You Were Right All Along: Let’s Start Listening to the Spirit of Christ
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:9-10)
One of the greatest sources of trouble for genuine Christians, and abuse victims in particular, is that we are not trained in real discernment. In fact, we are often directed quite wrongly in this regard. We feel one thing, we sense something, but those feelings and senses are squelched. “I am sure I am wrong. Mr. So and So, godly saint and pillar in our church, tells me I am wrong. Therefore I must be.” We go on for years and years in this mindset.
We must study and read and absorb God’s Word, the Scriptures. It is by the Word that the Spirit of Christ in us leads us. In this article I am in no way promoting some kind of “spirit-leading” that is divorced from the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit “breathed” the Word of God through prophets and apostles appointed by God, and He did so inerrantly. However, the Holy Spirit DOES lead Christ’s people. And it is this Spirit leading that I am trying to encourage every Christian to acknowledge, heed, and be encouraged by. The Word of God tells us “do not quench the Spirit,” but unscriptural church traditions, Christians who lack real wisdom and knowledge of evil, and false shepherds who lord it over us are doing just that. Quenching the Spirit. Let me give you some examples from my own experience. I bet you will relate to them quickly.
So here we are. My wife and I and a “pillar of repute” from our church some 10 years ago. This was well before I had sorted out the nature and tactics of abuse. I wasn’t totally ignorant. I knew that this “pillar” riding in our car with us could be abrasive and controlling, and he had already caused us much grief for a long time. Anyway, just before we were about to let him off, we were discussing a serious issue in our church that was being fueled by a lady who had a whole history of trouble-making. My wife said something like, “if she continues and will not heed warnings, she will have to be put out of the church.” That was a true and wise statement. But the “pillar” spun his head around, looked at my wife, and in a stern tone said “Well let’s show her some grace! You need to show her grace!”
This was a typical scene with this guy. It was the kind of behavior that causes everyone to be on edge around him, and yet he was a leader and “eminent saint” in the eyes of many. I mumbled something in my doubt and confusion about, “well, yes, maybe so.” He exited the vehicle and we went on home.
Now, I quenched the Spirit of Christ in me and I did wrong to my wife at that moment. I didn’t plan to. I didn’t even know that is what I had done until years later. What was really going on? This guy had a record of being abusive, abrasive, deceiving, and a rank controller. That is what he was doing to my wife at that moment. He was fueled by his arrogance and it was in his very being to seek out and destroy when opportunities presented themselves to him to exalt himself as more loving, more gracious, more godly than anyone else. That is what he was doing. And like all deceiving abusers and narcissists, he operated like this in a very fogged and confusing way so that it took you off guard.
Now, what would the un-quenched Spirit look like in me in such a scenario? Like this — “Jack, you need to apologize to my wife for speaking to her in that tone. Furthermore, you will never speak to her that way again, or anyone else. You need to repent of that wicked behavior. I have seen it in you many times.” Of course Jack would not apologize, but he would have been exposed and called out, and my wife would have been defended. But tell me, is THAT response, the response that I am saying is the leading of the Spirit response, what you have been taught is “spiritual”? I bet not. I bet that Christians and pastors and sermons and books have told you that a Christian must never speak to someone like that ever. Well, they are wrong. Dead wrong.
Here’s another example.
At an informal church social gathering, one of the couples was playing a board game along with numbers of other people, including the same aforementioned “church pillar.” During the game, the wife in this particular couple (who has a very lively sense of humor) chided/kidded her husband about a play he made. She told me later that as soon as she said it she realized “there would be hell to pay” — and she didn’t mean from her husband. Sure enough, after the game was over, this “eminent saint” called her aside and lectured her about how she needed to give honor and respect to her husband and that her statement during the game was disrespectful. She told me about it. I didn’t say anything to Mr. Pillar. We just chalked it up to life in the body of Christ with a guy who we have to be forbearing with.
I quenched the Spirit.
Inside me, once again, I felt very uneasy. I felt a sense of UN-righteousness. I felt….but I didn’t understand what it was I was feeling. Now I do. It was the Spirit of Christ leading me, and this is what He was leading me to do. “Mr. Pillar, I saw and heard what you said to our sister. You are lording it over her and putting yourself off as some nobility in this church, and I am calling you out on it. You have no right to control people in this manner, and that sister’s remark was between her, the Lord, and her husband. You need to repent of what you said to her, ask her forgiveness, and I do not want to see you doing such a thing again.” That is spiritual. Yep, it is. That is the Holy Spirit.
It is time for all of us to stop permitting people to control us when the Holy Spirit is leading us another direction. We are to be led by the Spirit, not “drunk with wine” and led astray by our flesh or by other people. If you belong to Christ then the Spirit of Christ IS in you and He IS leading you.
I could give many other examples. Those times when I saw that the Word of God was very plainly teaching things like, 1) If a person is a Christian they will not be defined by and habitually walk in sin, 2) that a marriage covenant has vows which, if broken in a serious enough degree so as to destroy the marriage, permit divorce, 3) when I knew someone was wicked and dangerous and I refused to permit them to be around my children but others in the church were telling me I was wrong….and many others.
To a large degree, Christian, it is going to turn out that you were right all along. Right about your abuser, right about the instruction you were being given sounds wrong, right about sensing that that guy should not be around children. It makes sense. The Holy Spirit is in us. He is leading us. He leads us in righteousness. He exposes the enemy’s lies with Christ’s truth.
Listen to Him. Follow Him.