The Holy Spirit and decision making

Jude St.John:

The role of the Spirit in decision making can bring up some contentious issues. Extremes range from the charismaniac who is always looking for some type of “sign” from God to the hardcore cessationist who will deny any sort of input-prompting, impulse, intuition-that could be attributed to God’s direction. This may be a difficult area for Christians to navigate, but I think this excerpt from Gospel Centered Discipleship is helpful in terms of adding some balance to the backlash against the Spirit’s involvement in our decision making.

After his baptism, Jesus was “lead by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). Notice that the Spirit played a directive role in the life of the Son of God. Mark tells us that the Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). Jesus clearly relied on the Spirit for direction. This sensitivity to the directing influence of the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the disciples in the book of Acts. Philip is directed to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8). Peter is directed to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10). The Jerusalem Council is Spirit directing your life? Very often, our modern, self-reliant sensibilities cut the Spirit right out of everyday decision making. Rarely do we request or expect the Spirit’s direction. Yet, we are repeatedly told to “walk” in the Spirit throughout the Bible (Ezek. 36:27; Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16,25) and to make decisions by seeking the Lord (Prov. 5:4-6; James 4:13-15). Being motivated by the Spirit should affect not just normal decisions but also our general approach to life. Paul tells us to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). How often do we start our day by requesting a fresh infilling of the Spirit’s power for the day that lies ahead? Instead, we assume his presence and barrel forward. Our assumption of the Spirit reveals a self-reliant faith. Instead of starting and continuing our days in our own strength, what would it look like to fight for faith with utter dependence upon the power and direction of the Holy Spirit? (92)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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