How the Spirit Communicates
When we hear or read a teaching claiming to be from the Word, we need to know how to tell if it is the Word, or an Oral Tradition that has become elevated above the Word. (Good people can truly differ on doctrine without either opinion being Oral Tradition.) A teaching becomes Oral Tradition when that teaching rises above the revealed Word of God to become doctrine.
"...when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth for He will not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, that is what He will speak. And He will show you things to come."
Guide, speak, show. Only 1 of those is verbal. Guide and show are communication by means other than words. When people ask me 'How do I know a teaching is or isn't God', they are thinking God will talk to them yes or no like a loud speaker in their brain. (Wouldn't that be nice!)
God is in your spirit, not your mind. He is a Spirit, your spirit is born again and capable of moving in the things of God. Therefore He communicates in your spirit.
- "And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah."
- "If anything is revealed to another sitting nearby, let the first hold his peace and let the other speak."
- "And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit they were thinking those things..."
- "'...Someone has touched me; for I perceive power has gone out of me."
- "I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons."
- "Sirs, I perceive this voyage will be with much damage to the ship, cargo, and our lives!"
- "I don't know what will happen to me; but the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city that arrest and trouble await."
- "The Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." (Luke 2:26, I Corinthians 14:30, Mark 2:8, Luke 8:46, Acts 9:34, 27:10, 20:22-23, Romans 8:16)
Revealed by the Spirit, perceived in our spirit, a witness in our spirit - these are the words used in the Bible to describe the non-verbal ways the Holy Spirit communicates what He has heard from the Father and Lord.
When you hear or read a teaching, you must train your mind to immediately turn your attention down to your spirit man to look for a feeling, yes, a feeling, in your spirit that could be described as a witness, perceive, revelation. Some have told me 'When you teach it resonates in my spirit, even though sometimes my mind is still trying to grasp it.'
That word 'resonate' is a good modern synonym with witness, perceive, revealed. When it is a God teaching, there will often be an excitement, joy, happy feeling in your spirit that is completely unattached from your emotions and thoughts. It resonates with you. It will come bubbling like a river of living water our of your spirit to be noticed and affect your emotions and thoughts...but the flow is from your spirit up to your mind.
THIS is the Way it Works
"This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining Spirit realities with Spirit-taught words....they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgements about all (these) things...Who has the mind of the Lord that we may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." I Corinthians 2:13-16
Discern, used here, is the last of our words used in the New Testament for non-verbal communication from the Father through the Holy Spirit directly into our spirit. Perceive, witness, discern, reveal. They are all vague, and we must be careful not to jump to conclusions because they are vague. Jesus didn't know who touched Him, just that someone did. Simeon just knew he wouldn't die until he had seen Messiah, but he didn't know how old Messiah would be when he saw him.
Also, you can see from scripture how concise all these ways of communication are. A personal prophecy that goes on for 20 pages sounding spiritual yet saying nothing is not God. A NT personal prophecy is short, concise, to the point as seen in the Word. Anything more is error; we don't see the Holy Spirit droning on in the NT.
That may be contrary to someone's Oral Tradition, for there is alot of teaching on personal prophecy that isn't in the Word, and yet that teaching is valued above the Word by many - I've had people get very angry at me for telling them their 25 page personal prophecy from so and so isn't God...boosts the ego? Yes. God? No. Personal prophecy in the Word is precise, to the point, and actually says something in those few words.
Let's Go Down a Rabbit Trail for a Minute
Many, many people have had something perceived, discerned, revealed in their spirit and then they attach a 'thus saith the Lord' to it - and are wrong. It is error to say 'God told me' when all you have is something you perceive, discern, bear witness to, or think you have revealed to you. If you just sense it, state it that way. Many people want God to talk to them yet they don't have the tiniest amount of integrity in this small matter - If you didn't hear Him talk to you, but only sense one of the above, then state it exactly as received.
Often God will reveal and you will perceive what the devil's plans are if left unchanged, as with Paul in Acts 27:10 when he 'perceived' they would lose their lives in a shipwreck. The Father revealed to Paul's spirit, and he perceived it, what would happen if left unchanged - they would all die.
Sometimes people perceive a horrible thing in their spirit, attach a 'thus saith the Lord' to it, or worse say "God told me", or worse still - rebuke the devil for showing them a bad thing not realizing they are rebuking the Holy Spirit trying to show the devil's plan so they can pray and have it changed - and then it doesn't happen because God intervened in spite of their error and ignorance. God is gracious! The point is to handle it as Paul did, with intercessory prayer, and God changed what the devil had planned.
The Holy Spirit DOES speak - 1/3 of the John 16:13 passage we started with is 'speak'. When He does so it is very much like a 'loud speaker in the brain' though actually He is speaking in your spirit. It is always short, concise, precise. The same when angels talk - always precise, short, concisely stated.
- "The angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Arise, go south on the desert highway between Jerusalem and Gaza."'
- "The Spirit said to Philip, 'Go join yourself to that chariot'".
- "He saw in vision an angel who said to him...send men to Joppa to a man named Simon Peter, who is staying with a man named Simon, who is a tanner, and lives by the seaside..."
- "While Peter was thinking on the vision the Spirit said to him, Look, Three men are looking for you, go with them nothing doubting, for I have sent them."
- "This is what the Holy Spirit says, the Jews at Jerusalem will arrest and turn over to the Romans the man who owns this belt." (Acts 8:26, 29;10:1-5,19-20; 21:11)
Often when a person has never heard the Holy Spirit actually speak to them, it is so loud and distinct within them they often think it as audible to human ears. He is just that loud in the human spirit sometimes. After you get used to His voice, it doesn't sound so loud, but remains very distinct.
Back from the Rabbit Trail
Most of the time when a teaching is off-balance the first time a person hears that teaching will be the most dramatic and vivid warning by the Holy Spirit - that perception, witness, discernment, revelation about it not 'sitting right' with you will be the strongest. It feels like a heaviness, a darkness, a grievance in the spirit - that witness, discernment, perception will feel 'heavy' like that or will feel not peaceful. He is Truth, He reacts strongly to teachings that masquerade in the name of God but are in fact a Pharisaic Oral Tradition.
IF a person insists on listening, or reading, or checking out that web site that grieves the Spirit and spirit, that person 'sears over' - puts a layer of hardness of heart - their spirit and the voice of the Spirit becomes increasingly dull and barely recognizable. It is the same process I mentioned earlier in this series from Mark 3:1-6 where Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was OK to do good on the Sabbath.
He was grieved at the hardness of heart, a process of stuccoing and whitewash where a layer is applied, allowed to dry and harden, then another layer is applied. Such is a person who does not immediately turn away from something when the perceive, discern, bear witness, or have revealed to them that a teaching, person, web site, is not of God, will be allowed to go as far as they want in error until they repent.
(My cd/MP3 series 'How to be led by the Spirit' and my DVD on how the Lord taught me to hear the Father's voice, are good further studies, and my book 'Pursuing the Seasons of God (regular or audio)