Last month we looked at how God uses the Commanding Scripture to guide us in our Christian walk with Jesus. This month we’re going to look at the second CS that God guides us in our Christian lives – the Compelling Spirit.
We probably associate guidance from the Spirit with passages that relate the Holy Spirit ‘speaking’ to a believer- e.g. in Acts 8:29 says ‘the Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it”’ or in Acts 10:19-20 we read, ‘While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them”’ or Acts 13:2, in the context of the church at Antioch, where we read, ‘While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’.
The issue with relying on this form of Holy Spirit guidance is that, besides a number of other biblical and theological concerns, it can be very subjective and open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. ‘God told me’ is a phrase that always makes me uneasy, not because I don’t believe God speaks but because as it often turns out he has supposedly spoken in ways to people that contradict what he says in the Bible, which is His recorded and written voice. If I was to dictate a message for someone who recorded it on a Dictaphone but they then relayed it differently, there would be a question of authenticity and reliability raised, and quite rightly so.
So, when it comes to guidance from the Holy Spirit I believe we find the key is to be found in the way the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit functions: I want to suggest 4 words and 4 scriptures for us to consider and further study:
Delighting: Psalm 37:4 says, ‘delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart’. Make the Lord your delight and joy and give him the glory in your life and he will work in our hearts to desire after him and his ways. God’s Spirit will indeed be speaking into our lives as we do this.
Growing: Galatians 5:22 says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’. Guidance from the Spirit is given as He grows this fruit in our lives, and as this fruit grows, our lives are guided and governed by the Spirit. Our daily prayer is ‘Holy Spirit, bear your fruit in me.’
Obeying: Galatians 5:25 says, ‘Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ The phrase ‘keep in step’ is a term used to describe people walking together under direction and authority. In the context of this passage it refers to a lifestyle and lifestyle choices that are contrary to the ‘works of the flesh’ (v19-21). The Spirit guides us in paths of righteousness not ungodliness.
Recognising: Romans 8:4-16 says, ‘those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.’ Recognising that we are God’s family is the Spirit’s way of shaping our minds so that we think like Christians and act like Christians also. Knowing we are loved and saved and cherished and adopted into God’s family in itself is a means the Spirit uses to guide our thoughts and actions. Knowing God is our Father, Jesus is our elder brother and Saviour and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Counsellor shapes our lives and guides the direction we go in. We ask in all we do, ‘Is this what my Father is pleased with? Is this what honours my brother Jesus? Is this what bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
May we all seek the guidance of God’s Spirit in delighting, growing, obeying and recognising and know His guidance daily.
In the next Newsletter I will look at the next means of God’s guidance – the Counsel of the Saints (the church).
Your friend and Pastor
Rev Colin MacLeod
p.s. I am due to be on holiday from Monday 10th July, returning Monday 31st. John Macaulay (Session Clerk) in the first instance or any of the elders and Malcolm Maclean (Greyfriars) are available to contact should any emergency issue arise during that time.