Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and I started a series of messages about the Holy Spirit at our church. I decided this morning that I would spend at least this week writing about the Holy Spirit on my blog as well. I’m going to start by dispelling some myths about the Holy Spirit I’ve heard through the years.
Myth #1: It’s Wrong To Talk About The Holy Spirit
I wrestled with how to word this particular myth. I’ve heard it so many times in so many ways it’s difficult to express it in a clear and concise manner. Another way to say it might be, The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak of Himself so we shouldn’t either. I have heard this myth explained time and time again by those who believe it’s wrong to emphasize or focus on the Holy Spirit. The argument is based on John 16:13 from the KJV.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13 (KJV)
The key phrase used in this myth is “…for he shall not speak of himself…” The argument that flows from this phrase is that Holy Spirit doesn’t talk about Himself and anything that does emphasize or speak about the Holy Spirit is not from God because the Holy Spirit never leads anyone to speak about the Holy Spirit.
I’ll make a confession here, there was a point in my life where I believed this. I had been taught this, and John 16:13 seemed to support this, so I believed it. I believed that any emphasis on the Holy Spirit was ungodly and wrong. I read something propagating this 2-3 weeks ago and decided to run a test. I used by Bible program I searched for direct mentions of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. I used the KJV since this is the translation of John 16:13 that is almost always used. What I found is that the Holy Ghost is directly mentioned 85 times in 41 verses. The Holy Spirit is directly mentioned about 13 times in as many verses.
Now this is just in the book of Acts. This doesn’t even take into consideration the Gospels, or the epistles. The reason this is important is that if, as the myth states, the Holy Spirit never speaks of Himself, and, as Scripture states, the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture (1 Pet 1:21), then we have a problem. Either Jesus was wrong to state the Holy Spirit will never speak of Himself, or the Holy Spirit went rogue and spoke of Himself often despite what Jesus said. Both of these would be pretty serious problems but thankfully there is a better answer. Look at this same verse in another translation.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13 (NKJV)
Notice that Jesus wasn’t saying that the Holy Spirit would never mention Himself. Instead Jesus was telling us that the Holy Spirit wouldn’t speak from His own authority. What does that mean exactly? This means that Holy Spirit passes along what the Father wants said. What the Holy Spirit says or does is exactly what God the Father and God the Son want said or done. Does this diminish the Holy Spirit’s equality in the Trinity? Absolutely not. He’s doing exactly what Jesus did.
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” John 5:19 (ESV)
“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” John 12:49 (NKJV)
Jesus didn’t do or say anything all on His own. He did and said exactly what the Father wanted done. This is exactly what Jesus is saying about the Holy Spirit in John 16:13. There is nothing that the Holy Spirit does or says that is not in accord with what God the Father and God the Son want done. That verse has nothing to do with whether or not the Holy Spirit will mention Himself. To steal a line from a TV show, this myth is busted so we need to know the truth.
Truth #1: Scripture Often Speaks Of The Holy Spirit And We Should Too.
The Holy Spirit is as much God as Jesus, and the Father. It does not detract from Jesus or the Father to talk about the Holy Spirit. There is no reason to ever be afraid of talking about or emphasizing the Holy Spirit.
Myth #2: Emphasizing The Holy Spirit Deemphasizes Scripture
One of the main reasons non-Pentecostal, Non-Charismatic’s tend to under-emphasize the Holy Spirit is because of what we’ve seen in the form of charismatic excesses. Youtube is filled with videos of this sort of craziness. Some of the stuff I’ve seen includes…
…Evangelists/pastors stand before a congregation and speak absolute heresy because the Holy Spirit told them to. Examples include an evangelist who said he wasn’t going to mention Jesus anymore because the Holy Spirit told him everyone knew about Jesus and so there was no more need to talk about Him
…A pastor who told his congregation that the Holy Spirit reveled to him that he’d reached such a high level of anointing that it was okay for him to have more than one sexual partner
…Another pastor said the Holy Spirit told him he was so much like Jesus that he could have died on the cross for our sins
There are more examples than we’d have time to cover. All of these things are truly horrifying. I’m honestly convinced that in many of these instances these people are either demon possessed or being led astray by the “deceiving spirits” and propagating the doctrines of demons that Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 4:1.
The fear that many people in non-Pentecostal/non-Charismatic circles have is that any focus or emphasis on the Holy Spirit leads us toward these excesses. But this is a myth. The truth is…
Truth #3: The Holy Spirit And The Scripture Are Never At Odds
The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture and so He would never contradict it. There is nothing that genuinely comes from the Holy Spirit that will ever add to or contradict Scripture. Scripture is and will always be our final rule and authority for all things. Scripture is the foundation of truth. When it comes to who God is, what God does, who Jesus is, what Jesus does, who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, salvation and what believers are to believe and do, Scripture will always be the absolute and final authority. The Holy Spirit will never lead us contrary to this.
The Holy Spirit speak to us, encourage us, and guide us in all kinds of ways throughout our lives but all of these ways will either be rooted in Scripture or there will be examples of similar things in Scripture. Let me give some examples of ways the Holy Spirit may lead us.
Spiritual life. If the Holy Spirit will surely lead me to do those things necessary to have a thriving spiritual life.
Relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit will lead me to have a close relationship with Jesus.
Make disciples. In Acts 1:8 we are told that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will be witnesses.
Holiness. The HOLY Spirit will obviously lead me to live a holy life.
Serve God. I can’t see the Holy Spirit leading to be a lazy slouch that isn’t involved in serving the Lord.
Finances. I’m not really talking about tithing here. I’m really thinking about the whole of my finances. What do I do with the money that is left after I’ve given tithes and offerings? The Holy Spirit may well lead me to do something with it I’ve not thought of with my money.
Parenting. Since the Bible has so much to say about being a parent it seems reasonable that the Holy Spirit might lead me in my parenting.
Use of time. The Bible also talks a lot about redeeming the time, making the most of every opportunity, etc. So it’s likely that the Holy Spirit might lead me to use my time in a way that I may not thing to use it.
Speaking. The Bible also talks a lot about the way we talk. How different would my speech be from day to day if the Holy Spirit was guiding me in every area of my life?
Relationships. Relationships seem to be a pretty big deal in the Bible. So it is reasonable to expect the Holy Spirit to lead to initiate, cultivate or separate certain relationships.
While the Bible doesn’t necessarily say that the Holy Spirit will lead us in each of these areas, we are told to follow the Spirit’s leading.
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
All of these things I mentioned fall into the category of “every part of our lives.” None of this is contrary to Scripture. In fact, I’d say that much, if not most, of the way the Holy Spirit will lead us in these areas either reinforces or apply Scripture to our particular situation. Furthermore, if we were to look through Scripture we would probably find examples of the Holy Spirit leading people in these sorts of ways. We need not fear emphasizing, or following the Holy Spirit because He will never lead us in ways that are contrary to Scripture.