Wednesday, January 14, 2015
We are studying the passage John 16:1-15 this week. Jesus is giving His disciples His final teachings before the cross. He knows there is a painful parting ahead. He knows that He is leaving them, and that it's going to be difficult for them. He even knows that they are going to behave poorly in the crisis that is looming before them.
But Jesus also knows that it's going to be better when He leaves. (Now, if I were one of the disciples, I'd be really confused by that, but instead, I'm here where I can read the Bible account and see that it all worked for good.) For three years, they had depended on Him for their very lives. They had been able to sit and walk and talk with Him, and ask questions. But Jesus, as Emmanuel, God with us, could only be in one place. And the Spirit, whom He would send, could be everywhere, and always available. In time, the disciples would realize that God's desire is to bring about the salvation of all people. Jesus would have to die, and to live again. Then the Holy Spirit would come.
So, who is this Holy Spirit? Who is this Friend?
Well, the Greek word that John uses is one that we may have heard before: paraclete. It means (basically) to "be called to one's side." There are a whole slew of words that we use as synonyms . . . comforter, helper, advocate, intercessor, and companion. All of these describe different facets of the Spirit's ministry to us.
Let's look at the ways that the Spirit acts as our Friend.
The first responsibility of the Spirit happens even before we are Christians (this is one that He continues to do, after we are saved, though!). We're talking about conviction of sin.
This is when the Holy Spirit acts like our prosecutor; He cross-examines us and refutes our excuses. But He does this as our friend . . . after all, aren't good friends the ones that can tell us bad news? That can look at us clearly and then gently tell us where we are going wrong? Tells us who we really are, instead of who we are pretending to be?
The first thing He tells a person is that the greatest sin is that of unbelief. It's a hard fight, is it not? The fight to get rid of ourselves as the center, I mean. The Holy Spirit brings this conviction to us -- we must admit that He is God, and not us.
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not
believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the
name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)
So, if we do not believe, there is no hope for us.
The second thing our Friend tells us is that we have no righteousness without Jesus. First He tells us that we need a Savior, and then He tells us that we need Jesus for that Savior. He is the righteous One, and is the perfect sacrifice He offered. We just can't be good enough, no matter how hard we try. The standard is perfection -- God's holiness. So the Holy Spirit tells us that our righteousness isn't even close.
Then the Spirit tells us that God wants us to be in a relationship with Him, and brings us to repentance. And when that happens, there is "now no condemnation" for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Long before Jesus came, God spoke through Ezekiel with this good news:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart
of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my
statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
That is great news, isn't it? We don't have to rely on our own strength to walk the right path! We have His Spirit within us!
We'll finish this study tomorrow....hope you will join us.