What Does The Holy Spirit Do For Us?




Text: John 16:5-15
In the name of Jesus: Amen.
It is hard these days not to feel bad for the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. That is to say; there is so much crazy religious activity done in the name of the Holy Spirit that it is hard not to hang the head and sigh with sorrow and disgust. 
For example, there is a new book out on Amazon where a woman has recorded the words of the Holy Spirit given to her in a still small voice. Essentially the book is new Scripture – a new Bible - straight from the Holy Spirit.
All the way over on the West Coast, a recent preacher received transmissions from the Holy Spirit not through a still small voice but through his smartphone to do a psychic type reading during a church service.
And in the evenings, turn on your TV to one of the religious channels and you will find preachers and laity supposedly under influence of the Holy Spirit speaking so-called different languages, while shaking or crawling around on the ground like dogs.
The point being, the Holy Spirit seems to be unhinged, abused, and misrepresented by certain segments of people in the church.   
So if the Holy Spirit is not about making you and me speak in gibberish or giving us secret messages through cell phones or helping us write a so-called new Bible, what is He about?
Dear friends, in our gospel reading from the Apostle John, you heard Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, saying that the Holy Spirit seeks to convince the world of three important Truths.  And what are those three important Truths? The answer, the Holy Spirit comes to convince the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 
Now considering this, let’s briefly examine the threefold work of the Holy Spirit.
First, the Holy Spirit advocates for the Truth of who we are. You see, we generally do not see ourselves as sinners, but as basically good people. Ask anyone on the street what makes them good and they can quickly give you a list of their good characteristics and qualities. But ask the same person what makes them a sinner, and you quickly see a defensive attitude arise and possibly get attacked.  The reason why this is this way is that we humans have such a deep evil corruption of sin that we cannot comprehend that we are sinners.[1]  Indeed, we cannot understand or recognize that we are sinners because we are blinded to the Truth about ourselves. And so, this is the reason why the Holy Spirit must come and advocate for the Truth that we are sinners.  So, when you stand up at the beginning of each of our church service to confess that you are poor miserable sinners in thought, word, and deed, you only do so because the Holy Spirit has given you the ability to recognize that you are a sinner who sins. Frankly stated, if you say that you are not a sinner, you deceive yourself, and the Truth is not in you, for you are rejecting what the Holy Spirit longs for you to see.[2]  However, if you say that you are a sinner – which you are, and I am too – then the Truth is in us.  Yes, to confess that we are sinners in thought word and deed is a result of the Holy Spirit revealing Truth to us.
Second, the Holy Spirit advocates for the Truth of righteousness.. You see, when we talk about righteousness we typically look to ourselves.  For example, we like to think that we are righteous, good, and whole. We do this by attempting to craft stories of our lives in ways that portray ‘ourselves’ better than we are.  Like a strainer, we strip away the bad moments of our past and elevate that which is good, so that we can apply only the positive aspects of our stories to our identity.  In the court of popular opinion, we gather friends that believe and uphold the version of our story and we distance those who threaten to topple the righteous fa├žade that we have created for ourselves. 
The Holy Spirit, though, comes to advocate for the Truth regarding righteousness. That is to say; the Holy Spirit comes to reveal the Truth that Jesus is the righteousness of God for you, for me, and for the entire world. The Holy Spirit does not come to point you to your own righteousness (for he reveals that you are a sinner) but instead points you away from yourself to Jesus.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit does not point you to Himself, or to yourself, but to Jesus whose sacrificial death atoned for your sin, so that you may receive by faith the righteousness of Jesus. 
What this means is that when you hear about Jesus and when you are given assurance in Christ, the Holy Spirit is at work in you. The Holy Spirit is not about giving you some new revelation, He does not care about gibberish languages, and He is not about signs and wonders that may entertain you for a moment, but He is about Jesus.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit advocates for the Truth of judgment.  You see, this world that we live in lies in the tight grip of Satan. And so, it is easy for us to lose hope in this life under the sun. It is easy to want to throw the towel in and give up, for everywhere we look we see bloodshed, war, backbiting, and conflict. But the Holy Spirit comes to show the entire world that Jesus conquered the devil. It is true, the ruler of this world – the devil – has been defeated and judged through Jesus’ saving work. The Holy Spirit comes to deliver this Truth to you so that you may have hope within the godless tactics and trials from the evil one.
Dear Baptized Saints, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He does not draw attention to Himself but makes sense of what is going to happen and what has already happened because of Jesus. The Holy Spirit honors Jesus by speaking Truth to you. 
But how does the Holy Spirit speak this Truth about sin, righteousness, and judgment to you and me?  Well, it is quite simple. The Holy Spirit works through the Word and Sacraments.  Indeed, God’s Word is the only channel and route by which the Holy Spirit has promised to come to you and me. And so, a word without the Holy Spirit is no Word of God but mere human words – empty chatter.  In other words, without the Holy Spirit, our hearing the Word of God would be useless.  On the other hand, a spirit that comes without the Word of God is not the revealing Spirit of God but something from the pit of hell.  You, who have ears, hear this: “The Holy Spirit wills to be present with His power in the Word and to work through it.”[3]
Dear Baptized Saints, through the Word of God the Holy Spirit calls you, enlightens you with His gifts, makes you holy, and keeps you in the true faith.[4]  “May you and I uphold the Word and the Spirit, who counsels us, teach us, convict us of sin, guide us and point us to Jesus – and may we eagerly poor ourselves into the Word that the Holy Spirit and Truth may be poured out into us.”[5]
In the name of Jesus: Amen.



[1] SA: P.III, 1.

[2] See 1 John 1:8.

[3] The Formula of Concord, Article XI, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church, eds. Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis, MN:
Fortress Press, 2000), 653.

[4] SC: Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed.

[5] Matthew Richard, “The Holy Spirit and the Word,” The Lutheran Witness: Come Holy Spirit (May 2019): 23.


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