For an introduction to this series, click here.
May 15, 2007
The first section of this chapter completes the thought from the end of chapter 15. I hope you understand that the chapter and verse divisions were added later, mostly for convenience. It seems a lot of times whoever introduced the divisions actually interrupted a thought rather than keep it together, and this is one of them.
After completing His thought about the world hating the disciples Jesus returns to His discussion of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes a surprising statement: "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." (16:7-11)
The Holy Spirit does a lot in this world that we don't understand. He is not only indwelling believers, but He is at work in the greater part of the world. Paul indicates in Thessalonians that He who hinders will be taken out of the way at the beginning of the tribulation. This is apparently a reference to the Spirit, who is an unseen force for good and against Satan in the world as a whole in addition to His work in the life of believers.
This next part is purely my opinion, but when Jesus tells the disciples, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (16:13-14), He was speaking directly and only to them. They were responsible to pass on Christ's doctrine to the church. A lot of people use this verse as a justification to bang people over the head and say, "Well, the Holy Spirit wouldn't lead me to believe this if it wasn't the truth." That's usually the last thing they say after they have lost an argument. Someone who thinks this way is overestimating the work of the Holy Spirit. He does not work against our own will in what we want to believe. I think if we come to Him with an open mind He will guide us, but don't confuse what you have always believed with the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. And, I seriously doubt that the Holy Spirit is at work when we use Him as a weapon against a fellow believer.