The Spirit, Love, & Obedience (John 14:15-31)

The Spirit, Love, & Obedience (John 14:15-31)


MPS: Disciples of Christ are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to love and obey God.

The Spirit is sent by the Father and Son to dwell inside of Christ’s disciples. (15-17)

Love as an emotion is never divorced from action in the Gospel of John. The evidence of one’s love for God is their obedience to His instruction. We have record of God’s instruction spanning thousands of years found in the Old Testament. God’s instruction began with Adam in the garden, continued through Abraham, and Jacob. The most thorough instruction is given to Moses and handed down through the ages. As if this weren’t enough, God sent His Son into the world to redeem it. In the course of this time He spent three years teaching his disciples so that they would go and teach others.

Unless we are like children who think their parents talk and instruct for absolutely no reason, then we are compelled, out of our love for God, to follow His instruction. Many today suggest this is legalism. It isn’t. Legalism is obeying a set of rules whether they are laid out by God or man in order to earn the approval of God or others. What Jesus calls us to is a display of love that neither earns God’s favor or love; we’ve already been given that. He calls us to submit to Him and obey because He loves us and in His love He has given us instruction in how to best honor Him. We in turn express our love by finding joy in our obedience.

 This expression of love called obedience is challenging. It goes against our human nature and natural disposition. For this reason the Father and Son send the Spirit who accompanies and indwells disciples. He has radically changed us from the inside. He indwells us, which we will speak about here in a moment. What is important for us to grasp is that God never calls His disciples without equipping them. He equips His disciples through His Word but also by the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit lives inside of Christ’s disciples. He enables us to overcome our flesh, crucifying it, and brings us to the cross. To live in the Spirit is to live in Christ. To live in Christ is to live in the Spirit. This isn’t something we have earned as though we have won a competition. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift of Himself to His disciples so that they might honor Him in all things.

In promising the Spirit Jesus calls Him “Helper”, which is best translated as “Paraclete” and has a multi-faceted meaning that includes: helper, comforter, and advocate. His role includes many things but Jesus here emphasizes that the Spirit communicates truth and is a consequence of Christ leaving them.

That Jesus must go so that the Spirit may come and indwell His followers should not be lost on us. The Spirit regenerates hearts, causing us to repent and believe, and He applies to us the redemptive work of Christ. Jesus then tells us that the Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. That the Spirit of truth rests with us and is rejected by the world. How can we be upset with the world for being blind to the truth when God tells us that they are unable to see the truth? 

The Spirit empowers disciples to obey God through their love for Him. (18-24)

How easy would it be for Christ’s disciples to feel abandoned and orphaned as the text says? Jesus keeps speaking of His departure and the disciples must be wondering what they’ve been doing over the last three years following Him. They have given up their homes, family, friends, and livelihood in order to follow Jesus. Jesus still persists that He will be leaving them soon, but they need not worry. 

He says that they won’t be like orphans because He is not only leaving them with the Spirit, but the Spirit will dwell inside of them. The lives of Christ’s disciples are enriched as they dwell in Christ and He dwells with the Father. They will be made alive by the Spirit. They will dwell with the presence of God. They will understand true life in a way that no one else can.

Jesus now reiterates His earlier point that acceptance and obedience of His commandments provides assurance and demonstrates the love of God in the disciples. So if one isn’t approved by God for salvation or favor based on their obedience then what is the point? Why can’t the disciples ignore the commandments of God if they’ve already been saved and accepted by Him?

For the one who is made righteous by God, unrighteousness becomes a thorn in their side. You and I are of course subject to the fallenness of this world and sinfulness of our hearts. But our renewed hearts and minds are discontent with our lack of holiness. The Spirit convicts our hearts when we disobey God and we return that conviction by turning away from our sin. God has called us to holy living, which simply means our growing in righteousness and a love for what is good. This is evidence of God’s love for us and our love for Him.

When we take joy in unrighteousness, finding no fault in our disobedience, then we provide evidence or our own unbelief. To remain in a state of joyful and unrepentant disobedience before God is to reject God completely. You will fall, fail, sin, and disobey. You as a follower of Christ will take no joy in it. You will feel the conviction of the Spirit and take joy in repentance and forgiveness that is only possible in Christ.

God manifests His glory through creation, but His presence is hidden from them because they do not accept His commandments, nor do they keep them. There is no one since the beginning of creation that can ever say that they’ve not seen the glory of God. But the glory and manifest presence are two different things.

The manifest presence of God was found at Mount Sinai, the glory cloud, pillar of fire, the Tabernacle, and the Temple. At times God’s presence was withdrawn from Israel because of their disobedience. They rejected God and embraced the unrighteousness of their time. They turned to other gods trying to replace the one who had brought them out of Egypt. If God withdrew His presence from Israel, His chosen ethnic people,  then how much more does He keep His presence from the world that has rejected Him?

He manifests His presence to us through His Spirit, His Word, and His people. He makes Himself known through the Spirit. We hear Him when we read and speak His Word. We are made aware of His work when we gather together as His people. How important is it that we experience His presence? It is so important that He set aside an entire day for His people to gather together in His name to sing to Him, pray, and read His Word. All of this so that His presence and glory would be manifest among His people.

The Spirit equips disciples with love, peace, and obedience. (25-31)

Jesus has spent three years teaching this ragtag bunch. He has taught them a lot, so much so He realizes that they aren’t going to recall everything that He has said without any help. They weren’t walking around with pen and paper like a student eager to glean knowledge from their teacher. Instead, Jesus sends the Spirit and The Spirit teaches those in whom He indwells. Further we see that the things of God are impossible to understand apart from God. “And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”” (Isa. 29:11)

So Jesus explains to us as well as His disciples that the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us all that Jesus intends for us. He will remind us, give us insight, and illuminate the truth of God’s Word. We might not always recall an exact verse at the drop of a hat, but the Spirit can bring to mind conviction of a truth that comes through our current and past study of Scripture.

We see in verse 27 what would be perceived as a parting greeting “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”However,  the peace that Jesus leaves with His disciples is far greater than a cultural nicety, it is true peace with God. He was about to go to the cross and be crushed for the sin of His people. He ended the enmity between man and God. He brought a true peace that would be applied by the Spirit and the Spirit continues to comfort us with that peace, reminding us of God’s love and mercy. Then Jesus reminds them that  He is returning to a greater place, which is with the Father where He intercedes on behalf of those who love Him.


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