For many people, the Holy Spirit is the least understood person in the Trinity. Or even worse — he’s misunderstood.
This reminds me of a comedian from the 1970s and 80s who appeared on the Gong Show. He would come out with a paper bag over his head, with holes cut out for his eyes and mouth, and told corny (i.e., dad) jokes. He called himself The Unknown Comic.
In some ways, the Holy Spirit is the unknown comic of the Trinity. It’s not that he has a corny sense of humor, but few people really understand who he is.
You might be thinking, “But Ken, why does this matter? I believe in Jesus and read my Bible.”
According to Jesus, it matters because the Holy Spirit equips, enables, and empowers people to follow him. When we don’t understand who the Holy Spirit is and what he does, what happens? We default to our own power and abilities. Speaking from experience, it doesn’t work out too well.
Over the next four weeks we’ll look at four different functions of the Holy Spirit as taught by Jesus in the Gospel of John. If you stick with us, I believe you’ll have a better understanding of how the Holy Spirit is to operate in your life.
The setting for today’s passage is John 14. As a good leader does, Jesus is preparing them for what is next. He knows he is about to die, raised back to life, and will return to his Father. The disciples don’t. They’re wondering what they will do without Jesus. He answers by talking about the Holy Spirit.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” – John 14:15-21
Jesus emphasizes two aspects of a healthy spiritual life. Both are connected to the idea of obedience, or what Jesus calls keeping his commands.
But what are his commands? Is he referring to the ten commandments? The entire Bible?
I once had a young lady tell me she wasn’t ready to follow Jesus yet because she didn’t understand the ENTIRE Bible like I did. I smiled and said, “Do you think I understand the entire Bible? Just ask my wife if I do!”
If Jesus isn’t referring to the ten commandments or the entire Bible, then what commands is he referring to? We find the answer in the previous chapter:
34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35
If loving one another as Jesus has loved us is the goal, how is it accomplished? This brings us back to the two aspects of a healthy spiritual life. They are:
#1 – Obedience springs from loving Jesus.
#2 – Obedience is enabled by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Obedience springs from loving Jesus. Notice what Jesus isn’t saying. He isn’t saying that our obedience earns his love. He didn’t say, “If you obey my commands, I will love you.”
Unfortunately, that’s how some of you were raised to believe.
Imagine your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend (but you can only have one of those!) said they loved you but they never took the time to get to know you. They never inquired about your family, or what your hopes and dreams were. You would begin to question whether or not they really loved you.
Because I love Jesus, I take him seriously. When I take him serious, I seek to understand him. Once I understand Jesus, I want to do what Jesus is doing. This is what Jesus calls obedience.
A key principle that we will return to throughout this series is this: to make spiritual progress requires spiritual power. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.
Remember what Jesus said:
“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth.” – John 14:15-17
Obedience is enabled by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He is our advocate. We often get this function of the Holy Spirit backwards.It’s not that he is changing God’s mind about you, trying to convince God that he really should love you. He wants to change your mind about God, yourself, others.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t have to convince God to love you. The cross tells us that God love us – and how much. The Holy Spirit continually reminds you that God DOES love you.
Why does that matter? Because we are prone to forget.
- When the future is uncertain, we need to be reminded.
- When life gets turned upside down, we need to be reminded.
- When we think that being successful or self-sufficient is the key to being loved, we need to be reminded.
This is why Jesus uses the term orphans. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” We are not left alone. But how does Jesus come to us today? Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
A Google search can provide the facts about Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can produce greater faith in Jesus.
How do you receive the presence and power of the Holy Spirit? By choosing to unite yourself with Jesus and to follow him.
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
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