Each January, after a long Christmas break, students head back to school. I’m grateful for schools, but there are some things no teacher or professor can impart. When it comes to spiritual matters, on our own we can be stunningly ignorant.
But we are not left alone. We have Someone to teach us. Jesus said,
“ It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me; Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to convict (and convince) the world of three vital truths we'll never learn in school or anywhere else:
sin, righteousness, and judgment.
The Truth Concerning Sin
You won’t hear this from your college professor, but in the words of that great theologian and cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
We don’t like to believe it, but man is a sinner. That’s Lesson #1 the Holy Spirit must teach us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Man is a sinner for 3 basic reasons:
Because of what he is — Ephesians 2:3 says we are “by nature the children of wrath.” Notice it comes by our nature. We think we’re wicked and sinful because of what we do, but really we do what we do because of what we are by nature: sinners.
Because of what he does — If you’re still not convinced, let's talk about what we do. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) We’ve been like this since Adam’s fall. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) We are sinners, and our thoughts and actions reveal it every day.
Because of what he has not done — But the most damning, horrible sin is not what we do, but rather what we don’t do: the sin of not believing on Jesus Christ. Jesus said concerning Himself, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
Sin erects a barrier between us and a holy God. The Holy Spirit knows we must admit our sin. He does what we would never do for ourselves: convict us of our sin. But the Teacher is not done yet. There’s more.
The Truth Concerning Righteousness
The Holy Spirit also convicts us “of righteousness,” the righteousness of Christ, which completes our salvation.
Most people think “righteousness” comes by “being good.” But Paul said in Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Our righteousness counts for no more than “filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). We can’t depend on our own righteousness for salvation.
That’s why Jesus left His Father, took our sin upon Himself, and died in agony on the cross. He rose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave, and ascended to the Father to present His blood in the tabernacle in heaven. That's what He's talking about when He says, “I go to My Father.”
Jesus bought our redemption with His own righteousness. We have none on our own. That’s Lesson #2 from the Holy Spirit.
The Truth Concerning Judgment
A third truth we’ll never learn in school is the condemnation of Satan. Some people — those who do not know God — appear to be waiting on the final outcome to see who’s going to win: God or Satan. But Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world.” (John 12:31) Did you notice the word “now”? John 16:11 says Satan is judged. Not will be. He already is. As much as he would like to hide it, Satan has already lost and is judged.
And like Satan, judgment awaits us if we die in our sin. Many have the idea that somehow God will be merciful even if they do not repent and receive His righteousness. This is a tragic assumption — and it is not true. The only way to escape judgment is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.So you see, these three truths are vital. They are necessary for salvation. The Holy Spirit wants to teach them to you. Will you let Him?
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