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The Spirit and our reason
- Jacob Ninan
Like many other areas of practical Christian life, this is one that needs great balance on our part. The majority of Christians use their own reason to finally decide what they want to do, even when they consult the written word of God, the Bible. In contrast, some put their reason aside and do what they think the Holy Spirit is telling them to do. They say that when they have the Holy Spirit as their Teacher they would need no one else to tell them anything (1Jn.2:27). Both groups go astray in their understanding, because balance is missing.
However clever we are, none of us is clever enough or knows everything. Our particular temperament and the experiences we have had tend to colour our thinking and give us bias and prejudices too. It would be stupid for us to depend on our own reasoning or understanding to decide what to do in all circumstances (Pr.16:25). It is God who knows us and our circumstances completely, and depending on Him is our wisdom (Pr.3:5,6). When Jesus came down to earth as a Man, He Himself depended on the Father, only doing what the Father wanted Him to do (Jn.8:28).
But seeing this truth some people go to the other extreme, of listening only to the Holy Spirit for guidance. They don't realise that even while they seek to know the will of the Holy Spirit they can be deceived by the voice of Satan or their own voice (1Jn.4:1;2Co.11:14)! It is also not enough just to be reminded of some verse from the Bible, because even Satan quotes the Bible to deceive us (Mt.4:6). While the Holy Spirit is a great Teacher, we are not always good learners! We need to know that our safety is to check every idea with the values, principles and commands given in the whole of the Bible and not just from any verse here or there. It is here that the anointing helps us to distinguish error from the truth (1Jn.2:26,27).
God is the One who has created us with the ability to learn, question, analyse, understand and remember things. In this He has made us superior to the animals (Ps.32:8,9). A horse has to be directed specifically to make every move. But God wants us to grow in wisdom, and we do that as we learn more from Him through His Word, and put them into practice (He.5:13,14). In practical terms, this implies that as we become more and mature we know what to do in more and more situations without having to hear directly from God each time. At the same time we place ourselves in subjection to the Holy Spirit to lead us differently if we have to move out in a different direction from what we would have taken normally (Is.30:21).
God also directs us through other people many times who can give us different points of view, and we again check these with the Bible. If we are unwilling to submit ourselves to others in this way (Ep.5:21) and imagine that we can hear the Spirit infallibly we again go astray (3Jn.1:9). Wisdom teaches us to know which counsel to take or reject, because there is no lack of advisers with their own interests.