About a year into my walk with Jesus, I was still learning how to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my everyday life. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t being led in my writing or in witnessing, but I was still living this general life as when I was unsaved, that is, in my own strength. I ensured that I was able to work, had food on the table, etc., all in much the same way I had always done. As I was merely beginning to try to live out my life, even in the smallest of ways, for and by God, I found myself struggling, but also experiencing many small victories in Christ. One of these victories was the realization that I had freedom to either do those things that Christians generally do (go to church, pray, read the Bible, tithe) or not, same as I now had to freedom from sin to either sin or not. I was no longer bound to anything save Christ, my Savior. I was especially unbound from sin, but also from religiosity. So, as I continued to grow in Christ, I surrendered more and more, and allowed Him to lead the way. This led to a particular Wednesday evening which I recall with extreme clarity.
For a few weeks, I had been attending the men’s Bible study at my church, which I had not prior. I was reading the Word of God each morning, and studying it by the instruction of God as I read, so the only reason I began to go to these studies was because of a conversation I had had with our worship leader about possibly singing on the worship team. Turns out, I was being led to go to the Bible study. That is an entirely different story, but he suggested it because there is worship before the study every week and perhaps that would be where we would see if that was where the Lord was leading. So, I began going. Of course, I didn’t make it to all of the studies. There were times I would find myself fellowshipping with other believers having been invited to their homes for dinner. I had also gone to other churches here and there, following the Holy Spirit, with friends I had made in the faith. A few times, I was in California and one week, I was in Baton Rouge, LA for Easter Camp Meeting. All the while, I was growing and being blessed by the Spirit for my obedience and simple faith. But, then that particular Wednesday came.
One of my brothers was an usher. He also happened to be one of the teachers during Bible study. As I entered the fellowship area of the church and headed into the sanctuary, I saw him, walked over, smiled, and reached out to shake his hand. I remember saying it was good to see him. He asked why he hadn’t seen me at Bible study. I told him that I had been doing the Lord’s work, and following the Spirit. His response was not expected at all. He said,
“I wonder just what spirit you’ve been following.”
I was shocked and really didn’t know what to say. I was still young in my faith, and here was a brother who was teaching study, with whom I had previously interacted and expounded upon the Word in a group setting, who had been in agreement with me, right up until this very moment. I laughed it off, for the awkwardness I felt. All during the service that night, what he had said to me was on my mind, and I truly desired to speak with him about it, but I also did not want that conversation to happen in the flesh. So, I said nothing to him, and still haven’t to this day. I prayed that night, and it was revealed to me that what had been said was not in the Spirit of the Lord. There was no conviction, nor any anointing, in his words. I hadn’t realized it at the time because I was in shock. It was another brother who had encouraged me with his words only days prior of whom I was reminded.
This brother owns the coffee shop which has turned out to be my favorite place to read and study God’s Word, all whilst enjoying the best coffee in town. In fact, I had spent one Thursday evening there with him to exhort and encourage him in his walk, as he was struggling with some decisions he had made. The time ran away and I missed Bible study that night, but the Lord’s work comes first, and so I wasn’t worried about the study anyway. At any rate, I had shared with him what was happening in my life, and how I was going to obey the Lord and head to Louisiana for the upcoming week. He had said that he thought I was on the right path, that being the path which the Lord would have me on. It was very encouraging, and as that was brought to my recollection, I was again re-encouraged greatly. However, I still did not know what to say to my brother at church, that is until this morning as I read the Word and was reminded of this past conversation.
“And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils. And He called them unto Him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:22-30
Let me first say, I am not accusing anyone of having an unclean spirit or any other spirit than the Holy Spirit, Who comes into all believers upon acceptance of Christ and is the earnest down payment of all that God has from salvation through sanctification to glorification. Praise God! I am saying, however, that the brother who said what he said that particular Wednesday night was teetering upon a precipice where none of us should wish to.
I am not God. I am a sinner, saved by Grace. So, the work that goes on within me is all of God, through the ministering of the Holy Spirit within me, and none of me personally. This is aligned to what happened with Jesus. Jesus is God, yet the things which were happening in His ministry were of the Holy Spirit within Him. When the scribes tried to explain what He was doing in a way that diminished, even rebuked, the work of God, and promoted the works of their own hands, Jesus told them that they were treading dangerous waters. To claim that someone is doing something that is not following the Spirit, or not of the Spirit, or even to go so far as to say that the particular spirit is another spirit apart from Him, when we don’t truly know that accusation to be true, could put us very close to the same position in which these scribes found themselves.
Jesus didn’t mince His Words. He told them in a parable form, and then plainly explained what He meant. All sins shall be forgiven, for that was the purpose of Jesus becoming Man and dying on the Cross, to include all blaspheming, except one. Blaspheming the Holy Ghost (Spirit) is unforgiveable. The reason is that the work that He does is within an individual, and what happens within that individual is between that person and God, and no one else! We are never to judge, nor question, a person’s salvation, or the work that the Spirit does in them. By all men claiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the same Spirit, but He operates differently in each of us. (1 Cor 12:3-6) This is for the entire Body of Christ’s benefit, because we each receive a part and together we work as a whole. So, to say that someone is following another spirit, and not the Holy Spirit is akin to saying the work of God is the work of the devil! That unintentionally, or intentionally, gives the devil glory for a good work of the Lord, and, even worse, might just be saying that the work of God is evil.
The Lord is a jealous God for a very good reason. He deserves all of the glory for His work. Our lives are no longer our own and we are now to glorify Him. This is the same reason why we must always recognize God’s work through us, and when someone speaks praise to us personally, we should direct it to God openly, because it really is all Him.
Of course, on the other side of this coin, we are to judge the fruit of a person’s faith. If we see thorns and briars, we are supposed to, after ensuring we don’t have the same issue in our own lives, speak to them in love and point out their error, that they might be turned back to the right path. If they won’t listen, we bring in another brother or sister, and let the group, through two or three witnesses, speak in love. Then we bring it to the elders, then to the church, and then we disassociate ourselves from them to allow the world and Satan to teach them. All the while, we are to encourage them and point them to the Cross, for we are to believe they are saved, and they are trying to follow the Holy Spirit, believing all good things. This is not what this brother did. He directly made an accusation, even if he didn’t realize he had. Only God knows the condition of this brother’s heart and that’s all I can say about that. But, friends, please, even if you don’t understand another brother or sister’s walk with the Lord, don’t say something like this to anyone.
Be blessed today, and keep following after Him with all that you are, and stay encouraged in the Lord. Your walk is not my walk, and vice versa. In His Love…