JOHN 14: 15-26

As a way into this passage and our theme of “The Promise of the Holy Spirit”, let’s start by asking a question. The question is this: Why does Jesus promise to give the Holy Spirit? Or to put it another way, why does the Christian need the Holy Spirit?

As we engage with this passage, let’s have that question in the back of our mind: Why does Jesus promise to give us the Holy Spirit?

Now in this passage, Jesus repeats certain phrases. And of course when we repeat something – it is because it is important. I just want to focus on one phrase Jesus repeats and it is about keeping his commands. In verse 15, Jesus says: If you love me, keep my commands. Verse 21: whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Verse 23, anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. And in verse 24 we have the opposite: Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

So what’s all this commanding and teaching about?

  1. Do as he says

Let’s look at verse 15

If you love me, keep my commands. 

So when we consider the word “command” – we are thinking of being obedient to all that Jesus commands. And inevitably we consider those times when we haven’t done as Jesus commands. The danger is that we have a Christian life which is focussed entirely on the past. We become aware of our sinfulness in thought, word and deed – whether committed in the past ten seconds or past ten hours – and then we reflect on the wonder of God our Father forgiving us through all that Jesus did 2,000 years ago. He took our place and because of that we can be forgiven. 1 John 1: 9 says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us.

This is a wonderful truth. But imagine that was it. Imagine that the Christian life was simply about being aware – from time to time – of our sinfulness and that we would seek forgiveness at that point and then go back and try harder only to find that we failed once more to ask forgiveness and so on. We would be going round and round. Trying, failing, being forgiven. Then trying again…..

Is that all that the Christian life is? Avoiding sin?

Look more carefully at what Jesus says. Clearly – we should not be living in ways that displease the Lord – but that’s not just it. Jesus is saying here we should be actively doing what he commands. It’s what the Bible calls obedience. Mike Pilavachi wrote this week:

“Do you have a greater desire to please people through your performance or to please God through your obedience?”

So what this is about is not a life of attempting to avoid sin – and then seeking forgiveness when we fail only to go back to attempting to avoid sin once more. No – of course we should avoid sin – but we are to fill our lives not with avoiding sin – but with being obedient to what the Lord is calling us to do.

So this is about listening to the Lord….discerning what he is saying….then doing it.

So at the time of writing, I am sensing that I should invite a work colleague to Alpha. And later today, I hope to get that opportunity. I think years ago I would have really worried about this. Fear of rejection possibly – or making a mess of it. I think the Lord must be doing something because now I’m taking the advice of a friend who says to me: “What’s the worst that could happen?” If I invite this guy to Alpha and he says no – no one dies or anything. I might feel a bit rejected. But if I am attempting to please the Lord.

So how about you? Are you about doing as the Lord says? Getting onto the front foot and onto his agenda and not just avoiding the bad sinful stuff?

2. The Holy Spirit Helps you          

So we are to obey. But there’s something so important – you need to get this! Let’s read further because we need to read these verses together. So Jesus says: “if you love me, keep my commands….AND (the “and” is key!) I will ask the Father AND he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth.

Jesus doesn’t leave you on your own when he commands you to keep his commands. The sheer wonder of this is that Jesus doesn’t command you and then leave you to it. No – he commands you to be obedient but he asks the Father for you to be helped. And who is the helper (the advocate is the word used here): the Holy Spirit.

Now the help is there to do what? To help you and me keep Jesus’ commands. The only person who doesn’t need the Spirits help – is the one who is not keeping His commands. So the question is: do we want to keep his commands? I hope the answer is “yes”. If it is a “yes” – then we can have help.

So hear this clearly: Jesus says here – if you are a Christian – he has already asked the Father for you to be given the Holy Spirit. Do not be under any illusion. Do not be tricked by anyone or anything. If Jesus has promised you the Holy Spirit; you have the Holy Spirit. Often we may think that – this person or that person has the Holy Spirit…but not us. Not true! You have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you. That promise has been made and sealed by Jesus as the cross. You have the Holy Spirit.

The question is…has the Holy Spirit got you. All of you. Every part of you.

So this is about being so drenched in the Spirit – so filled with the Spirit of God – that there is no room for anything in our lives but to serve God.

So we are given the Holy Spirit to help us do what God wants us to do. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s almost as if – the Lord is saying – I want you to do this and to make sure you can – I will give you all the help you need.

Look what verse 26 says:

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

3. So go ahead…do as the Spirit leads

So we might ask:

How can I know that what the Spirit is saying? How can I know it is Him and not me? Well we listen. We listen to the Holy Spirit who Jesus describes as the Spirit of truth. Conversely, the devil is described as the Father of Lies. So the Holy Spirit will be saying what Jesus is saying.

So we need to discern. The first way we can do this is to know the type of thing the Holy Spirit might say. Now if I sensed that the Holy Spirit was suggesting I steal money from the offertory plate – clearly that would go against what our Lord teaches. He will not say anything contrary to what Jesus would say. Indeed verse 26 says the Holy Spirit will remind us of everything the Lord has said.

Secondly Jesus says in verse that he will send another advocate. Now this word “another” can be read (in Greek) in a general sense or a specific sense. It can be general in the sense that Jesus says – I will send another….who is a bit like me. Or in the Greek this word another can be specific; I will send another….who is precisely like me. What you need to know is that this word: “another” – in this passage means: precisely like. Precisely like Jesus. The Holy Spirit is precisely like Jesus. So we can be sure that that what the Holy Spirit says will be precisely what Jesus would say.

Finally if you are still not sure whether what you are being called to do is the Lord or not. There is a really good way of finding out. Just do it! You will then find out.

 But now let’s look at these verses again about the promised Holy Spirit

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever –the Spirit of truth.

May we be a people who love to obey the Lord – regardless of cost. And be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit so we can obey the      Lord out of love.

In Jesus’ name


Category: Sermons , The Bridge

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