The Holy Spirit Is Guardian of My Faith
Oh Holy Spirit, thank You for calling me out of my sin and unbelief and for making me a child of God. There is so much that tries to pull me away. Sometimes I fell myself slipping…sometimes very much. Teach me, strengthen me, and open my heart to the Gospel so that I may remain faithful to You, the Father, and my Savior—Jesus. Amen.
The Holy Spirit has called us to faith and made us God’s children. Still, in this world we may be led to doubt whether we really are redeemed children of God. The Holy Spirit reassures. In the midst of all the world’s troubles even children of God might groan. The Holy Spirit gives hope. Children of God are still weak sinners and do not even always know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit intercedes.
Giving witness to Christ may seem like a fearful thing, especially when we consider the potential reaction of those who hear. Nevertheless, equipped with the Word of God, we can confess our Savior before others with boldness. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will work through the Word and give us the words to speak.
Text: Psalm 40:1-4a, 11-13
I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust. . .Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your loving kindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me!
In Christ Jesus, dear Fellow redeemed:
The football player who holds the ball out at arm’s length and rushes straight ahead into the oncoming defenders will not play football very long. The player is not guarding the football and he is sure to lose it more times than keep it.
The driver of the armored car who places the money bags on the hood of the vehicle or on the roof, and then drives away, won’t be employed very long. He is not guarding the money that has been entrusted to him.
If you had several hundred dollars in crisp new bills, you would not go into a poor part of a city where robbery was virtually a guarantee and start waving your money in people’s faces almost begging them to steal it. Rather, you would guard your money in a purse or wallet.
All of these examples show a carelessness toward guarding a treasure that has been entrusted to the person. Carelessness in guarding usually means "losing." We wouldn’t expect any of these things to happen because they are examples of foolishness. When things have been entrusted to us we want to guard them carefully and act appropriately.
In terms of our faith—our spiritual life—we sometimes go out without guarding it very well. There are times when children of God act foolishly, when they take their faith to places it should not go because of the danger that is present there—boldly walking around as if that faith could never be shattered, or never even shaken or cracked just a little.
Peter didn’t do very well in guarding his faith when he walked into the courtyard of the High Priest. Abraham didn’t guard his faith particularly well when he went down to Egypt and lied to Pharaoh, saying that his wife was really his sister. It was a lie that led to greater problems later. On the other hand, Joseph DID guard his faith well when he fled the situation with Potiphar’s wife.
The wonderful thing about guarding our faith is that we are not left to guard it alone—it’s a good thing because we would ultimately fail. We are not the ones who have the power to guard our faith. The Holy Spirit guards and keeps us in the faith despite all the attacks and worries of this world. When we acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in guarding our faith, it means that there won’t be self-reliance as we go out into the world. It will also affect our attitude and approach toward the Holy Spirit. For when we look upon the Holy Spirit as the guardian of our faith, we will hold Him and His work in the highest regard. Each of us can say: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GUARDIAN OF MY FAITH I. He pulled me from the pit II. He set me on the rock III. He keeps me from the slide
Our text this morning never makes specific mention of the Holy Spirit. However, when we combine David’s words together with the rest of Scripture, we find that among the things about which David speaks there are those which God especially ascribes to the Holy Spirit and the work He does. David begins by saying, “He [God] also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” [v.1]
We are born in a pit of muck. If we look upon sin as the stickiest, gooiest, filthiest mud & clay that we have ever seen, we are seeing sin as we should. We are born in a deep deep pit, filled with the muck of sin and all the weaknesses we have. There is no way out. In fact, the kind of mud and sludge and clay that is in that pit is such that is sucks us down like quick sand. The more we struggle to get out on our own, the more it sucks us in. James speaks of this when He says, “…when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full grown brings forth death” (James 1:15)
After King David (who wrote this Psalm) had committed adultery with Bathsheba, he got pulled into the muck further by trying to cover his sin with another sin namely, murder. When someone lies, it is not infrequent that the person will have to lie again to defend the first lie and then another, and another… It is the mud and quick sand pulling deeper into the pit.
From that miry clay of sin—from which there is no escape and which ultimately will consume us—from that pit, the Lord has brought us out. The Holy Spirit has called us out and lifted us up!
We know that it is the Son, Jesus, who suffered and died for our sins. It is His work: His perfect life on our behalf and then His sacrifice on the cross washes away the mud and filth of our sin and pulls us into salvation.
This whole psalm is also a Messianic psalm that describes the work of Christ. A few verses beyond our text David writes, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire… Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8). The book of Hebrews tells us that these words of David are also words of the Son of God in prophesy. The Son of God came as one who was far different that the Old Testament sacrifices. He came to sacrifice Himself. He came to willingly lay down His life for our sins. He came to do what was necessary to rescue us from the pit of sin and ultimately death in hell.
Without the Holy Spirit, the redemption that Jesus won for us would be like a fanciful dream. We would be in the pit—deep, down, and dark. Up above we would see the sun shining, grass growing, and hear the joyful shouts of laughter, but we would have no way out. The salvation and redemption would be there, but we would still be sinking in our despair. The Holy Spirit lifts us out so that we can enjoy the blessings of forgiveness and take part in the salvation won by Christ when He died on the cross. The Holy Spirit is the one who comes to our hearts with the Gospel and creates that faith. As Luther says, "He calls me by the Gospel." The Holy Spirit calls me and lifts me out of that pit and out of sin into life. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Holy Spirit is the one who brings forgiveness to us. We can say "theHoly Spirit forgives our sins." Yes, Jesus died for them…the Holy Spirit brings that salvation to us and He uses the Gospel as His tool to do this.
When we see the Holy Spirit as the one who has brought us up out of the muck, out of the pit, out of the miry clay, then we can understand why He has an interest in guarding our faith. First of all, as part of the Triune God He has our eternal life as His greatest interest. The Holy Spirit’s #1 goal is that all sinners be brought to salvation so once He has brought us out of the pit and into salvation He is sure to guard us and keep us. The Holy Spirit is the creator of our faith through the Gospel. He has a vested interest in the trust He has worked in our hearts. The Holy Spirit also lives within us. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
So, the Holy Spirit, guardian of our faith, brought us up, created that faith, called us out of our sin. Now we are able to sing a NEW song. As David goes on to say, “He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God” [v.3]. In the muck of our sin—living our sinful lives apart from Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit—we don’t sing a new song. We sing the songs of complaint and disgruntlement against God. We sing the songs of evil and sin and the wickedness of following our own ways. The Holy Spirit gives new birth, new life, bringing us out so that we have a new song of salvation and praise to sing to our Lord.
David says as well, “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.” [v.4] We are indeed greatly blessed by having been called out of the pit. We CAN’T put our trust in God while we are sinking in the mud of our sin and unbelief. The Holy Spirit calls us so that we DO put our trust in Him and receive all the wonderful blessings that Christ won for us when He died and which He so much wants to give.
David continues to describe the Holy Spirit as having set us on the rock. If you recall the childhood story of the three little pigs it becomes pretty clear very quickly which of the three building materials was superior. The sticks and the straw could not protect the little pigs. The brick—the hard substance could protect. So too, if the Holy Spirit brought us out of the pit, out of clay, out of mud and set us in mud somewhere else, what good would it do? We would just keep sinking.
The Holy Spirit has not only brought us out of the pit. He has firmly established us on solid granite rock that cannot be moved. That rock is Christ our Cornerstone. As David said, “He has brought me up out of a horrible pit…and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”[v.2] It is the rock of Christ’s Truth revealed in the Gospel which Jesus said is the rock upon which a wise builder builds his house. The storms came and the winds blew upon that house and it stood rock solid! Anyone who builds on some other foundation builds on shifting sand and that house does fall.
Scripture describes Christ as the rock of our salvation. Psalm 46—"God is our refuge and strength" a rock on which we can put pressure, on which we can walk with firm steps so that we do not fall or slip. When Paul describes the “armor of God” in Ephesians chapter 6, he speaks of putting “the preparation of the Gospel of Peace” (Ephesians 6:15) on our feet . We need shoes to give us balance and to protect our feet from sharp dangerous things on the path.
The Gospel rock and foot protection establishes our steps throughout our life. As we go through life we turn to the Gospel for reassurance. We think of epistle reading in which the world is described as groaning, and we too groan under the weight of sin, but we’re walking on rock! We’re walking on the truth of God! Let anything come what may, we have salvation and the truth of our Lord.
Being established on the rock means then that we are able to go out and to give testimony to our Lord. As David says, "…praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” [v.3] Standing on the rock, free from the pit, we can look out and enjoy salvation. We can be part of that joyful laughter that is singing the praises of our God. As we sing that new song of thanksgiving and joy in our salvation, people will hear. People will be moved by the Gospel and they too will be brought to faith.
Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will work through the Word to give the words and the confidence to testify and confess Jesus’ name (cf: Gospel reading). Being able to stand on the rock of God’s truth and boldly declare what He has done for us is part of the guardianship of our faith. When we express our faith to others it is a faith-strengthening exercise. If we never say anything, if we never proclaim our faith, never speak it, we won’t so easily feel the need to dig into Scripture. If we don’t hear ourselves proclaiming our faith we will begin to shrivel up in our faith. When, through the working of the Spirit and the Word, we stand on the rock and proclaim it, we grow in boldness by the grace of God. We declare what we believe and our faith is strengthened.
The Holy Spirit calls us out of the pit, sets us on the rock, and then keeps us on that rock and helps us declare with rock-certainty the wonders and the marvels of our God.
We do at times carelessly guard our faith. The Holy Spirit has pulled us out of the pit, set us on the rock, but there are times when we want to hang on to our faith and pursue our desires at the same time. We hang on to our faith with one hand and then stretch out to pursue our sinfulness somehow believing we can do so without really losing or endangering our faith. So we find ourselves reaching back toward the pit for sinful things, being pulled back into the pit by our own desires and the temptations of the world. With the other hand we’re holding on the Gospel and the Devil is one-by-one pulling our fingers up trying to get us to let go. As the Devil does this we slip. The Holy Spirit is there with the Gospel to keep us from the slide by putting our fingers back in place one by one to firmly hold onto the faith in Christ. He strengthens and increases our grip on the truth of our salvation to keep us from sliding back from where we came.
David spoke of the kinds of things that want to pull us back into the pit. “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; Let your loving kindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me” [v.12]
There is so much evil in the world around us, surrounding us, wanting to pull us back into the pit. "Come on, follow us, it is better down here." When we start to count our sins, innumerable sins weigh heavily on our hearts. We see all the troublesome things that in a single day outnumber what we can count or even realize, when they are more than the hairs of my head…my heart fails me.
When we do look at our sins, our hearts do sink. All our best intentions end up in failure = our heart sinks. Our goal of not falling into a particular sin again and then we do = our heart sinks. When we look at our lives and think what a miserable example of holy living I am at times, how frustrated I become, how totally troubled I am at times by things in the world or even closer to home = our heart sinks.
The Holy Spirit is there to keep us from that slide. If our heart sinks and we follow temptation and despair, we are sliding back down. The Holy Spirit is there to keep us firmly planted on the rock to prevent that slide.
All those sins and troubles that David saw in the world around him and in himself are also those same sins and troubles Jesus took to the cross and destroyed them there when He died and rose again to life. The Holy Spirit continues to remind us of this to preserve us from sliding back into the pit.
In Ephesians, Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit as being our guarantee of our salvation. He writes, “… having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession to the praise of His glory”(Ephesians 1:13-14).
Jesus came and delivered us. David pleaded, “Be pleased O LORD to deliver me” [v.13]. Jesus did come and deliver us. Now, during the time between His first coming and when He comes again in eternal glory, He has given us the Holy Spirit—a guarantee! The Holy Spirit working through the Word is our guarantee that this salvation is OURS. He is the guardian of our faith.
Our prayer is then, the prayer of one of our hymns:
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink though pressed by many a foe
That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe
A faith that shines more bright and clear when tempests rage without
That when in danger knows no fear in darkness fears no doubt
That bears unmoved the world’s dread frown nor heeds its scornful smile
That sin’s wild ocean cannot drown nor Satan’s arts beguile.
Lord, give us such a faith as this and then whatever may come
We’ll taste even now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home. Amen.
[TLH #96 st.1,3,4,6]
That prayer we offer to the Holy Spirit—Guardian of our faith, keeper of our souls, and the one who preserves us on the ROCK. Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt