Chapter 7- His Ministries to the Unbeliever
“Whatever am I going to do, my friend?” Hamil was distraught and ashamed, for he had been caught by his wife with another woman. “You know I’m a Christian, Hamil? I can only help you from my understanding of God’s Word, the Bible.” “Yes, yes. I know. My religion doesn’t really offer me forgiveness. Please help me!”
The Unbeliever and the Holy Spirit
What are the ministries of the Spirit of God to the unbeliever? Of course His primary ministry is that of conviction of sin. We read in John 16: When he [the Spirit of God] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (verses 8-11)
The Spirit’s inner ministry of convicting the unbeliever of sin is mysterious, but we need to pray for His work in the hearts of family members, co-workers, and acquaintances who have not yet received the gospel. I have often been impressed as I have read through the book of Acts (especially Acts 16:14) by the co-operation between the Apostles preaching the gospel convincingly and the Spirit of God bringing conviction. Perhaps if we did our job more conscientiously, He would do His work more frequently.
The Spirit of God is also involved in restraining sin in the world. This work of the Holy Spirit seems to be implied in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 where we read, “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” Although some commentators think this verse is referring to the savoring effect of the church, others suggest it is the Spirit of God who is holding back or restricting or controlling sin in the world (see also Genesis 6:3 concerning the Spirit’s “striving” with man). Every generation of Christians seems to think its own to be the most sinful in history. How easily we can forget this divine work of the Spirit in our lost world.
1. How might we work with the Holy Spirit in His ministry of convicting our unsaved friends of their need of Christ?
2. Would you agree with the statement that our job is convincing the unbeliever of the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s job is convicting the unbeliever of his or her sin and need of Christ? How does the book of Acts help answer this question?
3. What are some ways that the Holy Spirit restrains sin in the world?