This is Part three of a series on Godly Leadership.

[7] For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. [8] Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:7-9 ESV)

[14] For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. [15] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:14-15 ESV)

Studying Romans 8 we learn much about our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Aside from what I discussed in the last article, here we can see that those who do not have the Holy Spirit are hostile toward God. Those who have the Holy Spirit have a desire for the things of God as His children.

On the surface this looks like a simple teaching. I’ve pointed it out and you may say, “Yeah. I knew that. No biggie. What’s next?” But we need to dwell on this a little bit.

Do you know anyone who makes decisions with fleshly motives? We must understand that our motives are never completely pure as long as we live in this world of sin and death (Romans 8:10). If our motives were pure, then we would not need the Holy Spirit to guide us and intercede for us when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26). People who don’t have the Holy Spirit may desire to do good things, but any reason they have for this necessarily excludes any desire for God. That’s the best case scenario. But people who have the Holy Spirit will have a transcendent desire for God and be duly motivated by a joy for satisfying Him although they may occasionally fail at pursuing this desire.

In the last article I pointed out a discrepancy between Christians knowing from the Holy Spirit that the Bible is accurate and sufficient and it being difficult for Christians to discern between the activity of the Holy Spirit and their own flawed desires and emotions. The balance lies in the weakness of our motives.

First, we might understand that the canon of scripture is certain. However, none of us fully appreciates the magnitude of God’s communication to us through His written accounts in the canon of scripture. It is a matter of doubt that some who claim to be Christian do not believe that the very source of our information about Christ, the Bible, is very certain.

Roman Catholics, for example, are one such group. While I have no doubt that there are Christians in their number, I doubt that there are many. Why? Because they hold the source of their faith in question as authoritatively lesser than those who are in position over them. While we need to be subject to our governing authorities, they cannot controvert that which secures their authority without bringing their authority into question. They place sinful men over what God has established as His authoritative word. That’s a minor example. Sadly, there are more that are far worse.

Second, the reason we as Christians have difficulty discerning the difference between the Holy Spirit and last night’s lasagna (as it affects our bowels enough to give way to a visceral spiritualism) is, first, because our motives are mixed and, second, because the Bible doesn’t indicate how precisely God will communicate to us directly.

God has directly communicated with me twice in my life. He didn’t controvert any of His word and His messages were to me. I don’t often mention them because what He told me was not intended to edify the Church and His words are not generally fruitful for anything but self-promotion. But I mention it here because I knew beyond any doubt that God was speaking directly to me. Before, I might have thought that God would want to use me as a prophet or something and want me to tell people something in general. Looking back, such thoughts were motivated in part by a desire to be known as a great man of God. Now, I realize how foolish I am and I’m careful to make any pronouncements from God’s word with the fear that I might get it wrong and lead someone astray and also to qualify uncertain musings as those of my own that might be wrong.

Therefore, I’m wary of any who claim to have some word from the Lord that is not taken from scripture. I know how impure motives can generate false prophecy.

What I mostly want to take from this is that the Holy Spirit gives us the great motive which is a desire for God and to see His glory truly revealed, but that we will still harbor self-serving motives that will interfere with making wise decisions in leadership.

Next article: Leadership and Authority

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