Today, we will conclude our study of the Holy Spirit’s commission in our lives by looking at one of the last, and in the writer’s opinion, most important assignments that He has. But first, let’s quickly review what we have covered thus far:
We have seen that the Holy Spirit is commissioned to be like our own personal apostle. Which means that He is our Teacher, promised to teach us all things. He is our Reminder, promised to remind us of all the things that the Lord has already said to us. He testifies of Jesus (we will get more into that in a moment). He is a Convicter. No, not a condemner, making us feel guilty for our mistakes, but the One who simply shines light on things for us and convinces us of the truth. Along those lines, we saw that He is our Guide, guiding us into all truth. And finally, last week we saw that He tells us things to come—that is, He will show us the future, revealing to us all the glorious things God has in store for us and also showing us the difficulties that might lie ahead to both help us avoid them or simply be prepared for them.
I highly encourage you that if you missed any of the first seven parts of this series, go back and listen to them on our website @ www.highpointmacon.com. These notes are also available on our sight as well, if you prefer to read these truths. However, even if you have heard all of these things and simply have not begun to see them working in your life, do yourself a favor and listen to & study them again. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so the more you hear them, the more faith will arise in your hearts to receive the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life. Amen?
So, this week, let’s move into the Jesus’ last words that He uttered to His disciples concerning the Holy Spirit before His crucifixion. Let’s look at John 16:14-15 where Jesus says, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
As I said earlier, I see this as the primary objective of the Holy Spirit—the number one thing that He is commissioned to do here on the earth—to GLORIFY JESUS! Notice that Jesus said at the beginning of verse 14, “He will glorify Me!”
The dictionary defines the word “glorify” as “to honor, praise, extol, or magnify.” Therefore, when one “glorifies” Jesus what they are doing is honoring, praising, extoling and magnifying Him. And we are told here that this is what the Holy Spirit does—He honors, praises, magnifies, and glorifies Jesus.
Now, of course, this does not mean that the Holy Spirit Himself is praising & worshipping Jesus in the way we do. He Himself is the Third Person in the Godhead. So, it should be obvious that God the Spirit is not worshipping God the Son. Which leads me to another point:
WHY DO YOU CALL ME GOOD?
The majority of the Church uses this truth that the Holy Spirit’s ministry to glorify Jesus means that the Holy Spirit never needs to be glorified—meaning, we are not supposed to praise & worship the Holy Spirit. But I am the kind of person that I want to see it in the Word of God. Yes, if you can’t show it to me in the Bible, then I won’t put too much weight in it. And this Scripture, nor any other one that I know of, says that the Third Person of the Godhead does not deserve to be worshipped any more than God the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, if the Holy Spirit is God, shouldn’t He receive some love too?
So, one time while I was in prayer, I began to praise the Holy Spirit just like I praise God the Father and God the Son. And as I was telling Him how good He is, a Scripture popped up in my heart. It was the very words uttered by Jesus to the rich young ruler, when he approached Jesus and called Him “Good Teacher…” And do you remember how Jesus responded to him? He said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (see Matthew 19:16-17).
Now let me say this: When Jesus said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God” He was not saying He wasn’t God. What He was doing there was simply pointing the praise and glory back to His Father. You see, Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve—to serve mankind but also to serve His Father. In essence, one could say that He came to glorify Father God like the Holy Spirit came to glorify Jesus.
But that is exactly what I heard in my spirit that day— “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God.”
Now when I heard that, I immediately knew these were not Jesus’ words to me on that day; this is what the Holy Spirit was saying to me in response to me calling Him “good.” And do you know what I learned that day? From that He revealed to me that the same way that Jesus always reverted the praises He was receiving back to the Father during His earthly ministry, that is the same thing the Holy Spirit is doing today in His earthly ministry—He is glorifying Jesus! Yes, just as Jesus was sent by the Father and only said and did what He saw His Father say and do to where even when someone gave Him praise for something, He would give the glory back to His Father, likewise, the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to point us back to Him. Yes, the Holy Spirit only says and does what He sees Jesus saying and doing, and when someone tries to praise Him for something like I did on that day, He will point us back to Jesus. Church, the Holy Spirit has been sent to glorify Jesus in the same way that Jesus was sent to glorify the Father. Amen.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GLORIFY?
So, what does it mean to “glorify” Him? Does it mean, like so many believe, to just raise one’s hands and say, “Jesus, I glorify You”? No, like it is with praise and worship, glorifying Jesus is not just saying, “Jesus, I praise You” or “I glorify You, Lord.” To glorify Him is to actually glorify Him—meaning, to both say and do things that bring Him glory. Let’s look at some Biblical examples:
This same word that is translated “glorify” here is predominantly used in the Four Gospels to describe what the people did when Jesus performed a healing or miracle. Some examples are Matthew 9:8, 15:31; Mark 2:12; Luke 5:25-26, 7:16, 13:13, 18:43; and John 11:4. In all of these someone was healed and either that individual or the people who saw the miracle first hand began to glorify God.
For example, in Luke 7:11-17, we have the account of Jesus raising the widow of Nain’s son from the dead. After Jesus touched the open coffin and told the young man to arise, he sat up and began to speak. Then we are told in verses 16-17— “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people.’ And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.” What report? This “glory report” of the young man being raised from the dead. Yes. But also what the people were saying about Jesus because of this miracle—that a great prophet had risen among them and God had visited His people!
So, what do we see here? It is that when Jesus performed this miracle, it produced people glorifying God by saying certain things about Jesus. So, we can learn two very important lessons from this:
Number one, what glorifies someone or something is when people begin to say things that bring glory to that person or thing. In this case, everyone who witnessed this miracle began to talk, calling Jesus a great prophet. Now we know that He was and is more than just a great prophet. He is the Son of God. Nonetheless, this still glorified Jesus among the people by being acknowledged as a great prophet. But they were also glorifying God by saying that He had visited His people. How? Through this Man that they saw as a great prophet performing these miracles. And we are told in verse 17 that all of these things they were saying about Jesus spread even throughout all Judea and the entire region., So, it was not just that these people here in Nain were glorifying God, but it spread throughout the surrounding region—thus, the glory being given to God multiplied as a result of it spreading! Amen!
Therefore, to glorify Jesus is to speak words of praise that magnify Him! So, this means that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to help us to praise Jesus!
You know, some of us have a difficult time in praise & worship. For various reasons, many believers have a hard time entering in and glorifying Jesus. If this is you, I have good news for you! The Holy Ghost’s ministry is to glorify Jesus through you! Yes, He will make you a better worshipper if you will let Him. Simply ask the Holy Spirit on the inside of you to help you see Jesus in His glory. Ask Him to reveal Christ to you to where, like the prophet Isaiah, you see the Lord high and lifted up and you see His train filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1). I can guarantee you that when you see Him high and lifted up, the “high” praises of God will be in your mouth (Psalm 149:6) and your voice will be “lifted up.” Amen.
But when yielded to, the Holy Spirit will also put the right words, verses, and phrases in your mouth that will glorify Jesus. He will put a new song in your mouth, hallelujah, and will help you worship Him in the most appropriate manner for that moment. Glory! This is worship that is done in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24)! This is, as Philippians 3:3 says, worship that is done by the Spirit of God. Amen.
Now the other lesson we can learn from our passage in Luke chapter 7 is one of the ways how the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus.
What was it that caused God to get glorified in this account? It was the miracle, wasn’t it? The young man being raised from the dead is what started all of this glory! Amen! Therefore, we can see here one of the ways that the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus—by performing miracles, signs and wonders! Amen! So, the Holy Spirit does not just glorify Jesus by saying something; He does it by doing something! So, the Holy Spirit’s ministry to glorify Jesus is also accomplished by Him performing His spiritual gifts in and through the church. Amen.
As I said earlier, this was the primary way that this word “glorify” was used in the Gospels—in the healings & miracles that Jesus performed. And when people received their miracle, both the Father and Jesus got glorified.
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:8 Now in this verse we see this truth amplified because Jesus said here that what ultimately glorifies God is the fruit we produce. This is, of course, the miracles, but fruit can also be producing converts, making disciples, and simply bearing the fruit of the Spirit. All of this fruit glorifies God. Therefore, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord by producing this fruit in and through us.
THAT WAS MINE!
Now do you remember that one of the things that Jesus said the Holy Spirit was commissioned to do was “testify” of Him (John 15:26-27)? And do you remember that we talked about how our testimony is meant to glorify Jesus, and not us? Therefore, what we spend time testifying of is what we essentially are glorifying. And this is why Jesus said what He did next in John 16:14-15.
Notice what Jesus specifically said the Holy Spirit will do that will also glorify Him: Jesus concluded His teaching on the Holy Spirit’s different commissions in John chapter 16 by saying— “…for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (verses 14-15).
So, after Jesus said, “He will glorify Me,” He went on to say it was “for” (or, because) He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. So, just as Jesus spent His time glorifying the Father by taking what was His and declaring it to His disciples, likewise the Holy Spirit spends His time on the earth glorifying Jesus and taking what is His and declaring it to us.
Did you know that this is another way in which we can glorify someone? When we receive what is someone else’s and declare to others. For example, if I were to hear a really good joke from one of you and then turn around and tell that joke to someone else—with it being understood who I heard the joke from in the first place—who does that “glorify”? The one who told me the joke in the first place, of course. Likewise, as we saw in verse 13, the Holy Spirit does not share things with us that originate from Him. No, He shares with us things that He has heard from Jesus. Therefore, all of the good news that we receive the Holy Spirit should glorify Jesus because it all originated from Him to start with. Amen?
So, when Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will glorify Him by taking of what was His and declaring it to us, He was saying, “He shall praise me and bring me great honor by showing you my glory” (The Living Bible) and “He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.” (The Amplified Bible).
You know, I wish people would take the things I say when I stand behind this pulpit and share it—word for word even. Do you know why? Because it glorifies the Lord! Like Paul said in Philippians 1:15, even if people say the same thing we’ve said with the wrong motives, we can rejoice in the fact that the truth is being proclaimed—for it glorifies the One who gave it to us in the first place!
THE MIND OF CHRIST
Now, on the surface, it is hard to understand exactly what Jesus was referring to in these verses, but it becomes clearer when we compare it with what Paul said in First Corinthians 2:9-16:
Like we saw last week, in First Corinthians 2:9 the Apostle Paul starts off quoting Isaiah by saying, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” And again, there are many Christians today who love to quote this verse like it is some New Testament reality, but they forgot to quote the next statement: Paul went on to say in verse 10, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit!”
You see, under the Old Covenant it was most certainly true that they could not even imagine what God had prepared for those who loved Him, but now under the New Covenant, we have the Holy Spirit who is specifically commissioned to reveal to us these things that God has in store for us! Praise God!
Paul went on to reiterate this in verse 12 by saying that the Holy Spirit was given to us so that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. And these things that have been freely given to us are a direct reference to our inheritance! Do you remember how in John 16:15 Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine”? He was specifically referring to the inheritance given to Him by His Father. So now that we have become children of God too—Jesus being the firstborn of many brethren—we have become joint heirs with Christ to “all things that the Father has” (Compare Romans 8:17)! And the Holy Spirit is specifically commissioned to reveal to us all the things that we are joint heirs of with Christ! Glory to God! This is part of what Jesus was referring to when He said that the Holy Spirit would “take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
In Romans 8:26-27 we are told that the Holy Spirit also intercedes on our behalf so that God’s perfect will for our lives will come to pass. And one way He does this is by revealing or communicating to us the thoughts the Lord is thinking about us—thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). So, when Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will “take of Mine and declare it to you” He also meant that the Holy Spirit would declare to us what the mind of the Lord is. And the Apostle Paul went on to say this same thing in First Corinthians chapter two:
He concludes this teaching on the Holy Spirit’s commission to reveal to us those things that were previously unknown by saying, “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (vs.16)! In other words, in the Old Covenant, when “eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man the things which God had prepared for those who love Him” (vs.9), they were unable to know the mind of the Lord. But now, under this new and better covenant, we have the Holy Spirit—and He has been commissioned to reveal the mind of the Lord to us! So, when Paul said next in verse 16— “But we have the mind of Christ”—it was just another way of saying, “But we have the Holy Spirit, who declares to us the purpose and plan of Christ.” Hallelujah! The Holy Spirit is the mind of Christ!
So, in John 16:14-15 when Jesus said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you”, a good paraphrase would be— “He will honor Me, because He will share with you what I have (not only everything I possess in regards to My omniscience, but also everything I possess in regards to My inheritance). You see, everything that My Father possesses is Mine also. That is why I said that the Holy Spirit will share with you what I have.”
Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s commission is to reveal to us what is in the plan and purpose of Christ for our lives in everything from our inheritance in heaven to our calling on the earth. And guess what this does? It glorifies the One who made all of this possible—Jesus!
Saints, the Holy Spirit’s job, simply put, is to glorify Jesus. And as we’ve seen, He does this by helping us to praise & glorify Jesus in our own personal worship experience. He glorifies Jesus in what we say! He also does this by producing His fruit in and through our lives. He glorifies Jesus in what we do! And finally, He shares with us all of the grand and glorious things that Jesus has said and done for each one of us. He glorifies Jesus by declaring to us all of the things Jesus has prepared for us.
It’s all about Jesus, folks! And the Holy Ghost would share those sentiments. His ministry is designed to magnify, exalt, lift up and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s let Him do this through us today and every day. Amen?
Now today, we will continue our look at the Holy Spirit’s commission in our lives by studying another particular assignment that He has.
Last week, we looked at John 16:13 where Jesus told us that when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide us into all truth. So, we looked at this in detail and the first thing we learned is that when Jesus starts off this verse by saying “however,” He was pointing them ahead to the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming in His place and picking up where He left off. So, while they could not handle the spiritual truth that Jesus desired to show them because they were still unregenerate and unspiritual, the Spirit of truth’s soon arrival would unlock all of these truths for them. What this shows us is that the Holy Spirit is our key in being ushered into spiritual things. Therefore, without Him, we will be severely limited in understanding these spiritual things.
But since Jesus called Him the Spirit of truth and said that He would guide us into all truth, we know that the Holy Spirit is obviously an expert in the truth. So, we looked at what truth is. And we saw that truth is “that which is not hidden, which makes God known” (A Holy Spirit given definition to me). And we saw how this definition certainly coincides with a couple of other things that God’s Word teaches us is “truth.”
Number one, we saw that Jesus is the truth because it says in John 14:6 that “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Secondly, we found that God’s Word is also truth because in John 17:17, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by your truth. Your Word is truth.”
Therefore, we learned that the Holy Spirit’s commission to “guide us into all truth” means that He will guide us into all of Jesus, as He is the Truth. But it also means that He will guide us into all of the Word, as His Word is truth as well.
But we also saw that one could also say that the “truth” that the Holy Spirit guides us into is the opposite of the “lie”—meaning, if we are walking in the truth, we are not walking in a lie. Therefore, the truth we are being guided into is the LIGHT itself. Yes, the Holy Spirit guides us into the light at all times.
So, we looked over at John chapter 11 and saw how Jesus was guided by the Holy Spirit when it came to His friend, Lazarus. No, He did not let him die so He could receive more glory for it, like so many teach. That would be like someone kidnapping a child and then if a reward was offered for anyone that could find the child and bring him home, that person who kidnapped him brought him back and collected the reward. That wouldn’t be right, would it? Well, God is not doing that either—He is not stealing life and then giving it back so He can get the glory. Amen?
But then we learned how the Holy Spirit does this guiding: We saw that Jesus does not say that the Holy Spirit will “drive” us into all truth or “drag” us into all truth. No, Jesus said He will “guide” us into all truth, which carries more of the idea of Him leading us. On top of that, we saw that you cannot guide something or someone that is not already moving!
Therefore, like a boat, you can turn the rudder one way or another, but if the boat is not already moving it will not make a difference in the direction that the boat goes. Yes, you can turn a rudder as far as it will turn, but if the boat never leaves the dock, it will remain pointed in the same direction. Likewise, we have to be “moving” in order for His guidance to become effective. What do I mean by “moving?” I mean that there must be cooperation on our part because some of the responsibility has been given to us. Say, for instance, if we desire to know the truth of God’s Word. Well, we can’t just sit back and do nothing and expect the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of His Word. No, we must seek the truth through reading, studying, and meditating God’s Word. When we get our “boat” started in that direction is when the “Rudder”—Holy Spirit—can guide us through teaching us and bringing things to our remembrance.
We looked at a good example of this in Acts chapter 8 from the life & ministry of Philip the Evangelist. In this story, we saw Philip obeying the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel and then the Holy Spirit was able to guide him “from Samaria to Ethiopia.”
So, we learned that we don’t need to be “mulish”—that is, hard to be moved and stubborn—but we are to be “rein-trained” to where we are easily guided by the Holy Spirit when He gives us that slightest tug.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s job is to guide us into all truth—which includes all of the Word (for His Word is truth), all of who Jesus is (for Jesus Himself is also the truth), and also everything else that we need His help in guiding us into. He is our Guide and He has the light that we need!
So now, this week, let’s look again at John 16:13 and pick up where we left off last week. Shall we?
DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK OF HIMSELF?
Again, Jesus says, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
So, after telling His disciples that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth, He goes on to tell them why this is the case… “for (or, because) He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak…”
Now the NKJV says, “for He will not speak on His own authority,” but notice that the word “authority” is italicized here. The reason for that is because it was added by the translators. Therefore, it was not in the original text that the New Testament was written in.
And to add even more confusion to this phrase, the original King James version translates it like so— “for He shall not speak of himself.” Now this particular translation has led many to believe that the Holy Spirit never talks about Himself because it says He shall speak “of” Himself. Thus, the reason you have many churches not ever talking about the Holy Spirit. Church, that is not what Jesus was saying in this verse.
When Jesus said that He would not speak “of” Himself, the word “of” comes from the Greek word apo which literally means “away from” and denotes “from the place of origin.” So what Jesus was saying here is that the Holy Spirit will not speak “from” Himself, or the things He says do not originate from Him. In other words, as Jesus was known to say Himself, He only said what He heard the Father say and He only did what He saw the Father do (see John 5:19, 8:28 & 12:49)—which shows us how the Holy Spirit is here on the earth doing things just like Jesus did them, not speaking by His own authority.
Therefore, I believe the translators of the New King James version correctly translated this phrase by indicating that the Holy Spirit does not speak out of His own authority. But notice what Jesus goes on to say— “but whatever He hears He will speak...”
Now a good question to ask here is— Why is it important for us to know that the things the Holy Spirit says do not originate from Himself? Well, why did Jesus essentially say the same thing? It was because the people needed to know these were not just His words, but He was both speaking & operating from a higher authority. So, that is what I see Jesus was saying here about the Holy Spirit—that He is not speaking by His own authority, but the entire Godhead is backing Him up.
You see, we need to understand that when the Holy Spirit says something, it is really GOD saying it—that is, the entire Trinity. The Holy Spirit is not some subservient form of God, but is doing and saying the things that He does because God the Father and God the Son are inspiring Him to. This is why I believe it is not always black & white as to which member of the Godhead is talking to us at various times. Sometimes it sounds like it’s Jesus talking to us, but that might just mean it’s Jesus speaking through the Holy Spirit. Likewise, in some cases it might sound like God the Father, but it might just be the Holy Spirit that the Father is speaking through. We need to understand that they are One, and that when one speaks, the others are speaking the same thing.
But I digress. I want us to camp on what Jesus said next in John 16:13…
DECLARING GREAT THINGS
Notice how Jesus ends this verse by saying, “and He will tell you things to come.” The original King James version uses the word “shew” (or, show) instead of the word “tell.”
Now the Greek word for “tell” or “show” means “to declare, report, or to announce.” In fact, this same word is used two more times in John 16:14&15 when Jesus went on to describe the Holy Spirit “declaring” certain things to us. So, we need to understand that this word means to verbally “say” more than it means to visibly “show.”
We see this same word used in various places in describing how people “told” others about the great things the Lord had done and the things that they needed to know. One of my favorite instances is found in the demoniac of the Gadarenes. After this man’s deliverance, Jesus told him— “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” (Mark 5:19).
So, when we compare these other instances of the word used for “tell,” we can see how the Holy Spirit’s assignment is likewise to tell us what great things the Lord will do for us since He will tell us things to come. Amen!
Saints, I’ll “tell” ya 😊… The Holy Spirit desires to show you and I all the good things that God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus! Yes, He wants to tell us about all of those great things that God has, is, and will do for us! Amen! Sure, He knows the plans He has for you—those plans that are good, full of peace, and contain a glorious future of hope (Jeremiah 29:11)—but the He wants us to know those plans too! And that is the Holy Spirit’s assignment—to tell us of these great, good, and glorious things that are to come!
You see, people like to quote passages like First Corinthians 2:9 which say, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But we need to read the following verse. These awesome things that the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has even been conjured up in man’s heart which God has prepared for us who love Him are not supposed to stay that way for the believer. The apostle Paul goes on to say in verse 10— “But God has revealed them to us (How?) through His Spirit.”
So, the Holy Spirit is specifically commissioned to reveal to us the wonderful things that we have to look forward to in our lives here on the earth and the glorious things we have to look forward to for all eternity (see Ephesians 1:18)—and this certainly includes our heavenly inheritance (We will discuss this in more detail next week).
TO PREPARE US
But not only does this particular ministry of the Holy Spirit show us the wonderful things that God has prepared for us; it also prepares us for other things as well…
You see, the Holy Spirit desires to tell us of what’s ahead even in this life—thus preparing us for those things. Therefore, this illustrates the prophetic commission of the Holy Spirit. You see, His being a member of the Godhead and working together with the Father and the Son, has complete omniscience and is willing to reveal to us future events. This has several different applications. It can range anywhere from revealing to us tough times that might be ahead so that we can be prepared for them to revealing certain traps of the enemy so that we can avoid them altogether.
You see, The Holy Spirit’s commission is to share with us His invaluable foreknowledge of upcoming disasters and hindrances so that we can always stay one step ahead of the devil. You see, if we will just learn to develop a high level of intimacy with the Holy Spirit, we can partake of this miraculous and beneficial commission of His. This is one of the many reasons why walking in communion of the Holy Spirit is so vital to the life of a Christian. There have been many Christians who have suffered or even died prematurely simply because they did not take advantage of this commission of the Holy Spirit to show them things to come.
So, like I said, there are a variety of reasons why the Holy Spirit shows us things to come. In some cases, it is to encourage us with the good things that lie ahead. It is also to prevent danger from the bad things that are ahead. In other cases, it is simply to tell us what is going to happen so that we can be prepared for it and not be caught off guard by it.
A good example of this is in Acts 11:27-30, where we have the account of a prophet named Agabus who “showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world” during the days of Claudius Caesar. So, by the Holy Spirit showing them things to come, it enabled the disciples to go ahead and send relief to the brethren in Judea (verse 29). This reminds me of Joseph and the dreams that the Lord gave him which was used to propel him into his place of leadership in Egypt. Therefore, in both of these cases, they were prepared for these tough times and by being forewarned, were able to help their loved ones.
So, we can see from these two examples that the Holy Spirit tells us things to come in a variety of ways—such as through a prophetic word like we see with the Prophet Agabus and also through dreams like we see in the life of Joseph. However, the Holy Spirit will also show us things to come simply by speaking to our hearts. So, we simply need to be open to the variety of ways that the Holy Spirit will perform this ministry of His in our lives.
Now do you suppose the Holy Spirit will do that for us today? If there was an economic crash coming in the world tomorrow, will the Holy Spirit tell us about it? Sure, He will! How about if there was traffic jam on the interstate? Will the Holy Spirit give us a heads-up about that? Absolutely! And sometimes God is waiting on us before things are fulfilled. God has something planned for us, but we are not ready to walk in it yet. We need to prepare ourselves, seek Him, and walk in what we know so far.
No, saints, there is nothing too big or too small that the Holy Spirit will not prepare us for by telling us about it beforehand. We just need to open up our hearts to receive this invaluable ministry He provides for us. Then we can have the faith to receive it.
DID PAUL MISS IT?
Another good biblical example of how the Holy Spirit tells us things to come is found in the life of the apostle Paul. We see several times in the Book of Acts that Paul was warned of what was going to happen to him if he went back to Jerusalem.
Now there are those out there who whole-heartedly believe that Paul missed it in taking that last trip to Jerusalem that led to his arrest and final imprisonment. And I am not here today to convince you one way or another. I personally am not thoroughly convinced myself, but I think that these Christians possibly make a valid point because of one verse we see in the Book of Acts. So regardless of what one’s opinion is, I believe we can learn some good lessons by considering the prospect that Paul missed it.
But let’s look at that verse that people use to make the point that the apostle Paul was disobedient in going to Jerusalem: In Acts 21:1-5 notice this: “Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo. And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.”
So, notice that during the voyage they came to the ancient city of Tyre, which is north of Palestine. And there they looked up certain disciples who, through the Spirit (as Luke records) told Paul that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Now that is clear and to the point, is it not? And notice that it was not just these disciples’ desire that didn’t want him to go up to Jerusalem; they told him not to go “through the Spirit.” Therefore, it was Holy Spirit inspired direction.
Now, first of all, let me say that one of the reasons that it is difficult for us to even swallow the prospect of Paul missing it here is because of our tendency to put these great saints of God on pedestals and not see their flaws & mistakes. But the fact is, men like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, etc. made mistakes! They were not perfect. The only one who never made a mistake in regard to obedience to God’s commandments and being led by the Holy Spirit was our Lord Jesus Christ. So, it should not be an odd thing to consider whether the apostle Paul made a mistake here—albeit, a noble one. But the fact is that it is certainly hard to believe that Paul would ever deliberately disobey the Holy Spirit, but we have a verse that seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit was giving him direction which the apostle chose to ignore.
Other reasons that people do not believe that Paul missed it here is because the Lord Jesus said that Paul would stand before kings and give his testimony, and that it was the fact that he was a prisoner which finally brought him before kings. But this does not mean that Jesus was saying it was necessary that he come before kings in chains. And another point people make is that it was from this prison experience that Paul wrote some of the finest epistles that we have. However, arguably two of the greatest letters from his pen, his epistles to the Galatians and the Romans, were not written while he was in prison.
On top of that, didn’t the Lord Jesus, when he first called Paul on the Damascus road, say that he was going to suffer great things, which provides us with an important point—that sometimes the Holy Spirit shows us negative things that are going to happen because it will help us to know about them beforehand.
You see, one of the reasons the Holy Spirit tells us about the things that are coming is because we need to be mentally prepared for it. Like, for example, when it comes to rough sailing being ahead, if we know it is coming, it won’t surprise us and create that negative emotional response. Therefore, it is good to know when some things are on the horizon because we won’t get caught off guard and can know that the same one who forewarned us is the same one who will get us to the other side of it. Amen?
So, in Paul’s case, I’m sure it was very helpful for him to know about the persecution & suffering that he would incur going into his ministry. Likewise, it is helpful for us to have information beforehand so that we can be mentally prepared for any difficulties that we might face. And I believe the Holy Spirit will tell us of these things if we will open ourselves up to this ministry of His.
But the Road to Damascus was not the only place that the Lord communicated to him about the difficulties that he would encounter. Let’s consider something that Paul said before Acts 21. In Acts 20:22-23, he said, “And see, now I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.”
So here, we see the that the Holy Spirit was bearing witness in every city that he went through that chains and tribulations awaited him in Jerusalem. Now this Scripture by itself certainly seems to indicate that Paul was in the will of God in going back to Jerusalem because he said that he was going to Jerusalem because He was “bound in the Spirit.” Therefore, all of these times that the Holy Spirit was telling him what lied ahead there, look to be things simply to prepare him for those chains and tribulations.
Also, in Acts 19:21 we see another instance somewhat contrary to this notion that Paul was not supposed to visit Jerusalem. When he was in Ephesus, we see that “when these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
So, that phrase “purposed in the Spirit” seems to indicate that his plan to go to Jerusalem and then go see Rome was a Holy Spirit-inspired plan. And perhaps it was at that point. We don’t necessarily know. However, it is also possible that Paul had “purposed” and planned this himself because the phrase “in the Spirit” could also be translated “in spirit”—that is, in his own spirit because he had set his own mental disposition in that direction. Which is likely because in Acts 20:16, we see Paul’s deep desire to go there. Notice that it said— “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”
So, just assuming that Paul did indeed miss it in ignoring these warnings of the Holy Spirit, can you see why? It was because his desire was to be at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, he was “hurrying” to get there.
Church, most of the time, when we are “hurrying” to get somewhere or do something, it is not the Holy Ghost. In case you haven’t noticed, the world tries to get us to hurry all of the time. For example, when we are buying a car, the car-salesman is trained to do what? “HURRY now! This is a limited time offer! Don’t you want to get it today!” And, of course, this appeals to people’s fleshly impulses to act before we think. Another good example is with some of the cons and fishing techniques of criminals out there. Some of them will prey on the elderly, calling them and telling them that they are with the IRS or the Police and if we don’t give them our social security number or send them some money RIGHT NOW something bad is going to happen. Hurry, hurry, hurry! That’s all this is. But very rarely will the Holy Spirit ever lead you to hurry and He will certainly never put pressure on you.
And why do you suppose Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost? This answer is found in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans 9:1-5, he unfolds to us something of the urgency of his own heart concerning his people: “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
So, do you see Paul’s heart here? As we know, he was a Jew, and, as a Jew, he loved his nation. He loved their heritage, their background, and their possession of the promises of God. And he longed to reach them. His heart was broken as he saw their bitterness and frustration, and the hostility and opposition to the cause of Christ which came from his own people, Israel. So, he knew that at Pentecost there would be a gathering of Jews from all over the Roman Empire, and he had in his heart a great hunger to be there at that time. So, his own desire was for his people to know their Messiah. And there is nothing wrong with that. The problem occurs when our own desires do not align themselves with God’s will for us.
You see, Paul was not called to his fellow countrymen. He was called to the Gentiles. This was obvious. In fact, when you study his life, you find that his biggest problems occurred when he tried to minister to his brethren. Yes, it was his own countrymen who caused him the most grief and problems. So, one could make the case that the bulk of his afflictions were a result of him trying to minister to the Jews and not to the Gentiles.
But it’s like what many of us have been guilty of doing with our own family members. We desire so much that they be saved, that we overstep the Holy Spirit and come on a little too strong and provoke a negative response from them. This is what I believe the apostle Paul did to some degree. If he would have just run his race (to the Gentiles), and trusted that the Lord had some other able vessel to minister to his brethren (i.e. Peter), then he could have avoided some of the difficulties he endured.
So, after all of these things, we see a rather painful scene that followed: At Caesarea, they came into the home of Philip the evangelist (You remember—that man who led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ?) (see Acts 21:7-14). There Agabus, a well-known prophet of the Lord and who we just referred to, took Paul's belt from around his waist and bound his own feet and hands, and said, " “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
So, taken in connection with the verses we referred to earlier in Acts chapter 21, it is clear that this was the last effort made by the Holy Spirit to awaken the apostle to what he was doing. Agabus was joined in this by the whole body of believers. The whole family present urged him not to go, Luke said. We read, "When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem." Now we don’t know whether or not they were Spirit-inspired in pleading with him not to go. It certainly could just be their own desire in not wanting him to suffer and die. However, it could be that they did not believe it was God’s perfect will for him and they were against him going for that reason.
But notice Paul’s response— He said, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” While we certainly can find no fault with the bravery and courage expressed in those words, it is possible that Paul had a martyr complex because, based on Acts 21:4, it was not necessary for him to go, and the Spirit had told him so.
Then we see that when Paul refused to be persuaded his friends said, "(Well) may the will of the Lord be done." Church, that can be what you say when you do not know what else to say. That can be what you pray when you do not know how else to act. So, they might have simply been saying, "Lord, it is up to you. We can't stop this man. He has a strong will and a mighty determination, and he's deluded into thinking that this is what you want. Therefore, you will have to handle it. May the will of the Lord be done."
Now, as we have seen, the Spirit of God, as he was with Paul, is always faithful to forewarn us of things. We need not stumble blindly into the enemy’s traps, any more than Paul needed to, but what this shows us is that we must be very careful to be obedient to the Spirit's voice. When he gives us a check, red flag, or a more spectacular warning like a prophetic word, dream, etc., we need to listen. Otherwise we can open ourselves up to unnecessary heartache, unnecessary limitation and restriction, as the apostle Paul might have done here.
Lord, help us to learn this—that if even a man of God can fail in listening to the Spirit at times, we are certainly capable of making that same mistake. May this serve as a lesson to us that we need to take advantage of this wonderful ministry of the Holy Spirit to show us things to come so that we can be led & guided into not just the good and acceptable, but the perfect will of God.
Church, it has been given to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God—for we are His disciples! On top of that, we are friends of God and not just servants of God. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will not keep from declaring to us all things that the Godhead tells Him. Even better, since we are more than just disciples & friends but are sons of God, how much more are we to know what lies ahead?
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” All we have to do is, call. Call on the Holy Spirit today and let Him show you the things you do not know. Amen.
Today, we will continue our look at the Holy Spirit’s commission by looking at yet another thing that He has been assigned to do for us, Jesus’ disciples:
Just to pass in review, we have been looking at the things Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would do for us which are located in John chapters 14-16. Thus far, we have seen that He will abide with us forever, teach us concerning all things, remind us of the things that the Lord has already spoken to us, and testify of Jesus.
Last week, we moved into chapter 16, and saw that another thing that the Holy Spirit has been specifically assigned to do is to “convict.” So, we looked at verse 7 and saw how He has come to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Then we saw in verses 8-10 why He is convicting the world of these three specific things—of sin, because they do not believe in Him; of righteousness, because He has gone to His Father and we see Him no more; and of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
So, we dispelled a couple of popular beliefs that people have of these verses and about the workings of the Holy Spirit in general: We, first of all, saw that Jesus said that He has come to convict “the world,” and not necessarily the church. And we saw that when Jesus referred to the world here, He was certainly including the unbelievers of this world because, in verse 9, when He goes on to explain why He will convict the world of these three things, He says, “of sin, because they do not believe in Me.” Therefore, this is certainly talking about those of the world who have not yet believed on Jesus. However, we saw that it certainly included those who are in the world but not of the world as well (i.e. believers) because in verse 10 He says, “of righteousness, because I go to the Father and you (His disciples) see Me no more.”
But we saw that the fact that the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of sin is important to understand because how many of us have heard how the Holy Spirit “convicted” one of our brothers or sisters in Christ of their sin—taking them to the woodshed and making them feel horrible for what they did wrong—and they used these very verses to substantiate it? But the fact is that what a lot of Christians say is the Holy Spirit is not the Holy Spirit—which led us to the other misconception people have of these verses: Part of the reason people misunderstand the workings of the Holy Spirit is because of this word we see in the King James version— “convict.”
So, we saw how, in our modern-day terminology, the word “convict” has more of a negative tone to it. To us, the word “convict” paints the picture of a courtroom and carries the idea of some judge who is looking down on the guilty and condemning them for their wrongdoing. Therefore, a good portion of the church teaches that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to constantly hound us—condemning us for all our various faults and shortcomings. Saints, this is not what the Holy Spirit is commissioned to do!
So, we looked at what the word “convict” actually means? We saw that the Greek word translated as “convict” carries more of the idea to “convince or to prove” than it does to “condemn.” In fact, we saw that the Greek word that the apostle John used here literally means “to bring something to light, and thus to expose it.” So, don’t get stuck on the word “convict” and let that word paint a negative picture of the Holy Spirit’s dealings with the world.
So, we made the point that if the Holy Ghost is not condemning people but is simply convicting or convincing people of their sin, then neither should we. We certainly should not be condemning people, but we shouldn’t be trying to convict them either. Why? Because that is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours. No, we are not “Holy Ghost Jr.”
In fact, we learned that we are not called to be “convicters”; rather, we are called to be “witnesses” (see John 15:27 & Acts 1:8). And there is a big difference between someone who simply a witness and someone who does the convicting. We made the point that a witness is not the judge or the jury. A witness just simply testifies of what they have seen, heard, or experienced. And we saw that just as sometimes a witness is needed to convict a lawbreaker in a court of law, a witness is needed to open the door for the Holy Spirit to convict an unbeliever of their sin in the kingdom of God. We, as witnesses, are not to point our finger at them; we are just to tell people what we’ve experienced and then let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. Amen! So, the Holy Spirit exhorted us to not leave the witness stand and let Him do His job of convicting. Amen!
We then looked specifically at what the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of. And I am so glad that He did not just leave it up to us to figure out how and why He does this. As we’ve seen, Jesus went on in verses 9-11 and answered those questions for us.
Notice again that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit convicts the world “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Now I do not want to spend too much time this week reviewing these three things, but I will say that Jesus covered the three basic areas of conviction: The Holy Spirit convicts the world of what is wrong (i.e. sin), what is right (i.e. righteousness), and last but not least, He convicts the world of the outcome of doing what is wrong or right (i.e. judgment). So, this is what the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of: He is ever in the process of convincing those in this world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Yes, He convicts them of sin because they have not believed on the One who died as payment for their sin. He convicts them of righteousness because Jesus is not here to display the way of righteousness to them. And He convicts them of judgment because the penalty of rejecting Jesus and His righteousness is the same penalty as that of the ruler of this world.
But we did see that this does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not dealing with us—God’s children—on things as well. No, just because Jesus only addressed “the world” as being subject to the Holy Spirit’s conviction here, does not mean that He does not fulfill this in a certain measure to the church. We are in the world as well, just not of the world, and I am thankful for all of the times that the Holy Spirit has shown me when I am missing it and what I ought to be doing. And we saw that this correction is not a negative thing; it is a positive thing because He is an exhorter and an encourager, and not a condemner. So, while He certainly does “convict” us when we do something wrong in the sense that He simply brings it to our attention, He does it in order to teach and train us to become more like Jesus in our attitudes and conduct, and not to make us feel bad. Yes, He is a convicter, and not a condemner!
So, as we saw, when we sin and fall short of the glory of God, the Holy Spirit does not beat us up over it, but He simply brings to light what we need to see and then gently encourages us to get back up and believe on Jesus. You see, just as He would convict the world of sin because they did not believe on Jesus, likewise, He likes to draw us back to that place of believing on Jesus—which is at the root of all obedience and disobedience.
But we also saw that the Holy Spirit does not just convict us of the ways that we miss it; He also is commissioned to convince and persuade us of other things pertaining to God’s righteousness. In other words, He will show us what we ought to do—what is right and in agreement with God’s standards. And again, this is the difference with conviction: It does not put the attention on what we shouldn’t have done, but will point us to what needs to be done. For example, it will not beat us up for the mistake we already made, but will show us what to do now that we’ve already done it. Amen!
So now, this week, I want us to move into the following verses of John chapter 16:
In John 16:12, Jesus went on to tell His disciples— “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” And if you recall, we saw how the word “bear” here literally describes taking something up with the hands. Therefore, you could translate this phrase as— “I still have many other things I want to tell you, but you cannot handle them at this time.” And the reason they could not handle these other truths Jesus had to share with them was because they were still carnal and could not handle these spiritual truths. In other words, this describes their inability to receive certain spiritual meat because they had not been regenerated and reborn spiritually.
That is why Jesus goes on to say in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” So, when Jesus starts off by saying “however” in verse 13, He was again pointing them ahead to the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming in His place and picking up where He left off. So, while they could not handle the spiritual truth that Jesus desired to show them because they were still unregenerate and unspiritual, the Spirit of truth’s soon arrival would unlock all of these truths for them. What this shows us is that the Holy Spirit is our key in being ushered into spiritual things. Without Him, we will be severely limited in understanding spiritual things—which is what I believe the Lord wants to teach us about today.
WHAT IS TRUTH?
Now, first of all, notice that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit here “the Spirit of truth” and said that He would guide us into all truth. So, the question that needs to be answered here is the same question that Pilate asked Jesus just prior to His crucifixion (see John 18:38)— What is Truth?
Several years ago, after asking the Lord many times to define truth for me, I finally got my answer. On my back porch, during a time of prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart the following statement: He said, “Truth is—that which is not hidden, which makes God known.” So, let’s consider this definition for a moment: First of all, He told me that truth is that which is not hidden. What that means is that God is not concealing it. It is on full display. For example, like with the reality of God and His existence—while people might say that He hides Himself, His glory is revealed in the glory of His creation. If people will simply open their eyes to His reality and not shut up their hearts from Him, they will know Him. Secondly, He told me that truth is that which makes God known—meaning, truth will always point us to Him. When we are hearing truth, we are directed to the One True & Living God. And when I heard this statement in my spirit that day, I immediately saw a few things from the Scriptures where “the truth” is described to us. Let me explain:
Number one, Jesus is the Truth: In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Ephesians 4:21 also says that the truth is in Jesus. So, if Jesus is the truth, then the Holy Spirit would be “the Spirit of Jesus.” This would definitely coincide with what else we have seen that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was commissioned to do—to testify of Him (see John 15:26). Amen?
You see, the Holy Spirit’s primary objective is to glorify Jesus and make Him known throughout the world. He is here to bear witness of Jesus’ lordship and redemptive work. So, this is a major reason He is called “the Spirit of truth.”
So, in that definition the Lord gave me of truth, I saw how Jesus perfectly fit that description of the truth because Jesus was not hidden. He came from heaven to earth to show us the way to eternal life. So, He was not hidden, but came for all to see—and He came to make God known so that we could see the true nature and will of our Father. As Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Therefore, Jesus was not hidden and He most definitely made God known.
Number two, God’s Word is truth: In John chapter 17, Jesus was praying for His disciples and in the middle of His prayer, He states— “Sanctify them by your truth. Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). So, if God’s Holy Word is also the truth, then the Holy Spirit would be “the Spirit of the Word.” And this certainly does not contradict the fact that Jesus is also the truth because Jesus is the Word (see John 1:2). Therefore, when Jesus said that when He—the Spirit of truth—has come, He will guide you into all truth, you could say that He will guide you into all of God’s Word.
So, I saw how God’s Word also perfectly fits the description of truth that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart because the Bible certainly has not been hidden and it also makes God known to us. Yes, the Scriptures which contain God’s truth have stood the test of time and are readily available to whomever desires them. Not to mention, they also reveal to us God’s will, ways, and thoughts—making Him known. Amen?
But, as we’ve seen, we have yet another description of truth when Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit a couple of times as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17 & 16:13).
You see, the Holy Spirit came to bring the revelation of God the Father and God the Son. As Jesus said, He speaks not of Himself but came to glorify Him (Jesus). So, His intentions are certainly not hidden. He is here on the earth today to make the truth Himself known to us. Amen!
So, the Holy Spirit’s commission to “guide us into all truth” means what? It means to guide us into all of Jesus, as He is the Truth. We have seen that it also means to guide us into all of the Word, as His Word is truth as well. But one could also say that the “truth” that the Holy Spirit guides us into is the opposite of the “lie”—meaning, if we are walking in the truth, we are not walking in a lie. Therefore, the truth we are being guided into is the LIGHT itself. Yes, the Holy Spirit guides us into the light at all times. Amen?
WALKING IN THE LIGHT
The definition that the Lord gave me of truth is that it is that which is not hidden, right? So, the polar opposite of walking in truth is walking in darkness where things are most certainly hidden. The darkness is where the lies and deception occur. It is where people hide the truth—outside of the light.
And do you know who certainly walked in the light? Jesus! Jesus lived His life in the light—being the Light of the world himself. But do not be mistaken in thinking that He lived His life this way because He was the Son of God and had some advantage over us in this respect. No, for the last three years of His life on the earth, Jesus operated as a spiritually alive man who had the Holy Spirit guiding Him every step of the way.
One of my favorite examples of this is in the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead: In this familiar story located in John chapter 11, news was brought to Jesus that his friend Lazarus, whom He loved, was sick. Now if this would have been most Christians in Jesus’ shoes here, they would have immediately gone to heal their friend. But not Jesus! We are told that He stayed where He was another three days! And why did He do this? Well, I believe it was because the Holy Spirit simply led Him not to go the first three days, knowing that this was a scheme of the devil.
You see, Jesus just came from this area and, just before He left, the Jews sought to stone Him there. So, I personally believe the enemy was trying to set Jesus up to return out of an emotional response so that he could have Him stoned by those same Jews. But thank God for the Holy Spirit who led Him to stay where He was for a few more days and then, after Lazarus died from that sickness, released Him to return there.
You see, I can see those religious leaders who wanted to stone him just waiting around Lazarus’ home for those three days, waiting for Jesus to return because they just knew that if He was going to come heal anyone, He would certainly come heal His friend. But then, when Lazarus died, they left figuring Jesus was not going to come after all. And this was when Jesus came in and pulled off the biggest miracle of His ministry to date! Glory to God!
And did you know that Jesus explained precisely why He was “led” to not go to Bethany initially? When Jesus’ disciples asked him— “Why are we going back to Judea seeing that the Jews sought to stone you there?” (see verse 8)—Jesus responded in John 11:9-10 with— “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
So, His answer was basically a proverb about walking in the daytime versus walking in the nighttime, and the key to this parable is found in one “seeing the light of this world” and that light being “in us.” You see, daytime travel doesn’t guarantee a hazard-free trip, but the light does allow us to see the hazards coming and being led around them. At nighttime, it’s inevitable that we won’t see these hazards and will continuously stumble and even hurt ourselves.
Likewise, walking in the light of God’s direction and guidance doesn’t mean that there won’t be bumps in the road, but the alternative of “doing our own thing” (which is walking in darkness) is guaranteed to get us into trouble.
So, Jesus was obviously obeying the leading of His Father to return to Judea. He could see exactly what was going to take place, and He was going to walk in the light that His Father had given Him. Likewise, our decisions should not be based on whether or not we will be hurt in some way as a result of our actions, but we should discern God’s will and do it regardless of the cost.
Both the day & night that Jesus was talking about was a defined timeframe or season on the earth to do His work. In their time, the night was a time when no one could work—obviously because they did not have electricity. All of this indicates the short time we actually have to do His will on earth before we are gone.
Also, in both John 8:12 & 9:4, Jesus refers to those who follow Him and have the light in them as not walking in darkness. What this teaches me is that even though the night has indeed come, when Jesus is no longer physically with us, we can still avoid walking in the darkness of the night and walk in the light. And why? Because although the Light of the world ascended to heaven, we have been endued with power since Acts chapter two. Therefore, we have electricity now! Yes, we have power! And when we walk in this light of the world (i.e. Jesus) we can produce the fruit of the light, which includes being led and guided by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yes, church, when we are in the “dark” on something—say, you were lost traveling somewhere—we have THE Guide living on the inside of us—the One promised to lead and guide us to our destination. And when it comes to walking in the dark, what is particularly helpful is having a guide with a light. Amen? And that is what we have! The Guide with the light! Amen!
HOW TO BE GUIDED
Now unfortunately most Christians are like many of us men—we don’t like to ask for directions. We would rather waste an hour trying to find it ourselves rather than simply stop and ask someone who has been there for directions. Humility will acknowledge when it needs guidance.
So, it all goes back to asking for directions and inviting the Holy Spirit to lead & guide us into all truth. But another important truth that Jesus gives about the Holy Spirit’s ministry to direct us is found in the word “guide.”
Notice John 16:13 does not say—the Holy Spirit will “drive” us into all truth, or He will “drag” us into all truth. No, Jesus said He will “guide” us into all truth. To guide someone carries more of the idea to lead them. On top of that, you cannot guide something or someone that is not already moving!
Take for instance, a boat: You can turn the rudder one way or another, but if the boat is not already moving it will not make a difference in the direction that the boat goes. Yes, you can turn a rudder as far as it will turn, but if the boat never leaves the dock, it will remain pointed in the same direction. Likewise, we have to be “moving” in order for His guidance to become effective. What do I mean by “moving?” I mean that there must be cooperation on our part because some of the responsibility has been given to us. Say, for instance, if we desire to know the truth of God’s Word. Well, we can’t just sit back and do nothing and expect the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of His Word. No, we must seek the truth through reading, studying, and meditating God’s Word. When we get our “boat” started in that direction is when the “Rudder”—Holy Spirit—can guide us through teaching us and bringing things to our remembrance. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate study guide!
But this is what we must understand: The Holy Spirit’s job is to guide us, not to drag us. In other words, His ministry is to help us stay on God’s path, not to tell us every little step to take.
You see, He is not interested in “making” us do anything. He is not “the good cowboy”—driving and corralling His flock and making them go in the direction He desires. No, the Holy Spirit—similarly to Jesus’ proclamation of Himself because they are one and the same—is the Good Shepherd. Yes, like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is commissioned to lead us beside the still waters and into greener pastures. But, just as a shepherd does, He leads us, but we are responsible for following Him as He guides us.
This describes the Holy Spirit’s ministry toward us! His nature is to gently guide us in the direction that we need to go—whether that be leading us into a fruitful, abiding relationship with Jesus or leading us into increasing in our wisdom and understanding of the Word. He guides us into all the truth!
GUIDED FROM SAMARIA TO ETHIOPIA
This word for “guide” is also used in Acts chapter 8 in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. You remember the story: Philip was in Samaria preaching Christ in many villages and an angel spoke to him to go south, to the road which goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. And when he went, he saw this eunuch travelling in his chariot, reading the Book of Isaiah (vs. 28). So, as he saw him, the Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake the chariot.”
So, we pick up now in verse 30: “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ So, the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:30-35)
Philip’s question to the eunuch is very practical to what we are talking about today—for I have come across many Christians who do not feel like they understand what they are reading. Well, just as the eunuch answered Philip, I believe this is true for all of us as well— “How can we, unless someone guides us?”
You see, the reason many believers do not understand the Word like they can is because they have never taken advantage of this particular commission of the Holy Spirit—to guide us into all the Word. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding the Bible.
I have heard from countless Christians that after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Bible just came alive to them and they started getting more out of it. And this should not surprise us—for the Holy Spirit’s job is to teach us the Word and guide us through the truth of His Word. Amen!
So, as we’ve said, being guided into all truth would be (and is) being guided in all the Word of God, based on John 17:17. Which we know is at least part of what Jesus was saying here because how these verses parallel what we saw in part two of this series when we learned that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.
So, when we read our Bible, we don’t have to do it alone. We ought to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us throughout our reading and studies—inviting Him to unfold the truth that is behind every passage of Scripture. Amen.
For example, we wake up in the morning, get our cup of coffee, and sit to read, but before we do, we might say, “Good morning, Holy Spirit! Thank You for being my teacher, and I thank you one of your assignments in my life is to guide me into all truth. Well, Your Word is truth. So, as I read Your Word—Your Truth—this morning, I thank you for guiding me. YOU are my study guide! Amen!”
Again, would it make any sense for me to expect the Holy Spirit to lead me through the truths contained in the Bible if I never occasionally read my Bible? No, if I want to capture a spirit of wisdom and revelation of God through His Word, then I must first seek to grow in knowledge which comes through reading and studying (Ephesians 1:17). While certainly He could reveal the truth to us through some sort of miraculous revelation if we were in a situation where the Word of truth was not readily available to us, this is not the common way He will reveal His Word to us. I would be foolish to expect God to instruct me this way if I have the Word of God sitting on my nightstand collecting dust because I never take the time to read it. No, in order for me to take advantage of this ministry of the Holy Spirit, I must give Him something to work with. I must begin reading, studying, and meditating the Holy Scriptures. Then, and only then, will I be in position for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the Bible’s books, chapters, and verses and into all the truth contained in them.
But there is also another lesson regarding being guided by the Holy Spirit in the account we are looking at: How was Philip guided by the Spirit to have this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. It began as Philip was busy about his Father’s business.
We see earlier in this chapter, as Saul was persecuting the church and the saints were scattered, that Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ to them (verse 4-5). So, what was Philip doing here? Obeying the mandate given to all of the Lord’s disciples in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
So, let me ask you a question—when is it ever appropriate for a Christian to not do this? Never! If Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, then it is always appropriate to share the good news with every person.
And this is a problem so many of God’s children have: They are waiting on God when, in fact, God is waiting on them! God has already told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation! God has already told us to lay hands on the sick and they will recover! God has already told us to do all of these things, yet the majority of the church is sitting on their hands waiting for a sign from God to begin doing these things. Well, God has already spoken because it is already written!
You see, God is a God of the green light, not the red light! What do I mean by that? I mean, He is not a God who wants us sitting at that proverbial red light, waiting on Him to turn the light green for us. No, He wants us moving on the green light already given to us in His Word while being open to the red lights that the Holy Spirit might give us in certain situations. This is a big difference in mentalities.
For example, if Jesus healed them all, then that ought to tell us that God certainly is not going to be leading us to not pray for the majority of sick people that come across our path. No, it should actually be a rare thing that the Spirit not lead us to pray for someone who is sick and ailing! The Spirit and the Word agree! So, if you are consistently being “led” to not pray for someone who is sick, then I question what you are being “led” by—because it is not God’s Spirit.
My heart is not to condemn in saying these things. It is just my observation that we, as the church, are missing our “God moments.” We are passing by those that are lame like the man at the gate called beautiful, and are denying them their moment to receive God’s will for their life. And at the same time, we are denying God’s moment to be glorified! My brothers and sisters, we need to get off our hands and start putting those hands on people!
Now not only was Philip preaching the gospel and doing his part in fulfilling the Great Commission, but when the angel spoke to him and told him to go even further south to the “deserted place,” he went. It was then that the Holy Spirit gave him the reason for this particular assignment and spoke to him about overtaking the eunuch’s chariot.
So, here’s my point: What if Philip would have still been in Jerusalem hiding out in a house, and not doing what Jesus had already commissioned us to do? Further, what if, even though he had gone to Samaria, he hadn’t heeded the instructions of the angel of the Lord and not gone down to the desert? Well, I can all but guarantee you that he would have not heard “the Spirit said” in verse 29.
So, I believe this shows us how the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth—because if Philip would not have already been moving, the Holy Spirit would have not been able to guide him to minister to this eunuch. Amen?
DON’T BE MULISH!
But even though this is how God has planned to lead us, many believers will still make statements like, “If God wants me to do that, He is going to have to speak to me through a burning bush!” or “God is going to have write in the clouds what He wants me to do.” When Christians have that kind of attitude, they are just being “mulish.”
What do I mean by “mulish?” Well, when you think of a mule, what do you think of? Here is the one word most of you probably thought of—stubborn! A mule oftentimes has to be motivated to move through being yanked around or beaten because of this stubborn nature they are known for. I can assure you, this is not how God wants His children to be led. I can guarantee you that you are not going to guide a mule if its being stubborn.
In Psalm 32:8-9 the Lord says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. So do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they would not come near you.” Here God is telling us that He does not want us to be “bit & bridle” Christians. No, He desires to lead us without all these things that “make us” be guided by Him. No, we should not be like a horse or a mule that has no understanding of what its master is leading it to do unless it gets its head jerked around with a bit and bridle.
Notice that He promised to guide us, but it was not with His hand, but with His eye. Why do I make this point? It is because, again, guidance is not something God is going to do for us. We have to be moving.
In Psalm 16:7 David says, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” The King James Version actually translates the word “heart” as “reins” here. This is interesting because it is as if David were saying that he was like a horse and God was steering him through the “reins of his heart.”
This is how God desires us to be: “rein-trained.” He does not want us to require an audible voice or some other spectacular experience before we will do what He is telling us to do. He wants us to be willing to move in the direction that His slightest tug on the reins of our heart will direct us to do. And if that was His perfect will for the Old Testament believer, how much more will it be His will for the New Testament believer!?! We have the “Jockey” (i.e. The Holy Spirit) on the inside of us and He is called to tug on the reins of our heart, leading and guiding us into the direction we should go! Hallelujah! God wants us to be like the “rein-trained” race horse which does not need to be forced to turn this way and that, but will, with just the slightest nudge of the reins, turn in the direction that its jockey desires.
Our job is to move in the direction of that which seems good to us and be sensitive to the Spirit’s slight and gentle nudges to change courses. But, again, we must be moving! Unlike the mule that will not move until it is made to, we need to follow what seems good to us, trusting that as we are walking in fellowship with the Lord and are doing things that are helpful and beneficial to others, that He is ordering our steps.
As I have said time and time again: In order to receive God’s specific direction for your life, you first need to follow His general direction for all of our lives. What I mean by this is that God has already told us to do many things which are contained in His Word. So, before we seek more specific direction from God through His Spirit, we need to act on the general will of God found in the Scriptures.
WHAT IF I MISS GOD?
You see, I have grown up in the circles where the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit and hearing from God has been greatly emphasized. And while certainly being led by the Spirit and doing what God tells us to do are two of the most important things we can learn, there is a tendency that comes from embracing these truths that must be avoided.
You see, oftentimes when someone gets the revelation of the importance of only doing what God leads or tells them to do, there is a fear that creeps in of “missing God.” What I mean is that when they begin to see that God has a perfect will for them and that He wants to lead them along His path for their life, many do not move forward until they know that they have heard from God. Generally, this happens because they fear getting out of His will and doing something that will derail His plan for their life. Therefore, the reason for this is usually not noble, but is motivated by the fear of missing His plan for their lives.
But what we need to understand is that, even if we make a mistake, God is more than able to get us back on the path He has for our lives. A very close friend of ours once had this concern about “missing God.” She had a decision before her and was seeking God for His direction but did not want to do anything that would derail her from His plan and purpose for her life. So as she expressed her concern to Him, He said to her, “If you miss Me, I know where to find you.” In other words, the Lord was settling that concern by letting her know that it is not the end of the world if she made the wrong decision because God, who alone is wise, is able to work all things together for our good and turn any mistake into a miracle.
My friends, waiting on God’s direction has never been His plan for His children! While He has always desired to lead us and tell us what to do and where to go, His intention is not for us to sit still- waiting for Him to tell us what, when, where, etc. His intention is for us to act on the direction that He has already revealed to us through His Word. He has already told us to do many things in the Bible, and as we walk in the light of what He has already revealed, He will guide us along the way.
So, in conclusion, the Holy Spirit’s job is to guide us into all truth—which includes all of the Word (for His Word is truth), all of who Jesus is (for Jesus Himself is also the truth), and also everything else that we need His help in guiding us into. He is our Guide and He has the light that we need! Let’s begin moving—doing our Father’s business—and we can expect the Spirit to guide us into God’s good, perfect, and acceptable will. Amen!
So let’s continue our look at the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives today by studying another aspect of what He has been commissioned to do:
In a quick review, we have been looking at the things that the Lord Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would do for us in John chapters 14-16. Thus far, we have seen that He will abide with us forever, teach us concerning all things, and remind us of the things that the Lord has already spoken to us—all of these being mentioned by our Messiah in chapter 14.
Last week, we moved into chapter 15, and saw that another thing that the Holy Spirit has been specifically assigned to do is to testify of Jesus.
We saw in verses 18-25 how Jesus warned His disciples of the hatred they would incur from the world and we saw just how important it is to be prepared for tough times like this. But we saw that the truth is—the more diligently we are seeking His kingdom, the more Satan will try and oppose us, and oftentimes this occurs through people—for he will stir up people to hate us, to ridicule us, and to simply discourage us.
But then we looked at what Jesus went on to promise them on the heels of these warnings in verse 26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
So, we saw how the Holy Ghost has been commissioned to testify of Jesus, and we saw how the Greek word used to translate “testify” here is the word where we get “martyr” from—which is someone who suffers or is even killed for their “testimony.” So, this word literally describes “being a witness, to bear witness, or to give a testimony.”
And we learned that He does not necessarily do this through us because of what Jesus went on to say in verse 27 when He said, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” We saw how the words “bear witness” in this verse come from the exact same Greek word that was used in verse 26 to describe the Holy Spirit “testify(ing)” of Him. Therefore, we cannot say that what Jesus was saying in verse 26 is that the Holy Spirit witnesses of Jesus through us because in the next breath, Jesus said, “and you also will bear witness…” Therefore, we learned that we are bearing witness of Jesus through our words, actions, lifestyle, etc., but the Holy Spirit is also somehow bearing witness of Him as well. So, I would submit to you that the Holy Spirit is not just bearing witness through us; he is bearing witness to us.
So, we asked the question—How? How is He doing this? Then, understanding that the apostle John loved to use this word martyreo, we looked over at John 1:6-8 and saw how he used it in relation to John the Baptist—identifying Jesus’ forerunner with the same commission as the One who would follow Him (i.e. the Holy Spirit). And we learned that the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus just like John the Baptist did: He was sent from the Father to serve as a witness of the Light of the world—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not here to be the Light Himself, but is on the earth to bear witness and testify of Jesus, that we might believe on Him. Amen.
So, we then looked at how we “testify” of Jesus through both our witnessing to people and our giving our testimony to people. And we learned that there are a lot of lessons in how the Holy Spirit does this that we can learn from ourselves as we testify of the Lord. And one particular thing we learned from Romans chapter one is that the Lord is the One who reveals to the world the fact that God is against sin and of the judgment to come—not us. Our job is to preach the gospel and what this glorious salvation has done in us, and then the Holy Spirit reveals the rest. Which leads me to my next point:
TO CONVICT THE WORLD
The next thing that the Lord Jesus shows us that the Holy Spirit is commissioned to do is to “convict”: So now, let’s continue this teaching by looking ahead to John 16:7-11.
Now if you recall, Jesus had just shown His disciples how important us having the Holy Spirit is by saying, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” So, having the Holy Spirit provides us with an advantage even over having the Lord Jesus Christ here with us in the flesh! Amen. But then notice what Jesus immediately says after this: In verses 8-11, Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Now let me begin by dispelling a couple of popular belief systems that people have of these verses and about the workings of the Holy Spirit in general:
Notice, first of all, that Jesus said, “And when He has come (And He most certainly has come!), He will convict the world…” Convict who? “The world.” So, who is it that the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment? The world! And we know that when Jesus refers to the world here, He is certainly including unbelievers because, in verse 9, when He goes on to explain why He will convict the world of these three things, He says, “of sin, because they do not believe in Me.” Therefore, this is certainly talking about those of the world who have not yet believed on Jesus. However, I also see it as including those who are in the world but not of the world as well (i.e. believers) because in verse 10 He says, “of righteousness, because I go to the Father and you see Me no more.” (We will deal with how the Holy Spirit performs this in our lives in the latter part of this teaching)
So, this particular commission of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8-11 is what He is assigned to do for everyone living in the world, and not necessarily just for God’s children. This is important to understand, particularly as it pertains to the sin portion, because how many of us have heard how the Holy Spirit “convicted” one of our brothers & sisters in Christ of their sin—taking them to the woodshed and made them feel horrible for what they did wrong—and they used these very verses to substantiate it?
Well, I’m here to tell you that what a lot of Christians say is the Holy Spirit is not the Holy Spirit—which leads me to point number two: Part of the reason people misunderstand the workings of the Holy Spirit is because of this word we see in the King James version— “convict.”
You see, in our modern-day terminology, the word “convict” has more of a negative tone to it. To us, the word “convict” paints the picture of a courtroom and carries the idea of some judge who is looking down on the guilty and condemning them for their wrongdoing. And religion certainly has not helped this perception of conviction either: It has painted the picture that God is looking down on us with a lightning bolt in His hand ready to strike us down at any moment for our sinful ways. So, therefore, a good portion of the Church teaches that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to constantly hound us—condemning us for all our various faults and shortcomings. Saints, this is not what the Holy Spirit is commissioned to do!
So, what does the word “convict” actually mean? The Greek word translated as “convict” carries more of the idea to “convince or to prove” than it does to “condemn.” In fact, the Greek word that the apostle John used here literally means “to bring something to light, and thus to expose it.” So, don’t get stuck on the word “convict” and let that word paint a negative picture of the Holy Spirit’s dealings with the world.
But the fact is (as we’ve made the point of already), Jesus specifically said that the Holy Spirit’s assignment to “convict” of sin is aimed at the world, and not at the church. In other words, the Holy Spirit’s job of convicting, convincing, and simply bringing to light one’s sinful condition is specifically targeting unbelievers.
Which brings up an important point—Not only is His ministry to convict of sin not aimed at us but to the world, this ministry to convict of sin is His job to perform and not ours.
HOLY GHOST JR.
Now allow me to take a little rabbit trail here concerning this: It is unfortunate, but there have been many believers that think that this is their ministry—to bring people under conviction. No, this is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours.
You see, the Bible does not call us “convicters”; it simply calls us witnesses (see John 15:27 & Acts 1:8). And there is a big difference between someone who simply witnesses and someone who does the convicting.
You see, a witness is not the judge or the jury. A witness just simply testifies of what they have seen, heard, or experienced. And just as sometimes a witness is needed to convict a lawbreaker in a court of law, a witness is needed to open the door for the Holy Spirit to convict an unbeliever of their sin in the kingdom of God. We, as witnesses, are not to point our finger at them; we are just to tell people what we’ve experienced and then let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.
Have you ever noticed that when you have realized someone has missed it in some area and then you, in your zeal, call them out on their sin, that you rarely get the desired response? Yes, people do not usually respond well to us when we try and do the convicting. However, when we take the humble approach of simply testifying to what we’ve seen and experienced in our own life, we will get more “God-results.”
Second Timothy chapter two, gives us a good example of this: In Second Timothy 2:22-26, the apostle Paul says to Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
First of all, notice how he first tells Timothy what he should “flee & pursue” Why is this important? Because the first part of being a good witness is to walk in the truth ourselves. And not just because we ought to avoid hypocrisy and ruin our witness, but because our lifestyle and behavior is also what sheds light on the darkness that the world walks in.
Have you ever noticed how the world around us just seems to be convicted from being in our presence? Now we might not have noticed that if we are walking like the world ourselves, but if we have been pursuing the things of God and we are carriers of God’s presence because our relationship with Him is where it needs to be, the ungodly around us will get convicted simply from being in our presence—and here’s the kicker: without us even saying a word. Therefore, by being Christ’s witness simply by our example, the Holy Spirit is able to fulfill His commission to convict.
Now I will say that this does not always mean that the person under conviction will have a repentant reaction. In fact, in most of these cases, the person under conviction will more than likely have a negative response by resenting, hating, or even persecuting us. But that is just the response you get when letting your light shine before men: You will have both the moths & the roaches—the “moths” being those who come to the light and the “roaches” being those who run from the light. And unfortunately, we live the woods of the world, where there are many more roaches than there are moths.
Then Paul goes on to show us that we need to avoid disputes and quarrels because all they generally do is generate strife. Why? Because with the vast majority of people, they do not dispute to find the truth, but to defend the truth they think they know. So, arguing and debating is generally fruitless and actually anti-productive according to Paul.
But notice how he goes on to describe that there is a place for correcting others, but just that we should do it “in humility.” For example, when we are tempted to correct & convict someone else for something and we are certain they are doing wrong, it is always a good idea to broach the subject in humility. How? By instead of correcting them for what they are doing wrong, be a witness of what the Lord has shown you. Say, for example, you see someone having the wrong attitude about something. While you might be tempted to just correct their “stinkin’ thinkin’,” you can give them an example of how you yourself once did what they are currently doing and then share with them how the Lord corrected you. This takes that “holier than thou” perception of you out of the picture and enables them to see more clearly how they need to respond like you did. Not to mention, it opens the door to the Holy Spirit to validate in their heart the truth that you gave witness to. We see this in the remainder of these verses in Second Timothy.
Paul went on to say, “if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” So, what we see here is that it begins with us being a witness, and then what follows is God—in the Person of the Holy Spirit, I might add—who helps the person to repent, know the truth, and come to their senses to escape the snare of the devil. Amen!
Again, we cannot make a person repent. We cannot make someone come to know the truth. And we cannot bring them to their senses. This is the Holy Ghost’s job! And for us to try and do this ourselves is just pride—thinking we can do His job for Him.
You see, some people, in their zeal, have gone beyond the witness stand and tried to bring people under conviction themselves. This not only can frustrate the witness but it can drive the people we are trying to convict away from God. We need to eliminate this “Holy Ghost Jr.” mentality of trying to convict people of their sins ourselves and let the Holy Spirit do His job. Again, He’s the Judge who convicts; we are simply the witnesses—and by doing our part of being Christ’s witness, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to do His part of being Christ’s convicter! Don’t leave the witness stand!
SIN, RIGHTEOUSNESS, & JUDGMENT
So, what is the Holy Spirit convicting the world of? Well, Jesus said in verse 8 that He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. And I am so glad that He did not just leave it up to us to figure out how and why He does this. As we’ve seen, Jesus went on in verses 9-11 and answered those questions for us.
Notice again that Jesus said, “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Now I do not want to spend too much time here explaining these three particular things that Jesus said He would convict the world of, but would rather focus on His commission to convict in general. I will say, however, that in meditating what Jesus was saying through these three examples, I have seen how Jesus covered His three basic areas of conviction: The Holy Spirit convicts the world of what is wrong (i.e. sin), what is right (i.e. righteousness), and last but not least, He convicts the world of the outcome of doing what is wrong or right (i.e. judgment).
But again, I am so thankful that Jesus did not end with verse 8, but went on to explain what He meant by saying that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of “sin, righteousness, and judgment.”
First of all, in verse 9, He said, “of sin, (Why?) because they do not believe in Me.”
You see, the Holy Spirit is not necessarily convicting the world of specific, individual sins. Jesus said here that the real issue is the sin of unbelief—that they do not believe on Jesus. So, this is what the Holy Spirit targets in the unbeliever—the fact that they do not believe on the Way, the Truth, and the Life Himself, which is at the root of all of the sinful fruit they produce in their lives. Now we, on the other hand, like to convict the sinner of his or her specific sins. Yes, some Christians like to deal with people’s individual sins and heap condemnation on them for them. But not so with the Holy Spirit. He likes to deal with the root and not the fruit.
You see, if we just get an unbeliever to clean his or her act up a bit, that will not change their ultimate destiny. They must believe on Jesus! They must put their faith in His deeds, not simply change their deeds. There are many people who darken the doors of churches and call themselves Christians who are no better off than the rankest sinner on the streets. We must be born again—and that happens through believing on Jesus.
Now when one does believe on Jesus in their hearts, it will certainly produce a change of fruit in their life. Yes, when the root system has genuinely been changed, the fruit will wind up being different. But simply picking off some of the bad fruit that we have on our branches does not change the type of tree we are. That is my point.
Then in verse 10, Jesus said, “of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you see Me no more.”
So, the Holy Spirit also convicts the world of righteousness—or you could say, “rightness.” (Be careful not to read into the meaning of this word by one definition that you have of it). The fact is, there are two kinds of righteousness—there is the righteousness that we receive by faith when we are born again, but there are also the righteous deeds that are what are “right” and in agreement with God’s standards. And I believe if we consider why Jesus said the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness here, we will see what He meant.
You see, the reason the Holy Spirit needs to convict the world of “righteousness” is because Jesus has gone to His Father and we do not have Him physically with us any longer. In other words, since Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the throne of His Father and we do not have Him on the earth with us any longer to show us what is “right in God’s sight,” the Holy Spirit’s job is to show us what is “righteous.” Amen.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit does not simply reveal “sin” and point out the negatives; no, He is here to reveal to us what is right and in agreement with God’s standards! Thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit!
And finally, in verse 11, the Holy Spirit is said to convict the world “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Now this is something that the Universal Church does not like to address, but the fact is, there is a judgment to come. And the Bible actually teaches us that eternal judgment is one of the foundational teachings of the New Testament (see Hebrews 6:1-2). So, the Holy Spirit is here to convict the world of this judgment.
Now unfortunately, people don’t tend to receive the conviction of this until they are on their death bed. But the fact is, the Holy Spirit is here to warn the world of this impending judgment. I believe there are a couple of reasons why the Holy Spirit is not able to “convince” them of Judgment Day: For one, I believe it is because we are not giving witness to it. In other words, it is not on our radar; therefore, how can we expect it to be on theirs? Secondly, I don’t believe that they are open to it until they are faced with death—whether that be at a funeral of someone else or as they know they are faced with death themselves.
And why does Jesus say His Spirit is convicting the world of judgment? It is because the ruler of this world is judged. So, I would explain it this way: Because Satan—the ruler of this world has been judged, all of those who choose to follow and serve him are under the same judgment that He is. Now Satan has already been judged and the verdict has been declared. All that is left now is the execution of that sentence, which will occur at Jesus’ Second Coming. And all of those who reject Christ’s Lordship now in this life will be subject to the same sentence that Satan has.
So, this is what the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of. He is ever in the process of convincing those in this world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Yes, He convicts them of sin because they have not believed on the One who died as payment for their sin. He convicts them of righteousness because Jesus is not here to display the way of righteousness to them. And He convicts them of judgment because the penalty of rejecting Jesus and His righteousness is the same penalty as that of the ruler of this world.
CONVICTION VS. CONDEMNATION
Now does this mean that the Holy Spirit is not dealing with us—God’s children—as well? Since Jesus said here that the Holy Spirit is doing this commission of convicting & convincing to the world, does that mean that He does not show us things as well? I do not believe so.
No, just because Jesus only addressed “the world” as being subject to the Holy Spirit’s conviction here, does not mean that He does not fulfill this in a certain measure to the Church. We are in the world as well, just not of the world. I for one am thankful for all of the times that the Holy Spirit has shown me when I am missing it and what I ought to be doing.
I have seen many in the Church today reject even the notion of God correcting us or pointing out our mistakes because they see it as a negative thing. But the truth is, we all do stupid things and we all need correction from time to time. So, who better to provide us with all of the instruction, correction, and direction that we so desperately need than the Holy Spirit?
Again, people take correction as such a negative thing. But this particular commission of the Holy Spirit is not a negative ministry; it is a positive ministry! He is an exhorter and an encourager, not a “beat ‘em down in the dumps” condemner (see Romans 8:1&34)! While He certainly does “convict” us when we do something wrong in the sense that He simply brings it to our attention, He does it in order to teach and train us to become more like Jesus in our attitudes and conduct, and not to make us feel bad. Church, He is a convicter, and not a condemner!
The question that begs to be answered then is: What is the difference between conviction and condemnation? Understanding the difference between these two is vital to being able to discern the difference between what comes from God, Satan, and even us.
Earlier in my walk with the Lord, He taught me how to tell the difference between these two: He said, “Conviction brings a state of hope; Condemnation brings a state of hopelessness.” What this means is that when you just feel bad over what you did and are basically void of any hope of ever getting back on track—then rest assured, what you are experiencing is condemnation and not conviction.
You see, condemnation only yields death. It does nothing but beat you over the head for the mess you are in and does nothing to help you out. It will lay on you such a heavy burden, but not help you lift it even in the least. Condemnation will even try and ultimately cause you to despair of life in general. In other words, it will not stop with making you feel hopeless with your individual mistake. It will end up trying to make you feel hopeless about your Christian walk altogether. Condemnation is a quitter! So, if you are ever being tempted to entertain the thoughts of quitting, know that condemnation is in there somewhere.
On the other hand, when you are receiving the conviction of the Holy Spirit, you might feel remorse, but it won’t be the kind of hopeless, guilt-infested sorrow that the world brings. You will sense hope to overcome, hope for change, and hope for forgiveness!
The way I personally can discern the conviction of the Holy Spirit is that I always end up feeling better after I receive it. During those times (which are more than I would likeJ), I feel like I can genuinely say to the Holy Spirit, “Thank you sir! May I have another!?!” His loving and gracious rebukes do not make me feel like a failure. Instead they infuse me with a hope for repentance and also provide the way of escape at the same time (i.e. the “how to” in regards to repentance).
But my point is that the Holy Spirit’s commission to convict is a positive, life-giving commission and not something that we should dread. His is a commission of conviction, not condemnation! Yes, church, we must know that the Holy Spirit never, ever condemns us! So, if we ever feel even a hint of condemnation over something that we did then we should eliminate the Holy Spirit from being a possible suspect, which would leave Satan or ourselves as the only two possible suspects.
HOW THE HOLY GHOST CONVINCES US
So, in conclusion, let’s look at some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit will also “convince” us of things:
Well, as we have seen, when we sin and fall short of the glory of God, the Holy Spirit does not beat us up over it, but He simply brings to light what we need to see and then gently encourages us to get back up and believe on Jesus. You see, just as He would convict the world of sin because they did not believe on Jesus, likewise, He likes to draw us back to that place of believing on Jesus—which is at the root of all obedience and disobedience.
You see, all sin is a result of not believing on Jesus. What do I mean by that? Well, from a positional sense, if we believe on Jesus, we have no sin. Sin has been dealt with. It has been eradicated. The just (those justified and declared righteous) live by faith! But even from a practical and experiential sense, all sinful behavior is simply the fruit of not believing on Him. Let me explain: if I perhaps stole something, why did I do that? It is because I did not “trust” that Jesus could meet my need or give me the contentment that I need. Isn’t this what occurred with David and Bathsheba? After David’s “sin,” the Lord reminded him of all He had blessed him with, and if that would not have been enough, He would have given him even more (see Second Samuel 12:8). So, in essence, David did not believe in the goodness of God, which resulted in him trying to take something that was forbidden.
Well, the truth is that every act of disobedience is somehow, someway not believing on the Lord. So, a lack of faith in the grace & goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ is at the root of all sin.
But the Holy Spirit does not just convict us of the ways that we miss it; He also is commissioned to convince and persuade us of other things pertaining to God’s righteousness. In other words, He will show us what we ought to do—what is right and in agreement with God’s standards.
And again, this is the difference with conviction: It does not put the attention on what we shouldn’t have done, but will point us to what needs to be done. For example, it will not beat us up for the mistake we already made, but will show us what to do now that we’ve already done it. Amen!
Do you remember that Christian fad from a decade or so ago where everyone was wearing those rubber bracelets that said W.W.J.D—standing for “What Would Jesus Do”? Well, I’m here to tell you that we have something other than a bracelet to wear on our flesh, reminding us of what Jesus would do; we have Someone living in our heart who will remind us of what the righteous thing to do is in every situation. Amen!
In fact, the Bible tells us that He was sent to convince and prove to us that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16), of God’s love for us (Romans 5:5), and that God’s promises will come to pass (Ephesians 1:13-14 & 2 Corinthians 1:20-22). The terminology may differ in these verses, but they all denote the same thing as “convict.” Yes, the Holy Spirit wants us to be convinced of His goodness.
So, in conclusion, the Holy Spirit is here to convict the world. And again, this is His assignment, not ours. Let’s do our job of being witnesses and not leave the stand to try to do the Holy Spirit’s job. And as we have learned, the good news is that if we just be the witnesses that we are called to be, we can help the Holy Spirit do the convicting that He is called to do. Amen?
So today, let’s continue our look at the Holy Spirit by looking at what His ministry is towards us. We have titled this series “The Commission of the Holy Spirit” because we are learning what is assigned to do on our behalf.
So, we have been looking at the things that the Lord Jesus said that He would do for us in John chapters 14-16. And we have seen that He will, first of all, abide with us forever. That’s a big one because we must first know that He will always be with us in order to know that all of the other ministries that He will perform in our lives will always be there as well.
So, in John 14:25&26, we saw that the Holy Spirit is specifically commissioned to teach us all things. And we learned that all of the things that the Holy Spirit wound up teaching Jesus’ disciples were the things that we have recorded in the Epistles of the New Testament. So, we learned that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things is by teaching us out of our New Covenant doctrine contained in the Epistles. But we also learned that the Holy Spirit will also teach us through the wrong teaching that is out there. This is why we can be confident that we will always know the truth—because the Holy Spirit is always there to teach us.
But then we learned last week that not only will the Holy Spirit teach us new covenant things, but He will also remind us of the things that the Lord already spoke to us. Now we learned that this can apply towards the things recorded in the four Gospels—which obviously contain many of the things that the Holy Spirit reminded the disciples of after Jesus’ departure. Therefore, the Holy Spirit reminds us by putting in our hearts the things that He had reminded Jesus’ disciples of. But we also saw that the Holy Spirit reminds us of other things—such as, the things that the Lord had spoken to us in the past.
We looked at some examples of these “rhema reminders” and saw how they serve various purposes: On one account, they put a sword in our hand when we are faced with spiritual warfare. In other words, these rhema’s are our offensive weapon against the wiles of the devil. But we also saw that there are other benefits to these Holy Ghost reminders. The apostle Peter said that they stir up our pure minds, and the apostle Paul said that they further establish those things in our hearts. Therefore, we saw that reminders do three things: Number one, they equip us in times of need—putting a sword in our hands to combat thoughts, fears, and temptations with. Number two, they “cement” those truths in our heart—further establishing them in us. And number three, they “stir up” those truths in our mind—thus making them pure & fresh.
So, you see, we not only have the Holy Spirit here to abide with us forever, to teach us all things, but we also have Him here to remind us of the things He has already spoken to us.
Now let’s move on to John chapter 15 and see something else that Jesus said the Holy Spirit has been commissioned to do…
Beginning in verse 18, Jesus began to warn His disciples of the persecution they would endure after His departure by saying, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”
You know, it is important to be prepared for tough times like this. Many times, when we endure persecution and go through trials & tribulations, the enemy of our soul likes to deceive us into thinking everything from “what’s wrong with me that I’m going through this” to “I must have missed God and lost His favor in my life.” Yes, the accuser of the brethren will fill our minds with the lies that God is through with us, that He doesn’t love us, or we are too far removed from His salvation. All of these are LIES, church!
The fact is, if we are living for God, we will have more opposition than we would have if we weren’t. The truth is that the more diligently we are seeking His kingdom, the more he will try and oppose us. And oftentimes this occurs through people—for he will stir up people to hate us, to ridicule us, and to simply discourage us.
So, this is why Jesus was preparing His disciples for the persecution that they would go through after He was gone. But I love what Jesus goes on to promise them in verse 26: “But when the Helper (i.e. the Parakletos) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
Now it is important to note that even though Jesus said these things in the future tense, they are no longer to be understood as something yet to come—for He has already come! Yes, in Acts chapter two, the Holy Spirit has come, He was sent to us by our Heavenly Father and has proceeded from Him. Therefore, He is here to testify of Jesus! So, we see here that one of His jobs is to “testify” of Jesus!
Now the Greek word used to translate “testify” here is the word where we get “martyr” from—which is someone who suffers or is even killed for their “testimony.” This word literally describes “being a witness, to bear witness, or to give a testimony.”
So, how does the Holy Spirit do this? How does He testify of Jesus? Well, one might think that He does that through us somehow—either by giving us the words, the gifts, etc. that bear witness of Jesus. But notice what Jesus said in verse 27: He went on to say, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” The words “bear witness” in this verse come from the exact same Greek word that was used in verse 26 to describe the Holy Spirit “testify(ing)” of Him. Therefore, I don’t believe we can say that what Jesus was saying in verse 26 is that the Holy Spirit witnesses of Jesus through us because in the next breath, Jesus said, “and you also will bear witness…”
So, yes, we are bearing witness of Jesus through our words, actions, lifestyle, etc., but the Holy Spirit is also somehow bearing witness of Him as well. So, I would submit to you that the Holy Spirit is not just bearing witness through us; he is bearing witness to us. Then the question I ask is—How? How is He doing this?
BEARING WITNESS OF THE LIGHT
Well, let’s look at another passage of Scripture that uses this word in order to illustrate it, and it is found in the Gospel of John as well. (In fact, this word used for “testify or bear witness” is obviously a loved word by the apostle John. He uses it in 31 verses in his gospel!)
And in this one found in John 1:6-8, we have what I believe to be a great description of the attitude that the Holy Spirit has: John says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”
The word martyreo is used a couple of times in these verses, but what I want you to notice is how John the Baptist’s commission is similar to that of the Holy Spirit’s: In verse 7, we are told that he “came for a witness,” and did you know that this is why the Holy Spirit came? To be a witness according to John 15:26. A witness of what?
The apostle John goes on to say that John the Baptist came “to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.” So, like John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit was also sent here to testify of Jesus—the True Light of the world—in order that all might believe through on Him.
And so, this is what we need to understand that the Holy Spirit does too. He always points us to the Light! When it comes to unbelievers, He seeks to draw them to the Light and out of the darkness they are living in. But He also does this with us: When we are walking in darkness, whether that be that we are believing something that is wrong or we are making poor choices, He will point us back to Jesus! Praise God!
Then notice how the apostle John goes on to say in verse 8 regarding Jesus’ forerunner, “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” So, we are clearly told here that John the Baptist was not that Light, and have you ever noticed how John made sure to tell the people he preached to that the One who was to come after him was mightier than he, etc.? So, John was constantly pointing people (i.e. testifying) to Jesus—bearing witness of the True Light.
Church, this is what the Holy Spirit does as well. Just as John the Baptist was not the Light himself, we likewise need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not the Light either. His job is to simply point us to the Light, and to testify of Him.
You see, while we certainly need to learn about the Holy Spirit and His ministry in our lives, we still need to maintain the mentality that it is all about Jesus. This is what HE (the Holy Spirit) would tell us. But again, this obviously does not mean that we never talk about the Holy Spirit; it just means that we need to always remember that Jesus is the Light that we should be desiring to see through it all. Amen?
So, this is exactly how the Holy Spirit testifies: He was sent from the Father to serve as a witness of the Light of the world—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not here to be the Light Himself, but is on the earth to bear witness and testify of Jesus, that we might believe on Him. Amen.
HOW HE WITNESSES
So, let’s look at this word and its possible meanings to help us to understand how the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus—for there are two major functions of our lives that are enveloped in this word: the word “witness” and the word “testimony.” And we are to both do and possess them both:
The first one that we’ve seen this word martyreo means is to give witness or to bear witness. So, let’s consider how we “witness.” When I witness to unbelievers, what should my primary intention be? To share Jesus with them and point them to His goodness & grace.
I know there are some out there that see “witnessing” as an opportunity to tell people what low-down, dirty sinners they are. You’ve probably heard of or seen these groups that will hit the streets preaching hell, fire, and damnation messages—telling people they are sinners and are going to hell. And if you go to them and ask what they are doing, they might say, “We are preaching the gospel!” Well, gospel means good news, not bad news—and telling people they are lost sinners who are going to hell does not contain any good news.
No, saints, it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance, not telling them how bad they are. In other words, what people need to hear is the solution to their dilemma, and not just what their current situation is. As the old proverb states—you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. In other words, you will win more people with the good news than you will with bad news. It works this way in everything.
Now, yes, some people are only going to respond through fear, but in my experience, most people respond better to love, goodness, kindness, etc. The reason for this is because fear simply changes the borders and boundaries, but it doesn’t change the heart. In other words, while hearing only the consequences might produce some outward conformity, hearing the gospel will produce more of a willing obedience. Amen.
So, when it comes to witnessing, we need to seek to point people to the good news, to salvation, and to Jesus Himself. This is what people need to hear.
And this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does! He will share God’s goodness with folks! He will convey God’s extraordinary kindness to both us and the world! Church, there is no better witness than the Holy Witness Himself!
I can give you example after example of how the Holy Spirit does this—like just the other day, I was in the woods and while I was seeking to avoid any poison ivy, looking for those three leaves, the Holy Spirit just gently helped me to notice how there are a lot of plants that grow all around us that have three leaves. And what He showed me was how even nature teaches us of the Trinity in that we have all of these plants that have three leaves on one plant. Glory!
You know, this is what Saint Patrick was known for doing in what we know today to be Ireland—when he went to their land and was witnessing to its natives, he taught them of the Trinity by using the three-leaf clover.
But this is what the Holy Spirit lives to do—to use even things like nature around us to witness to us and others of the glory of God!
Didn’t the apostle Paul teach us all of this in Romans chapter one?
In Romans 1:16, he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” So, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that holds the power for salvation, right? Therefore, if we want to see people saved through our witness, then the gospel of Christ is how it is going to get done. Then Paul goes on to say in verse 17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” For in what? In the gospel of Christ! In it, the righteousness of God is revealed. This is what we want people to see, believe, and receive, church—the righteousness of God and that it is received simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But then notice what Paul goes on to say in verses 18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”
In these verses, the apostle Paul was saying that God’s wrath—a far cry from God’s righteousness—is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And he goes on to say that God is the One who has already shown it to them. So, what this means is that we do not need to go around telling people that God hates sin and He is against all of their ungodliness and unrighteousness. No, God has already made this manifest to them. Sure, this doesn’t mean that we never need address these things, but it absolutely means that we do need to major on these things. God has already done it. People already know God is against sin and there is a judgment to come. Now it might seem like they don’t, but have you ever noticed how the ungodly are so quick to call out a Christian who is being hypocritical about there sin? Oh, yeah—they know.
And then in verse 20, Paul goes on to describe how God has shown these things to them—through creation. Yes, if people would just open their eyes, they would see that all creation points us towards the existence of God, and as Paul says here, even to His eternal power and Godhead. Yes, God’s creation—from the stars of the heavens to the plants on the earth—points us towards God’s omnipotent power and through that, to His Triune Godhead. Praise God!
So, as Paul says at the end of verse 20, there is no excuse for not believing. I know people will say, “Well, what about all of the people who never heard the gospel? How will God be able to righteously judge them?” Friends, everyone has the opportunity to hear the gospel because if they do not hear it from another man or woman, the Holy Spirit is here to testify of the Way, the Truth and the Life Himself. All they need to do is open up their hearts and humble themselves—asking this “unknown God” what His name is.
Well, as we can see in verses 21-25, what happens is that mankind has this tendency to form their own gods even when they have this general knowledge of God. In other words, even though they had the knowledge of God’s existence, they chose not to seek for a deeper knowledge of Him and glorify Him as the One True and Living God.
Let me give you a real-life example of what these people should have done: There was this woman who was attending a Bible College and, while seeking the Lord as to His plan for her, she had Him give her a name, a name of a place that she was unaware of. Well, as she did some research, she found out that this place was a remote island where no one had been before. Therefore, she concluded that the Lord was sending her there. So as her plane arrived on this island, she was met by a local tribe and their chief greeted her. He began praising God that this prayer was heard! You see, this tribe was praying to an unknown God to tell them His name. In other words, they knew that there had to be a god through that inward intuition these verses speak of, therefore, they just humbly prayed to the God they didn’t know yet and asked Him to reveal himself to them. So, God arrested this woman and sent her across the world to preach “Jesus” to them! Glory to God! But most people have not been this wise throughout history. The majority of people have made up their own gods like the children of Israel did in the wilderness when they created a golden calf as an image to worship. This is the epitome of pride and foolishness.
My point is, that if there is already an inward intuition in the world that God is real and that He is against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, and what this world needs to hear is the gospel of Christ and have the righteousness of God revealed to them, then why would the Holy Spirit be any different? He isn’t! He is here to testify to the goodness and righteousness of God! So, if we as believers or even the ungodly would open up our hearts to hear what the Spirit is saying, we would hear things like “God loves you. He has a wonderful plan for you. He has made His righteousness freely available. Just cry out for mercy. His grace is sufficient. Open up the door of your heart because Jesus wants to move in and dine with you.”
HOW HE TESTIFIES
Now, as I said earlier, the word for “testify” also describes giving a testimony. So, let’s look at how we not only witness, but how we give our testimony as an example of what the Holy Spirit does.
You know, when you and I stand up and give our testimony before people, did you know that our intention should be to point people to Jesus? Yes, our testimony is not to have people look at us but to help people believe! Believe what? That Jesus is the Answer to everything! That He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and that He is the Light! In other words, when we testify, our intention should be to point people to Jesus—that they might believe that what He has done in our life, He will do in theirs as well! Amen!
Church, our testimony is so vital in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom being spread in this world—because it is the number one thing that will cause the world to believe. No, it is not our wonderful sermons; it is your testimony—consisting of both the words you speak and your actions. This is what will either bring people to Christ or bring a reproach to Christ.
First of all, how we behave is what people are looking at. For example, say we leave church today and it is obvious that we have been to church by what we are wearing, etc. And we go to a restaurant and treat our waitress like dirt. But she saw us praying over our food. Did you know that this can turn her off to Christianity? We have to be sensitive to things like this, knowing that people are always watching.
And when it comes to our words, I believe we have all seen how some people’s “testimony” does not draw people to Christ. Yes, we’ve seen those who stand before a group and give their “testimony” but it doesn’t point people to the Light, but to darkness. What I mean is that it is filled with all the bad things they went through, all the heartaches and struggles, etc. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that we need to give the background to tell people where we’ve come from, but we need to keep the background in the background. Jesus and His salvation need to always be in the foreground! Hallelujah!
And this is how the Holy Spirit gives a testimony: He doesn’t ramble and waste a lot of words telling us all of the negatives. No, He gives us the truth in a nutshell, wrapping so much power in the few words He shares with us.
You see, have you ever noticed how when the Lord speaks to you that it is short, concise, and to the point? Yep, rarely does the Holy Spirit give us a long, drawn out statement of truth. This is why those two gifts of the Spirit are not called the “paragraph of knowledge” or the “story of wisdom.” No, He gives us a “word of knowledge” and a “word of wisdom.”
So, when we testify, our intention needs to be to glorify Jesus—not the bad things we did, not the evil we experienced, and certainly not anything involving, “I, me, my, etc.” Sadly to say, when you hear some people’s testimonies all you hear about is their “Test” and their “Moanies.” Lol! And as I made the point of earlier, this is exactly how the Holy Spirit testifies—He doesn’t like to talk a lot about Himself, but prefers to revolve everything around the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, in conclusion, the Holy Spirit knows how to witness, and He knows how to give a testimony. And in both situations, He points people to Jesus! He glorifies Him! He strategically and systematically points people to the Light, attempting to help both the church and the world to believe on Jesus. So, whether we as the Lord’s body are struggling and need some encouragement, the Holy Ghost will step in and give a testimony of how Jesus is our answer. Or whether an unbeliever is walking in darkness and needs to know Jesus, the Holy Ghost will take advantage of every open door that He is given and point them to the Way, the Truth and the Life. Yes, He will testify of Jesus because this is His commission! Amen.