August 2, 2020
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Three Things That You Cannot Learn in School.
I’m grateful for our schools, for dedicated teachers, and for the opportunities a good education provides. But there are some things no teacher or professor can impart. God created us with a body, soul, and spirit. A good education feeds our mind and prepares us for life. But when it comes to spiritual matters, if we’re left on our own, we’ll wind up stunningly ignorant. Most matters of the Spirit you can’t learn in school. We need someone to teach us. Jesus said,
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11)
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to convict (and convince) the world of three vital truths you'll never learn in school or anywhere else apart from God, for they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only the Holy Spirit can impart spiritual truth.
Truth is the issue. Cowards are afraid of the truth. Lazy people accept only part of the truth. Arrogant people think they know all the truth. But true humility before God opens your heart so you can receive Holy Spirit truth. You might intellectually understand sin, righteousness, and judgment, but until the Holy Spirit teaches you these things, you will never know them. If you’ve never seen the following three tremendous truths, I doubt you’ve ever been saved.
What is sin? It’s a clenched fist in the face of God. Failing to recognize He is the Creator. High treason against Heaven’s King. Only the Holy Spirit can teach you what sin is. When you see you’re guilty, that you’ve never bowed the knee to your Maker, when you see that you’ve ignored Him and refused His gift of salvation, then you’ll understand why the Bible calls you a sinner.
You won’t hear this from your college professor, and we don’t like to believe it, but man is born with a sin nature. We’re a “born-sinner.” That’s Lesson #1 the Holy Spirit must teach us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We are sinners for three reasons:
Ephesians 2:3 says we are “by nature the children of wrath.” Notice it comes by our nature. We think we’re wicked and sinful because of what we do, but really we do what we do because of what we are by nature: sinners. If you doubt that, take the sweetest little two-year-old and try crossing his will. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). The Bible says, “Your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). So if someone is an alcoholic but stops drinking without getting saved, they’ll go to hell sober. What I’m saying is: we have a problem, and the problem is on the inside. You may as well admit it, you’re a sinner, not foremost because of what you do, but because of what you are. We’ve been like this since Adam’s fall. Your nature is the poisoned well.
The sins you commit are the poisoned water coming out of that well. Jesus said, “Lust is adultery.” “Hate is murder” (Matthew 5:27-28). Today we’ve renamed sin. What God calls “lust,” we call “adult entertainment.” What God calls “adultery” we call “having an affair.” What God calls the taking of innocent life, we call “reproductive rights.” What God calls “fornication,” we call “sexually active.” What God calls “sodomy, perverted,” we call “an alternative lifestyle, gay.”
God destroyed civilization with a flood because of the evil in our hearts. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). We are sinners, and our thoughts, imaginations, and actions reveal our lostness every day.
The worst sin of all isn’t something we’ve done but something we’ve not done: accepting God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation. Refusing the Lord Jesus Christ—that He came, lived a sinless life, and paid the penalty for our sin by His death on the cross. God proved that Jesus is who He said He is by raising Him bodily from the dead.
Your failure to believe the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate sin. Jesus explained this about Himself to Nicodemus, one of the Jewish religious leaders: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) Unbelief is the greatest sin, out of which all other sins grow.
Sin erects a barrier between us and a holy God. The Holy Spirit knows we must admit our sin, so He does what we would never do for ourselves: He convicts us of our sin. But the Teacher is not done yet. There’s more.
The Holy Spirit also convicts us of righteousness, the righteousness of Christ—the only thing that saves us. Most people think righteousness comes by “being good.” They think, “I’m a sinner if I do wrong. So if I do right, I’m righteous!” The average person thinks their righteousness comes by doing and being good.
But Paul said in Romans 10:3, “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”
Not only does our own righteousness count for absolutely nothing with God, shockingly, Isaiah compares our self-made righteousness to “filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Our own righteousness is useless for salvation.
Consider the illogic behind such a thought. If there were any way to be saved other than Jesus’ death on the cross, if it was just one of several options, then wasn’t Calvary the blunder of the ages? Do you understand Calvary? Would God choose to let His Son die in agony and blood when there could have been another way? That’s why the apostle Paul said, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). In plain English, that means: if you could be saved by “doing good,” Calvary was unnecessary.
That’s why Jesus left His Father in Heaven, took our sin upon Himself, and died in agony. He rose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave, and ascended to the Father to present His blood in the tabernacle in Heaven. Jesus bought our redemption with His own righteousness. We have none on our own.
Most of us think we’re too good to be damned. I’ve said before, “The worst form of badness is human goodness when human goodness becomes a substitute for the new birth.”
But the Holy Spirit
—changes who we are,
—forgives what we’ve done,
—and gives what we need, Jesus’ righteousness.
He took our sin that we might take His righteousness (Romans 4:5-6). That’s Lesson #2 from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will teach you that judgment awaits each of us if we die in our sin. Don’t imagine your sin will slip past God, even if you don’t repent and receive His righteousness. That’s not true. The only way to escape judgment is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Some people — those who don’t know God — appear to be waiting to see who’s going to win: God or Satan. There’s no contest. The Lord God will reign. Truth is mightier than error. Love is stronger than hate. Holiness is higher than sin. God’s enemies will be crushed, for the Lord Jesus Christ has won the victory.
The Holy Spirit will teach you that Satan already is judged. Not will be. He already is. (John 16:11 John 12:31). He sails a sinking ship; he rules a doomed domain. As much as Satan would like to hide it, he has already lost and one day will be thrown into the lake of fire, prepared for him. God didn’t prepare Hell for you, but He doesn’t overlook sin. If you go to Hell—which you will if you refuse to repent and receive His righteousness—you’ll be an intruder!
Do you hope God will be merciful even if you don’t repent? That’s a tragic assumption. The only way to escape judgment is through Jesus. That’s lesson #3.
These three truths—Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment— are vital for salvation. The Holy Spirit wants to teach them to you. Will you let Him?
If you would like to know more about Jesus and how to give your life to Him, click here.