Wednesday, April 29 2015
Contributor: Akin Akande
Last week, we recapped the ways by which God personalizes His messages to us namely inward witness or intuition, inward voice and God’s audible voice (the voice of the Holy Spirit). We saw that the voice of the Holy Spirit is authoritative and sometimes can be so real that it appears audible. We concluded that obedience to the Holy Spirit’s messages is most critical and therefore our attitude must be inclined towards carrying out His instructions and directions. May the Lord continue to help and strengthen us to obey (Amen).
This week, we shall look into the importance of putting to test, evaluating and/or judging what we believe the Holy Spirit is impressing on our spirits or the revelations we receive or the voices we hear or even any spiritual experience we have using the Word of God.
Review of I Thess. 5:19-21 and I Cor. 2:15
I Thess. 5:19-21 – Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good (NKJV)
I Thess. 5:19-21 – Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good (The Message)
I Thess. 5:19-21 – Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good (NLT)
I Cor. 2:15 – But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one (NKJV)
I Cor. 2:15 – Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others (NLT)
We have learnt over the last weeks/months during our bible studies to constantly connect with the Holy Spirit via our own spirits for our day-to-day living. We have learnt how we should listen to our inward voices, inner witnesses and our consciences with the readiness to obey since the Holy Spirit oftentimes relays information to us via these means.
A wise believer will go a step further to subject his inward voice, inner witness and conscience to the rigorous test of the Word of God. As a matter of fact, we must always test/judge/evaluate all things, whether from us to others/ourselves or from others to us, using the Word of God.
What does it mean to test/judge/evaluate?
To test means to take measures to check the quality, performance, or reliability of (something), especially before putting it into widespread use or practice or to judge or measure
To judge means to form an opinion or conclusion about or to give a verdict on (someone) in a law court or decide the results of (a competition)
To evaluate means to form an idea of or to assess
One sure/infallible test/evaluation/judge for anything claimed to be from the Holy Spirit is to check whether it aligns with the Scripture, as the noble Bereans did in Acts 17:11. The Spirit of God and the Word of God always agree, II Tim. 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…. Anytime the Spirit of God speaks to you, it will always be in line with the Word of God – The Bible.
You can, and you should, judge all things. You can judge whether spiritual experiences are right or wrong simply by judging them by the Word.
We are not to seek voices. We should not follow voices. We should follow the Word of God.
As believers we are not to accept anything without examining it in the light of the Word of God.
1 Thess. 5:19: … Christians need to test what they hear and read, by comparing it with the Word of God, to determine if it is divine in its origin. This is difficult, but it is possible for a spiritual believer (1 Cor. 2:14). Each Christian has the responsibility and ability to do this, though some have more discernment than others (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). What is discovered to be good (i.e. e., in harmony with what has been given by the Holy Spirit in the Word) should be retained (BK Commentary) while the rest should be discarded.
This study is another wake-up call for us to be diligent students of God’s Words (II Tim. 2:15). Our lives depend on His Words!
Thursday, April 23 2015
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
What an awesome time we had last week. We dwelt on "The Voice of the Flesh - Feeling". We summarised at the end of the teaching that our feelings should draw strength from deep insight (knowledge). We also agreed that though we can not walk with God through feelings but faith, our feelings have been given to us for the purpose of effectively relating with each other and alsoin other to exercise self control. Today, we will be considering The Voice of The Holy Spirit.
1. Ways By Which God Personalises His Message To Us
During one of our past teachings in this series, The Inward Voice to be precise, we outlined the three (3) distinct ways that God relates His messages to us. These ways are;
a) Inward Witness or Intuition:
In Romans 8:14 we read,
"For as many as are led by the Sprit of God, they are the sons of God."
b) The Inward Voice:
In Romans 9:1-2 (NIV), we read:
"I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit-I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart."
We call the re-created conscience the "still small voice." In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV) The life of God is inside us. Thinking that the conscience is just natural, many times we turn a "deaf" ear to this voice. Also sometimes we don't listen because we don't want to do what God wants us to do.
c) God's Audible Voice - Voice of The Holy Spirit:
This is the third way that God leads us. Through the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to us. The difference between the inward voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirits and that still small voice (voice of our own spirit) speaking to us is that the Holy Spirit's voice is more authoritative. See I Samuel 3:10:
"The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." (NIV)
Read the whole third chapter of 1 Samuel for the total story of young Samuel hearing God speaking inside of him. To Samuel, the voice seemed to be audible. Sometimes it is so real it almost seems to be an audible voice; you may even look around to see who said it. It may seem so audible sometimes that you may think someone behind you said something. But then you realise it was in you.
"All of God's leadings are supernatural; some, however, are not so spectacular. But I have found in more than fifty years of ministry that when God moved in a more spectacular way—when He has spoken to me in what seemed to me to be an audible voice—it meant there was rough sailing ahead. If He had not spoken so spectacularly I would not have stayed steady."
2. It is Expedient
The word Expedient is defined as suitable or efficient for accomplishing a purpose. As believers, the voice of the Holy Spirit is expedient in our effective walk with the Lord. John 16:7-15 [KJV];
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Time will not permit us to discuss this scripture in details in the light of the topic today. However, we can quickly highlight some few points from the words of Jesus Christ. .
• IMPORTANCE: He, The LORD, said......"It is expedient". Another translation says "It is important". So the first point here is that Jesus himself emphasises the importance of Himself leaving the scene so that the Holy Spirit can come. Let's pause and think about this for a moment.
• REASON: Reason for Jesus's exit from the scene is so that the Holy Spirit can come. We can reliably conclude that the Holy Spirit would not have come (which would therefore mean that we as believers would have missed out on the blessings of having the Holy Spirit) if Jesus had not gone away!
• PURPOSE: One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit's coming is to provide guidance through revelations and instructions - ".....not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." Can you just imagine (for a moment) what life will be like without the Holy Spirit? Let's pause for a moment and discuss this.
Take note that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will speak whatever He hears. This reiterates the truth that He has a voice (and he hears too). This is one of the reasons why today's topic is of utmost importance.
3. Obedience Is Critical
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
The following critical lessons will be useful.
• Jesus emphaises the importance of adding action (obedience) to what we say. It is important to note and observe that we (like the Holy Spirit) only say what we hear the Holy Spirit say. The same way the Holy Spirit says only what He hears from the father in John 16:13.
• Notice also the use of the word "practice". The word practice is defined as habitual or customary performane. This simply reiterates the need to be careful of our attitude and response to the promptings or voice of the Holy Spirit.
• Jesus Christ further emphasises the importance of obedience by comparing two categories of people - The Obedient and The Disobedient (lackadaisical/ carelessly lazy) people. Take note that both category of people actually hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. The difference is what each category does with what he/she hears.
As we conclude on today's study, we all need to examine ourselves. Most of us (if not all of us) hear and may have heard in the past, the voice of the Holy Spirit. The question is, what have been (and still is) our attitude towards His instructions and directions? Have we always obey these instructions or are we negligent and careless about them? We must be careful and cautious about our daily attitude towards these instructions so we don't end up developing damaging and destructive habits.
Thursday, April 16 2015
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week, we looked at how to keep our hearts tender for the Holy Spirit to be able to lead us. We learnt that one of the ways is to live above condemnation – that the Holy Spirit does not condemn us but convicts us. We also learnt the differences between condemnation and conviction. We concluded that we must learn to keep a tender conscience and correct our ways once our conscience pricks us if we want to be led by the Spirit.
The ultimate “voice” we need to listen to and follow is the voice of the Spirit. Romans 8:14 says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” However, it is important to know that there are other voices out there that contend with our faith and distract us. Like the voice of reason (the use of common sense – or logic) or the voice of strangers; Jesus talks about in John 10:5 “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
Or the voice we will be looking at today: The voice of the body otherwise known as “Feelings”. When we talk about feelings, we are referring to sensations, moods, thrills, excitement, anger, fear, sorrow, hate, etc.
• Feeling is the voice of the body.
• Reason is the voice of the soul, or the mind.
• Conscience is the voice of the spirit.
TEXT REVIEW 
Let's review what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 16:13. "... He will guide you into all truth....
... For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak...."
The Holy Spirit does speak.
He speaks whatever He hears God say, whatever He hears Jesus say; but when He speaks, He speaks to our spirits.
The Holy Spirit lives in our spirits, and that is where He speaks. He doesn't speak out in the air somewhere. He speaks on the inside. The Holy Spirit passes God's message on to our spirits, either by an inward witness, by the still small voice—the voice of our conscience, or by an inward voice which is the more authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit (as we have learnt in the past weeks). But there’s an ongoing conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. What the flesh (the body and its voice – our feelings) desires is contrary to what the Spirit desires and what the flesh says is also contrary to what the Spirit says and ultimately what God says!
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17
Instances of the ongoing conflict
The voice of the body says: “I don’t feel like going to church” when the voice of the Spirit says “we should not forsake the assembly of ourselves”
The voice of the body says: “I’m sick” when the voice of the Spirit says “we were healed by His stripes”
Think about times the voice of the body tried to contradict the voice of the Spirit in your life. Discuss
TEXT REVIEW 
Romans 8:16 says: “The Spirit itself [Himself] beareth witness with our spirit....” Emphasis mine
The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirits. He does not bear witness with our bodies. That is the reason why we cannot live our lives by physical feelings.
One of the many definitions of “feeling” is: “to have a particular way of thinking about something, especially one that depends on your emotions rather than on facts or evidence.”
To go by feelings is to get into trouble because our feelings are unreliable. Feelings are tied to our ever-changing circumstances; that is the reason so many Christians are up and down; and in and out; because they go by their feelings. And to go by one’s feelings also means that we fail to walk by faith. Also, feelings are based on our human (physical) senses but 2 Corinthians 5: 7 says: “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
We should base our faith and ultimately our lives and destinies on the Word—not on our feelings.
Romans 8:16 does not say that the Spirit beareth witness with our bodies, or with our feelings.
Smith Wigglesworth, the great English apostle of faith, said, "I am not moved by what I feel. I am not moved by what I see. I am moved only by what I believe. I cannot understand God by feelings. I understand God by what the Word says about Him. I understand the Lord Jesus Christ by what the Word says about Him. He is everything the Word says He is."
We cannot understand ourselves by feelings. Instead we should understand ourselves as born-again, Spirit-filled Christians by what the Word of God says about us. And when we read what the Word says about us—then, whether we feel like it or not, we should say, "Yes, that's me. I have that. The Word says I have that. I can do what the Word says I can do. I am what the Word says I am."
Many things may produce an emotional response. Some are in the moment, others are from our past. Still other emotions may be a response to mere fantasies, lies we tell ourselves, etc. They may also be a result of misunderstandings. Feelings are not “evil”; God gave us feelings for a purpose. We need our feelings to interact with one another. Even Jesus is "touched by the feelings of our infirmities". So they have their place in our lives. As a matter of fact, there is no end to the amount of feeling (both positive and negative) that flows through our lives on a daily basis; but they are fleeting (short-lived) reason why we shouldn’t be led by them! Neither should we relate to God based on our feelings. Because when they change or expire we will be left stranded! Proverbs 14:12 (NIV) says: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
So let’s flee from the “strange” voices.
Wednesday, April 01 2015
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
In last week’s study, we considered the wonderful experience of being conscious that God is indwelling us by His Spirit. The scripture in 1 Cor. 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” is both a question and a revelation about our relationship with God. It is His indwelling presence that gives us access to His voice. He wants to constantly communicate with us because we are His children.
This week we are looking at how to keep our hearts tender for the Holy Spirit to be able to lead us.
1) Self-Condemnation; 1 John 3:20
“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”
Whenever we do something wrong and we sense condemnation in our hearts, we generally think the Holy Spirit was the one condemning us for our wrongs. That is not the truth according to scripture.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom.8:1
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Rom.:33, 34
The Holy Spirit will not condemn us. Why? Because God won't. It is God that justifies.
Jesus said that the only sin the Holy Spirit will convict the world of is the sin of rejecting Jesus (John 16:7-9). He Himself came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved”
“For if our heart condemn us”. It is our own conscience—the voice of our own spirit—that knows when we have done wrong. I have found that even when I do wrong, though my spirit condemns me, the Holy Spirit is there to comfort me, to help me, to show me the way back.
Difference between condemnation and conviction
1) Condemnation causes us to turn away from God in fear, dread, and shame. Conviction causes us to come to God and freshly place our faith in the perfect life and death of Christ.
2) Condemnation leads us to believe that we’ll never change and that we aren't worthy of God's love. Conviction gives us hope that, even though we sinned, God is still at work in us.
3) Condemnation paralyzes faith for change, keeping us in bondage. Conviction bears the fruit of faith for change, freeing us to fully grow in the love of God.
4) Condemnation causes us to wallow in despair and self-pity. Conviction leads to God-centered hope.
5) Condemnation sees God as an angry judge who is waiting in the shadows to strike at any moment. Conviction sees God as a loving Father who disciplines his children through His love for us.
6) Condemnation is inward, self-focused, and always dwelling on the fact that we have sinned. Conviction is outward, God-focused, and always dwelling on the fact that we have sinned against God.
2) Holy Spirit; The Comforter: John 14:16
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever”
You will never read in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is referred to as a “condemner”.
Jesus called Him the Comforter. The seven-fold meaning of that word from the Greek is brought out in The Amplified Bible: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever.”
The Holy Spirit is all of those! He will stand by us. When no one else will. He will help us. He is a Helper!
3) How To Keep Our Heart Tender; Eph.4:32, 1 Pet.3:8
“And be you kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” Eph.4:32
“Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tender-hearted, humble minded.” 1 Pet.3:8(ASV)
The moment we are born again, our spirits become alive unto righteousness; our hearts become tender and “triggers” the moment we do anything wrong. If we were used to anger or cursing before, the new man on the inside - our spirit takes up the responsibility of always checking us whenever we start tending towards the old life.
The Life and Nature of God doesn't accommodate our carnal nature. Now our flesh, the outward man, may want to go on doing some things that we did before, and talking in ways we talked before, but we have to crucify the flesh. A good way to crucify the flesh—the outward man—is to bring our mistakes right out in the open by repentance towards God and man.
If we repent and restitute or apologise whenever we are wrong, we will keep our heart constantly tender before God for the Holy Spirit to communicate and lead us effectively. Unless we keep a tender conscience, spiritual things will be indistinct to us. That's because our conscience is the voice of our spirit and it is our conscience—the voice of our spirit—that will relate to our minds what the Spirit of God is saying to us down in our hearts.
4) A Seared Conscience or Hardened Heart; 1 Tim.4:1,2
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”
When we constantly fail to follow the voice of our conscience and won’t repent and restitute when we are checked, our hearts can become hardened or seared. If our hearts are hardened or seared, we are on our way to destruction. The voice of the Holy Spirit will no longer be recognisable to us.
“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should[a] heal them.” Matt.13:15
"Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." Isa.6:10
We must learn to keep a tender conscience. The minute we miss it and our conscience condemns us, we should act immediately and correct the error right there and then. We should not wait until we go to church. Immediately say, "Lord, forgive me. I missed it." If we have to, if someone else saw or heard us, tell that person right away, "I did wrong. Please forgive me. I shouldn't have said that."
We will have to keep our spirits (hearts) tender if we are going to be led by the Holy Spirit.