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Let me start by characterizing how people often define sin, righteousness, and judgment:
- Sin: Anything that is imperfect—and that’s a truckload of activities and attitudes,
- Righteousness: The opposite of the above, (i.e. everything that’s perfect)—another truckload of things to do and be concerned about, and,
- Judgment: The consequence of yielding to sin or slacking off on righteousness.
Don’t misunderstand me: those are justifiable definitions, both from Biblical usage and from our daily experiences. Note two things. First, the definitions make us and our failures the centerpiece—we are the agents of sin and righteousness, just as we are the recipients of justice. Second, they are not how Jesus defined the terms. As always, his definitions deserve the final say.
His definitions, though, should confuse us the first time we think about them. If we are not taken aback, we are not awake:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate [i.e. Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:7-11)
Notice the departure from our habitual self-oriented thinking—no moral bookkeeping, finger pointing, and punishment for us. Instead, we see Jesus giving complete attention his identity as the true savior and to the “ruler of the world” as the ultimate foe. Here’s the definitions Jesus provides:
- Sin: Disbelief in Jesus—the one sin that rules them all,
- Righteousness: To see Jesus is to see true righteousness, and now that he is no longer visible, only the Spirit can reveal that righteousness to us, and,
- Judgment: Not against us, but against the “ruler of this world” (i.e. Satan)—who stands condemned.
How should we respond to this? Many ways, no doubt, but the obvious is to admit any disbelief, admire his righteousness (which he offers to give us by faith), and rejoice that the truly sinister force behind our wayward actions stands condemned.
This post was first published on: Feb 12, 2024 at 12:01. If this article is significantly updated, the publication date beneath the title may change in order to bring current posts to the top of the directory.