In 1986 a movie called "Stand By Me" was released. It based on a short story by Stephen King about a group of young boys who go in search of a dead body. The movie chronicles their adventure and the title references their friendship and their willingness to stand by and with each other. Last week we looked at the perfect relationship of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We worship one God in three persons. Today in John 14:15-27, we want to look more deeply into the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The context of John 14 is during the last supper before Jesus will be betrayed and crucified. Jesus is telling the disciples that He will be leaving. In their confusion and dismay, He gives them words of instruction and comfort.
In John 14:15-27, I see four ways in which the Holy Spirit stands by us:
1) The Holy Spirit stands by us in our sin: John 14:15 reads "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 forever."
Jesus here gives a simple way to test the genuineness of a person's faith. Do you think you love Jesus? Do you keep His commands? In John 14:24, Jesus says that if you don't obey His teachings, you don't love Him.
When we have faith in Christ, our natural response is that we want to live according to His teachings and become more like Christ. But in our sinful human nature, we continue to falter. Because of this the Holy Spirit is given as our advocate. He is one who is called alongside to assist us, to stand by us, to remind us of Christ's commands, and empower us to follow, but also to apply the forgiveness of Christ when we confess and repent of our sins. (1 John 1:9)
2) The Holy Spirit stands with us in our pain: John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Orphans were an example of the powerless. Children who had nothing and no one, those who truly needed an advocate. In v.16 Jesus says the Spirit would be with us forever and in v.17, He says that the Spirit lives with you and will be in you. In the midst of our helplessness and distress, the Holy Spirit will be present in us and with us forever.
Sometimes we come to God because we want Him to fix our problems, to take away our pain, to heal us, to bring us justice. He definitely has the power to do so, but sometimes in ways we don't always understand, He chooses not to answer our prayers the way we would like.
We don't believe in Jesus because He blesses us and takes away our pain, but we believe in Christ because He is the truth. It is at those times that the comfort of the Holy Spirit means the most. He will always stand with us in the midst of whatever we are going through.
3) The Holy Spirit stands by us in our work: John 14:26 "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."
Even though Jesus returned to the Father, He has entrusted us with much good work to do. We are to share the gospel to the ends of the earth! But He doesn't leave us alone to do it on our own strength. In fact, Jesus tells us that it is impossible for us to be fruitful without Him.
The Holy Spirit helps us in the work of sharing the gospel by reminding us and teaching us the things Jesus said and by working in people's hearts and opening them up to receive Christ.
4) The Holy Spirit stands with us in our fear and anxiety. John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Jesus is leaving them in violent and turbulent world. Things haven't changed much - our world is still violent and turbulent. But in the midst of it, Jesus leaves us his peace. A peace that surpasses all understanding. When we have this peace we don't have to be afraid, but surrender our fear and anxiety to Him and lay it at His feet.
This week will you recognize that the Holy Spirit is standing by you in your sin, in your pain, in your work and in your fear and anxiety?