John 15:26-27 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I hesitate to mention the word for today, because it is a word of such power, even the mention of this word is for many unsettling. The word for today is rob – as in you have been robbed – what did they take? The answer to that question tells you what you regard as important, it’s the first place you look, it’s the thing you guard most securely. And these days, people talk about being robbed, even though the house is full, for it has come to pass that we can talk about the things we don’t have, never had, in terms of having been robbed of having them. And that is the greatest theft of all, for without lifting a finger it takes away the joy over all the blessings that fill our lives.
What is this, that robs us of so much? It is the sin of covetousness. It is watching our neighbors and what they have so closely, that we forget that we have anything of value. It is having food and clothing and lots more, and not being content, grumbling about all that we don’t have, as though we can not live without it.
What is wrong with covetousness? Not only is it a sin, but it is a gateway sin, that is, it is a sin that is never content with itself, but always seeks to add more. Although there are 2 commandments that say "thou shalt not covet" somehow it doesn’t seem so serious, because often it is only a sin of thoughts – something in our heads and in our hearts, but not visible from the outside.
The reason why it is so serious, is it robs us of the grace of God, it robs us of the love which is ours in Christ, it robs us of the peace of God which passes all understanding, it robs us of the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life, it robs us of the faith God works in our heart, it robs us of our hope and joy. With all this gone, what can set things right?
Jesus, and the forgiveness of sins which creates in us a clean heart, and makes us a new creation – but it doesn’t stop there, for Jesus send us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and that is how we come to see things as they really are. For by ourselves we are sinners under God’s wrath, and doomed – the good we would we do not, and evil, that we do. But the Holy Ghost calls us by the gospel – turn from sin, turn from the path of destruction and he shows us a new way – turn to the life and hope that is yours in the forgiveness of sins in Jesus name. It is the Holy Spirit who reminds us what is really important, and what is our greatest treasure – it is the life and salvation which are ours in Jesus Christ.
And that brings us to the second part, who we are as children of God – we are witnesses, witnessing to all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Not only does the Holy Spirit remind us what is important – but by his power we are given words to share that change lives, and change the world – for the better. We are witnesses, we bring with us God’s word, and God’s Word changes the world. We are witnesses, and our witness is convincing because not only do we bring with us God’s Word, but the Holy Spirit is working through the Word to change the hearts and lives of all people, to change them from sinners into saints.
Our hope is Christ. Our Joy is Christ. And we rejoice that He has sent us the Spirit to live in our hearts, to guard our faith, and protect us so that no one can rob us of our salvation. The promise is so secure, that we are told that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, neither height or depth, things present or things to come – nothing can separate us from the love of God. We can lay it down, we can leave it behind – but with the Spirit to remind us of all that is ours in Christ, why would we ever turn from this great treasure?
We are witnesses to all that God is doing in Christ, and what makes our witness convincing, what leads people to faith, are not our words, not our deeds – but the Holy Spirit, he is working through us, and not only has he changed us, he can change the whole world. He will show the world its sin, and then show the world its savior. And we rejoice to be part of this great working of salvation in Jesus name.