Unwavering Conformity: A 21 Day Study in Stewardship, Day 12


Sharpening the Focus

but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.

John 16:5-15 NIV

Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit (see Jn 14:26), who would teach the disciples and cause them to remember Jesus’s words. Now Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will ‘convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment’ (Jn 16:8) and that the Spirit of truth will guide them and teach them (see Jn 16:12-13). Then Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will bring glory to him and take all that he is and all that he possesses (given to him by the Father) and make it known to them – and secondarily to all believers (see Jn 16:14-15). The role of the Holy Spirit is to convey, in immediate and tangible ways, all that Jesus is to those who believe in him.

Therefore, our relationship to the Holy Spirit is always in reference to Jesus Christ, says theologian J. I. Packer. He proposes that we do not ask ‘Do you know the Holy Spirit?’ but ‘Do you know Jesus Christ?’

Do you know enough about him? Do you know him well? Those are the questions the Spirit himself desires us to ask. For he is self-effacing, as we saw. His ministry is a floodlight ministry in relation to Jesus, a matter of spotlighting Jesus’ glory before our spiritual eyes and of matchmaking between us and him. He does not call attention to himself or present himself to us for direct fellowship as the Father and Son do; his role and his joy is to further our fellowship with them both by glorifying the Son as the object for our faith and then witnessing to our adoptions through the Son into the Father’s family.

What is even more germane to the discussion of stewardship is this question that Packer says we should ask of ourselves and of each other – not ‘Do you have the Holy Spirit?’ but ‘Does the Holy Spirit have you?’

Does he have all of you, or only some parts of you? Do you grieve him (see Eph 4:30), or are you led by him (see Ro 8:12-14; Gal 5:18-24)? Do you rely on him to enable you for all those responses to Christ to which he prompts you? Do you reckon with the fact that ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God’ (1Co 6:19)? … Here again, the specific questions must be understood Christ-centeredly; they are all in reality ways of asking whether Christ your Savior is Lord of your life. But to ask them in relation to the Spirit, who indwells us in order to transform us and who works constantly in our hearts and minds to bring us close to Christ and keep us there and who is himself as close as can be to any foul thinking or behavior in which we allow ourselves to engage, is to give them a force and a concreteness that otherwise they might not have. In the world of projecting pictures onto screens this would be called sharpening the focus.