Jesus said to the disciples, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) What a remarkable thing for Jesus to say. Surely, you could imagine the disciples wondering how anything could possibly be any better than being with Jesus … He heals all kinds of sickness and disease … He casts out demons … He calms the wind and the raging sea … He feeds thousands with next to nothing … and He teaches with more than wisdom, His words have life. Yet, Jesus told His disciples it would be an advantage for them if He went away.
The Greek word for the phrase to your advantage is sumphero (soom-fer’-o). Its meaning is: to bear or bring together, to contribute, to collect; hence, to be profitable, expedient, advantageous. Sumphero is profitable and advantageous, or to put it another way, it is helpful. Thus, it was to their advantage, as it is yours, that Jesus went away. If He did not go away, He could not send the Helper (the Holy Spirit), but if He went away, He would surely send Him.
By speaking the words of John 16:7, Jesus established THE single, necessary ingredient for the growth and success of every believer, of every congregation and of the full body of Christ: the Holy Spirit. He is the do-all and end-all, if you will. The Holy Spirit must be present in every believer. And more than that, He must be sought and obeyed. Only the Holy Spirit can lead a believer into all truth, and only the Holy Spirit can instruct, guide, lead and form a group of believers into the fullness of life in Christ.
It is better to have the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) living within you full-time, 24/7/365, than it is to have the man Jesus (God in human flesh) with you most of the time. Jesus, the man, could not be with the entire body of Christ at the same time. The Holy Spirit has no such restrictions. He can be in and with every believer in the body of Christ at the same time, all the time. And that is the greatest advantage one could ever imagine … for every believer … for every group of believers … and for the whole body of Christ.
We Have A Part
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) Your job as a believer and follower of Christ is to keep your mind continually focused on the ever-present Spirit residing within. This is the way of life and peace. And you must be convinced that this is not a suggestion … it is not something you choose to do when you feel like it or when you want to get in the Spirit … you are to live in and by the Spirit ALL the time. After all, He is present at all times (having taken up residence within every believer), therefore you are to be mindful of Him at all times.
Paul also declared, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8) Remember that there are only two realms, the flesh and the Spirit. If you are not in the Spirit, you are in the flesh. And if you are in the flesh, you cannot please God … no matter how much you may convince yourself you are pleasing Him with your good deeds. Good deeds undertaken in the flesh are not pleasing to God because those who act according to the flesh cannot please God.
The Holy Spirit was given to lead you into life and peace. He is committed to perform this work in all believers. Your response must be to follow His lead … obey His voice. Obedience is not a suggestion. Paul wrote: “We are under obligation [to be obligated is to be duty bound, indebted], not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body [denying the lusts of the flesh at the direction of, and by the power of the Holy Spirit], YOU WILL LIVE.” (Romans 8:12-13) This is the way a believer walks on the highway of holiness. This is the way of a son, and it can only be accomplished by the leading of the Holy Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, THESE are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
It is incumbent upon every believer, and every group of believers regardless of size, to seek, recognize, embrace and obey the Holy Spirit to the fullest. The question is not whether groups of believers meet in church buildings, school cafeterias, storefronts, homes or out of doors, but whether individuals and congregations are being led by the Holy Spirit. Likewise, neither singing old songs or new, raising hands or not, nor the order of worship or any other practices or concerns mean anything unless they are generated by the Holy Spirit. And let me add this, it’s not about what the Spirit said concerning last year’s, last month’s or even last week’s gathering of the saints … it’s about what He is saying for today that is important. There is every likelihood that what He asks of you today will be different from what He asked of you last year, last month, last week or even yesterday.
The book of Acts shows us what a small group of people who are led by the Spirit can do … they can and did turn the world upside down. Why should you expect anything less today? You can have every reason to expect great things, but before you can turn the outside world upside down, you must first tumble your inner world. That means you must repent so you will receive the Holy Spirit in your heart. You must also remove the fleshly pillars from your mind so you can hear the words of the Spirit without encumbrance.
The Holy Spirit is the absolute key to individual and collective success. No wonder the primary attack by Satan and his minions of evil is to minimize the influence of the Holy Spirit in individual believers and congregations of all sizes. If Satan can get believers, even a few, to follow the ways of the flesh, even in the slightest degree, he knows arguments, disunity and division will always follow. So when we see these things in a group of believers, we should not look to solve only the arguments or disagreements, but to help the individuals involved to once again follow the Spirit. In this way the parties will forgive each other, the issues will dissolve and the fellowship will return to unity.
The Holy Spirit And Your Bible Study
Much of the way a believer conducts his or her journey of life depends on Bible study. Here, too, or maybe especially with Bible study, the influence of the Holy Spirit is essential. The Holy Spirit is the revealer of the truth. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you [a guide leads the way] into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak [the Spirit guides us into the truth by speaking to us].” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit is also our teacher: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things [including the Bible].” (John 14:26)
Let me say a couple of things straight out:
1. The Holy Spirit is the only One you can trust to explain the Bible to you, accurately and truthfully … 100% of the time. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.” (John 15:26) Everything the Holy Spirit will ever say to you will be about Jesus, and Jesus is the Truth.
2. Unless a group of believers is being led by the Holy Spirit, they will never become what the Lord intended. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)
The Holy Spirit truly is the do-all and end-all of everything believers do, both individually and collectively, and He is the necessary element for acquiring Biblical understanding. If Jesus had died and the Holy Spirit had not been poured out, those who believed would have been like sheep without a shepherd … wandering in the wilderness … not able to find the way into the Promised Land. The Holy Spirit is our guide for life.
To read and study the Bible without the interactivity of the Holy Spirit is like trying to assemble a puzzle with pieces that don’t interlock. You will never get it together, because it doesn’t go together. In similar fashion, you will never reach a true, accurate understanding of the Bible unless it is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. You can try to deduce the meaning of the Bible with your mind, using your physical senses, logic and human reasoning, but you will always come to a dead-end … the pieces just won’t fit together.
If you have read this important study carefully, now is the time for a little self-examination. Ask yourself if the understanding you gain from from your Bible study always fits together … perfectly. If this is not true, ask yourself how you might be putting your ideas, and your intelligence ahead of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then ask God to help you lay down your ideas (or the ideas you received from others) of what the Bible means, and dedicate yourself to submit your mind and will to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, this process will be greatly enhanced by constructing a locker in your mind to hold all of your worldly attitudes and beliefs (see “A Roadblock to Understanding“, and “Renew Your Mind” for a detailed discussion of this topic). Once your worldly beliefs are out of the way, the voice of the Holy Spirit will become much more clear and definite. The result: Your understanding of the Bible will grow in degree and accuracy. It just might blow you away when you see how perfectly all of the pieces fit together.