And when he is come, he will reprove…of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.
— John 16:8,10
Have you ever complimented someone who responded by arguing with you — rejecting your compliment and essentially questioning your judgment in the matter? For example, after you told someone that he looked as if he had lost weight, did he respond by telling you how fat he is rather than by thanking you for the compliment? “Well, I’ve gained a lot of weight,” the person may have said, “and I look so fat now. I wish you could have seen me three months ago when I really looked good! I don’t look as good now.”
This is the equivalent of throwing the compliment back in your face. It would have been far more polite and gracious to say, “Thank you. I’m so glad you noticed. I appreciate you telling me that I look better.”
Here is another example that I think will make the point. A person stands before the church and sings a beautiful solo that deeply stirs your heart. At the end of the service, you make your way through the congregation to find the soloist because you want to express how much his singing moved you. After opening your heart and thanking him for allowing God to use him, the soloist responds to your compliment by saying, “Thanks for the compliment, but I thought I did a hor-rible job tonight. I can’t believe I sang so badly. I don’t know how you got anything out of it.”
It’s rude to respond like this to someone who is trying to thank you for being a blessing. Although you are probably not deliberately intending to be ill-mannered, your response is still equivalent to a rejection of the love, admiration, and appreciation God is expressing through someone else to you. It’s the same as saying, “I appreciate the fact that you gave me that compliment, but we both know it isn’t true, so you don’t have to say it.” In effect, you are calling the person a liar!
We sometimes respond this way to one another, not meaning to be rude. But did you know that we also do this to God almost every day? Consider, for example, what Second Corinthians 5:21 declares: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
This verse says that God sent Jesus to the Cross to take upon Himself our sin, to die in our place, and to give us His standing of righteousness in God’s sight. Yet if there is any subject about which Christians will get bent out of shape, it is this question of their being “righteous.” Most believers are so conscious of their old sinful nature that they can’t embrace the truth that they’ve been declared righteous! Tell them that they are righteous before God, and they will respond by telling you how bad they are.
Sinful nature always clings to the worst and to what is most negative. It will always gravitate downward, never upward. That is the nature of the mind that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit. If abandoned to your flesh, you’ll never believe a good report; you’ll never believe God is doing a good work in you; and you’ll certainly never believe that you have been made “the righteousness of God in him.”
Negative, base, sinful thinking has been a part of humanity for so long that it requires some special convincing to make us realize what God has done inside us. For us to really believe that we have rightstanding with God, it will take the work of the Holy Spirit to convince us! Otherwise, when God says, “You’re My child. I have made you righteous. You are beautiful to Me,” our negatively charged minds and emotions will retort, “It’s not so! I’m unworthy. I’m unholy. I’m so pitiful!”
But here is the good news: Just as the Holy Spirit convicts a sinner of his sin, He is also sent to convince believers of their new rightstanding with God! Jesus told us this about the Holy Spirit: “And when he is come, he will reprove…of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more” (John 16:8,10).
The word “reprove” is the Greek word elegcho. It means to expose or to convict, such as to convict someone of a crime or a sin. This word was used to describe legal proceedings during which a person was examined and cross-examined in a court of law until the court issued a final ruling. If the person was deemed guilty, he was unmistakably convicted of his crime. In this sense, the word elegcho describes the work of the Spirit to completely and thoroughly convict a sinner of his sin. When the Holy Spirit is finished opening the eyes of a person to his sin, that person knows he is a sinner. There is no escaping the truth for the unbeliever once the Holy Spirit has revealed truth to his heart!
But the word “reprove” is also used in a positive sense to convince someone of something positive. Again in a legal sense, it was used to denote lawyers who worked very diligently to convince people of a new way of thinking or a new way of seeing things. Perhaps they were entrenched in a wrong mindset or had a distorted perception, so the attorneys would go to work to change their opinion. In this case, they weren’t trying to convict someone; they were working to convince someone!
Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove…of righteousness…” (John 16:8). After the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and God declares us righteous, it takes a supernatural work of God to make us comprehend our new condition in Jesus Christ. This realization is just as supernatural as the moment we recognized we were lost. Only this time, we are being supernaturally awakened to the fact that we are righteous!
I can remember when I woke up to this truth many years ago. I was driving down the street, feeling totally unrighteous while listening to a teaching tape on the subject of righteousness. Suddenly my mind began to grasp what I was hearing. It was as if someone took blinders off my eyes and earplugs out of my ears! For the first time, I was seeing and hearing the truth about my new righteousness in Christ Jesus.
This truth was going straight to my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit! I not only heard the words, but I also understood them. My inward man leaped for joy when the Spirit of God illumined my understanding about righteousness. He convinced me of the truth, and I was set free!
If you struggle with a poor self-image and a constant feeling of condemnation, you need the Holy Spirit to do His convincing work in your life. Only He can open your eyes to see who you have become in Jesus Christ. Once your eyes have been opened and you understand you are righteous, you will never again throw the truth back in God’s face and argue with Him. When the Holy Spirit reminds you that you have been declared righteous, you will cry out with joy, “Thank you! That’s exactly who I am!”
This means you don’t have to be negative about yourself all the time. You don’t have to beat yourself over the head, constantly reminding yourself of how unworthy you are, because Jesus made you worthy! He made you righteous!
On the other hand, if you don’t have a grasp of this God-given righteousness, a negative self-image will most likely rule your life, inhibiting your ability to pray with the confident trust that God will answer your prayer. That sense of unworthiness will cause a cloud of heaviness to hang over your life, hindering your ability to walk in the joy and victory of the Lord.
So don’t you think it’s time to let the Holy Spirit open your eyes and ears to see and hear the truth about who God has made you to be? It may seem hard to believe that you’re righteous, and it may take a lot of convincing for you to finally believe it. But the Holy Spirit was sent to be the Great Convincer! He is on the job and is ready right now to start convincing you of the truth regarding who you are in Christ!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I need the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and convince me that I’ve become righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. I’ve read and heard this truth, and I know it intellectually, but I need a revelation of it in my heart. So Holy Spirit, go to work in my heart. Open the eyes and ears of my spirit to see and to hear that I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Free me from religious thinking that holds me in bondage to feelings of unworthiness. Please do it today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus became sin for me so I could become the righteousness of God in Him. The Holy Spirit is the Great Convincer, and He is busy convincing me that I am free from defects and from sin, no longer the person I used to be. Because Jesus’ blood touched, washed, and cleansed me, I am now free!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Are you consciously aware that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?
2. Do you struggle with feelings of unworthiness, sinfulness, and shame, even though you are a child of God? If your answer is yes, what steps can you take to walk out of those lying emotions that try to hold you captive?
3. Can you remember an instance in your life when you suddenly and supernaturally were illuminated with the understanding that you had been declared the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? When did that happen, and what was the immediate result of this revelation in your life?