THE PARACLETE'S CONVICTION OF JUDGMENT.
Judgment is the sanction of law. Since Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fill it full of meaning, His commission to the Paraclete must effect the same purpose to honor the law by declaring its sentence against sin. Says Tholuck:
The meaning of our Lord's words is, When the divine principle of the Spirit shall spread among my disciples and produce its extraordinary effects in mankind, people will be forced to confess that the power of the evil spirit which opposes me in the ungodly feelings of men is broken. By the incarnation and coming of the Saviour an inward judgment was commenced in the hearts of men of which the last judgment is only the outward manifestation.
But how can the casting out of "the prince of this world" demonstrate that every one who refuses to trust in Christ with true obedience and to seek justification through reliance on the atonement for sin made by Him will be found on the left hand of the Judge and hear his own condemnation pronounced in the last day? Our answer is this: All who take on the Satanic character, must expect the Satanic doom; all who bear the devil's image must share his destiny. So all who bear the likeness of Christ will share His glory. "After the while dilemma between sin and righteousness is clearly set forth, the Spirit finally announces the judgment of Satan in such a way that He not only comforts believers with the perfect comfort declared in Rom. viii. 33, 34, but also reproves unbelievers with that awful judgment, as a last sting, in their inmost hearts, Will ye then absolutely be and continue the devil's? Will ye be judged with him?" (Stier.) Satan is condemned now for our benefit if we yield to the Spirit's voice in our hearts and accept the righteousness which Christ provides and the Comforter inworks; or we abide with God's great adversary in the judgment if we continue in sin with the world. This third and last conviction of the Spirit clearly implies that in the estimation of the Spirit of truth the existence of the devil must needs belong to some fundamental article of saving truth without which we cannot correctly estimate the enormity of sin, the value of righteousness and the necessity of the atonement by which it was procured. In this third conviction the victory of righteousness over sin is completed. In this our salvation is infallibly secured if we but will it. The Spirit never coerces a free agent.
The discussion of the three convictions which the Paraclete effects in men, especially men who are enlightened by gospel truth, shows in what way He glorifies the Son of God. The first question is, Why does He not glorify the Father? He does. If the Father and Son are one in nature, as the Son asserts (John xiv. 9), it follows that honors ascribed to the Son glorify the Father. "He that acknowledgeth the Son Hath the Father also" (I John ii. 23). There can be no jealousy between them, because they are one in divinity, and in their distinct personalities they aim at one purpose in the scheme of redemption.
The personality of the Son is much more easily grasped by men's narrow minds, because it is divested of that vagueness and abstract infinitude which belong to our conception of God. Hence, the Son's personality having been exhibited in a concrete form, within the limits of humanity, has become far more affecting and influential, when contemplated with all its historic incidents, lowly birth, poverty, youthful toil, kindly deeds, beneficent miracles, wise sayings, transparent parables, rejection by the Jews, arrest by the midnight mob, unjust condemnation, tragic execution and glorious resurrection. It is this historic setting of the Son's personality which the Holy Spirit can use with the best effect in producing conviction of sin. The only element which we have failed to enumerate needful for this result is assent to distinctive Christian truth, especially to Christ's claim of supreme divinity. Truth separate from a sense of the authority of God does not convict of sin and spiritually vitalize man's moral nature. Says Dr. Walker, "Conscience will enforce no moral duty unless it sees God in it." It will respond to no other voice than that of the moral Ruler and final Judge of all free moral agents. So long as Jesus was regarded as a man only, His preaching had meagre results in the number of His disciples. But after His supreme divinity was demonstrated by His conquest of death, ascension to heaven and effusion of the Holy Spirit, men were converted by the thousands in a day. Like causes produce like effects in every age. Wherever in dependence on the Spirit of truth the whole gospel is preached, including Christ's triumph over the grave in proof of His Godhead, unbelievers are convinced of sin, righteousness and judgment. But wherever Jesus Christ is presented as a model of moral excellence, but a mere man like ourselves, there is no conscience awakened to see the enormity of sin and to turn from it with a perfect loathing. Revivals can no more come from such preaching than orange groves can spring up and bear fruit among the glaciers of Alaska. Genuine conversions must be preceded by a painful sense of the enormity of sin, which comes only from the belief that Christ is the divine Saviour. This belief, though not saving, is the necessary stepping-stone to that all-surrendering reliance on Him as both Saviour and Lord which is the condition of salvation. It is not enough to know Him historically as the Son of man. He must be known as the Son of God. This knowledge flesh and blood cannot impart. "No man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit" (I Cor. xii. 3, Revised Version). This gracious ability to arrive at a belief in the supreme divinity of Christ is imparted to all candid readers of the entire New Testament who have a disposition to follow whither the truth may lead. It is not enough to read the first three Gospels. The sincere inquirer must proceed to the fourth if he would be convinced that the Son of man is also the Son of God, equal to the Father in power and glory. Then he will hear Him say, "All things (attributes) that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he (the Comforter) taketh of mine and shall declare it unto you" (John xvi. 15). Thus the Comforter glorified Christ by attesting His perfect power to save from the guilt of sin through faith in His blood shed as a conditional substitute for the punishment of sin.
Then the Comforter, as "the Spirit of adoption," glorifies Christ as the Saviour by crying in the believer's heart, "Abba, Father." This inspired feeling of sonship is the gift of Christ. "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name." Thus the three divine Persons are glorified in the new birth of a soul.
"With joy the Father doth approve
The fruit of His eternal love;
The Son looks down with joy and sees
The purchase of His agonies;
The Spirit takes delight to view
The contrite soul He forms anew;
And saints and angels join to sing
The growing empire of their King."
Again, the Paraclete glorifies Christ by inwardly revealing Him as the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely. In that wonderful address respecting the coming and offices of His successor, another Comforter, in John xiv.-xvi., aptly styled the Trinitarian Discourse, Jesus says respecting every disciple who evinces the genuineness of his love by his obedience, "I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him." That this is not a spiritual phenomenon attending regeneration is evident from the fact that those whom Christ thus addressed were already regenerated. This is implied in His prayer in John xvil., appropriately called His high-priestly prayer: "They are thine. . . . They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Then He prays for a further work to be wrought in them: "Sanctify them through thy truth. . . . I sanctify (consecrate to the one work of redemption) myself, that they themselves may he truly sanctified." With respect to these two future events, Christ's manifestation to the believer and His sanctification, the inference is natural that the former is intimately connected with the latter as a means to an end. The manifestation is by the Holy Spirit, the representative of Christ, who does not manifest Himself, but magnifies, glorifies, deifies the personality of the Son of God, for whom He is cleansing the heart as the temple of His everlasting abode.
In entire sanctification the Holy Spirit violates no law of mental philosophy, but strictly conforms His work to the nature and faculties of the mind. The stronger affection expels the weaker. Drop golden eagles plentifully in the paths of beggars scrambling for cents, and the awakened thirst for gold will cure the mania for copper. The superior banishes the inferior. It was Dr. Chalmers who eloquently discoursed on "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." To expel all proneness to sin, all that is required is to inspire an unconquerable love of holiness, not in the abstract, but as embodied in a person in the sphere of the human affections, a person who by his self-sacrifice has laid in our minds a foundation for eternal gratitude. Then will this new affection instantly expel all base loves and keep them out so long as this new affection is enthroned within. Now it is the office of the Paraclete to inspire this affection. This He does by pouring light upon the person of the divine Christ, making Him a bright reality, a sun above the king of day, infinitely superior in splendors. This manifestation of Christ in the heart was an experience of Paul in addition to His revelation of Himself to the eye and the ear of the chief persecutor as he drew near to Damascus. The outward manifestation arrested his career of hostility to Christ; the inward revelation awakened an undying love, the motive power of that heroic course of labors, privations, perils and sufferings which ended when Rome's imperial axe severed his head from his body. During all this period, as Chrysostom says, "Paul had Christ speaking within himself." Thus by deep inward revelations, as well as by outward manifestations, was the great apostle prepared, as every preacher should be, for the work of the ministry. Well does Bengel argue that the Son of God must first be revealed in the preacher before He can be revealed by him. This revelation of Christ in Paul's consciousness was the sum and substance of that "excellency of knowledge of Jesus Christ, for whom he suffered the loss of all things." The time of this inward revelation of Christ by the Holy Spirit is unknown. The exegetes agree that it is not identical with Saul's vision of the risen Christ, and that it must have occurred afterward, either in Damascus, in Arabia, or after his return from that country, while sojourning in his native Tarsus.