The only faith that works is a faith that is working by Love. The only way to have that Love is if the Holy Spirit sheds it abroad in our hearts. Only new wine vessels can hold that Love. Old wine vessels just burst. That which is new must have a birth that came from the seed of the Word of God. That seed is incorruptible. That seed names the name of Christ who is the only name under Heaven that men might be saved and made new.
The Spirit sheds the Love of God in that which is new. He sheds conviction in that which is old. When does that happen? This verse gives that dynamic clearly if positional truth is understood as a doctrine.
HE CONVICTS OF SIN. In a finished work the Spirit convicts of sin. He convicts the one who does not believe in Christ and the one who is not believing in Christ. What would be Love shed abroad for the new man is conviction in the soul of someone living in old things and methods. It is not 'fear that has torment'... that comes from another source. The old man loves darkness as a shelter and falls prey to those things that live in darkness.
"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." John 3:18-21 ESV
Believing ends our isolation. Grace removes the reasons we thought we needed to be isolated. Grace is the channel that reveals God's kindness that has no condition and a holiness that has no compromise.
We may believe in Jesus but in certain areas and under certain conditions abandon Him. The Spirit who will never abandon us will convict us. Not people or law... the Spirit will do it as He wills. He does it so we will believe. Belief is important to God. He can only fellowship with us in newness. Old things as far as He is concerned have passed away.
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." Matthew 5:25 KJV
The adversary here is the Spirit of God. Belief in Christ is our plea bargain that keeps us from the trap of the old life.
HE CONVICTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. There is no righteousness outside of Christ. Christ is seated at God's right hand of approval. No one else has righteousness but Him. The one who believes in Christ is seated with Christ in that position. We have a breastplate of righteousness because the Spirit Gives it to us (and the Church since the armor is a corporate experience).
Everyone in the world without that assurance is jockeying for position in some way. They are looking back into the past for approval and forward into the future to get it. They want people on the left and right that they approve of and that approve of them.
The Spirit of God makes sure that if a person doesn't find rest in approval that is not centered in Christ. He also makes sure that those who find Christ find approval. This is part of God's work in the world for this season of history.
HE CONVICTS OF JUDGMENT. Evil has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. Past tense. Evil and the whole system it has produced has been judged and is under judgement.
That sparks anger and discomfort is the old man and relief in the new one. The old man wants what it knows. It wants the good things and the bad things in a Love / Hate kind of way. Those things have an illusion of control, possibilities for advancement and a way to preserve self.
The new man derives hope and relief from the knowledge of an end to contradiction and darkness and that the Sun of Righteousness will one day rise in the East (see Malachi 4:2; Matthew 24:27). Justice will one day be served up hot for a kingdom that desperately needs a kick in the teeth.
If we live in grace conviction is a good thing. It is a steering mechanism. We can quench the Spirit through rationalization. Or grieve the Spirit by a life of unbelief that bears fruit of unbelief. A return to the law will just bring us back into another kind of bondage and we will find no solution there. Conviction should bring us to Christ. Grace gives us a clear path to get to Him and find newness. When we live in newness conviction turns to love and we have vessels that can hold that love and distribute that love to others.
God... Help us today... turn me and I will be turned... speak to me and give me ears to hear what you are saying. Turn me to your Son and keep me from turning inward for answers and direction. I trust You today. Thank You for the work of Your Spirit. I can't imagine life without it.