The Spirit of Truth

God’s Truth in the Gospels

4 min

Often studies of the attributes of God focus mostly upon God the Father. But it is very important to recognize that the other two persons of the Godhead—God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—share equally in every attribute of God the Father. Last month, we examined that the Son of God is fully eternal, an essential attribute we must recognize. 

This month we are observing the attribute of truth in the Godhead. One Person in the Trinity actually has “truth” in His title: the Spirit of truth. Today, let’s consider the Holy Spirit and His attribute of truth. 

On the night of His betrayal, our Lord Jesus relayed specific information to His disciples in the Upper Room. He told them He was soon going away from them. He also assured them that He was going to prepare a place for them. He promised them that He would then come again to receive them unto Himself. He also explained to His disciples that He would ask the Father to send them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who would abide with them forever.

The Holy Spirit is not merely a force, a power for good, or a sense of divine presence. The Holy Spirit is a Person of the Godhead, eternally proceeding from both the Father and the Son. Jesus called Him the “Spirit of truth.” On three occasions during His Upper Room Discourse, Jesus explained several important aspects of the Holy Spirit and His work.

  1. The Spirit of truth is given only to believers.
    The first instruction Jesus gave in the Upper Room regarding the Holy Spirit emphasized that the Spirit of truth is given only to believers. “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” (John 14:17). Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers that the natural man “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (I Corinthians 2:14). False teachers and false prophets can claim spiritual power and a dynamic message from on high, but only true believers can have the indwelling presence of the Spirit of truth.
  2. The Spirit of truth testifies of the Lord Jesus.
    Jesus’ second reference regarding the Holy Spirit is a promise that the Spirit of truth will testify of the Lord Jesus. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). If a preacher constantly references the Holy Ghost and rarely mentions Jesus, you have good reason to question whether this man’s message is the genuine message of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit of truth testifies of Christ, and the message of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit will always lift high the person and name of Jesus.
  3. The Spirit of truth is consistent with the Word of God.
    The third mention of the Spirit of truth in the Upper Room is a confirmation that the voice of the Holy Spirit will always be consistent with the Scripture. “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 shew you things to come” (John 16:13). Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit so that He could guide us “into all truth.” The Spirit of truth is our guide to the whole revealed Word of God. Without Him, we cannot understand the Bible. But with His blessing and presence, the written Word is made alive to our hearts.

Much confusion exists today regarding the Holy Spirit. The modern Christian world is full of false teachers who claim to have the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They usually claim that the words they speak are the very words that the Holy Spirit has put in their mouths. They might use the Holy Spirit to justify outlandish actions. These false prophets may make bold statements and dogmatic predictions about the future that go far beyond what the Bible reveals. But Jesus assured His disciples that the Spirit of truth will never speak differently than the Father and the Son. The Scripture and the Holy Spirit will never contradict.

John the Apostle also used the term “Spirit of truth” in his epistle to encourage Christians in the first century church to carefully evaluate every teaching. The apostle wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). After giving careful guidance on how to recognize a false teacher based on how the man regards the Son of God, John summed up with: “Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (I John 4:6).

Just as it was vitally important to “try the spirits” in the first century, so it is still crucial to test the spirits in the twenty-first century. False prophets abound even today! We must be very discerning. The next time you hear of a teacher or preacher claiming the authority of the Holy Spirit in his life or work, remember the three identifiers that Jesus said regarding the Spirit of truth: The Holy Spirit is given only to believers; He testifies of Christ; and He never contradicts Scripture. 

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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