Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Unbelieving World?

Choose a new font size and typeface
Don Stewart

[A new version of this page can be found here]

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has a ministry not only to the believer but also to the unbelieving world.

Jesus, in talking to His disciples, revealed to them the Holy Spirit's ministry to the world:

Nevertheless 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 depart, I will send Him to you. 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 will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7-11)

Personal Ministry

The Holy Spirit has a personal ministry in the life of each individual unbeliever. He convicts them of sin and their need to receive Christ as Savior. The sin that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of is not any one specific sin, but the one that will keep them from getting to heaven-the sin of unbelief.

And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Jesus said the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin because they reject Him: Because they do not believe in Me (John 16:9).

The remedy is for the unbeliever to recognize his sin of unbelief and trust Christ as Savior. Each individual chooses whether to accept or reject the Holy Spirit's conviction.

Denial Of Righteousness

The Holy Spirit also convicts the world for denying God's righteousness. God's righteousness is offended by the continual sin of the individual. The Bible speaks of the unbeliever as suppressing the truth of God in unrighteousness:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

The thought behind this verse is that the unbelieving person is willfully suppressing the truth of God that is trying to reach him. The Holy Spirit is convicting each unbelieving individual for doing this.


Finally, the Holy Spirit convicts the world by judgment. One reason for the coming of Christ was to destroy the works of the devil:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, and His death upon the cross paid the price for every person's sins. When He rose three days later, not only had sin been defeated, but death also.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit to the unbeliever is to reveal the truth that God indeed is victorious in the conflict with the devil, and the unbelieving world no longer has to live in the grip of Satan.


The Holy Spirit also has a ministry to the world as a restrainer. As bad as things are in the world, they would be much worse without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is presently acting as a restraining force to hold back sin. He does this through the influence of the believer. As long as the Holy Spirit is working in the world through the presence of the believer, sin will not run utterly rampant.

In this way, the Holy Spirit ministers to the world. He also does this, as we have seen, by convicting the world of its sin, by revealing its need for Christ's salvation, and by restraining evil.

BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.