Demystifying the Holy Spirit: John 16

We’ve spent many weeks learning the practice of meditating on God’s Word and understanding what it means to abide with Him and simply be a branch. I pray your inner being was strengthened by Him and you continue to press into Him. We’re going to continue our study of the Gospel of John by picking up in chapter 16. Keep walking in obedience! 

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

  • These things,” Jesus said. But what are these things He’s specifically referencing? We have to look back into the John 15 meditations to recall, and I would encourage you to make John 15 a chapter you frequently revisit. We forget so quickly. I mean, I can barely remember where I was last week. It’s through the meditations and constant revisiting of His Word that I am transformed.

  • Jesus gave us things to keep us from falling away. In John 10:10 we learned about Satan’s (aka: the thief) motive: to kill, to steal, and to destroy. Friends, Satan has your number, so be sure your phone is turned off and instead, your spirit is dialed into Him.

  • There are “religions” that are rooted in deep deception. “Religions” that convince people that killing other Christians is an act of service to God. I know it sounds horrible, but it’s true and one of the greatest authors of the New Testament fell prey to this trickery: The Apostle Paul. He killed and persecuted believers; yet, God saw it fit to use Him. No matter how bad it seems, God can redeem.

 “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

  • If I were one of the disciples, I know that the talk of Jesus not being around would cause me some anxiety. After all, these men had walked with Him day and night for three years. Going away?! Leaving?! Abandoning me?! Yet, Jesus knows best. He knew that He was still one man on earth. In order to “multiply” Himself, He had to die. When I say “multiply,” think about it like this: When a kernel falls to the ground and surrenders itself, a new plant life is born, and that plant generates fruit. Figuratively, Jesus was saying the same thing—He knew He had to die and fully surrender His life so that the Holy Spirit could always dwell inside of every believer, simultaneously. What a beautiful sacrifice.

  • The Holy Spirit can be the least understood of the Trinity. So, let’s spend a little time debunking Who the Holy Spirit is, and His role.

    • The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a mystical ghost or floating spirit. Isaiah 63:10, Matthew 12:31, Acts 7:51, Ephesians 4:30, and Hebrews 10:29 explain to us that the Holy Spirit can be grieved, resisted against, and insulted. In other words, the Holy Spirit has feelings, just like any other person. Additionally, the Holy Spirit has other qualities that distinguish Him as a person and those are in Nehemiah 9:20, John 15:26, Acts 13:2, Romans 8:26-27 and 15:30, and 1 Corinthians 12:11. These verses tell us the Holy Spirit instructs, testifies, speaks, intercedes, loves, and works.

    • The Holy Spirit was present in Jesus’ life on earth. We know from Luke 1:35 that the angel that appeared to Mary said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” We also read in Matthew 3:16 that the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove coming down after Jesus' baptism. The Holy Spirit was present from the beginning and in these verses in John 16, Jesus is explaining to His disciples why He must leave so they too can receive the Holy Spirit.

    • The Holy Spirit’s role or purpose is to convict the world of sin, spread the righteousness of Christ (since Jesus wouldn’t be physically present to do so), and to remind people of coming judgment. The word “convict” in verse 8 is broader than our legal term but speaks of exposing and convincing. We not only see our sin exposed, but He convinces us it’s not in alignment with holiness.

    • Another point about the Holy Spirit that you will see in Scripture is that the Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself. He draws attention to Christ and His redemptive work. Charles Spurgeon says, “It is the Chief office of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ.” If you’d like to understand more about the role of the Holy Spirit, you can read Spurgeon’s full sermon here.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

  • Verse 12 makes me smile. When I read those words, I hope you hear these words speaking directly to you. “Tiffany, I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” I know that if God revealed to me all of His plans, my mind and heart would explode. I require a new body and a likeness to Christ (which we’ll receive in heaven, btw) so that I can fathom His thoughts and His plans.

  • If you’re struggling with understanding why God permits certain situations—particularly ones that cause sorrow and pain—find comfort in knowing that you may not be meant to understand in this world. This place is not our home. The answers are not all meant to be here. The pain is for a purpose and even in the most tragic of situations, we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). I realize that philosophically or intellectually that may make sense, but when you’re in the darkness and walking through the valley, it’s difficult to see the forthcoming joy. So, Jesus brings us some more encouragement through these sufferings in the following verses that we’ll dissect together.

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

  • Notably, the disciples are confused with Jesus’ words. And, I can relate to that because these verses confused me at first, too. Yes, He is speaking figuratively and not directly. I’m a direct, no-fluff, give-it-to-me-straight kind of lady, so when people dance around what they truly want to say, it is frustrating to me. However, there’s a lesson in what Jesus is saying that I never caught before.

  • Look at verse 23-24 again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Jesus is telling them, “Hey, if you don’t understand what I’m saying, just ask. I will help you. Up until this point, you’ve been confused, but you haven’t asked anything in My name.” That’s straight-up! So, when you’re confused, angry, frustrated, clueless, or overwhelmed—take it to Jesus. It doesn’t say that He will give you the answer, but it does say that “your joy may be full.” I’m up for joy any day over the stressful emotions I just listed out.

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

  • It’s like the lightbulb went off! “Oh my goodness, I understand now!” Jesus explained to them that all they needed to do was ask about His Words and He would give them joy. And now, you see their joy is made full.

  • Jesus asks the disciples a fundamental question: “Do you now believe?” What we believe is critical because beliefs drive our behaviors. That is why God is in the business of transforming and renewing. The old man is no good, so He purchased us to remodel us. Part of that remodeling or sanctification process requires our worldly belief system to be rooted and grounded in Christ. That takes work. Anything worth doing is typically hard. Life is hard. Once we transcend this idea of life being hard, we begin to lean into the process of refinement and can abide in the work that Christ is doing in and through us. Each day, He’s tilling up your old, sinful beliefs and giving you the hope of Him. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

  • I like to skim over the tribulation/persecution/suffering verses. They don’t feel fun. They aren’t happy. But, it’s a necessary passage for each believer. No one rides free. God permits the persecutions not to punish us, but to help us pursue Him and glorify His name. People recognize how others “show up” in trials. I remember during one dark season of mine, a good friend wrote me a note and told me that she loved how I pointed people to Christ when I was going through hardships. That meant a lot because it’s critical to “show-up” with Jesus. It’ll help you rise above the mess and stay fixed, fastened, and focused on what truly matters: the salvation of mankind.

  • This chapter ends with a powerful verse that should echo in your heart today: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He’s got this, friends. It’s already done. It’s finished. Whatever situation you’re facing, whatever depression is looming, whatever hurt needs healing—He’s overcome it. Amen.