Cantate 2010 (May 2, 2010)
““I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,” (John 16:12–13 ESV)
Have you ever had one of those cases where you walked into a room and five people tried to talk to you all at once? Frustrating, isn’t it? Each person has their own demands, their own questions, and their own important things they want to say to you. We call that “breakfast” at our house. It’s hard to concentrate when this happens, because you don’t know which voice to listen to, or how to make it happen.
This is obvious when we talk about things at work or at school or at home or on the news. If you have too many distractions, too many voices trying to speak to you at once, you can’t focus, you can’t listen, and perhaps even more of a problem, you can’t sift out the truth from the lies, you can’t prioritize what really matters. It all just becomes a big jumbled mess.
Jesus in our text this morning wants to teach you about listening to Him, and not allowing the voices of this world to distract you and draw you away from the Way, the Truth and the Life. Listen in on what He has to say.
Question One: What are the voices distracting you?
So the first question is, what are the voices that seek to distract you and keep you from hearing the truth of His Word and the resurrection? You probably know the answer to that better than I do. The voices of this world are tempting, deceiving, and are very effective at getting us to listen to their siren call. We can summarize these voices as two kinds, inside and outside voices.
When we talk about what voices are we listening to, it would be easy to sort of go through the litany of moral ills of our day. Television, computers, the internet, text messaging, games, friends, sports, recreation, work, play, frankly anything. None of these temptations, these voices from the world around us, none of these things are evil in and of themselves. Far from it! The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof. It would be pretty tough to argue that everything in God’s world is evil. It just isn’t true.
But that draws us into one of the most important teachings about the world and about Satan and sin. When God made the world, He finished all that he had made and said that it was very good. That includes Adam and Eve, and the whole of His creation. But when sin entered into the world, things changed. Satan in his evil designs tries to take what is good and right from God, and twist it to His own desires and needs.
Think about your own life about how the good things in your life are used by Satan to twist things around, to mess things up and make them at odds with God’s wonderful purposes for you in Christ. How does Satan use these things in your life? Only you can really answer that question. I encourage you to ask them of yourself.
Sometimes these voices from outside are loud. Sometimes they are so overpowering that it is hard to imagine there even IS any other voice to listen to that is better or more important. Amazingly enough, though, these aren’t the most tempting or overpowering voices in your life.
For most of us, the greatest temptations to fall away from the voice of the Good Shepherd lie not from the outside, but from the inside. No one is better than I am at talking myself into sin. Pride, despair, desire, arrogance, envy, sloth, malice, who even knows where to begin? Yet they are all there, right inside of you and me. I don’t have to look outside to find the problem. We have met the enemy, and he is us. Jesus Himself said that it is not what comes from the outside that defiles the body, but from what is inside that makes us unclean. He’s talking about you and I here, and no one else.
Question Two: So this leads us into question number two for the day, why do you need guiding into the Truth?
Because of all of these voices within and without, your internal compass is off. You don’t love God with your whole heart and mind, and you don’t love your neighbor as your self. By nature, you listen to all the wrong voices. In fact, our listening to all of these disparate voices means that when the still, small voice of His Word shines forth, so often we miss it entirely. Pilate asked Jesus at His trial, “What is truth?” It is hard to see the diamond in the midst of so many other shiny rocks sometimes.
Face it, we are deaf to hear God’s Word and are lousy at prioritizing the important from the unimportant in our lives. This is especially true when it comes to hearing of God’s blessings for you and I. The conscience is of some benefit, but it won’t lead us into the truth of God’s forgiveness in Christ.
Question Three: How does the Holy Spirit guide you?
If hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd is so hard with all of these voices swirling around how, how does it actually happen? How can you actually hear and trust that God will do what he promises? How can you know and be certain that all of these other false voices won’t have their way with you?
The answer lies in the character of God Himself, and of how He works. First of all, we are in Eastertide here. Our God is one who keeps His promises. And He has many great and mighty promises that He makes for you. And one of those Resurrection promises which Jesus makes for you is that the Spirit of truth comes, and that He is the one who guides you into all truth.
Truth is not something that you discover for yourself. This is the great fallacy of our age. Modern thought teaches that truth is something you find, or even something you create all on your own. But that is the lie.
Truth is a gift, and God is the giver of all Truth. So the truth of God’s love for you in Jesus Christ comes to you by His Word and Spirit. That is what God promises to you. That is the truth. That is reality. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of you sin. The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches you of God’s love in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who does God’s great and mighty work of teaching you that you are free from sin.
The voices of this age are real and tempting, but the voice of God, given to you by His Spirit through the Word, is powerful, more powerful than anything that Satan, sin and the forces of this life can throw at you. Trust God’s Word for you. Listen to His voice. He will lead you into all truth. He will give you all that you need for this life. He will feed you and take care of you no matter what may come. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.