Hearing the Spirit

A fellow Congregational Church posted an item on its Facebook page:

This Sunday's service at 10.45…will be shorter than usual as it will be followed by the quarterly church meeting.  We urge all members and adherents to come and take part in this important meeting.

Under which, a leader had commented:

It's important that we hear everyone's thoughts as they were probably put there by the Holy Spirit.

In my experience, quarterly Church Meetings contain a range of views, so the claim about the Holy Spirit planting those diverse opinions is open to question. At our newly inaugurated Thursday ‘Basic Bible Study’, we looked at the work and person of the Holy Spirit. One question we explored was how do we know if a thought or prompting is from Him rather self? Too many charlatans and self-appointed prophets claim to speak on His behalf; fools young and old enjoy imagining their thoughts to be God’s. Yet the Spirit does communicate to us, usually through His own word, the Bible, but sometimes through gentle prompting. For example, I sometimes ’feel’ that I should phone or write to someone, which, when done, the recipient has told me how timely and helpful it was. The answer I gave is that given in John 14ff, when the Lord Jesus talks about the coming Helper.

-He is the Spirit of truth, who cannot deceive or lie;

-He brings to your remembrance all things that Jesus said to us;

-He will testify of Jesus Himself.

Any thought that is contrary to God’s word and Christ’s glory is not from the Holy Spirit. ‘Hearing everyone’s’ thoughts could be a way of hearing the Spirit, but intermingled with all that there is likely to be the chattering of the flesh, or, worse, the whisperings of Satan.