If the motto of the old TV show X Files was “The Truth is out there” then the motto of the New Testament was probably “The Truth is in Him”. In a world that is endlessly searching for answers, our notion of what is true is now redefined through the filter of Jesus. In the midst of our fake news culture, as Christians we are given access to true truth through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught his disciples who the Holy Spirit is in John 16:13 when he said “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Truth is important. Jesus wasn’t just a cerebral teacher who came to increase our knowledge, he came to give us an “abundant life” not just an “abundant ideology”. Poor understanding of truth always leads to poor Christian experience.
If the Holy Spirit is known as the spirit of truth then the opposite can be said of the devil when Jesus describes him by saying “There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Other versions of that same scripture in John 8:44 describe the enemy as one who spins a narrative of lies. The age old battle of light versus darkness can also be seen as a battle of truth versus lies.
When we are caught up in false narratives, it is often too easy to become deluded about the nature of who the Holy Spirit is. There are however some clear warning signs that we have fallen into believing a “narrative of lies” about God rather than holding to the spirit of truth.
We can DEPERSONALISE the spirit. If we see The Holy spirit simply as am impersonal floating force then we may as well gird up our light sabres and say “Use the force Luke”. When we believe there is no character to the spirit, we inevitability start to put our own character onto the work of the spirit. We remake God in our own image. When God works outside the box of our personality, we either reject it, don’t understand it or simply miss it altogether.
A depersonalised spirit becomes a tool for the fulfilment of our own desires and dreams. God becomes like a genie we rub to make our wishes come true. “Ask anything in my name” quickly turns into “Ask anything I want”. When our fanciful hope in a depersonalised God doesn’t come through it inevitably causes disillusionment.
We can DISTORT the spirit. If we just rely on the weird and wonderful in meetings to teach us about God, God’s spirit can become a caricature. We get a distorted view of the spirit which leads to distorted expressions of our spiritual life. An overly charismatic experience can easily lead to imbalance where we get more excited about the high of the spirit than the fruit of the spirit. A distorted view of the spirit leads us to believe God is only useful for the whizz bang of platform ministries and not suitable for the whisper of parenting, work and family life.
We can DISENGAGE from the spirit. We disengage with the spirit because our false views of God cause us to believe that he Holy Spirit is not for us. If God is not working in the way we think he should then it must be because we are not good enough. We look at people who we think are living spirit filled lives and say “I could never do that” or “I could never be that” or “I could never say that”. We think the Holy Spirit is only for the Christian “superstar” or the super spiritual or the professional “full time” Christian. This disengagement leads to multitudes of disillusioned Christians all over the world.
The story of depersonalisation, distortion, disillusionment and disengagement is sadly a source of faulty thinking that is a disease rife in the heart of the church. Too many of God’s children have believed the father of lies. This is why we need to know the spirit of truth more and more. Like a Sat Nav for the soul we need the spirit to help us navigate through the webs of deception into the story of truth.
The promise of the coming spirit of truth gives us an assurance that we don’t have to depersonalise our faith because God is with us. We don’t have to live with a distorted perspective because God is in us and we don’t have to disengage from our faith because God will work through us. Now that’s a narrative worth believing in. What does this story mean for you?
Dave Boden – Lead Pastor