“The Spirit is leading me to…”
In this series, we’ve been considering some of the things that we Christians tend to say.
One of the more common is for a Christian to attribute what he or she is thinking, feeling or doing (or about to do) to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In fact, “listening to the Holy Spirit” (and doing what He says) seems to be a popular topic in Christian circles today. I’ve heard some Christians attribute nearly everything, including what they chose to eat for breakfast, to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What is Helpful about This Phrase?
The phrase is helpful in that it signifies that the Christian is aware of the the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and takes that presence seriously.
Moreover, the Bible speaks of “leading” (or guiding) as one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. For example:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
“…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” (Galatians 5:18)
There are also examples in the Bible of God giving specific direction to specific individuals about what it is He wants them to do. Theologians refer to this as “special revelation.”
What is Problematic about This Phrase?
The practice of attributing what one thinks, feels or does to the “leading” of the Holy Spirit is much-abused today and represents, I believe, a significant misunderstanding among many Christians as to the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.
Feelings or inner impressions are tricky things and can have any number of sources. I think most people would agree with that.
How then does a Christian know when the source is the Holy Spirit? (I’m talking about those decisions or courses of actions about which there is no clear command in Scripture.)
The answer is we don’t . . . which means we should be extremely careful about attributing our feelings or inner impressions to the Holy Spirit and thus investing them with a false authority.
Recommended resource: Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen