Jesus tells readers to obey His commandments. Jesus is clearly claiming to be God. God is the only one who has the authority to demand our unwavering obedience.
If we claim to love Jesus but fail to obey His Word, we're either lying or deceiving ourselves. If we truly love the Lord, we seek to obey His commands. Now, I'm not saying we're going to be perfect. I'm not saying we're not going to stumble, make mistakes, or even go as far as being addicted to sin. Instead, if we're genuine believers, we will have an increasing desire to obey.
Verse 15 goes one step further. If we're not being obedient to His Word, then we can't effectively pray for the gospel to spread. We can't live contrary to God's Word while, at the same time, rightly pray, "Lord, please use me to spread the gospel to those around me." People will see the hypocrisy and turn away from Christ—or be attracted to a false Christ, one who isn't concerned about obedience.
So, how are we to obey His commandments?
Just a reminder … We can't earn our salvation by being obedient nor will we lose it if we mess up from time to time—or more often.
Previously, we learned that we are to love one another. Our relationship to the body of Christ is crucial.
When Paul wrote to the Colossian church there were two things they were known for. The first was their adherence to sound doctrine. They stood by God's Word. The second was their love for one another.
Do you know what happened to the church in Colossae? Thousands and thousands of people put their faith, hope, and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. Why? Because the church was being obedient to God's Word and loving one another. The only way we can spread the gospel is if we do the same, all the while, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us.
Jesus says in verses 16 and 17, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
It's interesting how Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit. Some translation use the word Helper, others Counselor or Comforter. The message Jesus relays is that the Holy Spirit will come alongside Christ's followers. He not only acts like an attorney who defends us but also as someone who provides strength and comfort.
When we look at the conversations Jesus has over the next few chapters, we see the function of the Holy Spirit. He sustains and strengthens us (John 14:16-17); He teaches us to remember God's Word (John 15:26); He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11); and He guides us (John 16:13-14). And this Helper is not going away—ever!
When Jesus refers to the world, He reaffirms that unbelievers are in spiritual darkness. He also instructs His followers that just because we have the Holy Spirit strengthening, encouraging, teaching, and guiding us doesn't mean others will accept the truth. In fact, He goes on to say, in John 15:20, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
Don't expect a warm welcome when you share the gospel. After all, Christians who share their faith may have insults or rocks thrown at them, may lose their job or their family, may be beaten or thrown in jail. They may even be killed.
Even so, we can face persecution because the Holy Spirit encourages, strengthens, teaches, guides, and comforts us. In John 14:17, Jesus promises, "... you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
The Holy Spirit abides in us and will never leave. But how do we know the Holy Spirit is there? How do we know He dwells within us? How can we be sure we know Him?
We've been changed. Although we don't always do so, we increasingly want to obey His commands. Previously, we didn't care about pleasing God, but that has changed. We became angry when we felt condemned and convicted by the Scriptures. Now, we welcome that conviction, recognizing obedience brings reconciliation and healing.
At best, we used to be indifferent about the cross. Now, we are amazed and eternally grateful for what Jesus did for us by taking the punishment for our sin. We used to desire the things of the world. Now, we desire the things of God more and more.
Our life used to be marked by indifference, frustration, selfishness, depression, hatred, and fleshly desires. Now, the fruit of the Spirit characterizes us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
In short, we were dead, but now we're alive!
The Holy Spirit dwells within us and we're living in union with Christ. He enables and empowers us to share the gospel, obey His Word, and depend on Him.
Let not your heart be troubled. It's an easy thing to say, but it's impossible to do without the Holy Spirit's help. That's one of the reasons He was sent. When times of hardships, grief, turmoil, suffering, and persecution come, there is only one way to find comfort. The indwelling Holy Spirit.
Faith is only as good as the object you put it in, and Jesus is the only One worth having faith in. He is equal to God. He's trustworthy and true. And He is the only way anyone can spend eternity with the true and living God. That's why we're able to experience comfort when the world around us seems to be coming apart. We're not of this world. We have a home waiting for us, and we know it's true because Jesus said it was.
This hope, this encouragement, this comfort, is what helps us, pushes us to continue to labor for the gospel, to share the message of the cross. We get to see God transform a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. And when we see God do this, we witness a miracle of the highest order, and God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to use us as His instrument to do this. Amazing!
My hope, my prayer, is that, as we enter this New Year, we corporately and individually see the Lord work through us as we obey His Word, as we love Him, and as we depend on His Spirit. I pray we see God change hearts and lives, furthering His Kingdom through us. I believe the greatest encouragement, hope, and comfort anyone can receive is when we see God working through them.