Each stream of Christianity has its unique approach to the role and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the follower of Jesus. Some Christians feel that they know with certainty who the Spirit is and what the Spirit does. Some Christians have very little certainty. I grew up thinking the Spirit was a mysterious and fairly unknowable person of what is called the Trinity. Where Jesus is our friend and brother, and God the Father is our…well…Father, I was taught that the Spirit was in me, but I didn’t feel anything. Or hear anything. I can still struggle with this. Is the Spirit-in-me just an idea to be believed, or is there something more?
I think Jesus most astounding promise is that if we love him, we will obey him, and then he will come make his home with us. In the previous posts, we looked at what Jesus meant by all this. As we continue studying John 14:15-31, Jesus explains even more about what he means by this.
The first thing he means is that he and the Father will make their home in us, if we love and obey him, but giving us the Holy Spirit as our Counselor. He already said this in verse 16, and he says it again here, “I will send you the Counselor.” The first thing we think of when we hear the word counselor is someone who gives counsel. It could be a guidance counselor at school. It could be a legal counselor, a lawyer. It could be a therapist who we rely on for professional counseling. The Greek word that John uses is parakletos, and even in the ancient world, it had a lot of meanings as well. It could be used for encouragement or comfort, for communication, for counseling. What Jesus is saying is that the Spirit in us can accomplish all these roles and more. It is an amazing promise. All the resources and power and wisdom of God is living within us, IF we show that we love him by obeying his commands.
As the Paraklete, the Spirit, Jesus says in verse 26, will teach us, will remind us of what Jesus said. In that you see the counselor role. This is why I think it is so vital, whenever we encounter the word of God, whether in our own personal reading of Scripture, whether at church, or in a small group, to pray what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 2:10-13:
“God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
God’s Spirit within us can help us to understand what God wants to communicate to us. So whenever you encounter the Bible, whether at church, at a small group, or personally, pray what Paul teaches, “Spirit, help me understand.” I get it, the Bible can be intimidating, but we have the supernatural power of God through his Spirit within us to help us understand it. That doesn’t mean we don’t still use study Bibles and notes, or talk with people about it. There are excellent resources available to help us understand God’s Word, and we should avail ourselves of them. But let us first pray to the Spirit to help us understand.
So the Spirit is our teacher, and our counselor, and then Jesus goes on to say that the Spirit is our Comforter. Look at verse 27. What an amazing promise. “Peace he will give us, but not as the world gives”
Peace. What is the difference between the peace the world gives and the peace that Jesus gives?
To answer that, consider what he says about peace, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” What do people fear?
Heights, Enclosed places, Financial ruin, Losing your job, That Kids and Grandkids will make bad choices, That we won’t be good parents, Sickness, Death, and how it will happen, Broken relationships, Not being accepted, “Will I make the sports team?” “Will I be chosen?”, Fear of being alone, Fear that my debit card will not be approved, Fear in relationships, “What will that person think of me? Will I disappoint them?” There are so many fears. Have you encountered any of these in your life?
Our past fears can linger, even when our life situation is well past the point of needing to be afraid. Past fear can linger and rise up and still be there. We might have $10,000 in the bank, but when we put our card in the card reader, we still feel those feelings of fear that the card will not be approved. If you were in a negative relationship before, and now you are in a new one and that person has done nothing to make you fear, you might still carry hurts from before that manifest themselves in your current relationship. Fear has a way of sticking with us. Situations from the past can lead to tentacles of fear hanging on to us for years.
What is at the root of this fear? And what can we do about it? We’ll talk more about that in the final post of this five-part series on John 14:15-31.