To listen to the sermon, click the white triangle in the black rectangle below. Please wait a moment for it to begin.
How the Holy Spirit Works in Your Life
Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2017
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus teaches you what is good for you. It’s worth thinking about, what is good for you. Not necessarily what you would like, but what is good for you. What is good for you is Jesus going to the Father. He is speaking to His disciples and He knows that His going away from them will bring them sorrow. Nevertheless, He says that it is to their advantage that He goes away. Going to the Father means that He is going to His death. Jesus spoke these words to the disciples less than twenty-four hours before He would be delivered over to the cross. This, He says, is what is good for them.
Since these words have been written down, you need to hear them as well. It is to your advantage that Jesus has gone to the Father. His suffering and death on the cross has brought about for you the greatest benefit. Without His suffering and death you would have no life. Throughout your life you can go back again and again to this point, Jesus was sent by His Father and went back to Him, going by way of the cross.
But He is not blind to the fact that His going away brings sorrow. It brings questions. It brings doubt. So He says that if He goes away the Helper, or the Comforter, will come. Jesus says that if He goes away He will send the Holy Spirit.
And this is just what happened, wasn’t it? Jesus was led to the cross and died on the cross. He was buried, but He returned, rising from His grave on the third day. When He came to where the disciples were, as we heard on the Sunday after Easter, He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit. He said to them that even as the Father sent Him so He was sending them. They were to forgive the sins of those who repent and withhold forgiveness from those who refuse repentance.
He was sending them out to carry out the work which would be the means through which the Holy Spirit would do His work. What is good for you is that Jesus has gone to the Father and that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit. How does the Holy Spirit work in your life?
Jesus says that when the Comforter comes He will convict the world concerning three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. Concerning sin, He says, because the world does not believe in Him. Concerning righteousness, because He is going to the Father and they will not see Him. Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Like the disciples after Jesus left them, you do not see Him. But like the disciples, you have received the one Jesus has sent, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has given you faith. You believe in Jesus, that He has gone to the Father, that He suffered and died for the sin of the world and rose from the grave. The world does not believe in Jesus. The world refuses repentance, rejects the gift of the Son of God in bringing about salvation.
And so the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin. It is sin to not believe in Jesus. It is against God’s will to believe that you are morally upright of yourself; that you don’t need the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin in order to bring the world to repentance, so that people may see in Jesus the Lord who takes away their sin.
With you it is different. With you your hear the convicting Law of God and see that you have fallen short of His holy will. You see your sin as what it is, sin. You confess your sin and you repent of your sin. But it’s a constant battle, isn’t it? You continue to sin. You continue to struggle against temptation. You continue to seek your own will rather than submitting to your Heavenly Father’s will. This is why the Holy Spirit continues to do His work of convicting you of sin.
How does He do this? Through the proclamation of the Law. When the Word of God is proclaimed it proclaims the Law in all its severity. When the Law says, You shall have no other gods. The Holy Spirit convicts you to bring you to realize that you do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things. The Holy Spirit uses the Law to show you how you have not submitted to those in authority over you with the kind of submission that their authority comes from God Himself. That instead of building others up you have torn them down with your words or you have thought ill of them. That you have desired, whether in thought, word, or deed, unchaste and indecent pleasure. That you have taken what is not yours whether you have physically taken something or have wasted time when you ought to have been working. These are merely a few ways that Holy Spirit works in your life to convict you of your sin sot that you may repent.
It is His gracious work also to work that repentance in you. And His second work of convicting is concerning righteousness. Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit does this work it is because He has gone to the Father. You know why that is. It is what is best for you. He is righteous and yet suffered as one who is unrighteous. He suffered the sin of the whole world. This is what the Holy Spirit delights in convicting you of. This eternal righteousness.
How does He do this? He does it when the Gospel is proclaimed. When that pure Word of God declares that Jesus has gone to the Father, to suffer and die for the sin of the world and to rise gloriously from the grave. The Holy Spirit does not give you a feeling. He uses words that are spoken, that you can hear. Jesus breathed on His disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit. Whoever’s sins they forgave were forgiven. The Holly Spirit continues this work. When your sins are declared forgiven, they are forgiven. When you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, you are forgiven.
This is really it, it is enough, it is what is beneficial for you. However, with Jesus there is always more, and so He says that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of yet another thing, judgment. He says the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged. You are forgiven, and yet you may have doubts. The Holy Spirit cements your forgiveness by reminding you that Satan has lost. You have eternal life and yet you still struggle against sin and temptation and trials. The Holy Spirit brings to the forefront of your mind that you have the victory because you are in Christ. He defeated Satan, the ruler of this world has been judged. He has no power over you.
How does the Holy Spirit do this? He does it through the Word. When you are in the Word of God you are in the realm of the Holy Sprit, not the devil. He does it through your Baptism. While your Baptism was an event in the past, it has daily and lasting effects. Just as your birth was a one-time event, you live daily in that life you received at birth. Every day you live in the new and eternal life you received at your Baptism, you are united with Christ in your Baptism! He does it through the Lord’s Supper. When you hear the words of Christ that in and with the bread His very body is given you and that in and with the wine His very blood is given you, it is only by the Holy Spirit giving you the faith to believe such a thing that you actually believe such a thing. The Holy Spirit can think of no greater work than delivering Christ to you in the Sacrament of the Altar.
This is how the Holy Spirit works in your life. Jesus has gone to the Father. He died for all of your sins and has sent His Holy Spirit to work in your life. Jesus came to serve and has sent the Holy Spirit to serve you. Because He does so you not only are forgiven, and you not only have eternal life, you are also able to serve others freely. Amen.