Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John 16:8-11 Revisited

"When he 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.” (John 16:8-11)

Last week we started to look at the role of the Holy Spirit, and we focused last time on the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world of the sin of unbelief. Today I wanted to look at the other two areas of conviction: in regard to righteousness and judgment.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to reveal to us the righteousness of Christ. We would like to think that we are fairly righteous, wouldn’t we? Before I came to Christ I hoped that God would grade on a curve. I figured I wasn’t too bad compared to others around me - I didn’t do anything blatantly wrong like murder (although I surely committed character assassination through gossip), and I didn’t commit adultery (although I loved to read romance novels and watch TV shows in which other people did). I wasn’t Mother Theresa, but I also wasn’t part of the Manson family! I was fairly certain God would take me!

But when I met Christ, the Holy Spirit showed me that all my righteousness was like filthy rags. The standard of holiness that God had set was HIS holiness. I didn’t even come close! My pastor once talked about how our trying to reach God on our own efforts would be like trying to swim to Hawaii from the California coast. Some of us would swim only a few feet out before drowning. Others could go out for maybe hundreds of feet. Some Olympic swimmers could maybe go for several miles before they drowned. However not one of us could make it all the way to Hawaii! It’s the same with our own futile attempts to reach the Father. There is NO way to reach Him in our own efforts. Only Christ met the standard of righteousness, so that when He died on the Cross in our place, His sacrifice was accepted, and God raised Him from the dead as proof. He now sits at the right hand of the Father, His righteousness coveing us.

Jon Courson points out that not one other figure in all of history has been resurrected and ascended to the Father: not Ghandi, not Buddha, not Mohammed - no one else - not even Mother Theresa! Jesus alone is the Righteous One. And only the Holy Spirit can reveal that to us (1 Cor 12:3).

Finally, in this passage, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit also convicts the world of the judgment of Satan, the prince of this world. Satan’s doom is sure! He was defeated at the Cross. He is still creating havoc and often appears to be winning, but the Holy Spirit reminds us that the truth is that Satan will soon be completely destroyed when Christ returns. Hallelujah! That IS good news! We sometimes think of Satan as the opposite of God, with equal power in a struggle against God. But Satan is just a created being. He is NOT omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent. He is limited by God in his powers. But because he deals in the spiritual realm and has his demon helpers, he exerts his power over the earth - and particularly over unbelievers.

God, who is in us, is greater than Satan. We belong to God, and Satan cannot have us. He can try to oppress and defeat us, but he does not own us. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to reveal that truth to us and to make us aware of Satan’s attempts to lie to us. We are in a spiritual warfare and we have been given all of the tools we need to fight it. We need to rely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to recognize the enemy and to know when and how to use these weapons. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

There is still more to the Holy Spirit’s work, and we’ll look at that this week.  

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