REVIEW & INTRODUCTION
So, we spent seven weeks talking about the Communion of the Holy Spirit—a series of teachings where we learned that the fellowship, partnership, intimacy, and contribution of the Holy Spirit is to be a part of every one of our lives. Yes, the Holy Spirit is the part of the Godhead who is with us on the earth today and He is a Person with real personality traits. Therefore, our responsibility is to begin walking, talking, and communing with Him on a regular basis just like the Early Church did so that we can begin to experience His “Acts” in our lives today.
Now that leads me to this new series that I want to start today entitled “The Advantage of the Holy Spirit.” In this shorter series, I want to continue establishing us in the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how He actually serves as an advantage to us. And did you know that the Holy Spirit is what (Lit. Who) gives us an advantage in our Christian walks? Yes, He gives us an advantage over our flesh, this world, and even over the devil. But guess what that also means? It means that if we do not have the Holy Spirit or if we do not utilize His ministry in our lives, then we will be at a disadvantage. We don’t want that, saints. So, let’s go over to John chapter 16 and look at what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion concerning the Advantage of the Holy Spirit.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING, JESUS?
First of all, Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:5, “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’”
Now you would figure that Jesus’ telling to His disciples that he was leaving them should have led them to ask more questions than they did. Sure, we know that Thomas asked Him a question in John 14:5 but this was not a wise question.
You see, Jesus had just said to them in John 14:1-4— “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Now we know that Jesus was referring to His crucifixion in verse one when He said, “Let not your heart be troubled…” So, Jesus was preparing them, telling them to not let their hearts become troubled when these things take place—for they needed to believe in Him like they believed in God. Then He proceeds to tell them that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house where there are many mansions. Not only that, but He promised to not only prepare a place for them in heaven, but also to return again and take them to heaven with Him. Praise God! I’ll tell you, saints, this is shouting ground—because Jesus has promised to all of His disciples to go prepare a mansion for us and to also return again and take us to it! Church, things like the promise of heaven, our inheritance that awaits us there, and Jesus’ Second Coming are things that our heart should just leap over! Yes, our blessed hope should yield so much joy in our hearts that there is no room for the troubling, unsettling, or sorrow of the heart!
But then Jesus ends in verse 4 with the following statement— “And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Now let me give you a quick piece of advice: If the Lord tells you that you know where He is going and you know the way there too, don’t ever do what Thomas did here. Notice his response in John 14:5— “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’” Essentially, Thomas refused to believe what the Lord had just told them.
You see, if the Lord says, “You are a mighty man of valor” then I don’t care if you are still hiding in the winepress, you are who He said you are (Ex. Gideon). If the Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice” then don’t say, “I just don’t hear God’s voice well.” No, if God tells you that you are something, that you can do something, or that (like in this case) you know something, then, bless God, you know what He says you know. Now your mind might not have caught up with it yet, but just agree with Him and then the answers will more readily follow.
But my point is that although Thomas asked a question after Jesus told them He was leaving, this was not the right question because He was not concerned with where Jesus was going; he was only concerned with not knowing how to get there himself. And, of course, Jesus responds with that powerful truth in verse 6 saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”—meaning, that we don’t have to know the way, we just need to know HIM—for He is the Way. Amen.
Now we know that Peter actually did ask this question— “Lord, where are you going?”—after Jesus had told them that He would be soon leaving them just earlier this same evening (see John 13:33-36). But the difference was this—they did not ask Him the question really wanting to know where He was going. In other words, they didn’t really want to know the answer but were only concerned with how this was going to affect them. We know this because of what Jesus said next in John chapter 16…
Jesus went on to say in John 16:6— “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”
You see, the only thing His disciples were concerned with in Jesus saying that He was leaving them was how this was going to affect them. Now granted, for the past three years, Jesus had been their everything—He had been their Counselor, their Teacher, their Provider, their Inspiration, and their Best Friend. They had left everything to follow Him and had put their full trust in Him and relied on Him to be their provider in every area of life. He taught them how to pray and He prayed for them. He instructed them on what to say and how to act. He bailed them out of many different situations and circumstances. Yes, He was their everything. So, for Jesus to tell them He was about to leave them was indeed very saddening to them, I’m sure. Therefore, rightly so, they were a little troubled with His words that He was about to split—and this caused their hearts to be filled with sorrow. But again, this was because they were only thinking of themselves and how this was going to affect them. Likewise, Christians often get depressed because they focus on the negative in all the different areas, even in spiritual areas like the condition of the world. But we need to focus on the Good News, and what is promised, and the good that God is doing in you, others, and the world.
You see, the truth is that whenever we get enveloped in sorrow and grief over a loved one departing from us, it is because we are being self-centered. The reason I say this is because if our loved one has gone to heaven like we say we believe, why would we ever be depressed? If we were really considering how they currently “felt” more than how we “feel,” our emotions would be the opposite. That is why the apostle Paul teaches us that we do not sorrow like the world does when a believer goes on to be with the Lord. It is because we know where they have gone—and that place is “far better” than still being here on the earth. So, if we were focused on them and their current situation above how we are concerned about ourselves and our current situation, we could actually be filled with joy when a believer leaves their body and goes to heaven. No, not in a perverted way, but in a TRUE way because to depart and be with Christ is far better (see Philippians 1:23). Sure, we might have periods of grief and sorrow because that’s a normal part of death. However, we shouldn’t be wallowing in it—because our focus is on how good they now have it and not how we feel, our loss, what we lack, etc. Amen?
NEVERTHELESS, I TELL YOU THE TRUTH
But the fact is, Jesus’ disciples were sorrowful at His words that He was leaving them. So, Jesus knew they needed to hear some good news. And that is why He went on to say what He did in verse 7: 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.”
First of all, notice how He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth…” Now the word “Nevertheless” here denotes something to the effect of Jesus saying to His disciples— “Hey guys, I know you are sad because I told you that I am leaving, BUT…” Now this is one of those times that the “But” needs to get in the way—for it is followed by some of the best news we have in the entire Gospel!
And then Jesus follows that by saying that this good news He is about to give them is Him telling them the truth. You see, we know that everything that Jesus says is the truth, but when Jesus says that what He is about to tell you is the truth, then that means it is something that you can take to the bank! And the obvious reason that He said this here is because what He was about to tell them might not seem true. But yes, you can bet the bank that this is absolutely true even though it might not seem like it on the surface.
And I can assure you that to most believers, what Jesus was about to say would be considered blasphemy if it didn’t come out of our Lord’s own mouth. Let me explain:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE’D BE BETTER OFF?
You see, if you were to poll a large group of Christians, asking them if they would rather have Jesus physically present with them, you would get the overwhelming majority saying, “YES!” Yes, most believers would give anything to be able to go back in time and be one of Jesus’ disciples and physically be with Him for those three years. They think that nothing could be greater than having Jesus physically present with them. But did you know that Jesus actually taught us differently in this verse?
Yes, Jesus quickly made a radical statement here in John 16:7 that if it did not come out of His own mouth would seem like heresy: He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away…”
Now the word “advantage” here has been translated many different ways. Some versions of the Bible translate it as “for your good or benefit.” Others say, “it is best or expedient.” Therefore, we could say that Jesus was saying here that we would be “better off” if He left us. Now, again, I am so glad that Jesus was the One to say this and not myself, not Peter, and not Paul. No, it was Jesus Himself that said we were better off to not have Him present with us because this would appear to be “Error” with a capital E!
And I can just imagine what His disciples might have been thinking. Perhaps they were saying in their heads, “What do you mean it would be better for us if you went away!?! You have been our everything! And, in case you haven’t noticed, we have not done the greatest job of learning the lessons you’ve tried to teach us. How could your leaving actually be better for us?”
This is why Jesus went on to say, “…for (or, because) if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Ah, now we see why it would be better for us for Jesus to return to heaven. It is because then He would be able to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—from heaven to us!
Someone might ask— “How is that advantageous to us? Why is having the Holy Spirit better than having Jesus?” Those are good questions. Let me answer them by giving you a hypothetical situation.
Say Jesus would have still died on the Cross and been raised from the dead three days later, but instead of only staying for 40 days after His resurrection, He stayed on the earth permanently in His glorified body? What do you suppose that would have been like? Well, I can guarantee you that Jesus would have been a little hard to get to, amen? I’m sure His appointment calendar would have been booked solid for the next decade or two, wouldn’t you? I mean, if great multitudes were thronging Him during His three-year ministry, then certainly there would have been an exponentially larger crowd wanting to get in to see this Healer, Teacher, Miracle-Worker, Prophet, etc. who had been raised from the dead! For example, in John 12:9 we see that a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So, if people were coming to see Lazarus who had been raised from the dead, you can be certain many, many more people would come to see Jesus in His glorified body.
My point is that getting in to see the Miracle-worker Himself would have been a miracle itself—for far too many people would have been wanting to come be healed by Him or to hear Him teach. Therefore, it would have been better, more profitable or beneficial, or expedient to have Him send us the Holy Spirit—the One whom He did the works He did through.
Now we will get more into why that is better in the coming weeks, but let’s move into this word that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit with here—the Helper.
This word “Helper” here is, of course, the New King James Version’s translation. If you use the original King James Version, you will find a different word—the term “Comforter.” Other translations use the words “Counselor” or “Advocate.” But this week, I want to focus in on the word “Helper.”
Now what is a “Helper”? A helper describes an:
Do you remember when God created Adam and then sometime after that, said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). Now you could paraphrase this statement like so— “It is not advantageous for man to be alone…” or “It is not beneficial, profitable, or best for man to be alone…” Does that sound a little familiar (see John 16:7)?
Then the Lord went on to say in Genesis 2:18— “I will make a helper comparable to him.” Ah, isn’t that interesting that we see the same word “helper” used here? I believe that is strategic by the Lord to reinforce this truth from John 16:7—that it is to our advantage to have a Helpmeet in the Person of the Holy Spirit! Glory!
But what is interesting is what God did immediately after making this statement. What He did not do was immediately put Adam to sleep, pull his rib out, etc. No, in verse 19, the first thing God did was form every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Then Adam named all of these animals, but we are told at the end of verse 20 that there was still not found a helper comparable to him. (We will get back to this in a moment)
So, after this, the Lord caused that deep sleep to fall on Adam and after He made woman, He brought her to Adam. And verse 23 said that Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” You see, this is essentially Adam choosing Eve to become that helper that God said would be good for him. Therefore, the woman—Eve—was that helper. In the same way, when we partner with other ministers and ministries, you partake of the blessings of them. You become a co-laborer with them. You rejoice with them when they prosper, and even reap spiritual blessings.
HOLY GHOST JR.
But let me caution you ladies—that doesn’t mean you are the Holy Spirit. But that is oftentimes what happens in our marriages today: Either the husband or the wife tries to be the Holy Spirit and do the teaching, the reminding, the instructing, the convicting and reproving. Church, let me give you a good piece of information for not only your marriage but life in general: Let the Holy Spirit do His job. We don’t need a bunch of Holy Ghost Jr’s running around trying to do His job.
You see, I believe this is one of the greatest hindrances to the Holy Spirit being able to perform His ministry in our lives—us trying to do His ministry for Him. Yes, we get in His way when we try to heap conviction upon people, try to tell people what to do, etc. Church, we need to learn to take our hands off the wheel and let the Holy Spirit do His work. When we—in our pride—try to make everything the way we believe it needs to be, we oftentimes don’t see a lot of fruit from that. But if we just pray to the Father, asking Him to work His will in all of those things that concern us, and take it to the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to do His work of perfecting those things that concern us, then we will see much better results.
Now that certainly does not mean that we never open our mouths and communicate with one another. It just simply means that we need to learn when its just us trying to make it happen and when we need to let the Holy Spirit do His job. For example, there are times where the Holy Spirit is speaking through us like, for instance, when Sarah wanted Abraham to kick Hagar and Ishmael out. Abraham didn’t like that idea one bit, but the Lord confirmed with him that this was the thing to do. So, in situations like these, we can see how the Lord puts His plans and purposes into the hearts of other people. Now I am sure that Abraham probably thought something like— “Aw, that woman is just being vindictive. She is just getting all emotional about how Hagar is acting and I am not going to let her feelings get in the way.” But, thank God, Abraham had enough wherewithal to listen to God telling him that this was His will.
And that is the lesson here: Can we hear what the Holy Spirit would say about what we are hearing from this person? Instead of just immediately writing them off because we “believe” they are wrong for whatever reason, will we take it to the Lord and listen to Him?
But what do we see happening in many of our marriages today? The wife will tell the husband something and he won’t listen. And I believe that many husbands do the same thing that we Christians do with the Holy Spirit. Let me explain: You see, how many of you wives out there have told your husband something like— “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”—and he did it anyways and either hurt himself or broke something else? Oh, that happens quite a lot, doesn’t it? Well, isn’t that what happens to all of us—men and women alike—with the Holy Spirit? We sense that we shouldn’t do something, go somewhere, or say something and then we override it, and experience the repercussions of not listening to Him.
Now let me caution you—this is not where you get in the car after service today, turn to your spouse, and ask them— “Did you hear what pastor said today?” No, that would be you being Holy Ghost Jr. LOL! No, the point of all of this is simply to point you to applying these truths to your own life, not the life of your significant other. You be a doer of this Word, and don’t try to get others to do the Word you heard. Amen?
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANTAGE
Now back to Genesis chapter 2: What is interesting about this situation where God gave Adam alternatives to the true helper that He intended all along is that Adam could have settled, couldn’t he? God could have brought him all of those animals, and he could have said, “Yeah, that horse would be good. I could strap a saddle on its back and it could help me to go from one side of Eden to the other.” Or maybe he looks at the gorilla and would have said, “Well, this one right here might be useful if I run into someone who needs a beaten’.” But, thank God, Adam waited for God’s best. And we need to understand that we only see a perfect likeness of God in humanity (made in His image) when man and woman come together in proper unity. Also, one of the great advantages in marriage is "two are better than one" and we can benefit each other; we are less likely to miss God if we listen to each other.
Likewise, when it comes to the Helper—the Holy Spirit—we need to learn to choose Him above all of these other things that tend to come to us before Him—our own understanding, our flesh, etc. For example, if we are presented with a problem that we need an answer to, our tendency is to lean on our own understanding or to try to fix it in the arm of the flesh. But that is when we need to wait on the Lord, enter into His rest, and let the Helper give us the solution that we need. Amen and Amen!
For example, it is like when we get upset with our spouse because we thought they should have done something and they didn’t. Then we cop an attitude with them, and when they ask, “What’s wrong with you?” we tell them that we felt they should have done so and so. It is because we think that they should think like we think. In other words, we like to (at best) hold people to our own standards and we expect them to treat us the way we treat them. (I bet you didn’t think you were going to get some marriage counseling this morning, did you?) One of the problems both in marriage and in ministry is not letting the Holy Spirit do His job, and trying to jump in and fix people ourselves.
I’m going to tell you something—It does not work that way with the Holy Spirit. You are going to have to straight up ask the Helper when you want help! Why? Because He is a Gentleman and will not force His way upon you. He desires to be invited. Which leads me to my next point:
We must learn to “take advantage of the Advantage.” No, not “take advantage” in the negative sense, but taking advantage as in utilizing the help that God has made available for us to use. And the way we take advantage and utilize the advantages that the Holy Spirit provides us with is by not compromising and settling for something less profitable or beneficial. That could be anything from us getting in the flesh and trying to make it happen ourselves to us succumbing to the pressures of this world to make a decision before we’ve heard from Him.
Friends, Jesus did this! He didn’t answer people when they thought He should have (Ex. the story of the woman caught in adultery). He didn’t go places when people thought He should have (Ex. Lazarus’ death). No, He walked in the light, being led by the Holy Spirit. And if we will utilize the Advantage on the inside of us, He will lead us to always give the right answer and be at the right place. The Holy Spirit’s help is what provides us with the Advantage. Amen!