption reveals a God who loves us from the start, and who will not forsake us when we call on Him for help.
This kind of faithfulness has to stem from love. God’s love for us, and our love for Him. Only then will our hope have some “legs to stand on.” We can count on its ability to hold us up. Even during the worst trials, we can depend on this hope and love to see us through.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:4, 5 and 15:13. How is love related to hope?
Read 1 Corinthians 13:13. Why do you suppose love is considered greater than faith and hope?
Read Psalm 31:24. What is one great benefit of hope in this verse, and why is it needed especially in these last days?
The work of the Holy Spirit in its totality…
- convicts us of sin (Sunday)
- shows us our need of righteousness (Monday)
- informs us of Satan’s judgment and our ultimate freedom from sin (Tuesday)
- assures us of salvation (Wednesday)
- gives us hope for the future (Thursday)
The Holy Spirit reveals not just who we are, but more importantly, who Jesus is. Jesus Christ is center stage in everything the Holy Spirit does.
“The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people.” ~Ellen G. White, Ye Shall Receive Power”, p. 13
We must be ever conscious of the way the Holy Spirit operates in convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11):
- He doesn’t focus on what our sins are; He allows Jesus’ sinless example to highlight our wrongs.
- He doesn’t push a list of rules on us; He encourages us to love the Lawgiver first.
- He doesn’t frighten us with the reality of our judgment; He assures us that someday God will judge Satan, freeing the universe from the power of sin.
If we are to win souls to Christ, we must be ever mindful to stay on His agenda and lovingly draw others with these same methods. Keeping Jesus first and foremost will always be our goal, just as it is for the Holy Spirit.
Next Week: New Quarter–“Feed My Sheep”, First and Second Peter–The Person of Peter, Lesson 1
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/