Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
"And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment."
-- John 16:8
The most misunderstood person in the world is misunderstood because He is everywhere, all the time, yet no one can see Him. He is misunderstood because He knows everything, and is the best teacher in the world, yet so few listen to what He has to say. He is misunderstood because He has all power to do amazing things, yet only a remnant of the world's population has yielded to His control. Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, yet overly misunderstood. Perhaps it is because He does not even seem to have a proper name. We refer to Him mostly as the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, God is known personally as "YHWH," or Yahweh, and positionally as "Elohim," or God. The latter term is a majestic plural, meaning He is one supreme being with multiple personages. When God said, "Let us make man in our image" (ref. Genesis 1:26), He was talking to His selfs. This is not divine schizophrenia, this is the Holy Trinity.
Yahweh is the unseen first person of the Godhead. The visible second person once appeared as "a son of the gods" (ref. Daniel 3:25). More commonly He appeared as "the Angel of the Lord" (57 OT references). I suspect the fourth man in the fire and the often seen angel bear a strong resemblance to a certain carpenter's son who staked a claim as the Jewish Messiah 2,000 years ago.
Then, in the third person, always present around the presence of God and the people of God is the one the Scriptures identify as "Ruach Elohim," or the Spirit of God. Since holiness is God's chief attribute, sometimes He is referred to as "Ruach Qodesh," which means Spirit of Holiness. This is how He came to be called the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is God, the God who comes to "convict." This verb, which tells what the Holy Spirit does, is as multifaceted as the name of the Holy Spirit Himself. It means to show a person where they are wrong, and lead them to what is right, in the matters that matter most to God. Jesus identifies them as sin, righteousness and judgment.
Sin matters to God, and people are wrong about it. Sin is anything contrary to God's perfect character and commandments. Human beings tend to be nonchalant about sin, or deny they are guilty of it, or redefine it in an attempt to make it no longer sin. God is not so flippant. He hates sin. He is bound by His nature to punish sin and has ordained two places for such punishment, the cross and the grave.
Righteousness matters to God, and people are wrong about it. The typical secular and religious person thinks he is right with God as long as he lives a generally good life. God disagrees (ref. Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10ff). The righteousness God requires is perfect righteousness, and the natural man does not have it (ref. Romans 3:23, 5:8, etc.). But you can, when convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Judgment matters to God, and people are wrong about it. Most people do not believe in judgment and modern people most certainly do not want to be judged. God has ordained a day when every member of the human race will be judged by Him (ref. Hebrews 9:27). You can face this judgment, without fear, if you are convicted and converted by the Holy Spirit.
It is right to say that the Holy Spirit saves! Yet, only God can save. Yes, the Holy Spirit is God, who brings us into a covenant and corporate relationship with Him and His church.
The first feelings you will have when you have the Holy Spirit are negative. You will feel deep remorse over your sin. The weight, depending upon your age and experience, will be too much to bear. You beg God to take it away, and like the Pilgrim who became Christian, it rolls down the hill called Calvary.
Then comes the joy. It may be excitable, but most often it is calm, like the sea after a storm. You see your sins upon the cross of Christ. You see His righteousness as your righteousness. And you know you have been saved, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
After this there is relief and assurance. You have escaped the judgment of Hell. So, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, you congregate with the church, study the Bible, live an obedient life, and glorify God.
Praise Yahweh, God the Father. Praise Jesus Christ, God the Son. And, Praise be to God the Holy Spirit, the most misunderstood person in the world.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]