“Do you want the truth or something to make you feel good?”

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I’ve asked this on numerous occasions when coaching and consulting pastors and churches.  It’s my tongue-in-cheek way of warning them: I’m willing to tell the unfiltered truth of their situation to them, but they may not like it. 

The truth can hurt.  We can intellectually agree that the truth is best, but we are emotionally controlled more than we care to admit.  Or am I the only one?

Jesus is at the Last Supper (His final meal before His crucifixion) in our study through John’s Gospel.  He told them in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  Jesus immediately continues in 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—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.  

John 14:16-17
New International Version

Jesus connects verses 16 and 17 to loving Him.  He said “and” He will ask the Father.  Jesus offered to send “another advocate to help” us “and be with” us “forever.”  This is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Triune God.   And He is the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus describes Him as “another advocate.”  Some Bible translations may say “counselor” or even “helper.”   Underlying these single English words is a single Greek word that is very difficult to convey with one word.

It would take a phrase to describe what this Greek term means.  It’s a legal term referring to someone who is an advocate, witness, or representative of someone else.  It’s similar to the idea of an attorney or legal counsel.  Although it’s a legal term, it has much richer implications.

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The Holy Spirit counsels us.  He tells us the truth of God.  This is why He’s “the Spirit of Truth.”  The Holy Spirit is just as much God as Jesus and the Father.  The Holy Spirit cannot deny Himself by leading us into lies.  Read that sentence again. 

We are the ones leading ourselves into lies.  Thus, when we face temptation in light of God’s truth, what entices us to give in?  Friends, it certainly isn’t the Holy Spirit.

This is why the world cannot accept the Holy Spirit: He is the Spirit of Truth in a world driven by multiple competing truth claims.  The Holy Spirit reminds disciples of Jesus we are not free to live however we want. 

When Jesus said this to the Apostles, the Holy Spirit hadn’t come yet (that was Acts 2).  We (on this side of Acts 2) have the Holy Spirit.  We live in the reality of the Holy Spirit’s work.

And you know what?  The truth will not always be what we want to hear.  But it will be the truth.  It will set us free from lies.  It will break us out of fantasy into the reality of how we should live in a perverse world. 

The truth will help us obey the commands of Jesus and prove our love for Him.  “Then you will know the truth,” Jesus said in John 8:32, “and the truth will set you free.”

It will bring Him glory and bring His truth not only to our lives but also to those around us. 

When you are faced with the truth, how have you learned to listen to the Spirit of Truth?