The Work of the Holy Spirit
It’s not good theology to attribute to the Holy Spirit that which the Holy Spirit never attributes to Himself. Doing so results in both faulty and contradictory claims, and this is exactly what we often see. Feelings get attributed to the Spirit, which are then contradictory to the feelings of others, who might also claim the Spirit as the source. Such feelings may also directly contradict God’s own word. Claims are made about what the Spirit is doing, when all the person has is a good feeling about a work. I wish it were that simple, but we must not reduce the Spirit’s function to making us feel good about ourselves.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am a believer in the Holy Spirit. I believe God is at work, that the Spirit indwells God’s people, that He aids us in prayer, and that we are not left alone in our spiritual battle. Yet this is precisely why I want to avoid mislabeling and misattribution of the Spirit’s work. If we begin to label our feelings about something as the product of the Spirit, then we are using the Spirit to rubber-stamp what we want. “God leads me through my feelings” is never something that is attributed to the work of the Spirit. What right do we have to do so? And how would we even know, but for using our own feelings to verify what we already want to think? Yet even if the Spirit somehow produces good feelings in us, we should never think that we can use such feelings to do the opposite of what the Spirit has clearly revealed.
This is why the record left by the Spirit is so important, for even if an angel were to tell us something different, let it be accursed. We have a standard to which we may appeal (cf. Gal 1:6-8), given by the Spirit, expressing the mind of God (1 Cor 2:10-13). That will always outweigh my feelings.
None of this is to say that I fully understand how God does what He does. I’m happy to confess that God can work however He wills. Even so, I am not at liberty to say that whatever I feel must be because the Spirit is leading me that way. He never said that’s what He would do. Feelings change and vacillate. Feelings are prone to mistakes. Feelings can deceive.
What then is the best source for knowing what the Spirit does? The Spirit’s own testimony, as He moved men to speak and write. The word of God is not due to the will of man (cf. 2 Pet 1:20), but is given by the will and the grace of God. Let’s start there.
- Doy Moyer
You Can’t Pick and Choose
It is said that during an examination, a bright young student at Cambridge University once popped up and asked the proctor to bring him cakes and ale. The following dialog ensued:
Proctor: “I beg your pardon?”
Student: “Sir, I request that you bring me cakes and ale.”
Proctor: “Sorry, no.”
Student: “Sir, I really must insist. I request and require that you bring me cakes and ale.”
At this point, the student produced a copy of the four-hundred-year old laws of Cambridge, written in Latin and still nominally in effect, and pointed to the section which read (roughly translated): “Gentlemen sitting examinations may request and require Cakes and Ale.” Pepsi and hamburgers were judged the modern equivalent, and the student was permitted to take his examination while happily snacking away. Three weeks later, the student was fined five pounds for not wearing a sword to the examination!
When we look at the law, aren’t we sometimes careful to find those things which may benefit us, while trying to ignore the rest? It happens with the Bible all the time. Have you ever known someone who would quote the Bible when it was convenient for them, but then overlook what it says at other times? They wanted to get their “cakes and ale” but forget about “wearing a sword.” God’s Word isn’t like a cafeteria – we can’t choose what we want and leave behind what we don’t like.
“Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” (James 2:10-12)
- Thought For The Day