The Holy Spirit is real. Complimenting clear guidance from the Word of God, the Spirit of God is your personal guide in matters not as clear. Others can offer advice which may or may not be helpful, but the Spirit will bear witness to what is truly helpful. As a child of God, it is the Spirit of God who is your real leader and not anyone else acting in His stead. Ultimately, in the spiritual realm, there is one God and one mediator between God and men—Jesus. The Spirit in His ministry to you does not act in the stead of Jesus; He brings the leadership and life of Jesus right into you.

The Spirit bears witness with your spirit. When He does, you know. This is not a feeling; it is a knowing (Rom. 8:16). Obviously, the Spirit never leads contrary to the Word of God of which ultimately He is the author. However, this truth is sometimes manipulated. How? There can be stark differences between what the Word of God says and some men’s interpretation of what is written in the Word. If an interpretation contradicts another clear statement in the Bible, it is important to remember that it is an erroneous interpretation that has been offered to you.

If you believe God is leading you a particular way and it is within the ways of God’s written Word, then you need to trust and obey. If someone maintains that this is not God’s will for your life and insists that something else is His will instead, beware. This is an example of a lose-lose scenario. Bow to man’s pressure and you quench the Spirit’s leadership in your life. On the contrary, if you obey the Spirit and defy the person/leader insisting you follow another path, you can expect that person will say you are out of God’s will.

Also, such a dogmatic assertion concerning God’s will for an area of life not spelled out in the written Word violates what is explicitly spelled out in the Word—there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). The Spirit of Jesus is the one (the only one) vested with the authority to show you His will.

When a youth is in the home and under the authority of parents, obviously, parents have responsibility. However, parents would be wise to help maturing children develop their relationship with God so they become God-dependent, not parent-dependent. Also, parents must take care not to become unwitting pawns in the hands of someone like a lording pastor.

Pastors who assert authority in spiritual matters beyond the clear absolutes in the written Word are overstepping their jurisdiction. As overseers, pastors have organizational authority, but when the exercise of legitimate authority extends into the spiritual realm, it is no longer legitimate. Leadership seeking to influence as a shepherd is legitimate, but lording that forces a desired end by spiritualizing manipulative tactics is not. In the spiritual realm, the Spirit of Jesus is the authority. When matters are not black and white but a leader asserts that they are and then pushes his personal view onto others, that authority figure has overreached and eclipsed the role of the Holy Spirit. This overreach is what creates lose-lose scenarios.

John Van Gelderen

John Van Gelderen

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