In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It is of use to you that Jesus went away. A great and holy use. Beneficial in every way. For now that our Lord is heaven at the right hand of the Father ruling all things on His behalf He has sent His Holy Spirit into the earth, specifically into the hearts of mankind through the preaching of His Word and the distribution of His Sacraments. Why is this Helper of such great use to you? Because “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” (Luther's Small Catechism: Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed)
The only reason you believe is because the Holy Spirit converted your heart. The only reason you continue to believe is because the Holy Spirit continues to enlighten you with His gifts (of Word and Sacraments), sanctifies and keeps you in the true faith. For the sinful nature in you is that powerful! In me, that is in my flesh, lives no good thing. (Romans 7:18) I am wicked to the core. For it is not what goes into you that defiles you and produces evil. The evil is already there. What comes out of you defiles you and merely shows what’s already in you. (Matthew 15:11)
Of your own reason and strength you are not able to believe. The Holy Spirit must first convince you, convict you, or rebuke you that you deserve death and hell, before He can help you. But He is the Helper, so the very next thing He was sent by our Risen Lord to do is to proclaim to the world its justification won by Christ on the cross of Calvary. For He was delivered up for our sins and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). The Holy Spirit has come into the world to deliver to damned sinners salvation. That means you. Christ has let you off the hook, freed you from your cage, gotten you out of the hell you deserve.
What great joy!
But that’s not all. Your joy shall be complete. For Satan himself is judged (John 16:11). The final judgement is coming. Ultimate cosmic justice will be given. On the last day Christ Himself will come. He will deliver His verdicts over all creation. He will reveal to the world those who are His own. Those who are sons of God (Romans 8:19-21). Those who though they are guilty are declared, even now, just by Him on account of His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death applied to you by Word, water, and wine.
That is the last thing the Holy Spirit convicts the world of: final judgement. That Satan is already judged. The prince of this world is already chained (Revelation 20:1-3; Luke 10:17-19; John 12:31; Revelation 12:9-12). The Church is already free from him. The coming of the Spirit is the beginning of the final judgement. It begins with Satan for He casts him out. His power is broken, just as God said to Satan in the Garden that a son of Eve’s will crush His head (Genesis 3:15), crushing all his works and all ways (Romans 16:20). Judgement starts with Him who tempted Adam and Eve bringing sin into the world. Christ’s cross crushed him. Judged him. Cast him out (John 12:31). His power is broken.
For as Satan is the first to be judged, you are the first fruits of His sacrifice on the cross (James 1:18). You are His saved one here and now even in the midst of the wickedness of this world. You are planted here with His saving seed implanted in you. So that you might be used by the Holy Spirit to convict others of their sin, their justification, and Satan’s defeat.
You see, people don’t have be the pawns and play things of Satan. They can have freedom from the wicked One. For the righteous One has crushed him. He has triumphed over him by the cross and trod him down under His feet.
There is freedom, joy, peace for you who are His. All this because Christ rose, ascended and sent His Spirit.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON