The areas that are not clearly defined in the written Word are often referred to as matters of “preference.” However, ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit’s preference for each individual. We are admonished to let everyone “be persuaded” in his or her own mind (Rom. 14:5). Who is the persuader, the illuminator, the convincer? The Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Eph. 1:17-18).

The Holy Spirit guides individuals to apply biblical principles. But there will be variation with different people, yet all the variations will be within the boundaries of biblical absolutes. The Holy Spirit provides personal care to each individual. He knows where each one should draw a line to protect them or those they influence. What a loving God!

This is simply individual soul liberty—the liberty for each one to obey the Spirit in non-absolute areas. While soul liberty should be recognized among individuals, soul liberty should give place to corporate church unity in the jurisdiction of organized local churches. But the jurisdiction of individual lives and individual homes should be respected too.

Therefore, if one Christian demands that all Christians subscribe to all of his or her applications, then the role of the Holy Spirit is being eclipsed in other people’s lives. That one Christian is taking the place of God in other individual lives. Is this not an egregious error?

When the Spirit is ignored, inevitably others get mistreated in the name of righteousness. But mistreating people is not righteous. Some recover, some don’t.

May we all embrace the absolutes that those who respect biblical authority do not debate, and may we all embrace the Holy Spirit’s personalized guidance in the non black and white matters and let others do the same.

John Van Gelderen

John Van Gelderen

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