To follow God’s program instead of our own, we must open our hearts and minds to hear what the Holy Spirit has for each of us. “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 Jn 2:26-27)
The emphasis in these verses is on the words “as it has taught you”. What the Spirit has taught you, not what He has taught the other fellow. After the resurrection, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep”. Peter turned and looked at John and said, “But Lord, what about this man?” Do you remember what Jesus said? “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (John 21:15-22) To paraphrase, He basically said, That is none of your business. You follow me. What I teach this man to do is for him to know. What I have said for you to do, that is for you to do.
This is an intensely personal thing. What we have learned from the Word of the Spirit, through the intermediacy of human teachers, is to be the ground of our actions. But our activity must always be based on the conviction of what has come home to us. In other words, we walk by faith in the Word of God as God has taught it to us and not by what we have learned by tradition. Tradition has, historically, been one of the most deadly foes of the church and has held people back from advancement in their spiritual life.
Any time people are conditioned to take their truth secondhand through some other individual, some line of authorities standing in succession above them, they have been conditioned to respond to falsehood as well if it starts from the top. That is why hierarchies go astray so quickly and so easily. In the Christian life, all truth is intensely personal and comes directly to us from the Holy Spirit. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
We’ve been told earlier in this passage that we examined “that no lie is of the truth”, and that heretics will try to deceive us (1 John 2:22-23) so we must pour over Scripture for ourselves. We don’t need to have a scholar interpreting God’s Word for us. We can be grateful for scholars, read their helpful comments, and the Lord will use them to teach us something, but we aren’t dependent upon them; we have the Holy Spirit to instruct us. We must be open, of course, to hear all that others have to say. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I do not understand those men who have such a high opinion of what the Holy Spirit says to them, and such a low opinion of what he says to anyone else.”
We must remember that the Spirit of God does speak through other people, as well as through us. But, finally, we must act only on what the Lord has said to us; His rhema Word for us. That is what made it possible for Martin Luther to stand alone before the emperor, with all the assembled dignitaries of state and church arrayed in opposition to him, and to say, “Here I stand! I can do no other, God help me.” He was listening to the voice of the Spirit to him.
Now this obedience is absolutely necessary because it is only on this basis that we can “abide in Him”, and that is where fruitfulness comes from. We can’t go another’s route, we can’t live another’s spiritual life for him or her or force him or her to go our route either. We are to open the Word, pour over it, listen to the Holy Spirit in it, listen to others as the Holy Spirit has taught them, and then, faced with this entire array of external testimony, obey that which the Spirit confirms to our heart is the truth. John says when we do that, we will abide in Him.
Father, thank You for this amazing phenomenon of a teaching Spirit within me. Make me willing to hear, having eyes to see and ears to hear. Let it penetrate to that depth of spirit by which I shall understand and grasp these amazing riches in Christ Jesus.