Bible Reading: John 14:15-18; 16:5-15
Jesus uses the same Greek word parakletos four times [John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7] in John’s Gospel to describe the Holy Spirit. The original meaning in Greek was to come alongside. It was also used in Greek literature of a legal advocate; that is someone who speaks in a persons defence and gives legal counsel. The Holy Spirit is the One who provides us with advice or counsel.
This Greek word is translated in different ways in our various English translations of the Bible. It is Helper, Counsellor, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Consoler and Encourager. Each of these words gives a slightly different shade of meaning to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. It is exciting that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would not only come alongside us as our Helper, but that He would be within us [v.17]. He will never leave us [v.16] and will work powerfully, both for us and in us.
Are you in a battle, attacked by different philosophies, feeling discouraged and needing someone to help you? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Tragically, many Christians do not have time to listen to Him. This week I was speaking with a Christian businessman who told me that He is now too busy to take time to pray and read the Bible each day. Sadly, He is neglecting the one most powerful source available to help him – the Holy Spirit. Later, in the next chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. It is actually an issue of rebellion when we think that we can succeed without a dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said the world couldn’t receive the Holy Spirit because it is not looking for Him and does not recognize Him. It relies instead upon self-confidence and natural ability, and the danger for the Christian is that this aspect of the world rubs off on to Him, and he becomes conformed to the way that the world thinks and acts. Speaking into this, Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, perfect and acceptable will of God” [Romans 12:2]
Some years ago I heard the pastor of a large church in the United States speak of how God had humbled and broken him. He confessed that he had built the church using many of the secular self-help tools available to him, but that he rarely prayed or read the Bible for himself. He confessed that His dependency was not on God but his own ability. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” [1 Corinthians 3:13].
In what way is the Holy Spirit able to strengthen and encourage us as we seek to walk with God?
Why is our dependency upon the Holy Spirit so vital for the Christian life but so often something that we neglect? In what area of your life do you need at this time to ask the help of the Holy Spirit?