A friend of mine recently told me a revealing story about herself. She had purchased a new coffee pot, taken it home, and brewed a pot of coffee in it. While the pot worked perfectly fine, she wasn’t impressed with the results; she likes her coffee hot and was used to the scalding hot results she got from her old percolator. So, she carefully and thoroughly washed all the pieces, packed the pot back in the original carton, and returned it to the store. When she handed it back, the store clerk asked her, “Has this pot been used?” In that split second, she made a conscious decision. Afraid they wouldn’t let her return it and not wanting to lose the money she’d paid for it, she lied. “No, it hasn’t been used.” The return was processed, and she went home with her money.
Fortunately, my friend was in possession of today’s gift: the Holy Spirit.
You see, my friend had given her life to Christ many years before. She is a mature believer, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Before she had even pulled out of the parking lot, her heart was convicted about the lie. She’d traded her sweet fellowship and intimacy with God by breaking one of His commandments. This was more than simply the knowledge of sin – that telling a lie was wrong. It was the nagging, personal, “won’t-let-you-get-by-with-it” conviction of the Holy Spirit.
I’m sure that she wrestled in her mind and heart all the way home, considering what she should do about it. The Holy Spirit not only takes our sin seriously, He also has a way of arranging things so we have to deal with it. Soon after she arrived home, she noticed that she had forgotten to pack the instruction booklet back up with the coffee pot. It was obvious; she should return to the store. God was giving her a clear path to make things right.
Jesus talked to His disciples about the gift of the Holy Spirit, perfectly describing what happened to my friend.
John 16:7-11 – But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
The Holy Spirit convicts those who do not believe of sin – revealing the knowledge of sin. But for believers, He convicts of righteousness. When we choose willingly to sin, because we belong to God and are part of His family, He belabors the issue with us, not letting us “get away” with it. He hammers at our hearts until we confess, repent, and make things right.
An unbeliever may be aware that they have sinned, but mostly, they aren’t motivated to do anything about it. A true Christ-follower, however, desires to remain in a right relationship with God – to enjoy the righteousness that Jesus died to give us – because they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to those who believe.
John 7:38-39 – He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
My friend had to act in response to what the Holy Spirit was telling her. She drove back to the store and returned the instruction booklet to the same clerk. She also confessed that she’d lied, that indeed the pot had been used, but only once, and she had cleaned it to its original condition. In her words, the clerk just looked at her like she was a bit crazy, and said, “thank you.” The clerk might not have been impressed, but the Holy Spirit was pleased. We’ve all experienced what my friend did – the return of the joy of the Lord, as the weight of our sin is lifted and we know we’ve done the right thing.
If Jesus had gone to the store with my friend to return the pot, there’s no way she would have lied in His presence. That’s why Jesus said it was to our advantage that He go away. In His physical body, He could not be with every believer at all times, but the sweet, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is always with us. He is there to warn us, to teach us, to convict us, to lead us, and to comfort us as we wait expectantly for the time we will be face to face with Jesus.
Romans 8:14-16 – For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God.
What a precious gift! If we possess nothing else in this world except the Holy Spirit, we are rich indeed.