And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (John 16:8-11)
Relate: There are three essential truths in life that we don’t have to really convince anybody of. Sometimes I think it is these same three things we tend to spend most of our time talking about not realizing that these are things everybody already understands. No matter who they are, no matter what their education or cultural background, everybody on planet earth is aware of three things:
1)Sin – They wouldn’t necessarily call it that, but everybody knows they have done wrong. Everybody knows that they aren’t perfect. They have fallen short.
2)Righteousness – Everybody knows right from wrong. Depending on the culture, and depending on what sins they struggle with, different people might differ on the scales and the details, but for everybody there is a standard they strive, or wish they strove, toward.
3)Judgment – Again, the details on what and how will definitely vary person to person but everybody has a desire and a belief that good will be rewarded and wrong punished. They cheer when the bad guy is caught. They credit karma when good is rewarded. They know that ultimately, somehow, judgment will come.
The Holy Spirit has already laid the foundation for us, all we need to do is build on it. He has done the hard work, its our job to fill in the details. This is one of the biggest reasons why I am not a big fan of “The Way of the Master”. It spends most of its time trying to convince everybody how filthy and rotten they are. News flash, they already know. Instead of convincing people they are sinners we need to share the consequences of sin as well as the way out that Jesus provided through the cross.
With regard to righteousness, all too often we are trying to clean fish that haven’t even been caught. We are waging cultural wars trying to force righteousness somewhere it can only be imputed. The way to be clean isn’t through soap and scrubbing but rather to be dunked. We cannot earn righteousness no matter how hard we try. It is a gift.
The same thing is true with regards to judgment. We don’t need to convince people that they will be judged. Intrinsically, people already know this. What we need to do is show them the standard by which they will be judged. Everybody tries to rationalize themselves by making a comparison with those around them. It’s like a person complaining that they got pulled over by the cop for going fifteen over the limit when “that other car” was going at least twenty over. That other car isn’t the standard, the sign is. We need to turn people’s gaze off the other cars and onto the sign.
React: And I need to direct my own gaze back to the sign as well. How am I doing in my war against sin? In what areas am I struggling? Do I need more accountability? Do I need to confess some things to God as well as “one to another”? Have I grown complacent or apathetic? Have I grown comfortable with my sin or convinced myself that victory is impossible?
How am I doing with regards to righteousness? Am I still striving to earn it myself? Am I doing good works thinking somehow that will make me more righteous? Or am I not doing good works that I should be out of gratitude and love for the One who justified me? Have I begun letting spiritual disciplines slip or fall by the wayside?
What about judgment? How passionate and present is my longing for heaven and my dread of hell? Have I fallen into the comparison game myself? Do I judge myself based on who I am better or worse than? Am I judging myself based on myself and how I have improved or fallen from past places? Am I looking toward any standard less than the Perfect One? Holy Spirit, do Your work in my life. With regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment, I am in desperate need of You.
God, ultimately You are the Standard. With regard to sin, You demonstrated the right way to navigate this life without it perfectly. What is more, You made mercy and grace an option when You took our sin upon Yourself. With regard to righteousness, You were and You are and it is only through You that we can be as well. With regard to judgment, You stand before the Judge willing to testify on our behalf. I surrender everything to You. In everything, in every way I, along with all of creation, am completely and totally dependent on You.