By Robert Wurtz II
AN OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY GHOST (Part 2)
Convincing the World of Righteousness
John 16:8 tells us that when the Holy Spirit is come He will reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In our previous study we looked at the Holy Spirit working to bring Holy Ghost conviction. In this lesson we will look at how the Holy Spirit convinces us of righteousness. We first must look at why the Holy Spirit would need to do this. The answer given by Jesus is because He will ascend to the Father and the people will see Him no more. In other words, Jesus Christ, the supreme example of genuine righteousness, will no longer be present to watch and emulate.
When Christ ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to work out in His people what they once beheld with their eyes (I John 1:1). This can only be possible through the power of the Holy Ghost. Our Christian walk begins in the Spirit and must continue in the Spirit. When we are born again our nature is changed from that of the ‘children of disobedience' to that of a ‘child of God.' We receive then and there the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
Worthless Acts of Righteousness
Before a person is born again, all the righteousness that they were able to do in their own strength is mere filthy rags to God. We are born with an unrighteous nature (sin nature), and that sin touches every thing we do in some way before salvation. Many may do what seem to be good deeds, but they are not done in faith and therefor cannot be counted for righteousness. The works that are done that are not done in faith, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, are worthless to God. Man is filled with all manor of vain motives. Many would ‘keep the law' but their spirit was wrong and their heart was filled with wickedness. The Pharisees would make a show of righteousness, but it was all a pretense. They were white washed tombs who cleaned the outside of the cup (as it were) and left the inside filthy. Conforming to some code or set of rules is not the same as being righteous from the heart.
Without Me You Can Do Nothing
The Apostle John went to great length to explain to us what is really means to be born again. This is important in our day because many do not genuinely become born again when they respond to the invitation or altar call. A birthing in the spirit must take place in which the person passes from death to life. They must receive a new heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They must become a new creature in which old things pass away and all become new. It is vain to tell a person they have passed from death to life when there is no way of knowing if they have or not until some type of fruit can be shown of their conversion. This is why the term ‘hopefully converted' was used to describe those who had appeared to have brought forth fruits worthy of repentance by the early evangelicals. Today modern evangelicals are doctrine based in their methods of seeing conversions as opposed to genuine transformation. What it amounts to is that if a person will say they believe in Jesus, the resurrection, the atonement, etc. they are considered to be saved; but the demons believe all these things and are lost. A person must not only ‘believe' the Gospel, they must rightly respond to it. They must turn to Christ and away from their sin. Faith is our right response to revelation. If we believe and respond rightly to what God has revealed in His word we may safely say we have responded in faith.
The Fruits of Genuine Salvation
In I John 2:29 we read, 'If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.' When we are genuinely saved we are not just justified and forgiven of our sins we also have been set free from sin. This means that we have the mandate that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can and must live righteously. Many have perverted this doctrine to say that once we are saved- only the ‘legal' righteousness of Christ has been transferred to our account and therefor we are righteous no matter how we live. This is a half-truth, which is the same as a lie. His righteousness is transferred to our account along with the power to live righteously. The two are inseparable.
John, being the youngest Apostle wrote His epistles over twenty years after the final writing of Paul and was able to tie up the doctrinal loose ends (as it were) that people would be confused about. John was well acquainted with Paul's theology. We find John telling us clearly in I John 3:7-10 that that if a person does not live righteously they are not God's child. Here we read, 'Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.'
The Subverting of the Gospel
Christ came into the world to set men and women free from sin and atone for the sins that are past (Romans 3:25). This means that people can be set free from the slavery of sin and become slaves to righteousness. This is what it means to be truly born again. Paul writes in Romans 6:20-22, 'For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.'
The evidence of the Gospel having been subverted and removed from these words of Paul is evidenced in the emphasis that people get their sins forgiven- and not be changed. People ask God generally to forgive them of their sins- but few really seek God for deliverance from that sin. This is not Christianity- it is a false Gospel. Paul states in Romans 6:21 that the end of those things (sin) is death- but as a servant of God we have a fruit unto holiness that leads to eternal life. The contrast here is clear- sin leads to hell- holiness leads to heaven.
Liberty from sin is a package deal. We are set free from the penalty and power of sin. The apostle Peter describes this saying of Christ, 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.' God made a way for us that our righteousness WOULD exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees and it was that of our being dead to sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ. The outworking of this reality is always a holy life. To teach that Christian's can live carnal is to deny the work of the Cross. Christ died to set us free from sin- NOT set us free TO sin. This is not a works based salvation- it is the outward working of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our life. If we are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The natural appetites will be under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. This is the genuine Christianity that Paul speaks of in Titus 1:1. It is the faith of God's elect that demonstrates the acknowledgment of the truth by a godly life and as a result has the hope of eternal life. Anything short of this is not the born again experience and will not last. Christians will call themselves Christian, but it will be in name only. Their lives will be no different than the unsaved. John sums this up in I John 5:1-5, 'Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith.' (NAS)
Convicted to Live Righteously
It is a contradiction for a minister to say that they are anointed of the Holy Ghost and not preach righteousness. It is false to say that Christians can live in sin and call themselves born again. If a true Christian is living in sin they will be convicted greatly by the Holy Ghost. If the Holy Ghost is resident in us we will have the power to overcome sin. God demands that we live righteously. Not in our own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to walk in the light as He is in the light. If we will do that- then the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse us of ALL sin. If you are living in sin and calling yourself a Christian you are at odds with God's holy word. Genuine Christians try to abstain from all appearance of evil. They refuse to be partakers of others men's sins. They have a hope that causes them to want to continually purify themselves- even as Christ is pure. The apostle John continues, 'Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him. So if we continue to live in him, we won't sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.' (NLT)
Jesus Christ the Righteous
Since Christ is seated at the right hand of the heavenly Father we have the Holy Spirit in us working out the personality of Jesus Christ. If we stumble and sin the Holy Spirit will deal with us immediately to TURN from that sin. However, sin is by no means normal to a Christian any more than falling physically is normal for an adult. Some new converts may continue to commit sins because they are unaware that what they are doing is sin. When the revelation comes that what they are doing is wrong- God will convict them and they will turn from it (if they are truly born again). Again John writes, 'My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.'
Basic Right and Wrong
Jesus asked the question once that when He returned, 'Would He find faith on the earth?' In other words, would He find anyone who was rightly responding to the knowledge of God? Would He find anyone who was rightly responding to their conscience or the word that was written upon their heart? The answer to that question is getting more dismal by the day. No other generation has so tried to redefine right and wrong like this one.
The sad reality is that people in this generation are so corrupt- that they are desperately in love with sin. They are desperately in love with the world and the things of this world. For this cause there is a great need for preachers of righteousness that God can use to pierce through the hearts of men and women with Holy Ghost conviction. There needs to be a wholesale movement of righteousness preaching that will expose the nakedness of this world's condition. Do we see that? Do we find these ministers? How is the Body of Christ responding to such wickedness? In short, by and large they are conforming and lowering the standard. The modern church growth movement, designed to grow churches and not the Kingdom of God, don't tolerate much Holy Ghost conviction. But without this crucial working of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God's word there is no hope for society. Though the contrast between the world and the word grows more all the time there must be a remnant that will come out of this world and be God's witness. Time is of the essence. Righteousness in this generation is a synonym for intolerance. How much longer can we sit by and watch society go down hill into perdition? Compromise in Christian's lives is the obstacle. How can we tell a world to live right when we won't? How can we preach against things that we partake of? The answer is we don't and we won't. Until the average Christian is detoxed from this world's wickedness they won't even feel the urgency for change.