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"Thought for the Week" by Elder James Horan (Rock Springs)
"The Voice of God"
January 15, 2017
This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “The Divinity of the Holy Spirit”. At first glance, most of us would say, “Of course the Holy Spirit is Divine”. Indeed, Scriptures will likely come to mind where all three members of the Trinity are referenced together as if they are “one” or co-equal. And so we may pass over this lesson as rather redundant. Please do not do this. Every weekly lesson in every quarterly yields illumination and inspiration. Sometimes the illumination can come because you agree with the quarterly’s premise; sometimes because you disagree. But every lesson will yield knowledge and illumination… if you study. So in this week’s lesson, even if you think the topic is redundant, please do not pass it over. You may be surprised. I was. Comparing the Scripture verses suggested was most helpful to me. But it was the first lesson on Sunday, combined with the last lesson on Friday that captured my attention and on which I will write today. But as always, please study for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to teach.
In Sunday’s lesson we are led to read the account of Ananias and Sapphira. Most of us remember the story. Yet what is your memory of it? Is it that they had reneged on their promise to God so He killed them? Is it that they had acted falsely (hypocritically) in “regard to the sharing (which) was to deny the unity of the community and to belie the Spirit that undergirded that unity and made it possible” (quarterly pg. 23)? But as we read that account, we see the real issue was that they had lied “to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3)… which is also lying “to God” (Acts 5:4). So how do you lie to the Holy Spirit? Where does the Holy Spirit manifest itself but in the motives and mind of each individual heart? Therefore, we must conclude that to lie to the Holy Spirit and act falsely, is to lie to His inspiration within you. To be false to His convicting voice within you. Ananias and Sapphira “sinned against God and violated (their) own conscience” (Mount of Blessing pg. 115). Isn’t this the true sin against the Holy Spirit? When you deny His conviction and movement in your own heart and mind, silencing His truthful, loving leading? Isn’t this the real guilt that comes upon Israel (and us, too)? Isn’t this the real essence of sin? “To Him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). The essence of sin is not a violation of the rules. Instead, sin is a rebellious attitude of the heart and mind: “sin is (an attitude of) lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) that disregards the inner working of the Holy Spirit of truth and love inside of you.
So many for so long have questioned God who seems to have left us to ourselves. Secular philosophers and secular scientists claim there is no God because He is not seen, seems silent, and seems absent from the lives of men and the affairs of earth. But not so! His Holy Spirit is God’s presence on earth. He is not an earthly potentate on an earthly throne governing in the thoroughfares of life and commerce. Instead, He seeks the throne of your heart, your soul-throne to govern you personally in your very life and thereby in the thoroughfares of life and commerce. The ultimate governing is within each heart, voluntarily surrendered to His leading. Therefore the ultimate blasphemy, the one from which no healing is possible, is against your own conscience… to silence the voice of God in you own heart and mind by persistent, contrary, rebellious thinking and actions that embolden you in your own self-destruction (see Mark 3: 28-29). For this is silencing the very voice of God to you personally. Isn’t this what happened to Ananias and Sapphira? The results of their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit were immediate.
Friday’s lesson warns us, though, that because God works in us “we have to resist the temptation to make our human comprehension the norm for how God should be” (quarterly pg. 28). Of ourselves, we cannot claim that our damaged conscience is “God”. Only as we stay in intimate contact with God through Bible study, prayer and obedience to Him is His Holy Spirit able to influence us. If not, our own sinful, selfish impressions can be misinterpreted as His voice. Horrors! Let us do our part; place ourselves where His Holy Spirit is able to influence us through our conscience. And then never violate our conscience. It is the greatest sin against ourselves. It violates the voice of God through us and to the world. Violates His presence in this world… seen and realized through His faithful followers.
With brotherly love,
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