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Easter IV – John 16:5-15

by pastorjuhl ~ April 29th, 2010

I am indebted to Rev. C.S. Esget for some of his thoughts on this text. Soli Deo Gloria!

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

What is the worst sin of all? The Lord Jesus says the worst sin of all is not murder or pedophilia or homosexuality. He says the worst sin of all is not to believe in Him. All the problems in the world, all of the sins people commit, have at their core this common cause: unbelief. Unbelief is failing to love God, to fear Him, and to trust Him above all things.

Jesus says the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Spirit convicts the world of sin, the sin of not believing in Jesus. Sinners are those who do not worship God the Father, confess Him as the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and those who do not trust in His Son. The sinner believes in himself. He looks to himself as his own master. Jesus becomes a teacher, a co-pilot, a back-up quarterback – but not the Savior. A Savior is only for someone who is lost, needs saving, helpless and ruined, and can do nothing for himself.

What do you seek? Do you seek a pep talk or salvation? Do you seek some good advice on stress management or deliverance from death? Are you looking for help in forgiving yourself or forgiveness from the God whom you offended? Do you expect tips for dealing with difficult people or defense from the assaults of the devil?

Do you not see your own unbelief? When you see food as something you earned instead of God’s gift, that is unbelief. When you breathe air and drink water that is considered part of a natural ecosystem while forgetting that air and water are gifts from the Creator Who lovingly sustains you, that is unbelief. When you see people as objects to be manipulated, enjoyed, or endured at best, instead of fellow creatures of God to be respected, that is unbelief.

When you look at God’s Word to see what you can get away with rather than what you get to do, that is unbelief. When you are overcome by fear of loss, when you squander all your time on self-destructive amusements that you know you should stop doing but do it anyway, when you are angry and sad over nothing and everything, don’t you see this all comes from unbelief? When you are obsessed with the sins of society, the failings of your pastor, and how everyone else is the cause of all your problems, do you not see your unbelief?

Do not be deluded by the diabolical trick that believing there is a God is the same thing as believing in God. Saint Augustine wrote “to believe Christ is not to believe in Christ.” The demons believe Christ. They know the Bible better than some who are Christians. This is not what Holy Scripture calls faith. Faith is having all your hope in Jesus Christ and loving Jesus above all things.

Jesus has taken away your sins. He bestows you with His righteousness in place of your sins. You need not look at yourself or the things of the world to give you pleasure. You look to Christ for every good thing, even everlasting life.

Jesus changes your tune. The first word of today’s Introit is “sing”. Jesus takes away your dirge of unbelief and gives you a new song. Consider Psalm 98: O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things! His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. The battle for life and death is over. Life is victorious. Jesus wins the battle in your place and gives you the spoils of His victory.

Jesus will soon ascend into heaven, but He will not leave you alone and forsaken. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The Spirit comes to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This conviction happens in the application of God’s Holy Law and Holy Gospel through preaching and teaching. The Law preaches repentance. The Law has no mercy. God’s Law shows you how blind you are to God and His Word. The Law always accuses.

Once the Law has brought contrition and repentance, the Gospel is preached. The Gospel shows the Father’s grace toward you in Jesus. The Gospel is pure gift. The Gospel never accuses. The Gospel preaches the righteousness of God in the death of Jesus Christ. The Gospel delivers forgiveness and life in Word, in water, in bread and wine, Body and Blood. The Gospel brings Divine pardon. You shall not die, but live. This is the new song you sing through faith in Jesus Christ.

Where are you going? You are going to Christ. He alone cancels all the sins on your list of the worst sins. The Holy Spirit cannot come unless Jesus first ascends to His Father. Now that the Spirit has come, you are connected to the Word of life and the means of grace. The Spirit continually delivers the convicting Word of both repentance and forgiveness. You are also convicted of forgiveness. This conviction is one of being found “not guilty” because of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. His “not guilty” conviction shows itself in love toward one another through works of mercy where God puts you. Saint James puts it this way in today’s Epistle: lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. The implanted Word washes you clean from sin, saves you from eternal death, and guides your steps in this world toward the life of the world to come.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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