Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Guides You: the Spirit or the Scriptures?

Someone or something has the place of first importance. In the U.S., we have many laws. There are state laws and federal laws, but the law of first importance is nothing other than the Constitution. In my family, even though many times I let my wife decide, the authority and responsibility for the decisions is mine. But, what has the place of first importance regarding our practice and belief as Christians?

Some say that the Holy Spirit has the place of first importance. Others say that the Scriptures have the place of first importance. Who’s right?

At first I understand how people can think that it’s the Holy Spirit. After all, He’s God Himself! The Bible was given by Him. Certainly the Bible, which is a product of the Holy Spirit, cannot supersede His guidance.

But there’s a problem: how do we know if something proceeds from the Holy Spirit or not? For example, I know people who have said that God confirmed to them that a friend in the hospital would get better, but that friend died a few days later. Obviously that “word” that they received was not from the Spirit. But if the friend had recuperated, how would I know if it was the word of God or if the others person had a lucky guess?

Or what about matters of faith? A Christian in the ancient church said that the Spirit had commanded that widows and widowers could not marry again and that people shouldn’t escape persecution, but seek to be martyrs. Was that really a command of the Holy Spirit?

There’s one thing we should always remember: the Spirit gave us the Bible, and He does not lie. So He’s not going to guide us against what He’s already told us. Therefore, the Scriptures should have first importance regarding our practice and belief as Christians.

What we call the guidance of the Holy Spirit can be many things—a demon, carnal desires, subconscious suggestions, or our own heart. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” There are many people who want to avoid giving account of their actions and they use the Holy Spirit as an excuse.

When we study the Bible, our slogan is “One Scripture never contradicts another Scripture.” When we look for the will of God and want His Spirit to guide us, our slogan should be “The Spirit never contradicts Scripture.” After all, He wrote it.

This article originally appeared in Spanish on my blog sanoeintachable on October 28, 2011.

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