In 2018, Nascar used 16 cameras and eight projectors to inspect each race car. They look for any discrepancies or features that break the rules and give a driver an unfair advantage.
Jesus said in John 16:8, “And when (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness.” The word concerning in this context means to go all around and be comprehensive. The Holy Spirit gives the believer a full regard for his/her sin, or how often he/she misses the mark, and falls short of Jesus’ perfect holiness. The Holy Spirit also gives the believer a full regard for his/her need to be made righteous in God’s sight.
The Holy Spirit makes us regard ourselves as sinners that are being saved. We realize that we fall short (Rom. 3:23) in every comparison to the holiness of Christ. Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” I remember driving home after meeting with someone who had recently been released from prison. He had assaulted minors and found forgiveness through Jesus while serving time. As I drove home I had the thought, “Lord thank you that I have not done that.” And I felt an almost physical slap on the back of my head and this thought, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?” That sounded too close to the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18:11, “God, I thank you that I am not like others….” I was reminded the Holy Spirit’s work in my life will instead cause me to pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he was the worst of sinners. Does that verse apply to us? The next thought that came into my head was this, “Did that felon kill anybody?” And I was reminded from 1 Peter 2:24 that my sin was placed on Jesus, and from Romans 4:25 that He was handed over to die because of my sins. The reality is, friends, that if you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit will remind you that you killed God’s only Son. Do you realize that if you’re still living, no one has hurt you as much as you’ve hurt Jesus? And yet He forgives us. The Holy Spirit works in each believer the humility to understand that his/her sin killed Christ, making each one the biggest sinner in the room. We cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work of salvation in our lives when we daily regard ourselves as the chief of sinners.
The Holy Spirit also makes us regard ourselves as someone who is special to God, and is being sanctified. We realize that as it says in Romans 15:16, He has made a way for the Gentiles to become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The word to sanctify means to make holy, to consecrate, to regard as special or sacred. God demonstrates the value He places on us when the Bible says we were redeemed or bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), because we are God’s treasured possession (Deut. 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9), and precious to Him (Is. 43:4). Our connection to Him through Christ makes us set apart, holy, sanctified.
In the Old Testament, the set apart, or holy, items in the tent of meeting were handled with special care. The Lord told Moses and Aaron to train the sons of Kohath how to move the sacred things. They had to cover them with porpoise or badger skins and a blue cloth. They were not to look at them or touch them or they would die. How much more are you and I special to the Lord! If the temple curtain hadn’t torn in two at Jesus’ death, not only could we not come boldly to the throne of Christ through the blood of Jesus, but we couldn’t look at believers connected to the holiness of God. We would all be covered by badger skins and blue cloths!
I had met with a Christian leader who had served very fruitfully for many years. He acknowledged that somewhere along the way his sanctification had gone sideways. What was at the bottom of his sin? What speedbump had his sanctification hit? Underneath it all, he had an inability to believe that he was special to God. Over and over I hear how the inability to believe that we’re special to God and that He delights in us through Christ Jesus can cause sanctification to detour and we can find ourselves in a ditch of sin. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” If we are to cooperate with His sanctification in our lives we have to believe that He regards us as special. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says that the God of peace Himself will sanctify us completely. We are never more at peace that when we’re sure God regards us as special and is doing a good work in our lives. If we can’t accept that, we will simply regard ourselves as hopeless sinners, repeating the cycle of repenting and then falling again. Or we will struggle with self- righteous thoughts, living in judgement and blame of others, and not being able to acknowledge our sin each day, missing the peaceful process of sanctification. Many Christians understand salvation, but I find far fewer know how to explain or cooperate with sanctification.
How does this play out in relationships? Or in leadership? Or with loved ones? May we slow down our racing souls and bring them into the camera tent for a “Full Regard” checkup. Do we regard ourselves as the chief of sinners? Do we regard ourselves as special to the Lord? If you believe you’re more special and those around you are bigger sinners, you’ll have many problems. If you regard yourself as the greatest sinner in the room, and you communicate to others that they are as special to the Lord as you are, you will find your relationships experience the warmth and peace that reflects the image of the invisible God. The more we cooperate with the process of sanctification in our lives, the more we will experience the dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Holy Spirit. Next we’ll learn 9 specific characteristics of this fruitful charisma.