First Sunday in Lent – Friday
He will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment of sin, because they believe not on me;
of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. – John 16:8-11
Thus the Lord spoke to His disciples in the night in which He was betrayed: “But now I go My way to Him that sent Me, and none of you asketh Me, ‘Whither goest Thou?’ But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (John 16:5-7).
By His going to the Father, by atoning for our sins with His precious suffering and death, our Redeemer has brought it about that the Holy Ghost, through His Word, comes to us and most kindly comforts us with the only, yes, the only eternal comfort of God, which is Christ, and makes us bold and confident against all the enmity of the world. But even with this malignant world, which hates and rejects Christ and His witnesses, the Holy Spirit desires, through His Word, to accomplish something through our testimony. What? He wants to “reprove the world” (v. 8a). What does that mean? He wishes to convince it against its will; of what? “Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment” (v. 8b). How so “of sin” (v. 9a)? Through our testimony of Christ in His Word, the Holy Spirit thrusts this prick into the hearts of unbelievers: If we do not believe in Christ (v. 9b), we remain under the curse of sin, and “the wrath of God” (John 3:36). And “of righteousness” (16:10a)?
Thus: By rejecting Christ, who, through His death and resurrection and ascension, went to the Father, we reject the only righteousness thus procured for us, and wherein we can stand before God. Since it is by faith that we personally receive God’s justification of the whole world, what can the result of unbelief be, other than the imputation of sin and the lack of true righteousness? And, lastly, “of judgment” (v. 11a)? Thus: If anyone rejects Christ and serves “the prince of this world” (v. 11b), the devil’s judgment has already been effected. Christ’s redemption sealed the devil’s fate. As his unbelieving children, those of the wicked world, who are subject to the devil’s control, will ultimately share in the judgment that has already been passed on the devil, that is, they stand convicted, guilty, and damned forever.
On the day of judgment, when God shall bring to light the counsels of the hearts, it will become manifest that, by our testimony of Christ, this threefold prick has been thrust into the hearts of deniers, and that, with malice aforethought, they kicked against this prick. Thus does the Holy Ghost, through His Word, give us the strength and help to be faithful witnesses for Jesus. So let us, each on his part, bear continued firm, undaunted, strong witness of Jesus, in thanks to Him for all that He has witnessed to us and for us, for our redemption and for our justification.
PRAYER – O God, the Holy Ghost, continue, through Thy Word, to grant me, I implore Thee, courage and strength to remain a true witness of the only Savior for sinners, Jesus Christ. Also, continue to give me grace to bring many to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but thrust the sword of Thy Word into the hearts of malicious deniers, that they may become aware of the fact that they are rejecting their salvation, the only salvation of their souls. Let Thy almighty Word continue to produce much fruit in our own hearts and lives. Amen.
O Spirit of the living God, in all Thy plentitude of grace;
where’er the foot of man hath trod, descend on our apostate race.
O Spirit of the Lord, prepare a sinful world their God to meet;
breathe Thou abroad like morning air, till hearts of stone begin to beat.
(Hymn 504, st. 1 and 4; TLH)