The cross achieves something: the Spirit effects that achievement in our lives and in our world. There’s much to say here, but this morning, let’s just focus on this passage from John 16:
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgement, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:7-11)
In the passage, we are told of three effects of the Spirit’s work. They relate to the conviction of Sin, the presentation of righteousness and the declaration of judgement
- Sin – because “people do not believe in me.” The sin of unbelief is to reject Jesus.
Most people understand ‘sin’ to mean wrong things that they do against God. But our sins are not just our wrong actions. Sin also includes wrong and evil attitudes in our hearts (or minds). Jesus taught that wrong attitudes in people’s hearts cause all kinds of wicked behaviour (Mark 7:21-23).
When Moses led God’s people through the desert, their worst sin was the wrong attitude of their hearts(Hebrews 3:8). They did not want to trust God, so they would not obey him. Their other sins were the result of this wrong attitude.
This particular sin is called unbelief. But by ‘unbelief’ here, I do not mean the doubts of a sincere person who really wants to know God. I mean the opposite. The people whom Moses led were not sincere. They did not want to have a relationship with God. And their problem was not really doubt. They knew about God. Their problem wasthe decisions that they chose to make about him. They refused to accept his authority over their lives.
Another name for unbelief is lack of faith. Faith means active belief and trust in God’s word. It is impossible to have faith unless we first hear God’s word (Hebrews 3:7). But if we then refuse to trust and to obey, that is unbelief.
The results of unbelief are very serious. The people whom Moses led could not enter Canaan because of this sin. And the result of unbelief is still very serious for people today. Unbelief will ruin a person’s relationship with God. And because God is the living God, nothing is more important than to have a right relationship with him.
And this is what was exposed by the Cross.
The cross is an open display of what sin does: it destroys what is most beautiful. The cross exposes our hearts, and shows what we are capable of. The reach of sin, the power of sin. Its not matter of pain or a quantity. It’s a quality. It’s Who died, and why. The cross achieves that display. The Spirit effects that conviction. It’s you! In John 13, they said “Is it I?” they recognised their own weakness. The cross exposed it.
We don’t preach denominations, traditions or organisations: we speak about Jesus. And the Spirit effects a conviction of sin. Skeletons in the closet. God opens it all out.
And the Cross deals with it. It is finished. We enter into the finished work of Christ. The Holy Spirit effects what the cross achieves. He whom the son set free is free! It is finished.
2. Righteousness: The Holy Spirit upholds righteousness, “because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.”
When Jesus was on the earth, he stood for a picture of what righteous living was. Now you see him no longer, so the Holy Spirit shows you on the inside.
Is righteousness a perfect life? It is a Christ-life. First deal with sin, stand in righteousness and then…
3. Judgement: “The prince of this world now stands condemned. “Not the final judgement, but the judgement of satan. He is defeated and dethroned.
John 14:30: “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me.”
2 Cor 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
John 12:31: “Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” Jesus spoke of what the Cross would achieve.
John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ” He takes it away! He dethroned the devil.
There is an evil force at large, but there’s another force too. Isaiah prophesied it. Isaiah 29:20: “The Terrible One is brought to nought.”
Mk 16:17:”And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues…”
Who breaks the power of sin and darkness? “In my name “ Demons bow to the name of Jesus. The Cross achieves the judgement of satan, and the Spirit effects that victory through our lives.
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phliippians 2:9-11.
Demonstrate the power of the cross, through the powerful work of the Spirit in us!