Common Confession Series
“Vindicated in the Spirit”
I Timothy 3.16
Last week we began a new five-part series entitled “Common Confession.” In the book of
First Timothy chapter three and verse sixteen, we find a creed that was developed and
recited in the congregations of the first century Church inscribed into the pages of Holy
Scripture. Paul provides a preface to the creed by writing, “By common confession, great
is the mystery of godliness.” (ITim.3.16a)
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
Before reciting the creed, the Apostle Paul tells us that this creed was a “common
confession” among Christians in the first century and recited with question or controversy.
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He also tells us that this common confession is “great” meaning that the truths expressed in
the creed are sublime, magnificent, and marvelous.
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
Lastly, in his preface to the creedal statement Paul tells us that this great confession
contains “the mystery of godliness,” which means that the creed reveals foundational truths
that leads to a godly mindset. These truths uncover the mystery of God’s plan of
redemption which had not been fully revealed in ages past but now has been revealed in
and through Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, this common confession stands firmly as a
bulwark of truth without controversy or question. Anyone and everyone who claims to be a
believer in Jesus Christ should confess this common creed without any hesitation. Dr. John
MacArthur says that the godliness mentioned in this creed “refers to the truths of salvation
and righteousness in Christ, which produce holiness in believers” The confession itself
consists of six statements each describing pivotal aspects of Christ’s earthly ministry from
the crib to the throne and the continuing results of His ministry in the world.
So, let’s join the ancient Church and answer the question that has been asked of Christians
throughout the ages:
Pastor: Christian, what do you believe concerning Jesus Christ?
Congregation: He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
Revealed in the Flesh
The first truth found in the creed, that we looked at in detail last week, is that Jesus Christ
was revealed in the flesh. This first truth refers to that point in time when the eternal Son of
God took on flesh and blood. (Heb.2.14) As I shared last week, this truth is foundational and
essential to the Christian faith. The Bible teaches us that Christ was revealed in the flesh to
show us the Father, to be our example, to fulfill the requirements of the Law, to come to the
aid of those who are tempted, to sympathize with our weaknesses, to destroy the works of
the devil, and to make atonement for the sins of His people. The Apostle John was clear
about the importance of this truth when he wrote, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every
spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit
that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” (IJn.4.2-3a) Brothers and sisters, every true
believer in Jesus Christ, then and now, must make a clear confession of faith that they
believe Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came in the flesh.
Vindicated in the Spirit
The second truth, which we will examine this morning, is that Jesus Christ was “vindicated
in the Spirit.” Not everyone esteemed Jesus as the Son of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus
was despised and rejected of men. (Is.55.3) Jesus’ enemies denied His claims as the Son of
God, His miracles as being authentic, and His teachings as being from God. But Jesus was
vindicated in the Spirit. This word “vindicated” means that Jesus was proven to be the Son
of God by the outworking of the Holy Spirit in His life. The second truth of the creedal
statement is telling us that Jesus’ claims, His miracles, and His teachings were fully verified
by the immeasurable outpouring of the Spirit upon Jesus during His earthly ministry.
What you will discover this morning is that the Holy Spirit saturated Jesus’s life and
ministry from His conception to His resurrection. This immeasurable outpouring of the
Spirit upon Jesus proved that His claims as the Son of God were true, and the accusations of
His enemies were false. As I prepared for this sermon, I was surprised by how little
theological and biblical commentary is given to this topic of Jesus being vindicated by the
Spirit. But as you will discover this morning there is a wealth of biblical evidence that the
Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God from His conception through His
At Jesus’ Conception
We first see that the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God by the miraculous
conception in the womb of the virgin Mary. The Bible teaches that Jesus was conceived in
the womb of the virgin Mary by the power of Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel told Mary,
behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall name Him Jesus.
(Lk.1.31) Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered
and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Lk.1.34-
Gabriel explains to Mary that this miracle will happen by the divine power of the Holy
Spirit. The angel answers Mary by declaring three important truths about this miraculous
conception. First, this Child in Mary’s womb is a holy Child. Secondly, this Child in Mary’s
womb is not the son of Joseph or any other man because she was a virgin. Lastly, this Child
in Mary’s womb is the Son of God.
By Simeon in the Temple
Secondly, we see that the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God by revealing to
Simeon that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Forty days after
Jesus’ birth Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to the
Lord as required by God’s law in the book of Leviticus. (Lev.12.2-6; Lk.2.22-33) Here we see
the work of the Spirit in Joseph and Mary’s life so that even as a helpless infant Jesus the
Son of God fulfilled the requirements of God’s holy commands.
The Bible tells us that Simeon came in the Spirit into the temple and when Joseph and Mary
walked into the temple Simeon, he took the baby Jesus in his arms, and blessed God saying,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Lk.2.29-32) The
point is that the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would see the Lord’s Christ in his
lifetime and the Spirit revealed to Simeon that the baby Jesus was the Lord’s Christ. We also
see that the Spirit used Simeon to make a divine declaration to everyone in the temple that
Jesus was the promised One who would bring salvation to the nations. (Lk.2.34-35)
At Jesus’ Baptism
Next, we see that the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God by telling John the
Baptist, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the
One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” (Jn.1.33) Multitudes of people were coming to John to
be baptized. So how would John know which one was the Son of God? Here we see that the
Spirit gave John a verifiable sign so that he would know for certain which one was the Son
of God. The Spirit descending and remaining upon the Christ was divine revelation given
directly to John the Baptist to confirm that Jesus was the Son of God.
The Bible tells us that Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan River to be baptized by John.
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens
were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him
(Jesus), and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am
well-pleased.” (Mt.3.16-17) John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove
out of heaven, and He remained upon Him . . . I myself have seen and have testified that this
is the Son of God.” (Jn.1.32, 34) The Holy Spirit descending and remaining on Jesus at His
baptism confirmed to John without a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. And the voice
coming out of heaven declaring Jesus as God’s beloved Son was additional proof of Jesus’
John’s Testimony of Jesus
After Jesus’ baptism John gave testimony to his disciples about Jesus. John tells his disciples
that Jesus was the preexistent Son of God because Jesus had come from above (heaven).
(Jn.3.31) And since Jesus has come from above, He is above all. Then John says this, “For He
(Jesus) whom God (the Father) has sent speaks the words of God; for He (the Father) gives
the Spirit (to Jesus) without measure. (Jn.3.34) John explains that the Father gave the Spirit
without measure to Jesus! The Father had given Jesus unrestricted access of the Spirit to
prove to the world that He was the Son of God. John continued saying, The Father loves the
Son and has given all things into His hand. (Jn.3.35)
During His Wilderness Temptation
What happens next is substantial evidence of the Spirit vindicating Jesus as the Son of God.
The gospel of Mark tells us, “Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the
wilderness.” (Mk.1.12) Matthew tells us, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness
to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, then He
became hungry. (Mt.4.1-2) Luke tells us, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the
Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the
devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.”
First, I want you to see the emphasis on the work of the Spirit in Jesus’ life.
“Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.” (Mk.1.12) “Then Jesus
was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Mt.4.1) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, . . . and was led
around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days. (Lk.4.1)
Jesus was impelled by, led by, and full of the Spirit. Have you ever wondered why Jesus
fasted for forty days? I believe Jesus fasted for forty days to demonstrate that Him
overcoming the temptations of the devil was not by might or by power but by the Spirit.
During those forty days, when Jesus’ flesh was at its weakest, He endured relentless
temptation from Satan. This extended time of testing showed that Jesus was Son of God and
His ministry would change the world. Notice two times the devil introduces his temptation
saying, “If You are the Son of God.” (Lk.4.3, 9) I believe that the devil was aware of the Spirit
descending and remaining on Jesus and the Father’s declaration of Jesus as His “beloved
Son.” So, the devil seeing that Jesus is weak in His flesh from the lack of food determined
that this was the best time to test to see if this sign and declaration were true. Was Jesus
really the Son of God? What we see is that even though Jesus was depleted of physical
strength, He was full of the Holy Spirit and overcomes the temptations of the evil one. The
Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God in His wilderness experience by overcoming His
enemy by the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Eph.6.14)
In His Earthly Ministry
We see the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God in His earthly ministry as Jesus
returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the
surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
Notice it was in the power of the Spirit that Jesus proclaimed the good news.
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered
the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was
handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, gave it back to the
attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began
to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk.4.14-21)
With the Spirit’s anointing Jesus stood in His hometown synagogue and proclaimed Himself
to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy. This was Jesus’ inauguration speech!
Throughout His public ministry Jesus was anointed by the power of the Spirit to preach the
gospel, performed miracles, and set people free. The point is that Spirit vindicated Jesus as
the Son of God throughout His earthly ministry.
Resurrection Of Christ
The Spirit’s final act of vindicating Jesus as the Son of God was raising Him from the dead.
(Rom.8.11) Paul writes in the first chapter of Romans that Jesus was declared Son of God in
power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Rom.1.4) As we have seen the Spirit was already dwelling in Christ before His
resurrection. From the moment of His conception, He was filled with the Holy Spirit
without measure and here we see that the Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God in
power by raising Him from the dead.
You might be saying I understand Pastor the Spirit vindicated Jesus as the Son of God at His
conception, with Simeon, at His baptism, by John the Baptist’ testimony, in the forty days in
the wilderness, in His earthly ministry, and at His resurrection. But what does that have to
do with me?
Well, Paul writes if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who
raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit
who dwells in you. (Rom.8.11)
Brothers and sisters, by God’s grace we are not only saved through the Jesus Christ, the Son
of God, but we are also empowered by the same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the
dead to glorify God in our mortal bodies in this life – in this world.
Brothers and sisters in the first two statements of the creed, “He who was revealed in the
flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit,” we see the glorious truth that Jesus Christ was totally
human (revealed in the flesh) and totally divine (vindicated by the Spirit). This truth that the
eternal Son of God was revealed in the flesh and given the Spirit without measure is to be believed beyond all dispute and doubt.