The Convincing Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Part 1
And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove… of righteousness…because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.
— John 16:8,10
When I was a young man, I struggled with condemnation, constantly fearing that I wasn’t really saved. I didn’t grasp the idea of a God-given righteousness. I felt that I had to prove my worth to be acceptable to God. But one day the Holy Spirit began dealing with me, supernaturally convincing me of my Christ-imparted righteousness. And, friend, I want to tell you from the Word and from personal experience that being convinced of righteousness is just as supernatural as being convicted of sin.
The word “reprove” in John 16:8 is the Greek word elegcho. As we saw in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, it means to cross-examine a person on a witness stand until he is brought to a place of utter confrontation where he cannot deny the facts. We saw yesterday how the Holy Spirit has an elegcho ministry with sinners, bringing them revelation of their spiritual condition to the point where they cannot deny the fact that they are lost, without God, and in sin. At that point, they then have the opportunity to repent and to receive Christ.
But in the very same way, the Holy Spirit cross-examines us as believers and convinces us of our righteousness! The Bible says that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is very difficult for the human mind to comprehend and accept, because our natural thinking says we’re not righteous. And it’s true — on our own, we are not righteous, but we have been declared righteous because of the blood of Jesus.
Rather than struggle in an effort to become righteous — a state you will never be able to attain on your own — the Holy Spirit wants to open your eyes. He wants to bring you to a point where you see and understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are not trying to become righteous; rather, you have been declared the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The day you understand that and are utterly convinced that this is an actual fact, it will begin to radically change how you pray, how you feel about yourself, and how you carry yourself. Why? Because you will see and act like one who has become the righteousness of God!
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What a wonderful work God did for us! He sent Jesus to die in our place and to take our sin upon Himself. Then God exerted all of His mighty power to raise Jesus from the dead, seat Him at His own right hand, and send the Holy Spirit to live in us so we could actually become the righteousness of God in Christ. Yet if there is any subject in Scripture about which Christians will often argue, it is this issue of righteousness. Most Christians are so conscious of their own sinful nature that they have great difficulty embracing the truth that they have been declared righteous. If you were to tell them they are righteous, they’ll likely respond by telling you how bad they are.
Sinful nature always clings to what is worst and most negative. It will always gravitate downward, never upward. That is the nature of the mind that isn’t under the control of the Holy Spirit. The sinful flesh, if not mortified by the sanctifying power of God’s Spirit, will follow its negative leanings all the way to the grave. If abandoned to your flesh, you’ll never believe a good report; you’ll never believe God is doing a good work in you; and you’ll certainly never believe you have been made the righteousness of God in Christ.
Negative, base, sinful thinking has been a part of our humanity for so long that it requires a special convincing work of the Holy Spirit to make us realize the supernatural work that God has done inside us. When the Father says, “You’re My child, and I’ve made you righteous,” we must receive the Holy Spirit’s special work of convincing us of our rightstanding with God. If we don’t, our negatively charged mind and emotions will retort, It’s not so! I’m unworthy. I’m unholy. I’m so pitiful!
Too many Christians fall in this trap. But that is like throwing the compliment back in God’s face! These people love the Lord, but they fail to understand and esteem the work He has done for them — a work that cost Him greatly! He put forth His best work to redeem them and make them “new creations in Christ Jesus” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) — and yet they have nothing good to say about themselves!
The Bible tells us explicitly that we are “…his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:10). Another version of that verse could read, “We are a product of His very own, marvelously created in Christ Jesus — created under the influence and control of His divine power.” This is a powerful, life-changing truth, but it requires the Holy Spirit to move this truth from our heads to our hearts. Just as the Holy Spirit must convict the sinner of his lost condition, He also must convince us of our position of rightstanding with God!
We are so negative in our old, fleshly nature that it really does take a supernatural work of the Spirit to cause us to comprehend our new condition in Jesus Christ. This realization that we have been made righteous is just as supernatural as the lost man recognizing that he is lost.
I can remember when the Holy Spirit woke me up to this truth many years ago. Driving down the street, feeling totally unrighteous, I was listening to a teaching on righteousness — when suddenly my mind began to grasp what I was hearing. It was as if someone took blinders off my eyes and earplugs out of my ears. For the first time in my life, I was seeing and hearing — really seeing and really hearing — that God had declared me righteous in Jesus Christ. The truth was going straight to my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit! I heard it! I understood it! My inward man was leaping for joy as the Spirit of God illuminated my understanding about righteousness. Right then He convinced me of the truth, and I was set free!
If you struggle with your self-image and feelings of condemnation, you need the Holy Spirit to do His convincing work in your life. Only He can open your eyes to really see and your ears to really hear who you have become in Christ Jesus. Once your eyes and ears have been opened and you understand you have been made righteous, you will never throw the truth back in God’s face and argue with Him again. Now when the Holy Spirit reminds you that you’ve been made righteous, you will cry out with joy, “Thank You! That’s exactly what I am!”
You don’t have to keep being negative about yourself all the time. You don’t have to beat yourself over the head, constantly reminding yourself of how unworthy you are. Jesus Christ made you worthy! He made you righteous! He made you a new creation! Let the Holy Spirit do His work to convince you of these glorious realities!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to bring me to that place of realization where I really understand the righteousness that has been imparted to me through Jesus Christ. I don’t want to struggle with guilt and condemnation anymore. Since Jesus was made sin for me that I could be made the righteousness of God in Him, help me to step into that place of awareness and remain there, forever free!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare by faith that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I didn’t earn it or deserve it, but by faith I repented, and I received righteousness as the gracious, free gift of God. I do not struggle with my past. It has no hold on me. I am, in fact, a new creature, totally new in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit has done His work to convince me of my rightstanding with God, and I am free from the past forever!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you struggled with self-condemnation and self-judgment? If yes, what benefit has it produced in your life?
- Has there ever been a moment when the Spirit opened your eyes and “convinced” you that Christ had made you righteous? If yes, what was the immediate result of that revelation?
- If you were to describe people who are sin-conscious or righteousness-conscious, how would you describe these two groups of people?