Monday, May 28, 2012
The Spirit of Truth
I had a very interesting question asked of me. Why do people only think of God when things are either at their worst or at their best? Never does the common person in the West think of God when things are just plugging along, sitting in traffic, doing work, trying to make a living. Only when we are at rock bottom or in high spirits does God occur to us. Why is this?
The answer is threefold. First, there's the world's distractions. People in the modern, Western world have countless distractions to take their minds off God, when things are in no crisis. We have television shows and movies that Hollywood puts out. We have comedy and entertainment shows. We have gambling, drinking, drug use. We have lots of devices and gadgets to “improve” our lives, our cars, our houses. We have the opposite sex all over the place, and the world's permission to pursue them until everyone gets hurt.
Next we have sin. Jesus said it's not what a man takes into his body that corrupts him, but what comes out of him that has already corrupted him. The distractions of the world are bad, but we would reject them outright if it weren't for the fact that we have this dark sin inside of us that WANTS the world's distractions. We want to be corrupted. The sin of our flesh meets the world and they see each other across the crowded room and they wink at each other, and then they are dating each other, and then they are engaged, and then they are married.
Finally there is the devil himself, and demons, a whole supernatural realm of creatures that want to destroy us. They are the matchmakers of temptation. They look at the sin inside of us, and they tell us, “I've got the perfect match for you!” And they get the world and our sin to meet on a blind date. On the supernatural plain are our souls, and angels and demons, and there is a war over what is going to happen to us, and the results last forever.
These three things are called the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world is those distractions from outside. The flesh is our sin inside us. The devil is the forces of evil that are behind the scenes. We pray against them harming us, but sometimes they just seem too strong, especially when combined. How can we think of God in those in-between times, when we are no where near the end of our ropes?
In today's gospel reading we have an antidote for these three enemies of us. Jesus tells us that when he ascends, we will have in his place the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will take all of those evils that stand against us—the world, the flesh, and the devil—and stand them on their heads. The Holy Spirit counters the three enemies, because, as Christ says, He tells the truth. He proves the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.
Sin. What does the world say about sin? It says there is no such thing as sin. It says that all the distractions that we have bombarding us each day is “just life” and we'd better get used to it, because it is never going away. The world does not believe in God, Jesus says. It certainly does not believe in Jesus. And it laughs at the concept of a Holy Spirit. The false lie that the world tells us, the basis for all those distractions we talked about, is unbelief. Because the world does not believe in Christ, it creates distractions to deceive us away from God. The Holy Spirit is truth, and so, when we have the advocate, we have the truth, and the distractions can no longer lie to us.
Righteousness. What does the world say about righteousness. There is no right and wrong. Everyone has his own truth. This isn't the lie that comes from without. This is the lie that comes from within. This is the sin that we are born with—original sin. This is the sin that tells us that even if God exists, we don't need him. I can just hold onto what I believe to be true. Once again, this lie is countered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and tells us—shows us—the difference between right and wrong. Because Jesus has gone to be with the Father, we now have the advocate, who tells us the truth about righteousness. When we can distinguish objectively between right and wrong, that means that God has effectively blocked the sins of the flesh from flourishing.
Judgment. What does the world say about judgment? Be tolerant. Don't judge others. Be politically correct. By castrating our judgment, we allow evil to flourish. Evil is very real, and demons and devils are very real. There are forces of darkness that want to destroy us. This is the truth. By being tolerant of all viewpoints, we are no longer allowed to judge between good and evil, and when that occurs, evil is allowed to flourish and thrive. The Holy Spirit judges evil, and Jesus Christ's death on the cross has condemned the ruler of this world—the devil—for all time. When we have the Holy Spirit, we can see the forces of darkness run before us, scattering from the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names. The name with power.
On this day of Pentecost, let's remember that we have been given the Spirit of Truth, which counters the lies of the world: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world can no longer lie to us about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment. We know the truth, and He is living inside us.
Posted by Rev. Fredric Barrett at 5:44 AM