John 14:15-31- The Holy Spirit of Promise
Explanation- In this section Jesus begins by saying that, ‘If your love me, you will keep my commandments.’ To keep carries along with it the idea of keeping our eye upon. The one who truly loves Christ and is called according to His purpose will in turn be mindful of His words. They are not burdensome or irrelevant in the life of the believer, but they are our very spiritual sustenance. In Psalm 119:11 David says that, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.’ This idea of ‘storing’ contains the same basic principle. If a poor man comes across a brick of gold he will keep that treasure at any cost. He will hide it away in a place that he is sure to remember and not a moment will pass where his mind is not upon it. The poor man acts in accordance to the value of the treasure which he possesses. In the same way, Christ is our supreme treasure and is of infinite worth and value to the believer. In turn, His words are the very words of life, joy, hope, and peace. Like King David, we should desire to have them hidden within our hearts that we may not sin against our Beloved. It is from this cherishment that true obedience flows freely.
As if it was not enough that Christ would give us His very words, He also promises another gift of infinite worth. That gift is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the third member of the Godhead and enjoys intimate fellowship and belonging with the Father and Son. Although His work was not as clearly highlighted in the old covenant, He was surely existent and active. It was the Spirit who was active in the lives of the Prophets, Priests, and Kings who were anointed by God to do His work. Although there is some shroud of mystery concerning His full function in times past, Christ now reveals to the disciples that in a short time the Father will send the Spirit to dwell within each of Christ’s true disciples. In Christ’s physical absence the Spirit will be fully present in the believer to teach us and remind us of all that Christ has said. Along with the coming of the Spirit will be the peace of Christ. Jesus said that it is His very peace that He is giving. This was not meant to be taken in the sense that there would be no more trial, difficulty, or suffering; but in the midst of it all there will be an unshakable peace and assurance burrowed deep into the heart of every believer. This is a peace that cannot be taken by the world and is a product of the believer’s union with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
A final comment. Christ says that, ‘the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.’ (v. 30). This can be a tricky verse, but based on the nature of Christ and the knowledge we have of the evil one, I believe that we can come to a sufficient answer. The ruler of this world would obviously be Satan. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul calls him the ‘god of this world’. As such, Satan holds a temporary, yet significant, sway over the rulers and kingdoms of this world. He says to Jesus during His temptation that is within his power to give Christ the kingdoms of the world because they belong to him. Now to be clear, Satan can do nothing that he is not permitted to do. God is still the ultimate sovereign over all creation, but in a very real sense Satan holds some form of ‘authority’ (I use that term with caution) over the politics and rulings of the world. That being said, Christ’s saying that, ‘He has no claim on me’ seems to imply that Satan has certain claim over the sons of man because of their sinful nature. Christ said earlier that certain men were of their father the devil and they do their father’s work. In this sense Satan lays hold on the life of those who are perishing. Their sin and rebellion against God enslave them to Satan’s bidding and he has certain claim over them. On the other hand, when we look to Christ who is the perfect, holy, righteous expression of the invisible God it is impossible for Satan to lay any claim to Christ. He is far beyond the evil one’s grasp and the accusations that he spews against mankind cannot be wielded against Christ. It is for this reason that Christ was able to raise Himself from the dead. Death is sin’s wages and Christ had no sin, therefore death could lay no permanent claim to Christ. It is also needful to say that Christ was able to raise Himself because He was indeed God, but it was His sinless perfection that provided proof of His Godhood. If Christ were anything less than perfect then His claims of being equal to the Father would be invalid.
Application- In our own strength we are unable to love God as we ought. As a result, our obedience to Him finds itself lacking more times than not. Certainly there is still a daily war against sin that we are to undertake and there will never be a time on this earth where we are entirely free from sin’s grip. Despite this daily battle, Christ is sufficient in all of our weakness. Where we lack in our love for God, He loved perfectly. Where our obedience daily fails, His never did. In light of this glorious reality we are to look at the completed works of Christ and trust that the Father has benefited them to our account. Christ’s love and Christ’s obedience have been given to us, and as such, we are continually being sanctified in our bodies so that our desire for this things that displease God slowly diminish. Our love for Him increases as this work of sanctification progresses and as a result, obedience becomes less of a grievance and more of a joy and blessing. All of this is His work being accomplished in us.