Unlocking the Spirit

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” — John 20:22-23

From inside this locked room, Jesus gives them a mission. He wants them to leave that locked room and stop cowering in the corner in fear and go telling others that he is raised from the dead. But he doesn't tell them to do this without giving them the necessary power. In the presence of paralyzing fear, he gives them power. But not just any power. The same power that raised him from the dead. The promised person and power of the Holy Spirit breathed on them.

This is what I love about Jesus. He makes good on his promises, and he never stops giving. And he does it quickly. If you recall, just a few days before this, he said to his disciples:

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. — John 16:4-15

As believers, we do not need to live in fear behind locked doors. Jesus, our Savior, and Lord, saved us and gave us the power to go into the world. The Holy Spirit lives within every believer. He gives us resurrection power to do his work in the presence of any fear.

So, I want you to do three quick things for me today. First, identify one fear holding you captive. Second, consider one person who needs the message of hope behind the fear that has held you back. Third, break through that fear by trusting the power of the Spirit and combining that with the message of hope they need that frees them from the bondage of sin. It's the forgiveness of Jesus made possible by his death and resurrection from the dead.

Be an agent of forgiveness and stop cowering behind locked doors. You are a believer indwelt by the person and power of the Holy Spirit.


Reflect on a time when fear has held you back from sharing your faith or forgiving someone. How can the truth that you possess the same power that raised Jesus from the dead embolden you to act despite your fears?

Think of someone in your life who needs the message of hope and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. What practical step can you take this week, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to extend forgiveness or share this message with them?

DO THIS: Do all three steps above.

PRAY THIS: Father, infuse me with the boldness of Your Spirit to overcome my fears and to be a vessel of Your forgiveness and hope. Empower me to act courageously, reflecting Your love and grace to those around me. Amen.

PLAY THIS: Same Power.

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6 thoughts on “Unlocking the Spirit

  1. Dale Henderson says:

    What is the point of Jesus saying that if they withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld?

    • Vince Miller says:

      Dale, that’s a great question. I should have addressed this. Essentially, the meaning is:

      This verse emphasizes the involvement of the followers of Jesus in the mission and evangelistic task within the hostile world. Forgiveness of sins is directed to a right relation or standing with God, a concern that in the Pauline letters would be called justification, as, for example, in Rom 3:21–5:11. It is essential to recognize that while believers are involved in the mission, it is God who ultimately does the forgiving. Christians who are thus involved in the forgiveness of sins do so as agents of the Holy Spirit and never as independent actors in this process.

  2. Trent says:

    Charles Bukowski – The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts. While the stupid ones are full of confidence.

    Now that is the quote. File the sharp edges off to get this idea from it.
    Trent – The danger to the world is that the people who possess the Truth are reserved in sharing their truth. While the people who are deceived are bold in sharing their deception.

    My fear is loss of words, tears, lack of knowledge, lack of argument skills. Basically looking foolish in failure and then it turns to, you guessed it, anger and aggression. Father may your spirit grow a boldness in me to share YOUR Truth in confidence and brush any rejection, persecution, feelings of failure and humiliation and anger off my feet…. IF they do present themselves. To God be the glory. To Trent be the lesson.

    Do not you just love when someone speaks of themselves in 3rd person?

    • Eric B says:

      I liked how you were transparent about your fears Trent as we all 2nd guess ourselves. I also appreciated how you ended with God getting the glory and us men getting the lesson. Thanks for speaking up as I was able to relate to your comments

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