Craig Smith - The Holy Spirit
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills and all the locations including those of you who are joining us Church Online. So glad you’re with us for week number six of our "When Everything Falls Apart" series. If you’re just joining us, let me catch you up real quick. What we’re doing in this series is we’re looking to the secrets Jesus taught to how to face difficulty without falling into despair or getting derailed in our walk with him And I don’t know about you, but I hear a testimony like the one we just heard and I think it’s very natural for us to think, "I don’t think I could do that." Anybody else feels like that? Like, I don’t think that I could get through that, let alone get through that and be on mission with Jesus more powerfully at the end of it than I was at the beginning of it. But if you feel like that what I want to tell you today is you’re wrong. You can because God has given you what you need. If you belong to him by faith, he has given you what you need to be able to do exactly that. And I’m really excited to be able to share that truth with you today.
Why don’t you go and grab a bible, make your way to the gospel of John, Chapter 16. What Jesus is gonna give us today really is probably the most important key to facing difficult circumstances well. He’s gonna sort of continue a lesson that we began last week, he’s talking about a particular kind of difficulty, but in the process of dealing with that particular kind of difficulty, he gives us a universal truth for facing any kind of difficulty. Chapter 16 verse 1 begins this way. Jesus said, "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away." All this, and when he says all of these, he means everything that he said up to this point and really everything he’s gonna say. In other words, everything that Jesus is teaching is so that we will not, say that with me, we will not fall away. In other words, what Jesus says is, I’m telling you this so that I can keep you close to me, because staying close to me is indispensable. It’s non-negotiable. If you’re gonna get through things well you’re gonna have to stick close to me, but I’ll guide you through these things.
And then He goes on and He begins to talk again about a very particular kind of difficulty that we sometimes face as the followers of Jesus, which is persecution. Verse 2, He says this. He says, "They will put you out of the synagogue. In fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think that they are offering a service to God." And, again, he’s dealing with this particular kind of difficulty that we began to talk about last week which is religious persecution. What he says is, you know, "If your faith in me is gonna be public you’re going to face a certain amount of persecution." And here he begins to speak about what is both a historical reality but also an important principle that’s universal and timeless.
From the historical reality, he says that they’re gonna put you out of the synagogue, and see, the first followers of Jesus were all Jewish people. They were descended from Jewish people. They worshipped the Jewish God. They respected the Jewish Scriptures. They saw Jesus as the Jewish Messiah that his people had been waiting for, so it’s very natural for the first followers of Jesus to want to continue going to the Jewish places of worship which was the synagogues. Those are the local assemblies for Jewish people. But what Jesus says is they’re gonna start putting you out, and that’s exactly what happened soon after the resurrection. They would begin to go to those synagogues to worship with their fellow Jewish people and those who had not seen Jesus as the Messiah, they began to close the doors to them and say, "You’re not here." And over time that moved not only to barring them from the synagogues, but it actually moved to hunting them down and executing some of them.
And so interesting that Jesus says that when anyone kills you they will think that they’re offering a service to God. It’s not only they’re gonna kill you but they’re gonna think they’re doing the right thing. They’re actually thinking it’s gonna be an act of worship to kill you as my followers, and he explains in verse 3 why that is. He says, "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me." That’s a really important thing to begin to wrestle with because this is the principle that I mentioned. There’s a historical reality he’s dealing with, but there’s also a timeless principle. He says "The reason they’re gonna do these horrible things and think they’re doing an active worship is because they have not known the Father or me. They don’t really know God," he says, which is a really remarkable thing to say because he’s talking about a group of people who were absolutely committed to their faith. They were absolutely committed to God’s Word. They had the Old Testament Scriptures and they were meticulous. They were almost obsessed with doing what the Old Testament Scripture said to do. So, if it said to do it, they did it, if it said not to do it, they didn’t do it. They were obsessed with behaving in the way that God told them to behave, and yet Jesus says,"They didn’t belong to the Father." They didn’t know the Father. They weren’t in a relationship with him.
And we go, how is that possible that a group of such people committed religious people could make such a tragic error, could fall so far short? And the answer is basically this, is that they confused behaving with belonging. Let me say that again. They confused behaving with belonging, which is a pretty easy thing to do because honestly, the truth is that when we belong to someone or something, we tend to behave in certain ways. Behaving is usually a result of belonging. Right? I mean, if you belong to the Broncos, you wear Broncos jersey on game days. If you belong to a certain university, you wear a t-shirt from that university. I belong to Colletta, so I wear a wedding ring, right? So belonging leads to behaving, right? But it’s not always the other way around, right? Behaving doesn’t necessarily equal belonging, right? I mean, I was in Office Depot the other day and I was trying to find something and then I saw a guy, and I don’t know why exactly. Something about his head to me said, Office Depot guy, there was just something about him. And then I kind of went a little bit deeper down. I was like, "Well, he’s wearing the right color shirt, he’s wearing the right color of pants, must be an Office Depot guy."
And so I went to him and I said, "Hey, where can I…" and he looked at me and I was like, "You don’t work here, never mind." But in a lot of ways, he was behaving like an Office Depot guy, but that didn’t necessarily mean that he belonged to Office Depot, right? I mean, just because you see a guy wearing a Broncos shirt at the mall, you don’t necessarily go up to them and ask for their autograph because that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re Broncos. Just because you see somebody wearing a particular shirt or wearing a ring doesn’t necessarily mean they belong in the same way. Okay. So the reality is this, belonging results in behaving, but behaving doesn’t necessarily reveal belonging. Does that make sense? And that’s kind of what had happened to these people. They said. "Well, belonging leads to behaving. Belonging to God leads to these kind of behaviors, therefore, if I do these kind of behaviors I must belong to God." Right? And Jesus said, "Sorry." It doesn’t work that way around.
So they didn’t know the Father or maybe they didn’t know God. They didn’t belong to God. They weren’t really in a relationship with God. He says, "I’ve told you this, verse 4, so that when their time comes…" or literally I have told you these things so that when they happen you will remember that I warned you about them. When they begin to do this to you, you’re gonna remember that I told you it was coming, because as we said last week, what we expect we can…anybody? Endure. What we expect we can endure. So, he says, "I told you so you wouldn’t be caught off guard when these things happen. I didn’t tell you all these from the beginning because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me. I’m going away," which is really what launched this entire section of the Gospel of John.
Jesus said, "I know you’re excited about everything that is gonna go on, and it is still gonna go on, but it’s gonna go on a little bit different way." He says, "I’m leaving. I’m only gonna be with you a little bit longer." So he says, "None of you asked me where are you going, rather," verse 6, "you are filled with grief because I’ve said these things. But very truly I tell you, it’s for your good that I am going away because unless I go away the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." This is the third time in this section of the Gospel of John that we see Jesus talk about the Advocate, which is his name for the Holy Spirit. And Jesus has promised already before this that when he leaves, he’s not gonna leave the disciples alone. He’s not gonna leave us on our own trying to figure it out, but he’s gonna send the Holy Spirit, whom he calls the Advocate. And I love that word because an advocate, as we’ve said the last few weeks means somebody who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
And it’s very natural in this context for people to wonder, like, "Can I not fall away from you? Can I really walk with you? Can I continue to live out my faith in you when all these difficult things come? Jesus, you’re not saying that you’re going away and that’s gonna be hard, but you’re saying that people are gonna come against us, and they’re gonna think they’re doing God a service. I’m gonna be misunderstood. I’m gonna be gossiped about, I’m gonna be maligned. I’m not sure that I can really stay with you if you’re not here with me to carry me through that." And what Jesus says is, "It’s okay. I’m gonna send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who will do for you which you cannot do for yourself, and he will keep you from falling away. He’ll give you what you need to get through all of this." And beyond just getting through all of this, he says that the Holy Spirit is gonna be able to begin the work of, sort of turning things around, of setting things right.
He says, verse 8, he says, "When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment." When the Holy Spirit comes, he will begin, through the disciples, to prove the world wrong about what they think about sin, about righteousness, and judgment. And to understand that, we need to make sure that we remember the original context. Jesus consistently uses this word, "world" to talk about anybody who’s not connected to God by faith in Jesus. Okay. That’s what he means by the world. So anyone who’s not connected to God by faith in Jesus. But remember, he’s mostly doing his ministry around very religious people, people who are obsessed with behaving rightly, with doing the dos and not doing the don’ts and all those kinds of things. But he says, they’re also the world because they’re not connected to God by faith in Jesus. He said, you know, they didn’t know God, they didn’t belong to him.
But what’s so interesting is that throughout his ministry we kind of saw this consistent misunderstanding between what the world thought about sin and righteousness and judgment and what Jesus thought. See, for most of the Jewish leadership, there was this insistence that, you know, unless you behave, you can’t belong. Unless you behave, you can’t belong. So, they would say, you know, "You’re not part of us, you’re on the outside looking in unless you behave right." So, they looked at the Gentile world, the non-Jewish world and they said, "Well, you’re not behaving right, so you don’t belong, you’re on the outside." They looked at sinners within the nation of Israel, they said, "Well, you’re not behaving right so you’re not on the in-crowd, you’re not here. You don’t really belong," and there was a pushing out.
And then Jesus came along and he kind of flipped it around, didn’t he? In fact, if you read through the gospels, you see this very surprising reality that Jesus didn’t insist that people behaved before they belonged. In fact, it seemed to be the other way around. I mean, he went to tax collectors, people that the Jewish people thought as, you know, some of the worst possible sinners because they were taking money from the Jewish people and they were sending it to the Roman Empire. They were traitors. That was treason. And Jesus came to the tax collectors and he said, "Come follow me. Come follow me, I’m gonna make you part of what I’m doing." In other words, He said, "Come, belong to me." He didn’t say, "Stop tax collecting and then we’ll talk about it." He said, "No, no. Come, belong."
He hung out with prostitutes. He hung out with sinners, and Jesus was often accused of being sinful simply for allowing those people to belong with him, to have meals with them. Maybe the most famous of the stories, you don’t have to spend much time in church to have heard a piece of this one. There’s a time that there was a woman caught on adultery and she was brought and she was kind of thrown down in front of Jesus and the crowd, and I got to say by the way that last time I checked it takes two to tango. A woman caught on adultery, there was a man involved in there somewhere. But it’s interesting he’s not there, which is probably indicative of a little bit of hypocrisy, maybe some misogyny going on. The man was spared the humiliation, the woman was thrown down in front of Jesus, in front of this crowd.
And they said, "Hey, she was caught in adultery, nobody is denying it. Now, the Old Testament Law says that she has to be stoned. She’s not behaving right and so what we have to do is we have to stone her to death. So what do you think we should do, Jesus?" And they felt like they had Jesus kinds of caught in a bear trap at that point because if he said, "Well, I think we should just let her go," they would have gone, "Well, then you’re throwing away the Old Testament Scriptures, the Law of God. But if you say we should stone her, then you’re being a hypocrite because you’re allowing, you know, other people to belong without changing their behavior necessarily." So they thought they had him caught, and said, "So what are you gonna do?" And Jesus, I love it. He bent down and he started writing on the ground, and I don’t know what he was writing. My guess is honestly, what he was doing at that point, he was taking the attention of that poor woman, so filled with humiliation and shame in that moment in front of a crowd.
And he drew and he said, "Well, here’s what I think. Let’s go with this. Whichever one of you has never sinned, why don’t you be the first one to throw the stone." And I wish I had been there. I wish I could have seen this. I imagine that he just kind of went back to drawing and one by one they began to hear the sound of stones just falling to the ground. [makes sound] These people just dropped their stones and walked away. And I don’t know, you know, like when you’re popping popcorn, you wait until there’s a long enough pause between the pops. You know, eventually, there was a long enough pause between the sounds. He kind of looked up and he looked around and everybody left. And so he looked at this woman and he said, "Isn’t anybody left to condemn you?" And she said, "No." He said the most remarkable thing. He says, "Then neither do I condemn you."
See, that’s belonging, you understand that, right? That’s acceptance. It’s belonging, it’s before behaving. But don’t misunderstand. It’s not like he didn’t care about sin, it’s not like he was soft on sin, because what he actually said to her, it’s so remarkable. He said first, "Then neither do I condemn you." But then he said, "Now, go and sin no more. Leave your life of sin." He called sin what it was. He said it’s an issue. We know it’s an issue, that’s why he came to earth. He came to earth to die for our sin. Okay. It’s not like sin is insignificant. It cost him his life to forgive our sin. But he looked at the woman, he said, "I accept you, you can belong." And then he asked for a change in behavior and that’s so remarkable because understand that here’s what the religious authority said. They said, "Unless you behave you can’t belong." Jesus said, "Unless you belong, you can’t behave."
Unless you belong, you can’t behave. He knew that asking people to behave according to a set of rules and regulations and laws and commandments was impossible unless there was a transformation of that person from the inside out. Unless they were forgiven of sin and they are set free from guilt and shame which causes them to just spiral more and more into that same garbage. He said unless that’s taken away and unless something happens who is the Holy Spirit coming into their lives to actually change them from the inside, He said there’s no possible way they can behave the right way. And so they said you have to behave before you can belong and he said, "No, no, no. You get it wrong. Unless they belong, they can’t behave."
And so what he says now is that the Holy Spirit is gonna come and he’s gonna begin to show the truth of what he taught with his life. He says, "When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment." He says, "About sin because people do not believe in me." He said, "They’ve got it all wrong." I mean, it’s not that those other things aren’t sin, but the worst sin by far is to reject me, your only provision for sin, the only sacrifice available to forgive your sin and to open up your way into heaven. He said that’s where the real sin is that you’re not accepting me, and you got it wrong.
He says, verse 10, "To prove the world wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father, where you can see me no longer." He says, basically, he knows what’s coming. he knows that he’s gonna die and he’s gonna be put in the grave and that those that accused him are gonna look and say, "There’s the proof he wasn’t a prophet, there’s the proof he wasn’t a righteous man, there’s the proof he wasn’t the son of God or the Messiah. He’s dead. He died a sinner’s death in the cross. Now, his body is in the grave. That’s the proof that he is not righteous, that we were righteous for doing that to him. And they were partly right. He did die a sinner’s death on the cross. He did get laid in the grave, but the problem is that three days later he got up, which demonstrates his righteous, this is true righteousness. Wages of sin is death, but because he was righteous death could not hold him and it also left him without a body to point to, didn’t it? That’s why he says, they will see me no more." They wanted to be able to point the body, say, "There’s the proof. He’s a sinner and there he is, but he’s not there. Well, what do we do with that?"
He said, "What you need to do with that, is you need to rethink your view of righteousness." He says, "Then he will prove the world wrong," verse 11, "about judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned." See, the people who accused Jesus, who took him ultimately to the cross, they thought they were doing God’s work, they thought they were bringing God’s judgment upon Jesus. Jesus says, "No, no, no. What you’re gonna see through the resurrection is God didn’t judge me. The real judgment is not coming to me, the real judgment is coming up on the prince of this world." That’s a really powerful statement. Partly, it’s a powerful statement because he uses the word world again, and world means anybody who doesn’t belong to God by faith in Jesus. So many of his accusers, that’s the world, but then he says, the world, they don’t belong to God by faith in Jesus but they do belong to this prince of this world, which is a world that Jesus used a couple of different times in the Gospel of John to refer to the devil, Satan.
So, what he basically says is, you know, you think I’m being judged but the real judgment is not coming on me, it’s coming on Satan and all those who belong to him, which by the way is everybody who doesn’t belong to me. You see what Jesus is saying? He’s kind of, he’s making this very kind of stark contrast, either you belong to me and you will be forgiven of your sin, you will achieve righteousness from me inside out but the power of the Holy Spirit and you will escape judgment for all of eternity or you belong to Satan and your sins remain and you’re not as righteous as you think you are and judgment is coming. But you either belong to me or to Satan. And so, what he says basically is, it’s all about who you belong to. It’s all about who you belong to. Behavior is a result of that, but it’s not the core of it. It’s all about who you belong to. Do you belong to Jesus or do you belong to the enemy? Says, it’s all about who you belong to.
He says, verse 12, "I have so much more to say to you. More than you can now bear, but it’s okay because when he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth." Jesus says, "What I’ve done is I’ve told you some specific information about a specific situation. I’ve told you some information that you need to know the face persecution when it comes, but the reality is you’re gonna face a lot more things. It’s not just gonna be persecution, it’s gonna make it hard to stay with me. It’s not just persecution that’s gonna tempt you to fall away from me. There’s gonna be all kinds of other stuff. There’s gonna be health crises. There’s gonna be family conflict. There’s gonna be job situations, there’s can be all kinds of other things that are gonna make it hard for you to trust me and to move forward with me. And he says, I could tell you about all those things. I could give you the playbook for how to respond each and every situation, but that’s gonna take a while.
And honestly, you’re not in a position to have receive it right now because he says you’re worried, you’re upset," which is natural when we face difficult circumstances. We don’t start thinking super clearly, right? It’s not in the moment of crisis that our brains suddenly like clarify. He says, "Yeah, you’re upset so that even trying to tell you that specific information for all those situations right now, it wouldn’t work." But then he says, "But, you know, it’s okay. I don’t actually need to give you the playbook because instead of giving you the playbook, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna give you a coach. I’m gonna give you a coach who will tell you what you need to do when you need to know what you need to do." He says, "I will give you the Holy Spirit and he will guide you into all of the truth."
Don’t misunderstand, he’s not saying the Holy Spirit becomes like some kind of a divine Google, okay? He is not saying the Holy Spirit is gonna be just a fountain of information. When he says, guide you into or even guide you in all the truth, is another way to translate that, what he’s saying is the Holy Spirit is gonna show you what it looks like to live out the truth of who I am and what it means to belong to me. Let me say that again. He says the Holy Spirit is gonna lead you, guide you, to live out the truth of who I am and what it means for you to belong to me. He’s gonna show you what it looks like to do that when your marriage is in trouble. He’s gonna show you what it looks like to do that when you’re facing persecution. He’s gonna show you what it looks like to do that when your health is failing or somebody’s around you is failing. In all of these situations, he’s gonna show you what it looks like to live out the truth of who Jesus is and what it means to belong to him. He is going to do that for you.
And then he says this. And it’s interesting over the next three verses, he uses one word three different times. It’s a little bit of an unusual word, we only find that a handful of times in all the Bible. And when we find an unusual word used three different times so close together, it’s an immediate kind of a call to attention. He says pay attention to this. And the world basically translates to deliver. He says this. He says, "he, the Holy Spirit, will not speak on his own. He will speak only what he hears and he will deliver or tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will deliver or make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. All of it is mine," He says. "That is why I said the spirit will receive from me what he will deliver or make known to you." What Jesus is saying very simply is this. He says, "When we belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will deliver everything we need."
When we belong to Jesus the Holy Spirit will deliver everything we need to be able to live out the truth of who he is and what it means to belong to him. He will deliver everything we need. Sometimes it’s gonna be information, sometimes the Holy Spirit will bring information to your mind, it will bring information into your life from other people, it will give you information if that’s what you need. But it’s not always information. Sometimes what we need more than information is courage, courage to act on the information, courage to do the hard thing, the righteous thing, the faithful thing. He says he will give you the courage then. If what you need is kindness, he’ll deliver kindness. If what you need is patience, he will deliver patience. Be careful about asking for that one, because one of the ways he delivers it is by putting you in situations where you need it. I’ve learned that the hard way over the years.
But, however, he does it. He’ll get it to you. He says, "When we belong to Jesus everything we need will be delivered to us by the Holy Spirit, everything. Which on the one hand is really encouraging, right? But on the other hand raises questions, like how? Now, that’s the big question, isn’t it? How will that happen? How will the Holy Spirit deliver it? What role do I play in that? And, you know, I’ve found over the years as, not only as a pastor but really as a follower of Jesus, that people are often confused about the Holy Spirit’s work, really confused about the Holy Spirit himself. And I think partly it’s because, you know, on the one hand like we swing the pendulum pretty wide in churches. Some churches never talk about the Holy Spirit. They never really deal with passages that talk about the Holy Spirit. They never talk about them with each other. He’s almost kind of like, he’s the forgotten member of the Trinity.
And what’s interesting, you know, I spent years as a speaker and it almost became a game to me. I would go into certain churches and I’d spent just a little bit of time and I’d get some kind of an impression about them and then I’d make a guess. And the guess is, this is a church that doesn’t talk about the Holy Spirit much, or this is a church that talks about the Holy Spirit a fair amount. And then one of the reasons I would make that guess, and I was almost always right, was because whenever I thought this is the church that doesn’t talk about the Holy Spirit much, I could feel it in the church. I could feel a lack of life. I could feel a lack of vitality in the church. So we have that kind of extreme. Then you get the other extreme, and I’ve been in churches like that like, well, nobody ever says, "I decided," nobody ever says, "I thought," everybody was like, "The Holy Spirit told me. The Holy Spirit told me to stop going to Wendy’s and start going to Arby’s."
Really? Okay. And it’s almost like you can’t have a preference, you can’t have an actual thought. It’s all got to be sort of bathed, and the Holy Spirit did this. And let’s be honest, sometimes, sometimes that gets a little bit weird. And sometimes people like that, they just strike us as a little bit, we’ll say different, but we know that what we really mean is weird, right? Because of that, sometimes I think we’re really confused about the Holy Spirit. And the other problem I think is that you know even though the Bible says to be led by the Spirit, I mean, you know, Jesus says that when you belong to him the Holy Spirit will deliver everything and so just be led by the Spirit, just trust the Spirit is gonna guide you and give you what you need when you need it. Even though the Bible says to be led by the Spirit, it’s not always entirely clear how to do that, right? There’s no passage I can go to that says, "Here’s the four things you do, here’s the five principles, here’s the six steps." It’s a little bit like riding a bicycle, right?
I’m gonna write a book about riding a bicycle. The title is gonna be "How to Ride a Bicycle." Page one is gonna be get a bicycle. Page two is gonna be ride the bicycle, and then we’re done. And I realize there’s a lot that goes in between those two things, but they’re pretty hard to put on paper, right? I mean, ride a bicycle, balance. How do I do that? Just do it. Right? It’s pretty, I mean, until you do it it’s really hard to like say how you do it, right? I mean, and I think sometimes the Holy Spirit is a little bit like that. I mean, step one, get the Holy Spirit. I can tell you how to do that. By belonging to Jesus. God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you. He died on the cross for you. He died on the cross to forgive your sins. Three days later, he rose from the grave. That’s not a matter of faith. It’s a fact of history. It is a fact of history.
Faith comes when we decide, I’m gonna put my trust in that, when we’re gonna say yes to Jesus and invite him into our lives, and when that happens the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and so that’s how you get the Holy Spirit. You put your faith in Jesus. I can tell you that step. The second step is be led by that Spirit. And it’s a little bit harder to go, "Well, here’s your steps and principles and processes." But I thought, what might be useful to you as your pastor is simply to share some stuff that I’ve learned over the years of trying to be led by the Spirit that have made a difference in my life and I think they might be useful in yours. And so here’s four things that I’ve learned in seeking to be led by the Spirit over the years. Number one is this, I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is the fullness of God in me. Trust that the Holy Spirit is the fullness of God in me.
And see, here’s the interesting thing, it’s another one of those places, like the Bible tells us that there is such a thing as the Trinity. You know, that’s one of the Christian doctrines, the Trinity. But it’s a confusing doctrine, isn’t it? Because the Bible doesn’t tells us exactly how it all works, what the Bible does is it tells us here’s where you got to keep your thinking between these two walls, it’s a little bit like when you go bowling and you press that button and the bumpers come up. I know none of you guys do that, but you can, and that means you’re never gonna really, I mean, you got to really be working. You could throw it into the other lane, but as long as you like even close, you keep your ball in there. Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how to understand the Trinity maybe because our brains can understand it but it does give us the bumpers to keep our thinking in.
One of the bumpers says there’s one God. God is one. One God, there’s only one God, there’s only one God, and that gets said over and over again, one God, that’s a bumper. The other bumper is, but there’s three persons who make up that God. There’s Father, Son and Spirit. One God, three persons, and you’re like, "I don’t get that," but that where the Bible says keep our thinking. But in the process of telling us there’s Father, Son and Spirit. The Bible is also clear that Father, Son, and Spirit are all equally God, they’re all fully God. There’s not some hierarchy that you know you’re like 100% God, and you’re like 87% God, and then 14%, it doesn’t work that way. They’re 100% God. All three persons are fully God. Which means that when Jesus said that if you put your faith in me, if you belong to me, the Holy Spirit will take up residence in you, that means the fullness of God is in me. And that means that I don’t lack anything that I need. It means that when I go into a situation, I can trust that I have what I need to handle that situation in a godly way that I have what I need to handle that situation in a way that will glorify God and move me through it no matter how difficult that situation is.
And if you are a follower of Jesus, if you belong to God by faith in Jesus, you have the fullness of the Holy Spirit in you, the fullness of God in you, and you lack nothing. That’s the first step, is to trust that the fullness of God is in me because of the Holy Spirit. So, I don’t worry about what I lack, I don’t worry about what I don’t know. I don’t worry about not having as much wisdom or as much intelligence or as much kindness or patience whatever it is. I trust that it’s available to me when I need it because the fullness of God is in me. The second thing I do is I ask the Holy Spirit to lead me. I ask the Holy Spirit to lead me. I actually do this every morning. I actually have a declaration. I have a series of things that I say at the beginning of every morning, and one of them is, "Because I belong to Jesus the Holy Spirit is in me. So, I will ask him to lead me today." I just declare that at the beginning of every day to remind myself and then throughout the day, with like going to conversations or meetings or situations, I ask, I say, "Holy Spirit, would you show me what I need to know? Would you give me what I need to represent Jesus well in this conversation, to be godly in this meeting, to move through whatever this is? I trust that you will do that but I’m asking you to do it."
Now, I want to tell you that I have some pastor friends and some theologian friends that will disagree on that, and we have arguments about it. And I’ve had people tell me, "Well, you can’t, you can’t pray to the Holy Spirit, or you shouldn’t pray to the Holy Spirit because there’s no examples in scripture of anybody praying to the Holy Spirit." And that’s true. There are no examples in Scripture of anybody praying to the Holy Spirit. There’s actually only one verse that I’m aware of anybody praying to Jesus, which is interesting because nobody thinks that it’s a problem to pray to Jesus, but you only see one example. So, I go it’s probably happening, we just don’t have any examples written down. But here’s what we do have. We have a number of commands in Scripture that we’re to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. We’re told that not to grieve the Spirit. We’re told to be led by the Spirit. So, we’re told to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and what I’ve discovered is cooperation is very difficult without conversation.
Think about our lives with people, right? Cooperating with somebody is very difficult if you’re not conversing with them, and cooperation is very difficult without conversation. So there’s some people who disagree ,but I actually think because the Holy Spirit is the fullness of God, is fully God, there’s nothing wrong to praying with the Holy Spirit especially when, and this is sort of a little theological twist that I often throw on it, the bible is very clear that Father, Son and Spirit have distinct roles and so I try to direct my prayers to the Father, Son and Spirit based on what the scripture tells me their roles are for. So for instance, I will thank God for loving me and creating me. I will thank Jesus for saving me, and I’ll thank the Holy Spirit for leading me. I try to direct my prayers to what the Scripture tells me about each of the persons and their particular roles. But I ask the Holy Spirit on a regular basis to lead me. And what I’ve discovered over the years is pretty simple, it’s pretty straight correlation.
The more times during the day that I ask the Holy Spirit to lead me, the better that day goes. The more at the end of the day I’m able to look back and go, "I think I represented Jesus pretty well today. I think I moved forward in ways that were consistent with who he is and what it means to belong to him." And the days that I don’t ask as much, I can’t say that as much. Asking for the Holy Spirit’s leading regularly makes a difference in my life. It absolutely does. It’s been my experience for sure. But the third thing I do is this. I test what I think the Spirit is leading me to. I test what I think the Spirit is leading me to. Because, the reality is the Holy Spirit rarely gives me what I would call like, you know, in your face messages. I’ve yet to see anything catch fire and a deep voice speak out of it. I don’t see the handwriting on the wall. It’s usually, honestly, it’s often things that people say that I just, there’s something in me that goes, "Pay attention to that." It’s a still small voice occasionally.
Sometimes it’s a little bit more raucous, but that’s not my normal experience. But because I don’t have those experiences, and even if I do I still do the same thing. I test them. I go, okay. Well, first off, I test them against the Scripture, because I know that the Holy Spirit is never gonna lead me to anything that’s not consistent with God’s Word. And so I study Scripture. I ask the question, is what I think the Holy Spirit is leading to, is it consistent with the principles I find in Scripture? I also ask the question pretty regularly as I search the Scripture, do I see similar patterns of leading of the Holy Spirit in the Scripture? In other words, what I sense the Holy Spirit leading me to, do I see similar kinds of things happening in the scripture that the Holy Spirit led other followers of Jesus to, and that gives me some confidence that this pattern is consistent, not just the principles not being violated, but the pattern is actually present as well. And so I do that. I also test where I think the Holy Spirit is leading me too against the council of godly advisers. At Mission Hills, I have an incredible group of elders and we make the big decisions together. But it’s not just the big decisions. I often call the elders throughout the week, one or two of them and go, "Hey, I’m thinking about this. I feel like maybe the Spirit is leading this. And what do you think about this? Give me your wisdom on this?"
My wife is a godly adviser. I test things that I think the Holy Spirit is leading me to against my wife and also against other fellow believers. Because, I believe God often leads through his people and not just through me. And so some of the most powerful leadings of the Holy Spirit have come from the least expected places, but still from within the family of God. And so I always test what I think the Holy Spirit is leading me to. It’s a really important part of this. And then the fourth thing is this. I act quickly. I act quickly when I recognize the Spirit is leading. This one is really important. And here’s the thing, you just have to recognize. The Holy Spirit rarely leads us to do easy things. You know what I’m talking about? The Holy Spirit rarely leads us to do easy things because if they were easy things, we wouldn’t really need the Holy Spirit leading us to do them, right? Like, I’m thinking about Chipotle for lunch. I think the Holy Spirit is leading me there. Of course, he is. Right?
Make the easy decision, make the easy call, do the thing that doesn’t require any courage. The Holy Spirit doesn’t usually get involved in those. When the Holy Spirit leads, it’s almost always to a difficult thing. And what I’ve discovered is when the Holy Spirit leading and when I’ve recognized that, it’s important that I act quickly. And when I don’t, honestly, it doesn’t go as well. I had this experience just recently last fall, I began to sense the Spirit leading something, and it wasn’t an easy thing. It was a difficult decision. A couple of different ways that it happened that really caught my attention, I began to check it against the Scripture, I began to check it with godly advisers and fellow Christians, and over and over again I saw it confirmed it and I thought, "Okay, yeah. I think the Holy Spirit is leading in this, but I don’t want to do that. That’s a difficult thing." And I didn’t say I’m not gonna do it, you never say I’m not gonna do it.
You’re like, "I’m gonna do it, just not today. I’m gonna get there, you know, but Lord it would be a lot easier if this were true and maybe it’s the timing in this." And just a couple of weeks ago I had a series of like four days in a row, I just wasn’t sleeping at all. And my incredible wife was up in the middle of the night praying for me, and one of the mornings, the fourth morning, we got up and I said, "Well, how did you sleep?" And she said, "Not real good." She goes, "Because, pretty early on I was praying and I felt like the Holy Spirit gave me a word for you." And I was like, "Oh. It’s you love me, right? That’s is it."
I said, "What is it?" She said, and you could tell she was nervous, but she said, "I feel like the Holy Spirit told me that the reason you’ve not been sleeping the last four nights is because you’re being disciplined?" Why? She said, "Because he’s led you and you haven’t acting on it." So, I said, "Holy Spirit lead me." The moment I prayed that, I just had this very clear sense, she’s right, and God is speaking to me through my wife that I had sensed the Spirit’s leading, I had confirmed it, but I hadn’t acted on it and I was being disciplined for it. So, I confessed that, I repented it, I acted on it, and immediately experienced a tremendous sense of relief. Even though what I was doing was much harder, it required courage and it wasn’t easy, I actually had peace and I began to sleep again.
So, I’ve learned over the years that when the Holy Spirit leads, we need to act quickly. Test it first, make sure that it’s him but when it is him, act quick. I hope these things are helpful to you. Are these helpful? Yeah? See, here’s the truth. Here’s the big idea I want you to walk away from today. Jesus is pretty clear. He says, "When we belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will give us everything we need, will deliver everything we need." We simply need to look to him for it. Would you pray with me?
Jesus, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Thank you that as your followers, as those who belong to you by faith, we can be confident that we don’t lack anything we need to move through difficult circumstances in a way that honors you and demonstrates to the world who you are and what it means for us to belong to you. Help us to be led by your Spirit. Holy Spirit, teach us to lead, be led by you better that we might bring glory to Jesus and to our Father.
If you’re a follower of Jesus would you do me a favor? Would you begin praying for people around you, people listening online right now, people who don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, they realize that they don’t belong to God. And maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re listening right now and you realizing, "Yeah, I don’t have that power of the Holy Spirit because I don’t belong to God by faith." Maybe even you found yourself sort of struck or convicted by that talk about behaving versus belonging and you realized, you know, maybe even coming to church a long time and you’re trying to really hard to behave and you’re constantly frustrated feeling like you never quite there, that you’re never good enough. And maybe it’s good news to hear that you don’t have to be good enough.
In fact, unless you belong to Jesus and to God by faith, you’ll never get the behavior right. And the good news is that God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you before you got it right. And if you would like to belong, there’s no reason why you can’t begin that right here, right now today. You can belong to God. He did everything to invite you into the family. You just have to say yes to faith in Jesus. And if you’re ready right now to belong to God by faith in Jesus, would you just slip your hand up right now? That’s awesome. Fantastic. Wherever you are, this is what you pray. If you’re watching online, I’d love for you to click the button right below me, let us know. And you just say this wherever you are, in your heart to God. Say:
God, I’ve done wrong, I’m sorry. I know I’ve misbehaved, and I know I can’t be good enough. Thanks that I don’t have to be. Jesus, I believe that you died for my sin, and I believe that you rose from the dead, and I get it. You’re offering me forgiveness, new life, belonging to the family of God. I’m ready to receive those gifts. I’m ready to put my faith in you. So, Jesus right here, right now, I say yes to faith in you. And I receive forgiveness, new life, belonging in the family of God, and I receive the power of the Holy Spirit to change me from the inside out. Amen.