23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:23-24
According to John’s letter, it’s time to review. Here are some bullet points that we have learned so far:
-God abides in us, and we abide in him.
-Keeping Jesus’s commandment (love God, love people) is the evidence of abiding in God.
-We know from the past verses that keeping his commandments starts in our hearts, and not with our actions. This is why abiding in God is so important, because we could never keep his commandments by “faking” belief.
We heard everything John says already in his letter, and I think that at this point, he’s just being a good teacher, repeating back his main points, drilling them into the class to make sure that we understand.
There is something at the end, however, that he hasn’t said to us before.
Verse twenty four says that “by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
In that statement, John gave us a new form of evidence, a new way for us to know if we abide in God. He tells us that those who abide in God have the Holy Spirit.
I think that it’s easy for us as Christians who live in America to understand the first part of John’s evidence. It makes sense to us that we should love God and love people, and that feels like logical proof of knowing God. Of course if we love God, we would love people. But the Holy Spirit?
Yes, the Holy Spirit. This is the first time John mentions him in the letter, and I think he waited because the Holy Spirit can sometimes feel like next-level Christianity to us. First, we had to master the basics: Love God, love people. Then, we move to the Spirit.
John heard Jesus talking way back in John 14 about the Spirit, and what he said must have struck him: Jesus calls the Spirit the “Helper”, and says that this “Helper” will teach us things, and help us remember Jesus and the Father. Jesus even says in chapter 16 that it is to our advantage that Jesus goes and the Holy Spirit comes.
The Holy Spirit is not someone to be feared, but someone to be leaned into. In the same way we have learned to trust Jesus as a Savior and God as a Father, we need to trust the Holy Spirit as our Helper. I think that in the times we live in, He is what makes our everyday hum-drum lives have the holiness that we read about in the early church in the Bible. The early church was so filled with the Holy Spirit that thousands of people were being converted in one sermon (Acts) and people were being spoken to by Him left and right (also Acts). We can only find that holiness if we learn to lean into Him the same way they did.
I pray that we would be people who lean into the Holy Spirit. I pray that we would be people who ask him for help, or at least ask how it is that he can be our helper. Would we be excited by the prospect of him living inside us, and would God show us how it is to our advantage that the Holy Spirit is here.