THE CHALLENGE OF CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
The second phase of the Spirit's threefold operation is to convince men of the righteousness of Christ.
This is accomplished by affirming that Christ has returned to the Father, to sit at His right hand. Where is the throne of God? His throne is in Heaven (Psalm 11:4). Can unrighteousness enter Heaven? "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination
" (Revelation 21:27). Christ had to be righteous, absolutely spotless, in order to enter in. This is the point which the Spirit proves.
Man in his natural state is devoid of true spiritual appraisal. He possesses no measure or standard by which he can evaluate that which is eternal.
- He studies intrinsic values;
- He weighs earthly privilege;
- He gauges his success by the degree of his inward satisfaction or by the extent of another's failure.
This of course is materialism in its deceptive character.
- It blinds the vision,
- It hardens the heart,
- It dulls the conscience.
It may allow for religion but has no room for God.
- Being good is one thing; being righteous is quite another.
- Being good is the outcome of careful conduct; being righteous results from faith in Christ.
The one is the effort of self; the other is the work of the Spirit.
It is a matter of primary importance that man should be convinced that Jesus has gone to the Father.
- This proves that His Calvary work was acceptable.
- This affirms the essential and indispensable doctrine of His resurrection.
- This guarantees that, since He became sin for man, man through His sacrifice may become righteous.
The believer is assured that He has a high priest "who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens
." Such transcendent truths are only known through the persuasive, enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit.
Without the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit, the best we can do is set up a moral code and attempt to shape our lives accordingly.
We say to ourselves, "This is good and that is bad. This is right and that is wrong." Our own conscience becomes the supreme court of discrimination. But there is a tidal wave of influences which constantly alters our judgment. Custom and climate play a perceptible part. We bow to popular opinion. One day we listed as wrong matters which gradually became tolerable and eventually approved. Warmth has become a legitimate excuse for immodesty. Surely it should be convincingly evident that we need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convince us of true righteousness.