Let’s imagine that you want to learn to dance. Being the rational, cerebral person you are, you go to a bookstore and buy a book on dancing. After all, a book helped you learn to program a computer and a book taught you accounting ---- surely a book can teach you how to shuffle your feet.
You take the book home and get to work. You do everything it says. The book says sway; you sway. The book says shuffle; you shuffle. The book says spin; you spin. You even cut out paper shoe patterns and place them around the living –room floor so you’ll know where to step.
Finally, you think you’ve got it, and you invite your wife to come in and watch. You hold the book open and follow the instructions step by step. You even read the words aloud so she’ll know that you’ve done your homework. “Lean with your right shoulder,”and so you lean. “Now step with your right foot,”and so you step. “Turn slowly to the left,”and so you do.
You continue to read, then dance, read, then dance, until the dance is completed. You plop exhausted on the couch, look at your wife, and proclaim,“I executed perfectly.” “You executed it, all right,” she sighs. “You killed it.” “What?” “You forgot the most important part. Where is the music?” Music?
Dancing with no music is tough stuff. Jesus knew that. For that reason, on the night before His death He introduced the disciples to the song maker of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
“When I go away I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. When the Helper comes, He will prove the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgement.” (John 16:7-9).
The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. He is not Popeye’s spinach or the surfer’s wave. He is God within you to help you. He is God’s music for the dance. In fact John calls Him the Helper.
What does the Spirit do? He comforts the saved. “When I go away, I will send the Helper to you” (John 16:7). He convicts the lost. “When the Helper comes, He will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment” (John 16:8). He conveys the truth. “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you into all truth” (John 16:12).
Is John saying we don’t need the book (Bible) in order to dance? Of course not; He helped write it. Emotions without knowledge are as dangerous as knowledge without emotion. God seeks a balance. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). It’s much easier to raise a sail than to row the boat. And it’s a lot easier getting people to join the dance when God is playing the music.