Scripture Notes

John 16:8-11.

There is an acknowledged difficulty in rendering the proper force of the word given in verse 8 as "reprove." It is variously translated in different places, and hence the context must be taken into account if the mind of the Spirit of God is to be ascertained. The following note will explain, better than any words of our own, where the difficulty lies: "'Convince' (this word is often substituted for 'reprove') supposes effect in the person convinced; convict' would not do for righteousness or judgment. I have said 'bring demonstration,' though it supposes the action of the Spirit when come too much; but I use it in the sense that His presence and all that He does affords this demonstration." Accepting this interpretation, we may briefly consider it in connection with the three things here named - sin, righteousness, and judgment. The presence of the Holy Spirit, then, in this world, and all that He does, affords or furnishes the demonstration of the world's sin, "because," as the Lord said, "they believe not on Me." To seize the force of this it must be remembered that the crowning sin of the world was the rejection of Christ. As He said in chapter 15, "Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father"; and, secondly, the Holy Spirit is in this world in consequence of the rejection and crucifixion of Christ. His being here, and His activities, proclaim, and loudly proclaim, the world's sin. This will be readily understood. The next statement is, "Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more." Without denying in any way that Christ, having glorified God to the uttermost in His death on the cross, is righteously glorified, and this in the love of the Father's heart, it may yet be submitted that the righteousness here is in relation to the world. This is clear, we judge, because it is the presence of the Holy Ghost which furnishes, as before pointed out, the demonstration of it. As another has said, "The righteousness of God as against sin the cross proclaims (Romans 3:25-26); and equally as against a world that knows not the Father, by His (Christ) being taken out of it, to be seen by them no more." That God will judge the world by-and-bye in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained, was declared by Paul when standing in the midst of Mars' hill; but we learn from these words of our blessed Lord that the righteousness of God is now against the world which has rejected His beloved Son, and that this is shown by His departure from it to the Father. Lastly, we have, "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." Satan proved himself to be the prince or ruler of this world in the crucifixion of Christ, for he succeeded in banding together every class of the people, whether Jews or Gentiles representatively, for the accomplishment of this design. But the prince of the world is the enemy of God, and in that very cross judgment was passed upon him, upon man, and the world. God in His longsuffering, and for the accomplishment of the counsels of grace, may delay the execution of the judgment; but having already passed sentence upon Satan himself, He will as certainly, when the day of grace is ended, deal in righteousness with the world that rejected Christ and accepted His adversary as its ruler. Hence it is that the activity of the Holy Ghost in this world contains for those whose ears are opened a solemn and audible warning of the coming judgment. The prince being judged, his dominion in this world must sooner or later endure the awful weight of God's judicial rod.