Thursday, January 29, 2015

Waiting for the Spirit's Prompting

1Co 16:2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

While preaching through this passage the thought came to me that often and especially when it suits our purposes we can get real mystical and think it is okay to “wait” for the Spirit to “lead” us before doing things; and by things I mean things the Bible commands us to.  In the above verse Paul tells the church to give regularly as the Lord blesses you.  This means that I cannot wait until the Spirit leads me to give to the church because the Spirit has already told me to do so when he moved Paul to write this.

My point here is not about giving but the false notion that if I don’t feel like doing something then I don’t have to do it.  In this case the Spirit is leading me (better said, commanding me) to tithe by inspiring Paul to write this imperative down.  Therefore if I don’t obey immediately I am resisting the Holy Spirit.  Waiting for my feelings and emotions to catch up is merely an excuse to disobey the Lord.

We might argue that if  I am not obeying from the heart then I am not really obeying.  There is truth in that but I would counter that all saints have been given a new heart that loves to obey, so what are we arguing about?  Clearly our new hearts are not perfect godly hearts but we shouldn’t have to be talked into doing what the Lord commands us to do, we should be seeking clarity as to what are his commands.

I am not saying that the Holy Spirit never prompts us inwardly to action, but his primary means of prompting comes through the written Word.  Any inward thoughts must be judged by the Scriptures.  If they don’t line up with the Word then they have come from our remaining corruption, not the Holy Spirit. 

It is always disturbing to hear someone say that the Spirit hasn’t led them to take communion, join the church, be baptized, etc. and I am left wondering why feelings and promptings take precedent over words written down in black and white! 

Perhaps it goes back to their upbringing.  We taught our children that godly obedience was immediate and with the right heart attitude.  But they learned real quickly that whether they had the right attitude or not, or whether they felt like it or not, true obedience began with immediate compliance.  Am I to assume that while God loves a cheerful giver that if I am not happy about giving to him I don’t have to give?  No, I know that I have two things in which to obey him; giving as he has blessed me because all I have comes from him and is his to begin with and giving joyfully because I am only a miserable sinner saved by his precious grace and owe him my entire being.

To use another often used example.  More than once I have been informed by someone that they do not take communion because they have sin in their life and so don’t want to take communion unworthily.  Excuse the expression, but this is sanctimonious horse hockey.  What they are saying is that I would rather remain in rebellion to the Lord and continue to sin rather than obey him and repent so I can take communion.  He is waiting for a feeling of repentance or whatever to overcome him before he will obey the clear teaching of the Bible.  It is a dangerous mysticism that is just an excuse for sin.  

The main work of the Holy Spirit is to prompt us to understand and obey the Word he has given to us.  To expect him to prompt us beyond that before we will obey it seems to be an excuse to disobey.  May the Lord cause us to pray with David in Psalm 119 to keep his Word at all times, Psa 119:10  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  May we never blame the Holy Spirit for not immediately obeying the Lord with the right heart attitude.  

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