Kingdom Principle: The Spirit of God has been given to the world – not all respond with Praise.
In Pentecost the Spirit of God births the church (or better said –it is born from above) for it is called to be a light to world. (Isaiah 42:6, Luke 2:32, Acts 13:46-48) In Pentecost, the world is made aware of the darkness which surrounds it. Other posts in the blog address the call of the Church to let light shine, how it goes it about being a light, and the power it has been given by the Spirit do this good work. This post addresses the awareness of darkness which the world discovers in light of the church.
The Spirit of God has roots and fruit, one of the roots of the Spirit is to bring conviction. We as the church are to follow our convictions, as we release our intentions. But what exactly is the conviction that the Spirit brings… John 16:8 tells us the world is wrong or faulty understanding about sin, righteousness and judgment. The conviction of the Spirit is to bring a correction of this error to the world. In this the world will see the Forgiveness, Freedom and Foolishness of being alive in the Spirit.
First we must see that this conviction is an act of correction and revelation of an error in thinking. However, this correction is not as most in the church perceive it to be according to the passage in John 16… the common church assumption is that God’s Spirit corrects us when we sin. This quickly falls in the category of punishment, the Spirit causes me to know that I did something wrong. The resulting conclusion of such a conviction is that God is displeased with me, therefore my conviction increases my guilt, which is supposed to lead me to no longer sin. Unfortunately, this cycle actually leads many in the church to “give up” and leads them to grieve the Spirit. (This is the lie and deception of the enemy) Returning to the text… the correction as a result of the Spirit’s conviction falls upon the world – Not the believer. This liberation from the cycle of displeasing God and being punished is the gift of forgiveness and freedom found in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:1,13, 2 Cor 3:16-17). The Truth is that God is love and just, and sin has been forgiven at the Cross through the blood of Jesus. (Eph. 1:7-8) My guilt need not be increased through conviction, rather I only need to accept that Christ has paid the debt, and willingly I partake of the gift of forgiveness. There is no need or ability for me to also pay the debt through my conviction. So I joyfully return to God, restoring my intimacy with Him through Christ’s righteousness and holiness. However, the World is not united with God, and thus they have no awareness of their separation. Therefore the conviction that falls upon the world – is found in their being made aware of grace.
When “we” –Christians who are seeking to please God, do something sinful, the Spirit shows up to tell the world of Grace through our lives. This may sound odd, but in your error/sin, the world has the best opportunity to witness the gift of grace. In this the correction falls on the side of the world’s understanding of the great Grace and truth of Jesus, rather than on the believer to experience guilt – being of the Spirit you are to demonstrate joyful acceptance of grace. Paul ensures that the Church not see this as a license to sin more – so that Grace abounds (Romans 6:1, 15), but we must discover the power of humility and confession for this reality to be demonstrated to the world. This is clearly seen in the rebuke of the Father to the older son in Luke 15 with regard to the younger who returned home after living in sin. In this God is more “concerned” about our demonstration of Grace, far an above any mistake we make. The conviction that the world must see with regard to sin is FORGIVENESS.
The world also needs a conviction (correction) of how it views righteousness. The world often expects very little from humanity, this is why it is so surprised at the choice of any person to do a good act of selflessness. Yet, the world is just as prone to expect all too much of those who carry a title and position of leadership. The reality is that in placing their expectation that these leaders will not let us down – the world has grown callused and now doubts that there is such thing as a leader who can do the right thing at the right time – which is “their” definition of righteous. What is left is Christ-ians… little “Christs” doing their best to live up to that expectation. This takes us back to point one regarding sin & forgiveness – when every time we come up “short” we fear the Spirit will come to convict us… then our engagement with the Spirit becomes one of resentment rather than fruit bearing. The correction for the world with regard to righteousness is the discovery that there is a mindset that does not fear failure or imperfection. This mindset is found in the freedom of the Kingdom, where my imperfections are overcome and weakness becomes my strength, this is not true in the world or religious systems of leadership. For this reason – the leaven of the Pharisees (religious leaders) and that of “Herod” (worldly appointed leaders) must be exposed. (Mark 8:14-21)
Righteousness is a gift that comes from our relationship with Jesus. Intimacy with Jesus through the power of the Spirit is what the world needs to see. The foundation of this is an identity that is not swayed by the wind and waves of the world. (James 1:6, Eph 4:14) When religious or worldly leaders consistently compromises their character and values – they are demonstrating an identity that is not righteous. As the Spirit leads, the truly righteous leader considers others needs as greater than their own, and is quick to confess their wrong –not fearing it will tarnish their righteousness, rather it redeems it all that much more. All this to say: The conviction that the world sees with regard to righteousness is FREEDOM.
Finally we encounter this issue of judgment. Again the same paradigm shift must take place, the Spirit is bringing conviction to the world regarding judgment, not to those filled with the Spirit. (There is a judgement to come, but this is not that…) The Church often limits the work and power of the Spirit of God to be isolated to Christians… God is at work in lives always prior to their coming to confess his Name… With regard to judgement the common practice of the church is to actually lump this in with the first two works of conviction, and continue to beat ourselves up, but here as we see it actually is given to the world as a demonstration of Mercy. Conviction of the world regarding judgment is the truth that the Judgement has already been issued, but it has been withheld from them. This mercy, withholding of penalty is being declared that those who follow the devil, will receive what is due them. Judgment has already fallen on the devil, it need not fall on the people of the world in the same way. However as the world chooses to separate oneself from grace, in doing so they unite themselves with the devil. This is true in Herod’s life with regard to John the Baptist. (Luke 3:18-20) The devil was defeated at the cross in much the same way that your Sin was forgiven. The revelation to the world is the fact that death unlocks the victory into our lives… this is the foolishness of the cross. (1 Cor. 3:16-4:5) But as we see with Herod, denial of our death is sought while those in power issued it freely as judgement upon others. This blindness is the reason the conviction must come to the world, for they see death as the final judgment. The call is for those who are filled with the Spirit to no longer fear death, its power or the outcome of such a fate. For physical death is to be a culmination and celebration of this life, not a disappointment and removal from this world. Paul rightly captures this in the fact that believers are not to grieve as the world grieves but rather with hope (Romans 8). The conviction that the world sees with regard to judgment is FOOLISHNESS.
So then what does this look like in our lives as believers?
Sin – All sin has been forgiven at the Cross, and we are no longer under the penalty of sin. Where the law revealed our sin, the blood of Jesus removed our sin. We are to die with Christ, and rise again with him, no longer living according to the pattern of this world. Sin is no longer the problem to deal with in our lives… it is removed with a breath of confession. Grace by faith is our salvation. We must no longer live as if we are attempting to master our “sin”. When the world observes this – they rightly conclude “we” are not different than “them”.
Therefore – Confess and believe you are forgiven…
Righteousness – Righteousness is a Gift with which we are clothed in Jesus. (Col 3:12) Our robe of righteousness (Rev. 19:8, Isaiah 61:10, Ps 132:9) must clothe us as we enter his banquet and feast in the Kingdom. (Matt 22:1-14, Zech 3:4). The gift is one of freedom, therefore we are to no longer live our lives as captives and prisoners of this world. We have thrown off the sin that entangles (above) now we must be released from the worry and anxiety that snuff our joy. Grace by faith is complete – but there is more – true freedom – Cast all your cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7)
Therefore – Run and celebrate your freedom to be who God has called you to be.
Judgement –We are liberated! We are free! Salvation has come… the one who stands to be judged is one who has reason to fear. For this reason we are called not to judge (Luke 6:37) (I often use the words Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy – they fit here as well as lining up with each of these respectively) Therefore increase the ecstasy in your life – this will look like foolishness to other, and that is just what the world needs to see. We know there is no fear in love, so let love release you to be a fool for Christ. (1 Cor. 1:18) It is the enemy, and those who follow him who have a judgement to fear.
Therefore – Don’t judge the world for the pleasure they seek, rather demonstrate your foolishness and be drunk in the spirit so that the world may taste and see that God is good.