2008-01-26 - The Spirit's Leading
1 Corinthians 3:21, "For all things belong to you."
How does the Holy Spirit speak to you? A lot of people have a lot of bad ideas about how the Spirit speaks to them and assures them of the truth, goodness, and leading of this or that. Sometimes the phrase "I know it because the Spirit told me," means little more than, "I ate something I shouldn't, and now I have gas." It is hard to discern any objective reason why some have the subjective feeling that the Spirit has told them this or that. It might be the Spirit, but it seems it might just as easily be indigestion. And yet, as Christians, we maintain that there is such a thing as the leading of the Spirit of God in our lives. How do we know? How can we know that it is the Holy Spirit leading us, and not an evil spirit, or heartburn?
I will give the most practical manner of discerning this below, but first I would like to try to illustrate the answer to this question. Let us say that your neighbor buys a new car. It is a nice car, and as you are getting ready for work, you remember 1 Corinthians 3:21, that all things belong to you. You shrug it off and continue the morning rituals of getting ready to head out, but keep thinking about that verse, that all things belong to you. It is in the Bible, and must be true, so maybe this thought that keeps circulating in your mind is the leading of the Spirit. You happen to know where your neighbor keeps the hidden key to his cars on the side of the garage, and, again, let us not forget that "all things belong to you." So you conclude this must be the Spirits leading. You have the inner desire, which is confirmed by a verse from God's Word that your neighbors new BMW really belongs to you, because in Christ, all things belong to you. You decide to take the new car to work instead of your old rust bucket. As you are getting the key, another verse comes to mind, Exodus 20:15, "Thou shall not steal." And (hopefully) you drive the old rust bucket to work, and avoid an unpleasant encounter with badges and guns.
The Spirit's leading is often confusing, but for something to be the leading of the Spirit, it must be in harmony with the Bible. If the "word" the Spirit is giving you is out of accord with the revelation you know of God in the Bible, it may not be the Spirit who is leading you. We also have to be clear that the leading we are sensing is in complete conformity with God's Word, because we have a propensity to twist Scripture and make it say (as in the above example) what we wish it says, and not what it does say. We must know God's Word, in order for the Spirit to speak to us with any certainty. The Spirit never speaks but to confirm what God's Word speaks. The Spirit's leading is always consistent with the glory of God, His truth, and it is our wisdom - but also our duty - to not be led into ways of thinking that transgress God's Word, by claiming that, "it is the leading of the Spirit." If it is out of accord with the Bible it is not the leading of the Spirit. We must know Scripture, to know the Spirit's leading in our lives. May we become students of the Bible, prayerfully seeking its meaning, and then (and only then) will we know the leading of the Spirit in our lives, as He instructs us through His Word.
Soli Deo Gloria,