The Spirit Convicts of Righteousness

The Spirit’s work goes beyond convicting of sin. Jesus said that the Spirit would convince the world of righteousness. The Spirit is able to do this, said Christ, “because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more.” (John 16:10.) What is righteousness? Simply defined, it is right doing. Ezra declared of God, “Thou art righteous in all his ways.” Psalm 145:17 “In all His ways” includes His dealings with the bad as well as with the good, with devils as well as with holy angels.


Since God is righteous, His law must be righteous. Indeed, “all thy commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172. No wonder the prophet Daniel exclaimed, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee.” Daniel 9:7. And David insisted, “There is nothing unrighteous in God’s dealings with any of the creatures in His vast universe. His law and judgments, His love and mercy, His justice and pity, all manifest His righteousness. The term “righteousness” is somewhat like a basket; it holds all excellencies and all perfections. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.” Psalm 119:142.


However, when we look at the unregenerate man, a different picture appears. Man is “filled with all unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:29.) Of the billions upon billions of human beings that have trod the earth, Paul declared. “There are none righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10. Isaiah said, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6.


What is the possibility of reform? Can man make himself righteous? Is there any such thing as a spiritual self-improvement program? Can man ever completely reform himself? Self may be ever so disgusted with self-lament and mourn over its evil ways-but self-will never overcome self; it can never cast itself out. Self may reform in some things, but whenever it works out some voluntary humility, it quickly brags about it. “See what ‘I’ have done, boasts self-attainment. God asks, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23.


The office of the Holy Spirit is to make righteousness so attractive and so desirable to man that he will be will to sacrifice his incorrigible self to obtain it. When the sinner sees the righteousness, the goodness, and the love of Christ, who willingly suffered as his substitute on the cross and died in his stead for his sins, gratitude wells up in his soul and he cries out, “I believe.” When he accepts Christ, he receives forgiveness and with this Christ’s righteousness. He stands justified before God through the merits of Christ’s sinless life and shed blood.


Jesus was made sin for us “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21.) The Holy Spirit not only deals with the negative-sin-but with the positive-righteousness. When God forgives sin through faith in the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, He imputes righteousness to the believer. The believer stands before God not only as though he had never sinned, but also as though he had given God the same perfect obedience that Christ has given Him.


How can the Spirit convince man of righteousness? Jesus said, “Because I go to my Father.” How can His going back to God convince us of this? Because God the Father would never have accepted Jesus back into heaven if there had been one stain of sin upon Him. Of Jesus we read, He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15.) “Though he were a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” (Philippians 2:8,9.) Because Jesus obeyed, God the Father accepted His righteousness.


How did Jesus develop His positive righteousness? Isaiah prophesied of Christ, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, … and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: … with righteousness shall he judge the poor … And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins.” Isaiah 11:2-5. The Holy Spirit resting upon Christ enabled Him to live a righteous life. Because Christ Himself lived such a life, was Himself so filled with the Spirit, He could “go to the Father,” or be resurrected; and because of this the Spirit could convict of righteousness. Only after Christ’s life had demonstrated a perfect righteousness could the Spirit follow and Himself convict men that they should have the righteousness reflected in the life of Christ.


However, the Spirit’s work in convicting of righteousness encompassed more than convicting the sinner that Christ is righteous. It also includes convincing men that they may have this same righteousness. Justification has to do with that portion of a man’s life which he has already lived-the sins committed in the past. (Romans 3:25.) However, once justified does not mean always justified. The question naturally arises, how is the convert to live that unlived portion of his life that is yet future? Surely, it is not to be lived to the lusts of the flesh. (1 Peter 4:2.)  To receive Christ involves accepting the righteousness that He lived out in His life 1,900 years ago and receiving the same Spirit that enabled Him to live the righteous life, He lived then. It means that we should live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” just as Christ lived while on earth. (Titus 2:12.) How can this be done? Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. Thus, the Holy Spirit goes a step further and uses the Christian to convince “the world … of righteousness”!


The Bible calls this growing up in Christ “sanctification.” The sanctified believer behaves as Christ behaved. He has a progressive experience, continuing as long as life lasts. As justification is by faith (Romans 5:1), so sanctification is by faith (Acts 26:18). We receive justification by believing that Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our guilt when He died for us. We experience sanctification as day by day we let the Holy Spirit do in us what He did in Jesus. Sanctification means obedience to the law through the Spirit. (Romans 15:16.) Sanctification may also be spoken of as imparted righteousness. “God hath … chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Memory Verse:

Galatians 5:22,23.   “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

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