John 15:18-16:15

Don’t fall away or retreat – engage! 

John 15:18-16:15
“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away”
John 16:1

Wow what a passage! Packed full of Trinitarian theology as Jesus reminds his disciples of his identity and unpacks some of the dynamics on the godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In our sermon this week we have seen how Jesus, as well as this theology,  gives his disciples some key principles on how to relate to a world that will persecute them in the same way that it persecuted him.

He has reminded them that:
• Their core identity is in their relationship with him
• That he identifies with them in their persecution
• That the Holy Spirit is with them in the midst of trials
• That ultimately their enemy is not the world, but rather the devil, and he is defeated

Jesus has also warned them that in the face of persecution they will be tempted to “fall away”. To abandon their faith and their relationship with God. Jesus does not judge them, he is simply honest with them about this natural temptation. In his humanity Jesus knew the power of temptation. As he knelt in the garden of Gethsemane he was completely honest with the Father. Jesus is recognising that this temptation is called out of the heart of every believer when the pressure is on. It is in the light of this temptation that Jesus gives them the reassurance of his presence through the Holy Spirit and these key principles.

But there is another temptation. In resisting the urge to “fall away” there is the temptation to step away, to retreat into a holy huddle. The temptation to withdraw from the world. It is possible to take fantastic foundations like sound doctrine or authentic community and use them, not as foundations, but as walls to protect ourselves from a broken world. Especially when that broken world is threatening to break us. We want to hold fast to fantastic fellowship and we want to hold firmly to biblical truth.

However, these things should not be used to create as “us and them” mentality in my mind. I know this can be a temptation for me. To create a set of boundaries and beliefs that make me feel secure and provide a reason to judge others.

Jesus is also warning his disciples, and us, of this temptation. He may not address it directly, but he reminds his disciples of their missional calling. Even in the midst of persecution they are to preach the gospel of grace. What is more he reminds them that the Holy Spirit is also on mission. The Holy Spirit is given to come alongside them, to encourage them, to comfort them, to create unity amongst them. But the Holy Spirit is also on mission. The Holy Spirit will remind the believer of truth, but he will also bring the unbeliever to a place of conviction. In the midst of persecution it is easy to respond with judgement, but Jesus does not encourage his disciples to judge, he encourages them to preach. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction, regeneration and by the grace of God, salvation.

This encouragement to keep engaging with the world and cooperating with the Holy Spirit is implied through what Jesus says and it is modelled in who Jesus was. We have talked before about the importance of incarnational mission. We are called to incarnational mission – active love fuelled engagement with the world – because this is the model God gives us in Jesus. “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst them”.

In the midst of challenge and persecution we are called to neither be absorbed into a broken world, nor to retreat from the world. Rather we are called to be salt and light in the world that we might point to Jesus. No wonder Jesus keeps reminding us to be totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.


  1. Where are you facing opposition and possible persecution in this season?

  2. Spend some time bringing these situations before God and allowing the Holy Spirit to remind you of your identity in God and bringing the peace of God into the situation.

  3. Remembering that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6), spend some time praying for any individuals who come to mind as you have thought about the opposition you are facing or have faced in the past.


Father God,

You have not promised us an easy life, but you have promised that you are with us in the midst of trials and opposition. Thank you for your presence. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit and give me strength and compassion for the world around me.

This Everyday Devotions was written by Simon Elliott, our Lead Elder.

If you would like to listen to the whole of this week’s sermon on John 15:18-16:15 why not download the Everyday Church App or visit our website, YouTube Channel and at our Online Church Services.

This Everyday Devotions has also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube Channel.

Follow our Everyday Devotions Playlist for some songs to help you worship God in Spirit and truth this week.
Posted in
Posted in ,