Obedience, Evidence of Love & Indwelling Spirit (John 14:15-25)

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Our dog, Piper, loves to eat, whether the meal available is the scrunchy sitting on the floor or the gravel that had come off the shingles and meandered down the roof, down the rain spout and into the rock bed in front of the house. Whenever I walk into the kitchen, she follows me with the hopes that she might get a little scrap of whatever I’m eating. It doesn’t even matter what I’m eating. She wants some. She just sits there staring – patiently I might add. All of her actions – all of her deeds – display what she loves. She loves eating stuff.

Do your deeds display that you love God or something else? As people examine your life, might they conclude – that guy always seems to want to do the right thing or she seems to always want to know what the Bible says about this or that.

Your obedience evidences your love of Jesus.

Within ten verses, Jesus proposes five times that if a believer loves him they will obey.

  1. whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do (Jn 14:12).
  2. If you love me, you will keep my commandments (Jn 14:15).
  3. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me (Jn 14:21).
  4. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (Jn 14:23).
  5. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words (Jn 14:24).

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. This statement may feel more like a threat than a comfort. If you love me, you better obey! Or, even worse, I better obey so that God will love me. Either approach is wrong. The first bypasses the fact that the whole chapter is an encouragement not a threat and the second makes salvation dependent on our works.

Instead, this chapter, offers obedience as evidence of love and belief. Our obedience encourages us in that it displays the reality that we do love Jesus and we have already believed in Jesus. As you see obedience to Christ in your life, you can be encouraged that you are one of God’s children, because only God’s children truly love God and obey Him.

Be encouraged. Your obedience is evidence of your belief and love for Jesus. Love precedes obedience. The presence of obedience manifests our belief and love.

Belief to Assurance.

  1. Those who believe will know God (14:9-10).
  2. Those who know God love Him (1 Jn 4:7-8, 19). He is love and he is lovely.

Tozer. Once the seeking heart finds God in personal experience there will be no further problem about loving Him. To know Him is to love Him and to know Him better is to love Him more.[1]

  1. Those who love God obey Him (5x in 14:12-24)
  2. Those who obey God are assured that God is in them (14:23).

A definition of obedience. My own lack of obedience, at times, presses on my heart the question of whether I am actually a believer. I wonder how a believer could do such an action, or think such a thought, or feel in such a manner. Verses, such as these in John 14 remind me that believers obey, and in particular moments, I am acutely aware of my lack of obedience. Therefore, doubt and insecurity can settle in my heart and mind.

Yet, in moments such as this, I am also reminded of the men to whom Jesus speaks. In the very evening that Jesus spoke these words, all his disciples would flee in fear. Peter denied him three times. Yet, in this moment he encourages them with the fact that their ongoing belief and love will result in their ongoing obedience. These disciples were normal people. They were not super Christians who had super levels of spiritual fortitude and will power. Their faith was no more or less feeble than yours. They were regularly confused. They regularly doubted. They regularly disobeyed and failed. They thought and functioned like normal people.

So then if obedience is the norm for the average believer, what then is obedience? Colin Kruse offers a concise and helpful definition drawn from the immediate context. “What is meant by obedience is belief in Jesus and a commitment to follow him.” [2]

There are no super-believers that never sin. John confronts that error in his first epistle. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8). Even though we continue to sin, believers will be distinct from unbelievers in the world. Unbelievers throughout the world possess no love for Jesus and they have no drive to obey his Word and follow his example.

Within every believer, there is an internal desire (if not passion) to know God more, to love God more, and to obey God more consistently. When these aspects are present within your life, you can find assurance that you truly are a believer.

Be challenged. If you love Jesus you will desire to obey. (1) A pursuit of obedience is vital to a healthy Christian walk. The absence of a desire to obey God’s commands evidences a lack of belief and love in Christ. (2) The effectiveness of our prayers is impacted by our obedience. James writes in his letter, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). As well, John writes in his first letter, “whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 Jn 3:22).

Your obedience is empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Be encouraged. The Spirit has come and revealed all truth. This is a great comfort.  Jesus just informed believers that they will know they are the Father’s through their obedience. Questions arise. What are believers to obey? How do they obey? Were the disciples supposed to remember everything Jesus told them? What if they forgot some important matters?

No worries. Do not be troubled. The Spirit will come and bring to remembrance everything Christ had taught. And, the Spirit did just that. He reminded the apostles of the teachings of Christ and those apostles wrote those teachings down. Believers now possess those teachings in the Bible. As well, the Spirit continues to work in minds and hearts as He illuminates the truth.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (Jn 14:16).

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Jn 14:26).

Unlike the average believer’s awareness of Jesus and his evident work, many believers struggle understanding what exactly the Spirit has done or continues to do. (1) First, the Holy Spirit is a person who, indwelling us, transforms us. He is not an impersonal power or force that we employ at our bequest. (Illustration from Asphalt 9). (2) Secondly, the Holy Spirit has and continues to accomplish some specific tasks.

  1. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost man of sin (Jn 16:8-9).
  2. The Holy Spirit regenerates (Jn3:3-8).
  3. The Holy Spirit seals you once you are saved (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22).
  4. The Holy Spirit bears witness to you of your salvation (1 Jn 4:13; Rom 8:16).
  5. The Holy Spirit teaches the Bible to you (Jn 14:26; 16:13-15; 1 Cor 2:9-10).
  6. The Holy Spirit intercedes in prayer for you (Rom 8:26-27; Eph 2:18).
  7. The Holy Spirit comforts you in time of need (Jn 14:15-18; 2 Cor 1:3-4).
  8. The Holy Spirit empowers you to serve God (Acts 1:8; Eph 3:16).

Specific to this text, Jesus reveals a few additional realities about the coming of the Spirit. (1) The Spirit’s coming is prompted by Jesus’ desire to not leave us as orphans. (2) The Spirit’s coming is “forever.” (3) The Spirit will reveal truth. (4) The Spirit will give peace.

Be challenged. We are to surrender to the filling of the Spirit. In considering the many passages involving the Holy Spirit, most of them outline the workings of the Holy Spirit, of which many occur in the life of a believer.

However, there are a few passages that also indicate what believers are to do in relation to the Holy Spirit. We are to surrender to the filling of the Spirit.

I do not intend to offer a thorough explanation of the “filling of the Spirit,” but I do desire to quickly describe it and contrast it to Spirit baptism.

Spirit Baptism occurs once, is never commanded, and is not experiential. (1) Christ is the one who baptizes (Matt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33).[3] (2) We are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45, 11:15).[4] (3) We were baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13).[5]

Spirit filling can happen often, is commanded, and is experiential. (1) In Ephesians, Paul commands the believer to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18-21).[6] (2) Peter is filled with the Spirit multiple times. He is initially baptized or filled in the Spirit in Acts 2 but then again in Acts 4:8 and 31.[7] (3) The filling of the Spirit always produced an experience Luke unfolds a number of incidents in which the filling of the Spirit resulted in a memorable experience (Acts 4:31, 6:5-8, 7:55, 11:21-24, 13:7-10). In Ephesians 5, Paul connects the filling of the Spirit to godly living, submission, obedience, etc.  

Benefits of Filling. As believers surrender to the filling of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit empowers them to more effective ministry and witness (Acts 1:8), He enables the believer to experience victory over the influence of sin, He empowers the believer to have victory over Satan and the world, and He equips believers with spiritual gifts for ministry.

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (p. 174). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 4, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 300–301.

[3] “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11).I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8).John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16).I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:33).

[4] And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (Acts 10:45).As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. (Acts 11:15).

[5] For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor 12:13).

[6] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:18–21).

[7] Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, (Acts 4:8).And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31).