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Being Led By Man Instead of The Holy Spirit

If we try to take the place of the Holy Spirit in our lives with all sorts of man-made doctrines, then we potentially block a move of God. We can think “Oh, pastor says we should not do that”. When in fact, God wants us to do that, but we pay no heed to the inner witness. This grieves the Holy Spirit. It creates dependence on the pastor and on man-made doctrines, instead of God.

So many people are so used to being spoon-fed rules and regulations that they do not think that they can be guided by God themselves. The pastor perceives that the people do not know what to do. Perhaps they don’t seem to achieve much, no-one seems to be witnessing effectively, there is no church growth, and people in the church are still sinning. The pastor takes it upon himself to take the place of the Holy Spirit for others - he becomes their light instead of God.

We look to the pastor as being almost perfect and a chosen vessel for God – so we do not ever consider that he might be wrong sometimes or that he might not know what is best for us in a given situation.

It seems that when we are struggling in life, going through a hard time and generally trying to find where we fit in with life as a whole – we can be rather vulnerable, frightened, cautious, confused and tentative about making decisions. But it is important that we learn to find our composure, develop maturity, sharpen our intuition and just get on with our own lives. We can never give the responsibility for living our lives to someone else. This means that we are likely to make more mistakes and we will get hurt along the way – but it is better than allowing someone else to take control of our lives for us.

There is an increased danger in that the pastor will usually veer towards caution, which is wise when someone He is not sensitive enough to the guidance of the Spirit, and when ministering to others - this has the effect of limiting God. It sets parameters on how we are willing to allow God to move in our lives. A good example could be in the office, some work colleagues ask you if you want to go to the pub after work. Straight away, your religious teaching says “No”. I agree that pubs are not the most ideal environments for Christians to spend their time. But if you were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, then you might feel led by Him to go. You might struggle with this and stand by your “No”.

But the Holy Spirit might insist and therefore you might then say “Yes”. As you are in the pub sipping your soft drink, one of the guys might bring up the topic of Christianity. You might find that words come to you to say to him, and before you know it, you have witnessed successfully. You did not plan to talk about Jesus, but because He is in you, it came naturally for you to be His witness.

The more yielded we are to God, the more He can do through us. But if we set up rules and guidelines – we can end up missing out on what God has for us and wants us to do.

A New Perspective on Repentance

Okay, I'm probably stirring a veritable hornet's nest with this one, but here goes...

For a little while now I've been pondering the role of repentance in the life of the Christian.  Most people are aware of the raging debate in Christendom about 1 John 1:9 and whether or not a Christian should confess their sin or not - some say that verse is written to non-believers, others disagree.  I'm well aware of that and I've been there: I've been in that place whereby I've trembled in my boots every time I say a cuss word, or something, and wonder if I'm out of fellowship with God.  I'm over that now and I've been set free.  But I'd just like to possibly bring a new perspective on this much debated topic of repentance.

The Greek word for "repentance" literally means "a change of mind".  This makes no mention of verbal  confession of sins to God.  Anyway, most Christians know when they've sinned and don't need to remind themselves, and God, of it.  So what role could repentance play in the life of the Christian?  Have you ever experience those moments when you were completely unaware of something, when suddenly, you become very aware of it?  Perhaps you were treating someone in your life very disrespectfully, when all of a sudden you are struck with just how much of a self-righteous ass you have been.  In that moment, you are like thinking, "Oh no, what on earth have I been thinking?"

Another thing that comes into play is what I call the "ticking time-bomb analogy": you're getting on merrily with your life when all of a sudden, something you've been doing or something you've been putting off, suddenly explodes in your face.  Perhaps you've been mistreating your wife and now she's had enough.  It's as if there's nothing you can do in that moment to compensate for all those years of ignorance and neglect.  I think that's it: it's about awakening from a state of deep-seated ignorance.  This in in stark contrast from lighting-up a cigarette and going through some half-hearted ritual about how you know it's bad and your sorry to God about it and so on.

For me, I believe that repentance is a change of mind, attitude and awareness.  It's like something suddenly dawns on you.  It could be various different circumstances which are "brewing" in the background and all of a sudden it just comes to a head and falls down on you like a ton of bricks.  So if this is repentance, what are we all fretting about?  Because we know that this concept exists and is in full force in our lives.  I suppose what is debatable is whether we confess our new found awareness to God.  But in this situation I see God as the invisible, but ever-present "third-person" who is available for us to talk to and mull things over.

I suppose God does not have to be our confidante - it could be a close friend, spouse, neighbour, the cat, the dog, the aspidistra or the brick wall - perhaps the difference is that God is ever-present, real, willing to listen and willing to give feedback through impressions and feelings?  This is very different to the angry God, whip in hand, ready to pounce on us because we did not read the Bible as much as we should have last week.

So, having said all of this, I'm all in favour of repentance.  Repentance is important to moving beyond a sticking point in our lives, an attitude that held us back.  Perhaps you repent of being angry towards your ex-wife and the alimony you have to pay?  Repentance is a good thing if it sets you free from the burden of getting upset about that situation?

What are your views on repentance?  Particularly in light of the alternative view of it that I've hinted towards in the above text?

The Divine Nature | TNB