As the disciples fretted about Jesus’ imminent death, Jesus comforted them saying, “But I tell you the truth, 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.” (John 16:7)
I think a lot of times the Holy Spirit gets a bum rap in Christian circles. On the conservative side of things, He is viewed like crazy cousin Eddy who shows up unexpectedly at family reunions and sets people’s heads on fire and makes them speak in tongues like in Acts chapter 2.
On the charismatic side of things, He is viewed as the fun uncle Jerry who doles out candy and excitement and teaches them to rebel against the religious status quo. Either way the Holy Spirit has the reputation of a hotshot rebel who loves trouble and shaking things up.
The fact of the matter is that the Holy Spirit is God. He isn’t a rebel. He doesn’t enjoy shaking things up. Those kinds of things are totally carnal. We’re the rebels. We’re the ones who come to the family reunions and mess stuff up, by sitting up on our high horses doling out judgment or acting like goofballs and calling it holy.
This is what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment . . . But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:8-14)
If you’ll recall, this is a lot like what Jesus says about Himself: "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me." (John 12:49-50)
The Holy Spirit is not a rebel. He does not enjoy disorder. He is God. He conforms completely to the Father, and He created order.
Does He set people’s heads on fire and cause them to speak in other languages? Sure. But He also teaches us to use spiritual gifts for God’s glory and not our own, to live for Him and not ourselves, and to not show off but to do what the Father does and speak what the Father speaks. This is the image of Christ to which we are being conformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is why Jesus says it’s better that He leaves to send the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that bears witness to the Father and Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to be called sons of God through Jesus Christ. To God be the glory forever.