This week Pastor Miles was back after a few Sundays away. He began by saying that while he was gone, he wondered what would happen if he never came back to preach. Someone in the audience called out that we would come find him. It is an unsettling thing to imagine a leader or an important person in your life suddenly leaving.
For the disciples, this scenario happened when Jesus' ministry on earth was finished. Not only did Jesus warn them that He was going away, He told them that their future would be a difficult one. They would be persecuted by people who believed they were being obedient to God.
In John 16:1-3, Jesus says, All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.
But Jesus did not leave the disciples or His followers today without a spiritual foundation. John 16:7 states, But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
God put the plan in motion, Jesus executed the contract, and the Holy Spirit came to implement the plan of salvation in our hearts. He is still with us and He is our only true foundation. The Bible calls Him our counselor (or paraclaytos). A counselor is someone who comes alongside to help in time of need.
The Bible also calls Him our comforter. Comforter comes from the word fortis, which means brave. The Holy Spirit is a helper who encourages bravery.
The disciples desperately needed bravery to face the persecution they would experience. Today, we may need bravery to take a step of faith in business, ministry, or something else in our lives.
The Holy Spirit plays different roles in the lives of the unbeliever and the believer.
Three Ways the Holy Spirit Convicts the Unbeliever
John 16:8-11 states, When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
To convict (or elegcho) means to show fault or error through cross examination with the intent of revealing truth. The goal of a cross examination is to shed new light or offer a new perspective on the facts in question. Proverbs 18:17 states, The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. They ways of the world may seem right to people until they experience the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
First, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin is by revealing the errors in our own ways, compared to God's perfect standard. The Bible says that before we are saved, we walk in darkness. The Holy Spirit comes in and shines a light on our perspective. He shows us the holes and bias in our way of doing things and then shows us God's perspective.
Second, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness by confirming that Jesus is a righteous Lord. Pastor Miles shared about the amazing variety of fish he saw while snorkeling in Hawaii.To followers of Christ, the whole world seems to declare His glory.
But without the Holy Spirit, we are blind to those things. 1 Corinthians 12:2 states, You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Only the Holy Spirit can open someone's eyes to the truth that Jesus is Lord.
Third, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of judgment by confirming that sin's punishment is necessary and eminent. Even with the decay of morals in our society, children and adults know what they aren't supposed to do. When Pastor Miles talks to kids who don't think twice about having sex before marriage, he can see that they know it is wrong, even when society says it is not.
There will always be consequences for sin. It can be ignored now, but one day, every knee will bow. When Christ comes, His presence will be unquestionable.
Three Ways the Holy Spirit Guides the Believer
John 16:12-14 states, I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.
When the Holy Spirit has convicted you, you have a decision of whether to accept or reject Christ. Once you choose to follow Christ, the Holy Spirit will become your guide into all truth. To guide means to teach, to give guidance, and to lead one's way. He is our Counselor and Comforter, teacher and leader.
The first way the Holy Spirit guides believers is by leading our minds into a place of understanding of the absolute truth of God's Word. In John 16:12, Jesus tells the disciples He has more to tell them, but that it is too much for them to handle at that time.
If we understood either the fullness of our depravity or the completeness of God's plan for our lives, we would be overwhelmed. So, the Holy Spirit slowly reveals and unfolds the Bible's truth to us as we are ready for it.
Second, the Holy Spirit leads our hearts to understand the relevance of the absolute truth to our lives. Often while listening to a message in church or in the car, we may feel like the person is speaking directly to us. This is not the speaker doing the work, but the Holy Spirit, drawing attention to what the Bible says about our personal issues.
Third, the Holy Spirit leads our actions compliance to the revealed truth of God's Word. Pastor Miles shared an illustration of going horseback riding in Hawaii. The guide told Miles that he could control the horse by pulling the reins to the right, left, or back. Miles tried it out before the ride to make sure it worked, and it did.
This is how the Holy Spirit would like us to be. If we followed his leading every time our lives would be completely different. But instead, we stubbornly ask why instead of obeying immediately. It is one thing to know what to do through the Holy Spirit's leading, but completely another to do it.
Working Out Your Salvation
The proper response to the work of the Holy Spirit is to obey Him. Paul writes about this process in Philippians 2:12-13, which states, Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.
Working out your salvation does not mean working for your salvation. It is a little bit like lifting weights. You are not working out to "get muscles" because you already have them. You are working out to exercise the muscles you have so that they will get stronger. To work out your salvation, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. Let Him do his job in your life.