The Promptings of the Spirit
One of the great things the Holy Spirit does is help us to understand ourselves. I believe that kind of scenario is so important for maturity, so important for leadership, and that is a struggle I have time and again. I teach this because God is showing me the principles.
Isaiah 30 v. 20-21
In that day your teacher will no-longer hide himself, but when you turn to the left or to the right you will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way, walk in it”
That is a marvellous principle because that is how the Holy Spirit is going to do it. I want to talk about the promptings of the Spirit. The anointing of God enables me to have a spirit of guidance, to know what to do. To follow not the promptings of circumstance, nor of other people. We are constantly under the demands of other people, but something has to happen in life to lift me above the demands of other people. You may disagree with me, but you are out-the-window. If you are at the mercy and demands of other people you are not under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The world is so full of demand that it will swamp you as soon as if you went to live in the middle of the North Sea. We have got to have a principle of revelation that lifts us beyond the demand. God has got to put his finger on and say “This is the one you have got to do. This is what you have got to be available to.” It was Luther who said “I have a very busy day today – I must pray 5 hours before I start.
Rom. 8 v.1-5 (J.B.Phillips)
The truth is that no condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Christ Jesus. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death. The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness – the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son to live in sinful human nature like ours. And , while Christ was dealing with sin, God condemned that sinful nature. Therefore we are able to meet the Law’s requirements, for we are living no longer by the dictates of our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.
This is talking of general Christian living, but we know it is true of leadership and in ministry. We can either live under the dictates of the flesh or under the promptings of the Spirit. When I was baptised in the Holy Spirit that is the kind of thing that came alive for me – the reality of the promptings of the Spirit of God, and that is a tremendous thing. A spirit of guidance. That is how the anointing works.
-That we might know the way to go and that we might be shown the difference between reaction and response;
-That we might know ourselves, the situation and so on;
-That we might know the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I think this is one of the greatest challenges in Christian ministry today; “Am I following the Holy Spirit?”
Let me put in a warning here. You are not following the Holy Spirit’s prompting just because you say that He told you, even though no-one else agrees with you. This is a common phenomenon, especially amongst young ones. In my experience the promptings of the Spirit are definitive, practical, workable, fruitful, real, tangible, effective and productive. I believe we need people who are living under the prompting of the Holy Spirit because the alternative is that we are trying to do God’s work under the dictates of the old nature, and just to expand that thinking a bit, not only under the dictatorship of our old nature, but under the dictatorship of everyone else’s old nature. You are a bad enough old tyrant without the tyranny of everyone else. How many of you in Christian work have felt under the tyranny of everyone else? Tyranny of people’s views, their demands. The funny thing about their demand is that it is all so hyper-spiritual. They suck you dry like a blood sucker, use big jargon and so on and if you don’t have the discernment (another one where you need the Holy Spirit) we may as well make that number two. If we get into the promptings of the Holy Spirit without the discernment of the Holy Spirit we have a problem.
The problem is not so much outside the body as inside. Outside the body you can tell sin and bondage when you see it – if you can’t you should not be in the business. The big discernment is inside the body. We have been infiltrated with crazy ideas and views that never originated in the revelation of God. It’s a kind of parapsychology passing itself off as Holy Spirit ministry. People are full of need that we have to meet in the name of Jesus, but we have to do so under the dictates of the Holy Spirit. What the devil will do to a successful church is plant someone who draws every bit of energy out of everyone who has ever been seen in that church. The problem is that the well-meaning sentimentalists think you are being judgmental and harsh if you do not pander to this demand all the time. It starts with a plant, then the demand comes and the sentimentalists don’t see the difference between discernment and anointed action, and they go on about loving everybody, and then a second level develops and not only does the plant draw all your energy, but new weakness is developed in them and they bring it to you. They say that they cannot do it – well it’s no wonder, because God never told them to. It is hard enough to do what He does tell you to do without inventing stuff. All over the world people are the same. We need the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and the anointing brings that. Go and read Isaiah 11 – we saw it operating in Jesus, and that is desperately needed.
Another thing about discernment is that it doesn’t only work in the religious or spiritual sphere. We need discernment in the realm of the practical, in the realm of the personal. People come to you with the greatest C.V. possible with experience and tell you the greatest stories. As far as they can tell you, they are telling the absolute truth. The problem is that we don’t always see ourselves as others see us. In my business and academic life, and even now I have to write a lot of references, and I can tell you that they are not worth the paper they are written on because they are rarely objective. John and I look at references,then make-up our own minds. References are a substitute for Holy Spirit insight! We need insight.
1 Corinthians 2 v. 11
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
So we need the Spirit of God because He not only knows what is in God, but also knows what is in a man. The Spirit of God gives us the anointing to enable us to get God’s thoughts, to know the mind of Christ in a situation.
The Discernment of the Spirit
We praise God for what He has done here and for the people He has used, but the battle over the months between making sure that everything doesn’t just happen according to the principles of business or finance and our way of doing it has been a struggle. The fact is that in the Kingdom of God things are different. That doesn’t mean that there is no organisation, planning or financial oversight, but the principle under which all these things must happen has got to be the principle of the discernment of the Spirit of God. Another thing about discernment is that we are not to take facts as presented as being the last word. That sounds cynical, but it stops you being cynical. People tell you it will cost ‘X’ amount to do something, but God is an amazing banker, and He seems to total the bills up differently. He has a different point of view and different ways of achieving it. He is able to connect things that even professionals can’t connect, so you end-up at the practical level doing better for less without the aggravation. We must not accept the facts as the world presents them. We need a spirit of discernment. There are business men who know how to do this and do it in the aggressive power of the flesh. I am not speaking of that, but of the incisive insights of the Holy Spirit. It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can do!
How can we overcome the powers of darkness if we do not have this? Building a King’s Coach or a building, ordering chairs and so on we deal with people of the world, some of whom are lovely people, but they belong to the kingdom of darkness! The Bible says that the whole world lies in the grip of the evil one! So when you get engaged in these things you come into a zone where there are principalities and powers working against you. You as a Christian don’t have the strength, especially if you are like me – all I have is the anointing of the Spirit of God. You don’t open your mouth with a load of spiritual garbage; you need to talk their language and talk it in the anointing of the Holy Spirit where these things are so important.