A Job Description

“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; in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”  John 16:8-11.

Jesus commits the unpardonable sin for our modern sensibilities for He defines the edges of right and wrong, truth and lies, not letting anyone off the hook.  I’m a staunch believer in the saying,  “The plain things are the main things and main things are the plain things.”  Where we have problems or differences we have to have some sense of perspective and leniency or the church will fragment….

Oh, wait, too late, it already has.  Shoot!

The Spirit’s job is to convict the world of guilt by defining sin, exhorting righteousness and warning of judgment, each of which the whole world will held responsible to God.  Those who disseminate or try to sidestep any one of these items are guilty of them.

Sin isn’t defined here but given as a heading.  The definition of sin for most people is transgression of the Law, but sin at its core, its essence, is rejection of God as Sovereign and Lord.  This might sound like I’m beating a drum or standing on a soapbox but really I just want to boil things down to their single cell origins so we get what follows.  Whatever is outside the design of our Creator is sin; because what He designed is what should be for us, therefore if we choose to do something which is not within His design specs, we have rebelled.  (For a list of sins that stand against God’s design refer to Galatians 5:16-21.)

“Because men do not believe in me…” Almost says it all, don’t you think?  If we say we believe in Jesus but refuse to do what He says, we lie and the truth He spoke isn’t in our hearts.  Anyone who discredits the gospels because they dislike the message disbelieves in Jesus as the Messiah, Son of God and Lord of all creation.  He gives us no way around this truth.  The Spirit’s job is to convict the world of this very sin of disbelief, a fact they fight tooth and nail to deny and destroy.  Scripture ups the ante by declaring everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23) and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)  These statements boil it down to faith not just obedience.  Think about it like this:  If we have faith in God, we will have faith in what He says, which will then lead to obedience.  Without faith in God there can be no obedience because we must believe and trust in His Word to guide, direct and rule over our lives.

What is righteousness?

A dictionary definition might suffice for some of us, but I prefer looking at the context of the word in the Greek so we get a handle on what John meant by it.  The Greek word used is Dikaiosune and is used to point to “whatever is right or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God” (Vine’s…Dictionary).  Even the “Christian” world is growing confused on this point.  What is required and what is not is a subject for debate.  I’m not going to get into that now because it would take too long to order and write it down, suffice it to say we need to study the Word in order to understand what Jesus is talking about.  (A short list of righteousness, or what is called the fruit of the Spirit, can be found in Galatians 5:22-26.)

So we are going to be convicted of what sin and righteousness are, but what about judgment?

The world is whirling away from judgment of any kind.  It treats discernment between light and dark, right and wrong, good and evil as somehow evil in itself.  Those who stand convicted by the Word because of their sin fight the hardest to have it taken out of the way.  They do this by either disregarding it altogether or disarming the text with incredibly wordy and convoluted explanations.  It’s understandable in a way since much of what has passed for judgment in the church and its relationship with the world has been judgmental not discerning.  The hierarchy of the church of Jesus have made major mistakes in judgment that cost us ground and gave the enemy a weapon to use against us.  The reason I believe we face such opposition from the world is two fold.  The first and foremost is the Holy Spirit’s work in the world convicting them of their own lost condition—and thus their rejection of it.  The second is a complication due to our misrepresentation of good judgment.

I guess I understand the fear of judgment because it has to do with punishment not love—the fear that is.  Fear of punishment has nothing to do with forgiveness or grace or mercy but only guilt.  Those who don’t know forgiveness cannot experience grace or appreciate mercy.  If they reject the need for forgiveness, they see no need for grace and mercy either.  So those lost to grace have chosen their own hell complete with a hate for God and most of what He stands for—especially judgment.  No one likes to be judged falsely, even accurate judgment many times hurts if it points out our faults and failings.  But when judgment reveals our innermost secret sins and puts them on display for all to see, the resentment cannot be mitigated without an understanding of what Jesus did on the cross.  Without the miracle/mystery/practical nature of the cross we cannot grasp the significance of our sin.  Judgment, even in its best dictionary meaning, takes on a sinister edge and becomes something to be avoided at all costs.

Yet there can never be justice without judgment; there is no grace needed where there is no sin nor mercy unless there’s a lack to be made up by it.  We cannot recognize improvement without commonsense growing out of and directly rooted in good judgment—or put another way, being able to judge between good and evil.  The Spirit’s job is to convict the world of guilt in regard to these three things, but that’s not all.  To those who submit to His guidance and nudges He will guide them into all truth.

Judgment without mercy, grace or forgiveness being offered in conjunction becomes simply judgmental.  At this point we must refer to Jesus’ warning about such an attitude.  “Do no t judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap.   For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:37, 38.

Paul also makes it outside of our job description as a church to condemn the world at large (see 1 Corinthians 5:12).  Our witness is not to fight for civil laws that reflect our godly sensibilities because we cannot force our Savior and Lord onto the world.  Rather, we are to lead quiet public lives while displaying through our example the mores of our Christ.  No where in the NT is said that we are to foist our ethic on the world.  The world stands condemned already, we don’t need to drive it home—unless God tells a person directly to speak, we should remain silent and stand firm within the body of Christ.

As it is, we have opened ourselves up for judgment by being judgmental.  The harsher we judge the world, the more stark the light will shine back on us.  We can’t escape this reality for Jesus’ words warn us of the consequences.  It is the Spirit’s job to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.  Our job is to declare the good news of salvation to those who are being saved.  We don’t rebuke or hand out judgment until it affects the internal workings of the body of Christ.  At the same time, we refuse to be secretive in anyway, while not throwing our pearls before those who would trample them.

The Spirit will guide us into all truth as we submit to His presence in our lives.  This means to the Christian as well that we will experience conviction where sin, righteousness and judgment are concerned.  The heavier our condemnation of another, the heavier our burden of Christ-likeness must be.  In other words, those who correct others must either do so in humility and full disclosure about their own failings or face the consequence of the condemnation coming back to them pressed down, shaken together and poured into their lap.  Hot coals of judgment will burn those who play with it.

On the other hand, those who approach the fallen with mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion will receive as much again, pressed down, shaken together and pouring out in blessing and encouragement.  Our job as servants might lead us to reveal another’s sin, but our primary objective is not condemnation but restoration and healing.  Why would Paul warn the believers about falling into the same sin (see Galatians 6:1) if it were not a credible possibility?  Therefore, beware of harsh judgment and eagerness to expose sin, for it will come back four fold (if not more) to reveal our own sin hidden from public view.

The Spirit’s job description goes beyond what we’ve described, and I’m sure I don’t know all His duties.  One thing I know, the anger we see in the world has nothing to do with us but is a reaction to His constant nudging of the public conscience.  The backlash is predicted and the outcome a foregone conclusion, which is why we hope.

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One Response to “A Job Description”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Great points! I often say even unbelievers have a knowing of right and wrong. They ignore it, as we followers sometimes do, but none of us can deny that the HS is at work.

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