“I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
Like the disciples, on the surface level, if most Christians were asked to choose between the physical presence of Jesus on a daily basis or the presence of The Holy Spirit, most would choose the physical presence of Jesus. It’s easier to believe and feel secure with a physical being next to you in which you can look at each other eye to eye and have a conversation – especially, if it is the Son of God. Yet, before sacrificing His life on the cross, Jesus shared these profound words with his disciples, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come.”
The disciples hadn’t yet experienced this relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. Even as Jesus was telling them the good things His Spirit would do, after His departure, they couldn’t quite grasp all that He was saying. It was important for Jesus to leave because His bodily presence could only be in one place at one time. Remember, when he lived on earth he was fully God, but He was limited by being also fully man. His leaving the earth would allow His Spirit to come into the world. His Spirit would be in each of them (and us) and is everywhere, in all places, at all times. There was also a shift in the way sin would be experienced in a person’s life. The Spirit would now convict individuals of sin that would lead them to repentance so they could turn to God and be healed (Acts 3:19). The word “convict” is a translation of the Greek word ĕlĕgchō, which means “to convince someone of the truth; to reprove; to admonish, convict, or tell a fault.” You know that twinge you feel after you tell a little white lie, are rude in a conversation, maybe give someone the silent treatment or go into a rage over a small matter? That’s the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sin so that you will go to God, repent and be forgiven.
For some of us, we think it’s wonderful how the Spirit reveals our sins so we can repent and be taught the ways of God. For others of us, when convicted by the Holy Spirit of our sins, we begin to condemn ourselves, turn it into shame and run from God. That is not the response that God intended. If you are running from God, what would happen if instead of running, you stopped, humbled yourself, repented and ran to Him as your rescuer and the lover of your soul? 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” It is God’s loving kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
It was important for Jesus to leave because His bodily presence could only be in one place at one time. His leaving the earth would allow His Spirit to come into the world.
Maybe today you have a habitual sin that you are struggling with and are running from God. If you are feeling convicted, go to God, confess and repent of your sins. He will help you. He loves you and sent His Spirit to convict you, guide you and comfort you for such a time as this. You are deeply loved by God. Go to Him today to find your healing and hope. Then, praise Him for giving you a hopeful future. When you enter His presence with praise, He enters your circumstances with power. You can do it.