New Testament Pattern

The Spirit & The Word

/// Sundry thoughts...

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight”
(Pro 11:1)

The above quotation relates directly to cheating and swindling by means of using cunningly reduced weights when selling produce. The word ‘balance’ here is clearly connected with weighing scales where two items are, or should be, of equal value.

In addition to the above Bible quote I would like to introduce another quote from an unknown (to me at least) origin, which will instantly signal the direction this article is going to take.

If you have the Word but not the Spirit you will dry up.
If you have the Spirit but not The Word you will blow up!
If you have The Spirit AND The Word you will grow up.
[origin unknown, exact original quotation unknown]

Led of the Word but not by the Spirit

As we know, or, should not be ignorant of, the devil has many devices with which he loves to deceive the children of God. I think I have come to understand which is his favourite weapon in this particular armoury – it is the pendulum! He loves to sit a Christian on this instrument of deception, push him gently and see which way he naturally swings. Once he has determined what a man’s natural preferences and tendencies are he then proceeds to lead him soothingly, and with much comfort and consolation away from all the provision of God that resides in the opposite direction.

Let me try to make plain my meaning here in relation to this particular article… There has been for many years a strong ‘evangelical’ tradition of belief in The Bible. Is the Bible The Word of God? Yes it is. Was it written by holy men who were inspired by the The Spirit of God? I have no doubt at all. Can it be trusted? Of course. Should we follow its teachings, instructions and practices? (Let the reader understand that I am referring to the things that belong to this New Covenant era). Indeed we should. So, what is the problem?

Well, the problem is that this wonderful, holy, inspired Book of God tells us things such as…

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. And, we read that Jesus was led by the Spirit, and, Paul was led, and even “forbidden” by the Spirit! In the latter case an apostle was forbidden to preach The Gospel! So, whilst we are, in our day and age, in the marvellous and privileged position of many of us owning Bibles it should be clear if we have read them that the Bible is not the ONLY way that God communicates with His people.

Sadly, much of what passes for ‘Christian life’ is only words, deeds, schemes and good intentions emanating from people who have read about God in a book (or many) but have no direct contact with Him. So, we have people who believe (some) right things and do (some) right things but aren’t really walking in the Spirit led life of which our Bible testifies is the evidence of genuine spiritual life. And so we have the form of Godliness without the life!

A simple ‘for instance’

The Bible teaches that a Christian man MUST work in order to support himself, his wife, his children and even other people who are poor (the genuine poor not the idle). However, the Bible does not say which job he should do, how many hours he should work, whether or not he should try to get promotion or change his job. So, in this instance the Bible can only guide us so far. Should we obey it? No question. How do we put it into practice? Well, this is the question. Are we just going to simply decide for ourselves on the basis of what we like doing, what is the best pay, etc. Or are we going to seek God by His Spirit to lead us to where he wants us? Once we’re earning a wage are we just going to find out what is the best mortgage we can afford, buy the house we most like and move there? Or are we going to seek God and be led of His Spirit to where He wants us to be? If we simply get straight on and make our own choices (usually just asking God to bless them!) then according to The Bible itself we are demonstrating that we are not the real, Spirit-led sons of God.

Many such examples  could be given but to summarise thus far…’ The Word’ without ‘The Spirit’ is the common problem, in my experience, among those professing to be God’s sons but now I want to focus on the flipside…

Led of the Spirit but not by the Word

Given that, in part at least, the subject matter here is really one of wisdom and experience I think it is apt that we consider another good old proverb:

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.”
[Pro 21:31]

What does this proverb teach us? It teaches us that there is a careful balance necessary for our ‘safety’. One could easily read this proverb and think that is it solely saying “trust in God because that is all that matters,” but I don’t think so. If that were the case then perhaps the proverb would have been something along the lines of, “Why prepare the horse for battle when safety is only from The Lord!” But that is not the correct version. Proverbs is a book of skilled and carefully collated wisdom and it has more to say to us than just “put your trust in God” that’s all there is to life. The proverb starts, “The horse IS prepared to battle…” and whilst we need to know the most important thing, that ultimately our life is in God’s hands, we are not being instructed in this book of wisdom to mount up a horse and just go right on and charge at the enemy. The proverb acknowledges that preparing for battle is the normal, obvious and correct way of going about things.

Let me se if I can offer a modern day equivalent of this wisdom. Let’s say, you’re about to take a car journey to go and encourage some beleaguered saint. You notice there is no water in the screen wash. Do you say, “Well, I’m on a mission for God, He’ll keep my windscreen clear, after all proverbs says, safety is of The Lord!” Well I say, don’t be daft and stop taking Scripture out of context! Go to the kitchen fill up a jug and top up your screen wash before you go anywhere. Once you’ve done this most obvious common sense thing by all means pray and ask for The Lord’s “travelling mercies” or whatever prayer you like to pray in your circles. Now, there is no guarantee that just because you filled up the screen wash that there won’t be any kind of trouble along the way of course. In fact, the truth is, even if you put your whole-hearted trust in God that does not guarantee the outcome either – except.. whatever happens along the journey, if you really did put your trust in Him (and didn’t just say a quick religious prayer instead) you will be at peace in the circumstances that might befall you.

Should we seek God about everything?

This is easy to answer – no! And now I’ll deliver the shock statement, which I pray no one will take out of its context… To seek God and the leading of His Spirit in every instance in life is not only an imbalanced approach but in some cases may even be sin! OK, this does sound shocking I know but I trust such a statement will bring home powerfully the critical point I am making here. In case you are of a mind that we must seek God’s guidance and the Holy Spirit’s leading (same thing) about EVERYTHING let me give just one of a million, so to speak, biblical examples of where this would be so wrong…

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
[Mat 18:21,22]

Imagine your brother sins against you and sincerely repents and comes to you and says, “I am truly sorry, I want to make restitution, I want to be reconciled to you again, please forgive me.” And you turn and say, “I will need to seek the leading of God’s Spirit as to whether I should forgive you or not.” What a terrible, arrogant, Christ denying thing to say! If you are a true child of God you have already known His forgiveness in your life and you already have a clear instruction from Jesus about how you should act in such circumstances. On the subject of forgiveness you do not require any further revelation or leading of the Holy Spirit (so-called!). So, should we seek God about EVERYTHING – literally each circumstance in life? No! And I trust you’ll see that in some cases the very act of seeking God when He has already spoken to us is actually an act of disobedience. It can be made to sound very spiritual when someone tells us that God led them here and He spoke to them there and of course the Spirit led them to just the right place to park that day! Well, actually, it is true. God does lead here and speak there, and He may well take you to that last parking spot when the need arises but to continually look for God to lead in situations where He has clearly shown the way (through His word) is at best a sign of immaturity and at worst, I am sad to say, will ultimately lead to a complete quenching and grieving of the very person (The Holy Spirit) who we claim to be leading us all the time.

In summary

In summary of the above… There is a time to wait on God’s leading and there is a time to just do what He has already shown us in His Word. Of course, we are all growing in our Christian lives and we may not have attained perfect wisdom in every situation in life but I hope this little article will contribute to a balanced growth in Him. Till we all come… unto a perfect (grown up, complete, fully mature) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Amen.

The Spirit & The Word in Balance

The Spirit & The Word

"A just weight is his delight"