The Holy Spirit and My Feelings

by Doy Moyer

It's not good theology to attribute to the Holy Spirit that which the Holy Spirit never attributes to Himself. Doing so results in both faulty and contradictory claims, and this is exactly what we often see. Feelings get attributed to the Spirit, which are then contradictory to the feelings of others who might also claim the Spirit as the source. Such feelings may also directly contradict God's own word. Claims are made about what the Spirit is doing when all the person has is a good feeling about a work. I wish it were that simple, but we must not reduce the Spirit's function to making us feel good about ourselves.

Don't misunderstand me. I am a believer in the Holy Spirit. I believe God is at work, that the Spirit indwells God's people, that He aids us in prayer, and that we are not left alone in our spiritual battle. Yet this is precisely why I want to avoid mislabeling and misattribution of the Spirit's work. If we begin to label our feelings about something as the product of the Spirit, then we are using the Spirit to rubber-stamp what we want. "God leads me through my feelings" is never something that is attributed to the work of the Spirit. What right do we have to do so? And how would we even know, but by using our own feelings to verify what we already want to think? Yet even if the Spirit somehow produces good feelings in us, we should never think that we can use such feelings to do the opposite of what the Spirit has clearly revealed.

This is why the record left by the Spirit is so important, for even if an angel were to tell us something different, let it be accursed. We have a standard to which we may appeal (cf. Galatians 1:6-8), given by the Spirit, expressing the mind of God (I Corinthians 2:10-13). That will always outweigh my feelings.

None of this is to say that I fully understand how God does what He does. I'm happy to confess that God can work however He wills. Even so, I am not at liberty to say that whatever I feel must be because the Spirit is leading me that way. He never said that's what He would do. Feelings change and vacillate. Feelings are prone to mistakes. Feelings can deceive.

What then is the best source for knowing what the Spirit does? The Spirit's own testimony, as He moved men to speak and write. The word of God is not due to the will of man (cf. II Peter 1:20), but is given by the will and the grace of God. Let's start there.

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