The Spirit of Truth

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” —John 14:16-18

WHEN JESUS INDICATED to his disciples that he would soon depart from them, they became very sorrowful, not understanding the necessity of such a course on the part of their Master. Jesus knew their inability to understand fully any explanation that he might offer, and explained that before they could understand, it was necessary for them to receive the Holy Spirit, which he referred to as the Comforter.

While the Common Version of the Bible uses the personal pronouns ‘he’ and ‘whom’ when referring to the Comforter, this by no means proves that the Spirit of comfort which later came upon the waiting disciples was the third person in a trinity of gods. As our text indicates, this same Holy Spirit is also spoken of by Jesus as the ‘Spirit of truth.’

John 16:13 also refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth, as follows: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” In this passage the personal pronoun ‘himself’ is a translation of the Greek word heautou. In our Common Version, this same word is rendered in the masculine, feminine, common and neuter genders. As an example of its use in the neuter gender we have the following: “For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself [heautou].”—Matt. 6:34

Later translations of the Bible, such as Professor Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott, use the pronouns ‘which’ instead of ‘whom’, and ‘it’ instead of ‘he’, when referring to the Holy Spirit. The word ‘ghost’ as in ‘Holy Ghost’ is also dropped in these more recent translations—the word ‘Spirit’ being properly used, instead.

The Greek word parakletos is the one rendered “Comforter” in the passages under consideration. The word means ‘to help’, ‘to encourage, assist and strengthen’. From this we see that the Master’s promise to his disciples meant that the Holy Spirit, which the Heavenly Father would send in his name and as his representative, would be to them a present help in every time of need.


Jesus gives us to understand that all the various ministrations of the Holy Spirit are under his direction, saying, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Jesus identifies the Holy Spirit with himself, as being his representative. Because the Holy Spirit has been with the church to guide her, Jesus could say, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [Greek, age].”—Matt. 28:20

The power of God has been, and still is, with the whole church, yet each receives his share of this holy influence by individually connecting with the proper channels of the Spirit. The truth itself is the main channel of the Holy Spirit. That is why it is called the Spirit of truth. This is understandable when we remember that the entire Word of God, which is the truth, has been given to the church through the ministration of the power of God as that holy influence operated upon the minds of the prophets and apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ. This means that our minds as Christians, hold communion with the mind of the Heavenly Father through the study of his Word. Through the power of his mind, he guides us and comforts us in every time of need. All who are closely associated with the truth and have its Spirit as the guiding principle of their lives are to that extent also channels through which the Spirit aids and influences others.

The comforting influences of the Spirit of God may be imparted for the blessing of individual members of the church through the faithful ministry of other individuals. Jesus himself was filled with, and wholly controlled by, the Spirit of his Father. He was a comfort to his disciples while he was personally with them; and, since Pentecost, the same Spirit, reaching the church through the Word of God, continues to comfort the followers of Jesus in proportion as they are faithful in building up one another in the most holy faith.

This thought is beautifully expressed in the following message from the Apostle Paul: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 2:1-5


There is nothing in the Master’s reference to the Holy Spirit as a Comforter or a helper for the church that implies the thought of another god, or of a trinity of gods. The context shows, to the contrary, that the comforting, or strengthening of the Holy Spirit is the work of the Father and the Son. The influence of both the Father and the Son reach the church through the written Word.

It is the Spirit of both, because the Father and the Son are wholly at one in mind and will, and the operation of the Spirit in the hearts and minds of Christians is designed to bring them into a similar oneness of purpose with respect to the divine plan. Jesus prayed on behalf of his followers, saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth. … That they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”—John 17:17-21

That the oneness of the Father and the Son is not physical, but rather a oneness of purpose which is held by two individuals is shown by the fact that each member of the church, when finally united with Christ in glory, will share the same oneness. This is because they will be fully sanctified, or set apart, by the Spirit of both the Father and the Son, for the accomplishment of the same divine purpose.

That the Holy Spirit is not a person, but rather the power or influence of God, is further shown by Jesus’ statement, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) ‘This statement of the Master is merely another way of explaining the manner in which the influence of God’s thoughts fill and control the Christian life. His words expressed the mind, the will, the spirit of God.

In order to be filled with the Spirit, it is necessary for us to study the Word of truth. There is no possible way of being filled with the Spirit of God apart from the study of God’s Word, because God does not reveal his mind to Christians independent of that Word. We have the privilege of assisting each other in the study of the Word, and through this mutual fellowship and interest, to encourage one another in following more closely the leadings of the Spirit. But the basis of this fellowship must be the Word of God. Paul expresses the thought this way: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Eph. 5:17-20


John 3:34 reads: “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” Here again the words of God are shown to be synonymous with the Spirit. Jesus always did and said the things that were pleasing to his Father because he was filled with the Spirit of his Father. He was filled and wholly controlled by the Spirit, because the revelation of the divine will to him was without measure—nothing was held back that he needed to know in order to be wholly sanctified and wholly controlled by the will and Spirit of his God.

Jesus was perfect, and by nature wholly devoted to God—there was nothing in his being to hinder the inflow of the Spirit of God by which he was at all times filled. Our goal as followers of the Master is, likewise, to be filled with the Spirit. But the imperfections of our flesh hinder our receiving of the Spirit of God without measure. The perfect man, Jesus, who was wholly in the image of God, could be in fullest harmony with his Father and with the Spirit of holiness in every particular.

God does not limit the outpouring of his Spirit upon the followers of Jesus. Rather, it is the degree of degradation through the fall that encumbers Christians, and that limits the measure by which they are filled with the Spirit. It is the duty and privilege of each of the consecrated to seek earnestly to know and to do the Lord’s will. We are to keep our own wills in subjection, that they may not oppose the influence of the Spirit of truth in our lives. Yet, no member of the fallen race is capable of receiving the Lord’s Spirit to the full; that is, to be in absolute harmony with God in every particular and at all times.

The scriptures which speak of God’s Spirit being given without measure, and of being ‘filled’ with it, would be meaningless if the Holy Spirit were a person. But when we recognize that it is the power or influence of God which he exerts in the lives of his people by means of his Spirit-inspired Word, then we can understand how it is possible for some to be filled more, and some less, with his Spirit. We can see that consecrated believers who resign themselves wholly to the Lord, ignoring their own wills and preferences, can be more nearly filled with the Spirit than those whose consecration is not so absolute.

Those who are seeking to know and do God’s will are said to be “led of the Spirit,” (Gal. 5:18) are taught of the Spirit, and, through the inspiration of the Word, can “serve” the Lord “in newness of Spirit.” (Rom. 7:6) To continue under the leading and instruction of the Holy Spirit, they must themselves have a “spirit of meekness.” (Gal. 5:22,23; 6:1) To all fully devoted to doing God’s will, we are told that the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” can give the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”—Eph. 1:17,18


The Apostle Paul said, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom. 8:11) Here we are reminded that it was the Spirit or power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.

This is a reference to the actual resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as further described by the apostle in Ephesians 1:19,20, where we read, “What is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” It was a power of God beyond the influence of his Word that raised Jesus from the dead following the completion of his sacrifice as man’s Redeemer.

When Jesus was raised from the dead, he was at once surrounded by a new environment—a heavenly environment. He entered into the actual presence of his Father, and was a partaker of his divine nature. He could from thenceforth carry on with the Father’s work without the limitations of flesh and blood. All of these glorious realities of the actual resurrected life of Jesus are used by the apostle to illustrate the newness of life in which the Spirit-energized Christian is now privileged to walk. This new life of a Christian is referred to as a resurrected life. Paul said: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”—Col. 3:1-4

This newness of life is the result of being quickened by the Spirit. This quickening is not by a direct infusion of divine power into the mortal body of the Christian, as is sometimes erroneously supposed, but an energizing of the heart and mind through study and belief of the exceeding great and precious promises of God, all of which are Spirit-inspired.

To be filled, and consequently energized, by the Spirit of God is possible only in proportion as we give heed to the sanctifying power of the Word of God. The Spirit of truth through the Word has indicated various ways by which we may cooperate with the Lord in order to be filled and energized by his Spirit. We are, for example, to pray for the Spirit. If we neglect prayer we are neglecting one of the agencies by which the Spirit of truth energizes us.

If we neglect to assemble ourselves with others of “like precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1) when opportunity affords, we will fail to get the benefits and helps which “every joint supplieth.” (Eph. 4:16) These helps include those which God has promised to the church as a whole, and are available through various members set by him in the body as it pleases him for the exposition of his word. We cannot be isolationist Christians and expect to enjoy a rich infilling of the sanctifying power of God’s Spirit.—I Cor. 12:25-28


To be filled and quickened by the Spirit of God means to be energized to an active participation in the doing of his will. The depth of our consecration will be the measure of our faithfulness in laying down our lives in the divine service. Proper consecration, however, is only that which is made to the Lord, based upon instructions in his Word. Some have consecrated themselves to a sect, and consequently have received a sectarian spirit of love for that particular organization. The devotion of such is to the sect, and their service and sacrifice are on behalf of that sect, rather than the Lord.

Others, recognizing the value of one or more moral principles, have consecrated themselves never to violate those principles. These receive, at best, merely the spirit of morality, which, while good so far as it goes, yet often leads to a self-satisfied, self-righteous spirit. Along this line there are those who pride themselves in their patience, or possibly are even proud of their humility.

Still others consecrate themselves to ‘work’ for the Lord, deciding that the Lord’s work is that which is promoted by some particular denomination or organization of their choice. To these, the particular kind of work with which they busy themselves does not seem to be of paramount importance, so long as there is plenty to be done, and they have a prominent place in it.

Oftentimes the spirit of work for the Lord by which those are infused who make a consecration to works, so energizes them that they are so continuously engaged in a frenzy of activity that they have little or no time to study God’s Word, and thus to ascertain the kind of work the Lord wants done.

It is true, of course, that a consecration along any of these lines is far better than for one to be devoted to the service of evil, and thus to be energized by the spirit of evil. Any of them is better, too, than to be devoted wholly to the carrying out of one’s own selfish desires. Certainly, to be devoted to almost any enterprise that is not in itself evil, is better than an aimless life of consecration to nothing.


True consecration to do the will of God, however, differs from all others. It is exemplified in our Lord Jesus Christ who, in his consecration, expressed the proper spirit of devotion to his Father, saying, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” (Heb. 10:7) These words reveal that Jesus’ consecration was to do his Father’s will. For Jesus, the Father’s will was not that which he might himself decide to do based upon his own preferences. Neither was it that which his mother or brethren or friends might consider to be the proper thing to which he should devote his time and strength.

No, the will of God for Jesus was that which had been written in the “volume of the Book.” His consecration, therefore, was an agreement to be guided by all of the Spirit-inspired instructions of the Word of God. Not only was the Master guided by these instructions, but he was also energized by the Spirit-inspired promises of the Old Testament which set before him a joy that enabled him to endure the cross and despise the shameful end of the consecrated way.—Heb. 12:2

Jesus, therefore, is our example. His consecration reveals what our consecration should be; namely, to do the will of God, as that will is revealed to us through his Word. If our consecration is truly unto the Lord, it will cause us to bow to no other will but his. If our consecration is complete, it will permit no stipulations nor reservations. This true consecration will lead us to present our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” (Rom. 12:1) The spirit of consecration, causing us to yield to the instructions of God’s Word, will bring about a transforming of our minds as we endeavor daily to study the Word of God to prove what is his “good, and acceptable, … will.”—Rom. 12:2

The measure in which we are quickened by the Spirit depends on how fully we yield ourselves to the influences of the Word of God. The word ‘holy’ as in Holy Spirit, is of Anglo-Saxon origin from a root meaning ‘whole’ or ‘completeness’. From this standpoint, the Holy Spirit is a whole or complete spirit. That is, its influence through the Word of God reveals the entire will of God. To the extent that we, as Christians, are energized by the Holy Spirit, we become Godlike and Christlike.

If we have received the Holy Spirit in any good measure, we are in that proportion rounded out in all parts of our characters, and are better balanced than ever before in our judgments, having what the Apostle Paul described as the “spirit … of a sound mind.”—II Tim. 1:7

Dawn Bible Students Association
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