Key verses: John 14:16–17
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
How well do you know the Holy Spirit? He is probably the least understood member of the Trinity, and subsequently the subject of many debates.
The word ‘advocate’ appears five times in the New Testament – four times in these chapters of John’s Gospel and once in the first letter of John. The Greek word parakletos, ‘to be called alongside’, has no real English equivalent. We will never find one word to do justice to the majestic, multiple ministry of the Holy Spirit. We know from Scripture that he teaches, convicts, leads, guides and helps; that he can be grieved, resisted and quenched; and that he is a person, not a force or an ‘it’. So the translators come up with words like Counsellor, Advocate, Paraclete, Helper, but none of them completely describes the great work of the Holy Spirit.
Wonderfully, verse 16 tells us that the Holy Spirit will be with us, ‘for ever’. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit left Saul (1 Samuel 16:14), and Psalm 51 records David’s desperate plea that the Spirit wouldn’t leave him. Here Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will never leave us. He will move in and live with your sin until you see God face to face, and then you will be sinless.
Aren’t you grateful that the Holy Spirit stays with us for ever, that when we sin he doesn’t leave us, and instead, he graciously convicts us? Whereas the Holy Spirit ‘lives with you and will be in you’ (verse 17), the world doesn’t know, and is hostile to, God’s Spirit, for the secular person cannot appreciate the things of the Spirit. This doesn’t make Christians any better or smarter than unbelievers; it only means that God’s grace has brought us to Jesus and made us alive to the Holy Spirit’s work.
Interestingly, the word ‘you’ here is actually in the plural. The Holy Spirit will be in you individually and corporately. That’s why when Christians gather together, we have such rich fellowship. That’s why being part of the church family is so important.
Read the key verses again, noticing every time the word ‘you’ is mentioned. Do you see how personal and intimate the Holy Spirit wants to be with you? He is the ever-ready, ever-present ‘God with us’. No matter how much you grieve him, he will never leave you. But he longs for greater access to your heart, greater obedience, and to share greater ministry with you. He wants to work in and through you, to bring transformation and make you more like Christ. Why resist such an amazing gift? Today, invite the Holy Spirit to have his way in your life. Give him complete access to teach, guide, convict and help you.