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"Thought for the Week" by Elder James Horan (Rock Springs)
"What the Holy Spirit Brings"
March 19, 2017
This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “The Work of the Holy Spirit”. This final lesson brings us to this topic… that the Holy Spirit is “a Helper, or Comforter, or Advocate” and “to study in more detail this specific work of the Holy Spirt” (quarterly pg. 96). The brunt of this lesson is derived from Christ’s enigmatic description of the Holy Spirit’s work recorded for us in John 16: 8-11.
John often quotes Christ’s mysterious comments, such as (“my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed” John 6:53) only to give the true meaning later (“the words I speak to you are spirit and they are life” John 6:63). And so with this lesson’s pivotal scripture in John 16. As we realize that the Holy Spirit brings us to Christ “who intercedes for us” (quarterly pg. 96) with the Father, we may think that the Son must mediate the Father. If so, then we have it all backward and will likely misunderstand the Holy Spirit’s work. We may even think the Holy Spirit needs to interpret our prayers to the Godhead (see Romans 8: 26,27) because God cannot know our prayers until the Holy Spirit “cleans them up”, forgetting that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, God Himself. But a careful reading of Romans 8: 26, 27 shows that it is we sinners who don’t know, and the Holy Spirit brings the things of God to us “with groaning’s that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8: 26). God needs not the Holy Spirit to interpret for Him because “He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). God’s intercession is always Him revealing Himself to us, drawing us, disclosing Himself to us, declaring Himself to us, mediating us… not one member of the Godhead interceding with another member. And so John tells us what the Holy Spirit’s work really is in John 16: 14-15. “He will glorify me for He will take of what is mine and declare it unto you”. So the actions of the Holy Spirit are always to us from “Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23). So with this thought, let’s look at Christ’s mysterious statement in John 16: 8-11.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin… because they do not believe me” (John 16: 8, 9). Believe what? What does the Holy Spirit bring to us concerning this belief? What are we to believe about Christ? First we need to see what sin really is. “Sin” is not evil acts that need payment of penalty. Sin is how we think (any sinful acts are the result of “sin”). “Sin” is a spirit of self-centeredness, of love-less-ness, of self-focus, of autonomy that will not love God or our brothers and sisters. After all, if “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13: 10), than lack-of-love is breaking the law. “Sin is (a spirit of) lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) that rebels against God’s law of other-centered love. Therefore, Christ’s statement that the Holy Spirit will convict us of love-less-ness (sin) because we will not believe Christ, is saying that we do not believe that Christ’s life of love is the perfect personification of the Father and that Christ’s life demonstrates the “open door” that all may come home. Because coming-home to the Father is the only way for us to love (not sin). Not believing in the love the Godhead has for us keeps us from fully committing to God and we are left trying to love on our own. Hardened self-focused sinners will not believe that the Son and the Father are “one” in their purpose and passion… and are united in their sacrifice to reclaim mankind.
So often, Christ was moved to tears because we would not believe this. Most notable is at the grave of Lazarus where Christ was moved with indignation (See John 11: 33, 35, 38) and exclaimed in prayer to His Father, “I know that you always hear me, but because of the people who are standing-by I said this, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11: 42). The one truth, brought to us by the Holy Spirit that will change us from self-centered sinners to other-centered saints, is to come into intimate contact with Him who is the embodiment of love. “Love is the agent which (God) uses to expel sin from the heart” (Mount of Blessing pg. 77). Believing that our loving Savior and the Father are “one” in love and sacrifice for us, shows us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:16) and that with “the Father of lights … there is no variableness or shadow of turning” (James 1: 17).This is the belief that will expel sin from the heart. The belief that the Holy Spirit brings. The Belief that the Father is just as loving, forgiving and accepting as the Son…believing that the Son and the Father are “one” and that the Godhead’s desire is that “they all may be one in Us” (John 17:21), is the open door to come home and be healed by Their love… so we can love.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world… of righteousness…because I go to my Father and you see me no more” (John 16: 8, 10). “True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right--because right doing is pleasing to God” (Christ’s Object Lessons pg. 97). Because God in human form left us… and left us in the hands of God in the Spirit, we can now be influenced and persuaded by that Spirit to love righteousness (right-doing) for its own sake… because it is right… because we ourselves are convinced of these principles. True righteousness springs from within, not from without. Christ needed to leave so that we would welcome His Spiritual Counterpart, who could work within us. Hence the work of the Holy Spirit… within us… convincing us of righteousness and softening our hard heart.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world… of judgement… because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16: 8, 11). Through His Holy Spirit, Christ could do so much more than as a man among men. His Holy Presence which guides us continually, will “guide you into all truth” (John 16: 13) bringing conviction, true knowledge and true judgement. Christ “knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter” (Desire of Ages pg. 679). Hence the true judgement that the Holy Spirit brings… an inner conviction, a “settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved” (MR #56). Satan is thus judged.
The Holy Spirt, God’s own presence, is with us sinners… abiding with us, touching us deep inside where sin dwells. His presence, His touch conveys no contamination to Him, but brings healing to the sinner. It’s the only way healing can come… God with us… as a Man, as a Spiritual Person, as our Father. All united in their mission of love to the depths of sin and degradation, carrying you and me, bearing sin itself for you and me, so that there remains no barrier between us and Home. The Holy Spirit brings us this truth. By trusting that the Godhead is exactly like Jesus (believing Christ), we are softened to receive deep inside us all that the loving Godhead has for us (righteousness) and so become sealed, and so we cannot be moved (judge Satan).
With brotherly love,
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