Football season is here again! (yippee!) Ryan is a starting senior on his high school team this year, and we are already deeply into the practice/game routine. Since the East Atlanta Mustangs is comprised of homeschool/private school boys and associated with an independent league, we spend a good deal of time traveling. Our home field is located just outside Atlanta, and like any other team, half of our games are on the road. However, unlike most teams, our away games are really away. This year we’ll travel as far as Augusta, GA (126miles) and Anderson, South Carolina (138 miles)! That means our GPS will get used A LOT… One thing we’ve learned is that our unit is not always as reliable as advertised.
Last year we were the visiting team at a field in North Georgia. Once we had dropped off Ryan for pregame warm-ups, we decided to grab a quick bite of dinner before kick-off. Settling on a fast-food deli that was agreeable to everyone, we programmed the closest location in our GPS and headed out. After a complicated series of meandering turns, the soothing voice eventually announced that we had “arrived at our destination.” Unfortunately, our actual “destination” was the driveway of stranger’s house located deeply in a subdivision! We ended up at McDonald’s!
In life, it would be great to be able to make right decisions every single time… to never second-guess or have to wonder if you’re on the right route, and heading to the right destination, wouldn’t it? Well, when Jesus left the earth, He knew that we as His followers would have the propensity to end up in the wrong place if left to our own ability to find our way. So He arranged for a personal guide to permanently be with us to show us the way.
…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all 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 bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. ~ John 16:13-14
Jesus promised that all believers would have direct and unbroken connection with Truth through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Since He’s the author of Truth, we can trust that He will never lead us into falsehood or error. But… even though we have Him living within us, we still make mistakes… sometimes really bad ones.
So why do we struggle so much with knowing the truth? I think first it’s that we lack the desire. John 16:13 tells us that the function of the Holy Spirit is to “guide us into all truth.” It doesn’t say He will push, pull or drag us into it. He won’t force us or insist that we listen. So we, first, have to want to know what the truth is. “Now, who wouldn’t want to know the truth?” you might be wondering. Well, we don’t like to admit it but the answer is, probably most of us at one time or the other. That’s because when we come to God with a “what should I do?” question, a lot of the time, we already know how we want Him to answer. In a sense, we’re praying in order to ask permission instead of really seeking God’s will. If He says anything other than what we hope He will say, our desire to hear the truth wanes. The first part of making accurate decisions is to elevate God in our thinking. We need to get to the point where we desire what He has for us more than we want what we may have in mind.
Another thing that keeps us from knowing the truth is that we’re not familiar with God’s commands. The latter part of verse 13 tells us that the Spirit “will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears.” The guidance the Holy Spirit gives will always agree with what’s already written in scripture. Always! Remember, God isn’t the only one speaking today. Distractions in the world, (phones, television, relationships etc), desires from the flesh: (lusts, and longings), and deceptions from the devil, (Satan & evil forces) are all working to draw us away from godliness. With so much noise tempting us in the wrong direction, the only way to be sure the guidance we’re getting is really from God is to have an objective standard to use as a point of reference. That’s where scripture comes in. The written Word is the main way the Father speaks and the tool by which we should filter everything we hear. We can be completely sure that the Holy Spirit will never give guidance that will ever contradict what has already been said in the Word of God. Anything that’s not consistent with what’s in the Bible should be discarded.
Lastly, we miss the truth because we don’t understand why the Spirit gives truth. In verse 14, Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit “will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” Most people don’t give much thought to their personal motivation for living. Even believers tend to make the emphasis of their prayers about themselves and forget completely that the point of our lives is to bring glory to Christ in and through all things. (1 Cor. 10:13) God purchased us (Acts 20:28), owns us (1 Cor. 1:19), and indwells us (John 14:17) in order to accomplish His divine purposes through us. So when the Spirit of God enlightens us to the truth, it’s in order that we can better do what God calls us to do and that others might see Him within us.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:16