GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, #752
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you (JOH 16:13-14).
We are not to follow every spirit. We are not to follow every wind of doctrine. We must discern whether they are speaking the truth. We judge this by "thus saith the Lord." We must understand as it says in 1JO 4:1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." The false teaching that is so rampant in our day is not new in this generation. Even in the times of the apostles many would preach Christ with their own human reasoning, but it was in a wrong spirit. It was not a spirit of slaughtering the flesh. It was a spirit of exalting the flesh.
Many false prophets even in our day preach a gospel devoid of repentance. How many begin where Christ began, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"? We are not to receive them if they are not preaching the Spirit of truth. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" Jesus tells us in JOH 17:17-19, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
The truth is what distinguishes Gods sent-servants from those who are running on their own. The truth has a sanctifying, purging, cleansing effect. If that effect is not there, we need to try the spirit whether it is of God. All true prophets can only discern the truth as our Lord teaches by His example. We need to gauge the truth by the Lord Jesus Christby what He has spoken and by what He has done. EPH 5:26-27 says, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Christ washes and cleanses and sanctifies by the washing of the water of the Word. The end of all debate is, What does the Word of God say? If we start adding private interpretations to the Word of God we are not speaking the Spirit of Truth. The only way to unfold truth is to wash it with the Word of God. When our teaching is washed by the water of the Word, we are teaching "thus saith the Lord."
Our Saviour cautions us in our text that we are to search the Scriptures to discern the truth. False prophets or false spirits are revealed by their attitudes and actions toward Gods will. When someone says that the Lord sent them to preach and his actions do not correspond to the Word of God, then we must declare him a false prophet.
MAT 7:13-15 says, "Enter ye in at the strait [difficult to stand or do]: gait: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Jesus says to beware of those who make the gate wide. When He is speak of the broad way He is speaking of the false prophets. He is speaking of those who make it so easy to enter.
MAT 7:12 shows what is so difficult. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." The strait gate is against human nature. It means the crucifying of self. This must be done to put others ahead of us. We do unto them as we would that they do unto us. We do not do unto them as they do to us. The false prophets come to us in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. They have not understood that law of love. That is how we separate them.
In the context of our text, our Saviour clearly describes the work of the Spirit of Truth. JOH 16:8 says, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." If a prophet or a preacher has the Spirit of Truth, what will his message be? This word reprove comes from the Greek word elegcho, which means to admonish or convince, to tell a fault, to rebuke, to convict, to reprove. That word world means the entire human race. Some theologians say that this is the world of the elect and exclude the rest of the human race. That is not what this is teaching. The word world means exactly what the Lord Jesus said. It means the elect and the nonelect, the saved and the unsaved.
Taking this word world to mean the ungodly, we will see how the Spirit of Truth witnessing in their heart and mind will prove the world guilty before God. In the day of judgment their consciences will testify. The Word will unfold every thought and intent of their hearts, and they will stand trial in the court of their own consciences. How would this be if their own consciences had never told them that what they were doing was wrong? The Holy Spirit is speaking to their consciences, convicting them, but they have quenched the Holy Spirit. That is how they will stand guilty before God in the day of judgment.
ROM 1:19-20 says, "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them [in their own consciences]; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." God has sent His Holy Spirit to convict them, and they were convinced that what they were doing was sin. They were fully convinced that there is a God. These scientists know better who say that we came from some sort of rock that over millions of years turned into a monkey that turned into an ape that turned into a man. This verse says that they fully understand.
It is by this conviction of the Spirit of Truth that the world hates the light. JOH 3:19-20 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Since the Holy Spirit convicted them that their deeds were evil, they will be without excuse on the day of judgment. Their consciences tell them they are wrong, and they do not want the light. They produce the theory of evolution in an attempt to show that man is not accountable, that there is no such thing as sin, that God does not exist.
This same Greek word elegcho is translated as reproved to mean "made to feel guilty" in LUK 3:19. "But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philips wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done." This is talking about an ungodly person, yet the Holy Spirit reproved him. Herod was reproved by John the Baptist, and he knew John was a godly man. They were happy to see Johns head in a charger because they thought they had gained the victory over him, but they still had guilty consciences. They knew they were guilty.
This same Greek word elegcho is translated as rebuke in TIT 1:13-14. "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth." This is talking about the household of faith. The world includes the household of faith and the wicked. When we see error we must sharply rebuke with the witness of the truth even if we offend or hurt someones feelings. The household of faith must not give heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men. They creep into every church, and we must search the Word of God to see if those things that are spoken are true. We cannot trust human beings. Do not trust me. Trust the Word of God. Go back into the Scriptures to see if what I say is true. I am human. I could err, but the Word of God is true. These commandments of men turn people from the truth.
This Greek word is also translated as admonish, that is, to notify of a fault or to reprove with mildness. The Holy Spirit draws your attention to the fact that something is sin. I know things today that are grievous sins that I did not realize were wrong in my youth, but the Lord has called my attention to the fact that they are grievous sins. I ought not to do those things. I ought not to harbor those same vain imaginations that I did in my youth. I ought not to harbor those same youthful lusts because I have been admonished by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of Truth that they are heart sins. They grievously displease the Lord.
When I was in the Army, they had fourteen different kinds of company punishment. The first is a reprimand. The last is six months in the brig. In between you have fourteen days of hard labor and other steps of punishment that can be administered, depending on the nature of the problem.
We see the Holy Spirit admonishing, coming with a mild reproof, to the household of faith in ISA 30:20-21. "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." Your teachers are the Word of God. That word behind you is the Holy Spirit admonishing you of sin.
The word admonish can also be used to counsel against wrong practices or to give advice. Joshua was not walking in a way of sin. He was not walking in ungodliness. He was not doing anything against the will of God. JOS 1:7 says, "Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." This is an administration of the Word of God in love.
Admonishment is also to give directions or instructions as we see in HEB 8:5, "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." Moses was not convicted of having committed a crime. This is a matter of instruction.
The Spirit of Truth comes to convince of sin as we see in
JUD 14-15, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." The Holy Spirit was sent to convince them. In the day of judgment they will be without excuse. Where there is no law, there is no transgression. He uses men. He uses the servants of God, but the Holy Spirit does the convicting and convincing.
It is only by the grace of the Spirit of Truth that any man can convince a sinner of the truth. You cannot convince your own loving parents or children of the truth outside of the work of the Holy Spirit. You cannot change their minds.
ACT 18:26-28 says, "And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." The Holy Spirit used Paul as His instrument to convince the Jews through the Scriptures. Paul was only able to convince by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
This word elegcho also means to tell a fault, to rebuke or convict. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world as well as the flock of Christ in the conscience. In JOH 8:7-9 we read about the Pharisees who brought a woman to Christ whom they caught committing adultery to see if Christ would violate the law, which required stoning, and excuse her. "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." The Holy Spirit convicted them. The Holy Spirit convicts the world, not just the flock of Christ. What Christ spoke was spoken with power. The Holy Spirit works conviction in the heart not just in the understanding.
The Holy Spirit restrains the acts of wicked men and the elements of nature by His rebuke. When Moses was sent to Pharaoh he would have been slain the first time he opened his mouth if it were not for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit. He also restrains us from doing wrong things we want to do. Can you think of things you would have done if the Lord had not restrained you? I know that many times I would have put myself and His name to open shame if the Lord had not restrained me.
When Jesus was receiving praise the Pharisees asked for such restraint. LUK 19:37-39 says, "And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples."
Our Lord also calms our greatest fears by sometimes restraining the elements of nature. MAT 8:25-26 says, "And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm." That word rebuked means restrained.
What a wonder it is that we have a God looking over us, who has that restraining power. Sometimes our heart can be as the wild sea, and our consciences keep telling us what hypocrites we are, and then the Holy Spirit comes and restrains all of these Satanic assaults, and our hearts come to perfect peace because the Lord rebukes the devil.
The Holy Spirit not only reproves, admonishes or convinces of sin, but also admonishes us of righteousness. When you have a right understanding of sin, the second thing that witnesses in our hearts is righteousness. This word righteousness comes from the Greek word dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo-nay), which means, "a condition or character acceptable unto God, integrity, virtue, purity of life, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting."
When the Holy Spirit reproves us of sin, it is also an admonition to righteousness, not only that we mourn over sin, but there is a desire to have a character that is acceptable to God, to have the same spirit, attitude and actions that Christ had. We no longer have Christ physically in our presence to set us an example, so now the Holy Spirit convinces us and shows us what Christ did in such situations. The Holy Spirit reproves us of righteousness by showing us our vile nature, and wrong attitudes and actions in the light of the perfect righteousness of Christ. This gives us a desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord.
It is by the Word of Truth that the Holy Spirit reproves, not only of our sin, but also of what we ought to be. We not only see the corrupt nature of what we are, but we see the blessed attraction that there is in righteousness. This gives us a desire to know and do the will of God. We have sorrow and grief over anything that displeases Him.
LEV 11:44 says, "For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy." This reproof or call to righteousness is not just Old Testament Law that is abolished in Christ. Some teach that the Law was abolished in Christ. See what the law of the Gospel says in 1PE 1:13-16, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." We are admonished unto righteousness. The Apostle Peter brings us back to LEV 11:44. God is unchanging.
The call of the Gospel, and the Spirits reproof unto righteousness are all the same. It is a call unto "sanctification through the Spirit, and belief of the truth" as it says in 2TH 2:13-14.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the most perfect sermon ever preached upon earth, our Saviour gives the most perfect description of the graces of the Spirit as He pronounces His benediction upon the meek who seek after righteousness. MAT 5:5-10 is a call unto righteousness. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Everyone of these pertain to the law of love and the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit reproves of righteousness. If we are outside of this pattern we may well question whether we have the grace of God.
As these graces of the Spirit are bestowed upon us we will begin to understand in what way the Spirit reproves us of judgment. JOH 16:11 says, "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." When the prince of this world is judged he is dethroned from our hearts, and the power of Satan and sin are broken. The Holy Spirit convinces us that we are no longer the servants of sin.
ROM 6:16-20 describes this. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." He convinces us of sin and righteousness, and now He comes to convince us whose servants we are. This does not mean that we do not have sin, but we no longer serve sin.
As the prince of this world is judged Christ is exalted as we see in JOH 12:31-33, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." He died unto sin once, and if you and I are to follow Christ, we must die unto sin. When the Holy Spirit comes, He guides us into all truth. If it were possible, Satan would deceive the very elect, but it is not possible because the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. Amen.
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