Word of the Day

Stain and Stench

John 16: 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

We are staying with the same Biblical text as the last two days but today examining what Jesus meant when he said the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment. This is another topic which we have turned on its head so let’s upright it.

Many people are concerned with judgment, especially people who do not understand the goodness of God. In this passage, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has already been judged. So, we all know by now, that Jesus was referring to Satan. Satan will meet his final judgment after Jesus comes back but the truth is, he has already been judged. We already even know his sentence, so what is going on here?

Guess what, you have already been judged too. If not, then why did God send Jesus to earth? He would not have had to send Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb if there was not already sin condemning us to hell. Now, however, the judgment which is upon you is the judgement of righteousness. If you are in Christ and have been bathed with the blood of his martyrdom, then you are clean, and you are judged pure and holy in the sight of God. Hallelujah! Jesus’ blood has washed us clean from the stain and stench of sin.

Consider this simple analogy. Let’s say I literally draw a line in the sand and tell you that everyone who steps across this line shall be considered innocent of all crime. Anyone who remains on the other side of the line shall be deemed to have committed a crime. Now, in truth the judgment has already been made. I judge that anyone who steps across this line is innocent and thus free. The judgment is in the law.

Okay, here is another example. You may be watching the winter Olympics. Let’s say that in a particular event, the rule is that you may not cross a specific line without incurring a penalty. The judgment is, “Whoever crosses this line will incur the penalty.” That is the judgment. All the judge does is collect the data. The person, who will decide what judgment you receive, is you. All the judge does is recognize your actions and then sentence you according to the previously determined penalty.

It is the rule which judges; it is the law which is judgmental. Thank God that Jesus freed us from the condemnation of the law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8: 2). I think this is a clear statement. You have been set free from the law of sin and death and the inherent judgment which accompanied it. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8: 1). You have been set free from the curse of the law and the unfavorable judgment which was upon you.

There are three crucial words, however, in the two quotes from Romans. Those three words are, “in Christ Jesus.” Everyone who chooses to cross the line and live “in Christ” has a favorable judgment on them. The have been granted the keys to the Kingdom of God and eternal life with His Majesty. Your sentence has been levied. You are free. Christ has set you free and whom the Son has set free is free indeed, or as the Names of God translation says it, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free,” (John 8: 36).

So, God has already judged you as His own righteousness in Christ Jesus (there is that crucial language again). You no longer need worry about judgment. Your only task is to step across the line and into Jesus. When you do, his blood is your judgment and his blood is perfect. You are redeemed and set free in the name and glory of Jesus.

Concerning Righteousness

John 16: 10

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

In John 16: 7 – 11, Jesus revealed that He would send the Holy Spirit and He made known some of the tasks the Spirit would perform in the earth. Besides convicting the world concerning sin and judgment, he also convicts our hearts about righteousness.

The segment of Jesus’ statement about righteousness, is just as involved as that concerning sin which we looked at yesterday. This Greek word translated as “convict” in the New American Standard is more complex than one might initially suspect. While we hear that the Holy Spirit came to pass sentence on us or imprison, punish or berate us in the context of sin, righteousness and judgment, that is not the understanding a Greek reader would have taken away from this passage. The word “elegcho” certainly contains elements of that translation but in this verse, I think some of the other words in its definition are more apropos; words such as convince and to prove. It means, also, to bring to light. Therefore, read this verse in this way, “And He, when He comes, will convince the world concerning righteousness.”

The Holy Spirit is proving and convincing us regarding righteousness because Jesus has gone to the Father. Jesus’ departure ushered in an entire new way of being, much less a new way of thinking. Jesus’ words undoubtedly perplexed his followers who thought they knew about sin and righteousness. It really took until the Apostle Paul’s writings for it to become clear. He wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Those words never cease to amaze. God took Jesus’ righteousness and made an even trade with us for our sin. In so doing, Jesus became all sin and we became the righteousness of God. What a deal!

The Holy Spirit is now in the earth trying to convince you of your righteousness. He offers proofs of the righteousness of God so that we may believe. That is what Jesus was expressing in this statement. You see, the Holy Spirit was sent into the earth for our benefit. He didn’t come into the earth to condemn us. We had already very successfully done that for ourselves. He came to prove to you the goodness of God and the love with which the Father has already saved and blessed you. Through no effort on our part, through no miracle of human ingenuity or wisdom, we have become righteousness so that when God looks upon us, He sees His own righteousness in Christ upon us. That is crazy cool! What a miracle!

Convicted to Love

John 16: 7 – 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I bet you have read these verses dozens of times. I, also, have read this passage many times. I did not always understand its depth and richness though, and truly, I probably still do not see all that Jesus conveys with these words. Let us look more closely for a few minutes.

First, if you read the previous verses, you discover that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the starting place for all of this. Jesus then describes part of the impact of the coming of the Spirit. First, he will convict the world concerning sin. Concerning sin, the Spirit convicts the world because they do not believe in Jesus as the Christ. These are the words which stopped me this week.

I thought he convicted the world concerning their sin, i.e. adultery, usury, lying, idol worship, etc. Shock of the week, that is not what the scripture says. I should have known better. God is love. Duh! The Spirit convicts people’s hearts about Christ. Guilt and Satan convict them about their behaviors. Do you see the subtlety? The Holy Spirit is preaching Christ. He is preaching the love of God.

Are we nuts? Revelation 12: 10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the beloved. What are we thinking? Somehow, we turned that on its head and made the Holy Spirit he who condemns us and the world. How wrong can we possibly be? It is frightening how far we have twisted the scriptures. We have certainly been deceived.

The Holy Spirit preaches Jesus which, as we know, is the good news. How did we even turn the sending of the Holy Spirit, and his coming, into a negative? It is only because of the brokenness of our own hearts. The Spirit has come to continue the work of Jesus. We would all agree to that, wouldn’t we? That commission is to spread deliverance, truth and the loving, redemptive grace of the Father.

I will never see this scripture the same again. Perhaps you will say the same. The Holy Spirit didn’t come with a whip, He came with a heart, the heart of the Father. We know that heart to be one of love and compassion. When we receive the Spirit in his fullness, then our hearts will be full of love and compassion as well. Our hearts will be mended of their scars and the injuries therein healed. The healing must begin with us, then we will be able to tell the world of the love that saved and healed us. Then we will be able to spread the good news to all people. The good news is attractive; as Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself,” (John 12: 32). Amen!

David’s Psalm of Deliverance

2 Samuel 22: 1 – 11

And David spoke the words of this song to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said,

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
3 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge;
My savior, you save me from violence.
4 “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.
5 “For the waves of death encompassed me;
The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me;
6 The cords of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
7 “In my distress I called upon the Lord,
Yes, I cried to my God;
And from His temple He heard my voice,
And my cry for help came into His ears.
8 “Then the earth shook and quaked,
The foundations of heaven were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.
9 “Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
Fire from His mouth devoured;
Coals were kindled by it.
10 “He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With thick darkness under His feet.
11 “And He rode on a cherub and flew;
And He appeared on the wings of the wind.

David gave us much to ponder in this song from his heart. I would add only one thing. As you meditate on this praise song, consider that the wings of the wind likely refers to the Holy Spirit. That should give you more to ponder.

Heads Up

Psalm 3: 3                   KJV

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

Do you remember the old song written from this verse? It has really been running through my head lately. I think I saw it better the other day than ever before. Proclaiming God as the lifter of my head never really meant that much to me until I realized that people who are sad, under pressure or in trouble literally go around with their head down. That is when it struck me that our Father carries the weight of our trials and comforts us so that we are no longer bowed down.

There is the story, in Luke 13: 11, of a woman who was plagued by an evil spirit for eighteen years. This woman was hunched over so that she could not stand up straight. In other words, she was bowed over. We believe that story was about a disabling spirit which tormented her with a physical disease, but one can also imagine a person who is bowed over from the cares of the world. Perhaps their worries are plentiful or have been ongoing for a long period of time and the weight of those troubles have bowed their shoulders.

Our God is the remedy for these woes. He does not intend that we stay bowed over in torment, as seen in Jesus’ response to the woman that was bowed over, “When Yeshua (Jesus) saw her, He called out to her and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your disability.’ Then He laid hands on her, and instantly she stood up straight and began praising God,” (Luke 13: 12 – 13 TLV). I like her response too, don’t you? She began to praise God because she knew Him as the source of her healing.

The same manifestation of God’s grace is available today. Our Father is still our shield and He still is the one who lifts our head when we are under the weather or under pressure. He heals our minds, restores our bodies and comforts our souls. He is the source of all goodness in the universe and, therefore, should be the first person to whom we turn.

As you begin your morning, renew your mind to this old truth. Remember today that God is with you. Put Him out in front of you so He can shield you from the enemy even as He guards your heart.

Gold Digger

Isaiah 45: 3

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.

I am reading When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. In Chapter 3 the author writes about gold being hidden in rock. That phrase excited my imagination. The precept this idea left with me is that things of value must be dug out.

Think about it for a moment. Do we value gold, silver and precious stones because they are hidden and thus, hard to acquire? Or are they hidden because they are precious? It seems true that those things which we work for are more valuable to us than those which come to us easily.

Look at this interesting passage from the Proverbs, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter,” (Proverb 25: 2). God has hidden His precious jewels. It is not that He doesn’t want us to have them. In fact, it is quite the opposite. He has put them away, in a safe place, for us. Do we not do the same thing? If you have something precious that you wish your child or grandchild to have, what do you do with it? You put it in safe keeping. You don’t leave it lying around where it can become lost, damaged or misplaced. You certainly do not put it where any random person could walk away with it. In the same way, our father has stored up His wisdom for us. Paul wrote “We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory,” (1 Corinthians 2: 7). God predestined all His wisdom and knowledge for us.

Bill Johnson wrote, “Some things are only discovered by the desperate, (Chapter 3, p. 39). There is truth to that, isn’t there? I think sometimes our largest liability is our comfort. While some people who read this Word of the Day live in desperate circumstances, many of us are comfortable, perhaps too comfortable. We are not desperate for change enough that we labor to dig out the golden nuggets God has stored up for us.

“There’s gold in them there hills,” is a well-known declaration. So where are the mountains where we mine gold? I am continually amazed at the gems in the Bible. For those of us who do not read the Old Testament often, we are really missing some of the greatest of all jewels. However, there is even richer territory than the Word. What? Did I really write that? Well, lest your heart fail you, the Word is the map to this richest of all gold veins. I am referring to the inspired Word of God.

God speaks directly to our hearts and minds. He has not gone mute in the last two centuries. He is still speaking today. Really, learning to hear His voice speaking directly to each of us is one of the most precious finds of all. If my experience is any judge, this blessing does not come easily to all people. I had to desperately seek God in order to have my ears opened. It was completely worth everything I did to find His voice. Now, I read the Word with Him. He, and His Spirit, lead me and instruct me as I read. It is just as though they tell me where to dig. “There is gold in them there Scriptures, Ivey. Dig here.” Some days I find it difficult to get through a chapter because the Holy Spirit reveals so much from a single sentence, or indeed, from a single word.

I wish to encourage you to seek God desperately. Seek Him with all your heart and with all your might. Seek Him as if your life depends on it. Get into the Word and begin to dig out the golden nuggets that are hidden there for you. The jewels are for those who purpose to find them. For once, it is good to be called a Gold Digger.

Lovers of God

2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

This is the second half of yesterday’s scripture. The unholy truth of this passage is that Paul wrote to Timothy about believers. He wrote specifically about people who were supposed to be, even professed to be, lovers of God yet they loved pleasure more than they loved God. Sound familiar? Again, we are living in these days. We want all the creature comforts. There is no problem with that, but we are to love God more and seek Him rather than seeking the comforts. That is where we sometimes fail.

We know and believe that our God makes us prosperous (Deuteronomy 8: 18). We have believed and because we do, we ask God to give us the new car, new phone, etc. We follow the patriarchs who were rich, but we have missed one bit of their success. Their prosperity was embedded in their seeking out of God. We have loved the goods more than we love the one who is good. Our hearts seem to have grown cold. Our zeal for God has waned. However, Christ is alive and we can stir up that devotion and adoration for the Father, Son and Spirit.

Then there are those who “hold to a form of godliness” though they deny the power which should accompany all who believe. To my great chagrin, that statement describes the modern church. We have lost our passion for God and we have begun to live a weak form of Christianity though I stumble over the word for is it true that we are even living a Christian lifestyle when there is no faith, no power and no passion for God? Who are we? If we are as Paul describes, then I mourn for us and for the church. Paul told Timothy to avoid people like that?

Why do believers deny the power of God? Are we afraid, lazy, content? Do we worship at the altar of “being busy” so that we do not have to expend the energy to learn faith and to walk in it? When was the last faith project we stood for? In denying the power of God, do we not deny God Himself?

The sinful behaviors are problematic only because we have lost our zeal for God. Those who would serve God with all their hearts are saved from the passions of their flesh. They are raised up in the glory and power of the Holy Spirit to a life of love for the Lord. We have become a people who don’t know how to give worthy praise to our Father because we have lost our passion. We make deals and contracts with the Father as if we have something worthy of a bargain. We hear less about serving a benevolent Father than perhaps we should, but pastors know well that we want to hear about what God will do for us. Sermons about what we should do for the Father are not popular.

None the less, I cry out to the Father, who is King and the great architect, to revive our souls. Stir up our passion, O Lord, so that we become a people who gratefully serve you and for whom the appetites of today’s scriptural passage hold no sway. Give us a heart of deep desire for you. Mold us into true believers, and Father, honor those who are serving you with all their heart. Lead the rest of us, Holy Spirit, into a passion filled life in Christ Jesus. Amen!