Sometimes in the simplicity of a statement or a situation we miss an obvious truth.

Snake hidden“If it was a snake, it would have bit me,” we like to say.

That happened to me as I read this familiar verse recently. 

Jesus, on the night of His betrayal, spent several hours instructing the disciples on the truths that would sustain them after He went to the cross and after He ascended to heaven.  Multiple times in that night He promised to send the Holy Spirit to them to help them, comfort them, teach them, guide them, and convict the world of its sinfulness (e.g., 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-11, 13-14).

In these promises, Christ used several different names for the Holy Spirit, predominantly the “Helper” (Comforter) and the “Spirit of Truth.”  In the midst of delighting in these wonderful truths about the Spirit, this is what I almost missed:

“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 said to you.” (John 14:26; NASB)

Only one time on that night did Christ call Him what we most commonly call Him:  the Holy Spirit.  In fact, only three times in all of John is He referred to by this common name (1:33; 14:26; 20:22).

This singular reference to the name “Holy Spirit” had to be jarring to the disciples.  Jarring and clear. 

Much ink has been spilled and many words have been uttered over the purpose and function of the Holy Spirit in the two millennia since Jesus spoke to the disciples.  May I state the obvious? 

By so clearly articulating the Spirit’s full name, Christ introduced Him to the disciples, revealing to them the Spirit’s function.  He is holy.  Jesus did not refer to His power, His greatness, His majesty, His gifting, or the fruit He so graciously produces in believers. 

No, the most important characteristic about the Spirit is that He is holy.  The first lesson for the disciples (and us) about the Spirit is about His character — and that character is fully and completely holy.

And what He has come to do for believers is produce holiness in them. 

Later in that evening Jesus would pray to the Father and make this direct request of Him:  “Sanctify them…” (17:17).  Christ’s passion for the disciples was that they would be sanctified (made holy; cf. also Titus 2:14).  And to accomplish that for them (and us), He sent the Holy Spirit.

So the question is not, “Why the Holy Spirit?”  His own name tells us why He has come.  The question is:  am I allowing the Holy Spirit to make me holy?

To paraphrase J. B. Phillips, Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we are saying that we believe there is a living God whose nature is fully pure, and who is willing to enter human personality and make it holy.