Proving The World Wrong

Text: John 16:5-15

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

I do not need to tell you that there are a lot of opinions in America.  Everybody seems to have an opinion these days.  These opinions are on news channels, celebrities share their opinions on social media, new opinion polls pop up every week, and opinions are discussed over coffee at local diners.    

Collectively as a whole, the world shifts through and adapts different opinions on a daily basis.  Like a reed that blows in the wind, the opinions of the world will blow one direction with a particular movement or a particular ideology (that become popular for a time); however, when these movements and ideologies have run their course, a new movement and a new and improved ideology comes to the forefront, which means that the opinions of the world snap back the other way and blow in the opposite direction.  The previous movement becomes “so 2010” and the new movement is relevant, real, fresh, and on the cutting edge.  That is to say until it is challenged two weeks later, by the next new movement, forcing opinions to change yet again. 

This is the world that we live in my friends.  It is the world that our youth will grow up and live in.  It is a world that typically does not agree – at least for a long time – about what is wrong and what is good and what justice should be like. In other words, when you ask the world to define sin, righteousness, and judgment, the world will give an answer one day, but the next day it may or may not change – depending on which way the wind of opinion is blowing. 

For example, let us consider sin.  There are many different convictions about sin in the world.  Some believe sin to simply be a ‘weakness’ in mankind, whereas, others would see sin as a ‘sickness’ in mankind.  And there are other opinions about sin too.  Some see sin as a result of a lack of education, poverty, and a lack of resources.[1]  To them, sin is a result of a social deficiency – the lack of good resources for a certain group of people.  And finally, but not least or last, some see sin as nothing more than an oppressive term used by the church in order to keep certain people underneath its thumb and to keep people from having fun. 

The world also has its varied opinions on what constitutes righteousness as well, that is to say, goodness. To some goodness is to follow your heart and do whatever makes you happy.  Others believe goodness is found in being a good citizen and a good neighbor to those in need.  There is a third option, these folks see goodness as doing virtuous and morally upright things – not smoking or drinking or chewing or dating girls that do. 

Let us not forget judgment either.  The world has a lot of opinions on this topic as well.  Some do not believe there is such a thing as the last judgment, which means that whatever we do now in this present life will not have an eternal consequence.  These are the ones that cry out, “You can’t judge me!”  On the other side of the coin, there are others who believe that there should be a judgment.  They may or may not hold to an eternal judgment, but what is for sure is this, they want judgement in this life for people who violate their understanding of sin and for people who do not honor what they believe to be good.  The judgment might be to punish people with jail time.  Or the judgment might be to label them as a hater or a closed minded bigot or to possibly slap a lawsuit on them. 

With all of this said, one thing is for sure, even though the world has a lot of mixed opinions about what sin is or what goodness is or what to think about judgment, there is no doubt about it that the world denies – for the most part – what the Lord says about these subjects.  That is right, the world generally speaking does not agree with what the Lord God says on these subjects of sin, righteousness, and judgment. 

Now, there are times in history where the world has gotten close – in which we must thank God.  However, for the most part, the world understands sin and righteousness and judgment incorrectly.  Frankly stated, the world’s definition of sin is wrong.  Its definition of righteousness and goodness is wrong.  Its understanding of judgement is wrong as well.  It is all wrong.  The world is wrong about what matters, about sin, and righteousness, and judgment. 

And here is the catch.  You and I are in this world.  Like all of our neighbors we too are corrupted by the sinful nature.  And since we are in this world, we are easily influenced by the world, which means that we can easily get these important matters of sin and righteousness and judgment wrong. 

Because the world is always changing in its opinions and since the world is always redefining what it thinks about sin and righteousness and judgment, we can thank God though that we are given the Holy Spirit.  Yes, even though Christ ascended to the Father, we are not alone.  We have been given the Holy Spirit.  As we hear in today’s Gospel reading from the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit through the Word and the Sacraments gives us convictions against the changing world. Indeed, we are given, as God’s dearly beloved, not a collection of opinions on the matter of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but we are given convictions of “truth.”  Convictions of truth that do not change or accommodate to the changing world. We are given convictions of truth in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgement. 

Dear friends, “the Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about sin, because the world does not believe in Jesus, and Jesus is right.”[2]  Now, the world still has some idea of sin and expects a certain kind of penalty for doing bad things it; however, the world does not understand that our most serious problem of sin comes forth from mankind’s unbelieving heart.  That is right.  The Holy Spirit convinces us of our sin, teaches us right from wrong, which the world sometimes pick up on; however, the world cannot understand that even if a person pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, helps their neighbor, and walks the straight and narrow, that they still can be damned to hell by their root of unbelief.  In other words, no matter how good our words and works, ways, and life are, when the Holy Spirit breathes on us we whither like a flower, for the Holy Spirit through the Law reveals to us that our hearts are the source of the chief sin of unbelief.[3]  Because of our unbelief, we do not fully fear, love, and trust the Lord God.  That is sin at its core – unbelief towards the Lord and His Word.    

Dear friends, do not be deceived by the definitions of sin in the world, but hear the Holy Spirit through God’s Law that is proclaimed to you – know that your sin of unbelief is the chief sin that needs to be absolved and forgiven.

The Holy Spirit also proves the world wrong about righteousness and goodness – and therefore shows us where we are wrong as well.  “The world has its idea of what is good, which is strangely like what it wants at the moment.  But Jesus came and showed himself alone to be good in this world.  He shows up the world’s self-righteousness, and ours, for the sham it is.  . . . This Jesus, whom the world crucified because it could not stand his claim to be alone the Holy One, lives and reigns with the Father and the Spirit, one God, now and forever, and the Spirit gives [you] everything that is his.  Sin is paid for.  Death is dead.”[4]  The righteousness of God is made known in Christ, not in what the world thinks righteous is.  To make it even better, the Lord also gives this righteousness to you and me for free, unlike the world that likes to make a profit.  Righteousness in Christ and for free; righteousness the world cannot take away.

Finally, the Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about judgment.  There will indeed be a judgment.  We live in a morally significant universe.  Our actions and deeds and lives will have consequences in this life and for eternity.  However, we are not judged at the end for breaking social norms or opinions of celebrities, or the shifting movements of the world, but rather we are judged for breaking the Lord’s Law as expressed simplistically in the Ten Commandments.  No doubt about it my friends, there will be an end someday to this life and there will be a judgment, contrary to what Oprah or the latest Cosmopolitan opinion poll may tell you.  Why, because Jesus – who was raised from the grave – says so.  You though, hear the good news of the Gospel!  Christ was crucified and judged in your place.  In Jesus you are already judged.  Christ was judged as a sinner – as you.  He was damned – for you.  And because Jesus was damned and judged for you; therefore, you have nothing to fear when the Lord comes again in judgment – or at any time before that.

Dear Baptized Saints, the world is wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment; however, the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments comes to you and has come to you this very day so that you might be given convictions of truth. 

Truly, the Holy Spirit brings God’s precious convictions of truth in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment to you this day.  He brings truth to your ears, so that you may believe and know who you are and what the Lord has done for you, in the midst of a world that flaps back and forth like a flimsy reed blowing in the wind.  Yes, the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments will keep your hearts fixed upon Christ, the author and perfector of your faith… unto the end.

Baptized Saints, there is sin, righteousness, and judgment; however, Christ became sin for you, Christ is righteousness for you, and Christ rescues you from judgment.  This is all most certainly true.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] C.F.W. Walther, Walther’s Works: Gospel Sermons – Volume 1 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 263.

[2] John W. Sias, “Sermon for Cantate,” Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Sermons, (Accessed April 22, 2016).

[3] Johann Spangenberg, The Christian Year of Grace: The Chief Parts of Scripture Explained in Questions and Answers, tr. Matthew Carver (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014), 193.

[4] John W. Sias, “Sermon for Cantate,” Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Sermons.  

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean