Holy Spirit authority is that of God Himself. It’s the power whereby the living Word is revealed, released, and established in our lives to fulfil God’s purposes. Word and Spirit cannot be separated and Logos and Rhema do not act independently. Unless we walk in obedience and surrender to the authority of the Holy Spirit we will never see the full measure of the Word made manifest.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. (Acts 16:6)
There is a lot of teaching on being obedient to the Holy Spirit when He tells to go or do something. But few of these deal with other side of this – to obey when He forbids us. For some reason, we tend to think of His directives in the positive, i.e. what we must do rather than what we must not do. We remind ourselves and each other that the Spirit will always reveal God’s instructions, and this is absolutely true. But our focus is doing rather than not doing. Being forbidden from something doesn’t fit our expectations of how God works. Part of the work of the Spirit is to give us divine direction to fulfill the purposes of God. His instructions come from God Himself, so Holy Spirit authority is God’s authority. It therefore shouldn’t surprise us when He presents ‘thou shalt not’ as a directive from God.
Holy Spirit authority is absolute.
God is absolutely sovereign over all. His authority is divine, eternal, and supernatural and exists as the manifestation of who He is. While we recognise the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit are part of the one God. They cannot be separated in terms of nature, character, power, or authority. Only their roles differ, but these always occur within the context of three-in-one, a God who manifests in different ways but exists completely and perfectly in Himself. For this reason, Holy Spirit authority is absolute. It is the authority of God Himself. All Holy Spirit directives are the perfect will and purpose of God revealed. The danger of regarding the Spirit as ‘separate’ means that we can lose sight of the reality that He is God. He is to be obeyed as we would obey God the Father, the creator and ruler of the universe.
This highlights a dangerous misconception in the church. There are many churches – and individual believers – who relegate the Holy Spirit to a background and even subservient role. The reluctance in some churches to surrender fully to the work of the Spirit or to even include Him at all stems from the abuse we often see. There have been so many false and even demonic ‘moves of the Spirit’ that many God-seeking and even Spirit-filled believers are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Today’s verse reminds us powerfully that we cannot afford to diminish the role of the Spirit. We must constantly walk in obedience to Holy Spirit authority which means we must allow Him full access into our lives and our churches. We must submit to and acknowledge His rightful sovereignty through humble surrender and obedience, whatever His directives. These are the revealed will of God Himself.
Holy Spirit authority and God’s purposes.
At salvation, we enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s a kingdom, not a democracy, and it’s ruled by a sovereign God whose will and purposes are absolute. As citizens in the kingdom, we live to serve Him and Him alone. Self must be set aside and we do this by our surrender to Holy Spirit authority. It’s not for us to question the Spirit or to choose which directives we will obey. We cannot interpret according to our own expectations or hear what we like and ignore the rest. This truth is often overshadowed by our focus on the benefits of the Spirit like His guidance, teaching, comfort, gifts, and fruit. Believers have come to see Him as the dispenser of the good things of God rather than in His full identity as God. His role is to release the things of God but His authority is that of God.
There is a divine order instituted by God Himself and manifested through Father, Son, and Spirit. Through this, His purposes are only ever revealed through the Spirit. That’s why we are Spirit-filled and must continue so. Any revelation not received from the Spirit will not confirm to the Word and is not of God. For us to truly know His will and purposes, we must walk in surrender to Holy Spirit authority. Being selective in what we receive or obey will make full obedience impossible. We then walk according to our own purposes and plans. In the same way, we cannot limit what we receive by what we expect to receive. Holy Spirit authority will both permit and forbid. He does not focus only on the things we must do in His work but also on the things we must not do. They are equally imperative.
Holy Spirit authority is practical revelation.
God’s grace provides His Spirit to establish spiritual things in our natural lives. He is the power by which the supernatural purposes of God are revealed and fulfilled in and through us. While eternally and completely Spirit, His role is practical and is directed towards the day-to-day living and working of every believer. Holy Spirit authority, therefore, includes the release of power in a practical and meaningful way to fulfil God’s purposes. The reality is that we cannot hope to be obedient or even desire to be obedient without the work of the Spirit. We also cannot do God’s work effectively in and of our own strength and cannot know His will. Everything of God must be empowered by Him through the Spirit. Anointing for ministry is a good example because it carries His authority which empowers the anointing in us to enable us to do His will.
Today’s verse wonderfully reveals the practical and simple nature of Holy Spirit authority. This is the context of work, of daily ministry, not a separate ‘super-spiritual’ encounter. It’s very clear that interaction with the Spirit was part of their normal lives. They moved as He directed and did not move when He said not to. This is the intended role of the Spirit in our lives, to be as practical and as ‘ordinary’ as our day-to-activities. His power or sovereignty is not diminished by the practical nature of His work. Rather, it indicates the degree of yieldedness to His authority, a surrender of each small detail rather than a generic surrender which leaves room for our own interpretation or expectation. Holy Spirit authority must function in every detail and at every juncture of our lives and work. We must acknowledge His sovereignty at all times.
The Word and Holy Spirit authority.
The Bible tells us that the sword of the Spirit – the symbol of His power and authority – is the Word of God. There is a dynamic and vital connection between Word and Spirit, one which can never be severed. The Holy Spirit always reveals and testifies to what is in the Word and the Word is always confirmed and established by the Spirit. This relationship is evidenced in the truth that the Word is living. It’s not inanimate or passive but alive and vibrant, containing the power it needs for self-fulfilment. That power is the Holy Spirit who acts in the full authority of the Word of God. The Spirit cannot act independently of the Son, but His authority is that of the Son. The Logos Word and Rhema Word always work in absolute unity to manifest the purposes of God in His perfect timing.
If we don’t acknowledge and obey Holy Spirit authority, we are effectively negating the authority of the Word. The Spirit manifests, fulfils, and establishes the Word in the full authority of Christ who is the Word. His authority is over all. But for the Word to be fulfilled the Spirit must establish this authority in and through our lives. Believers, for example, often say that in Christ, we have victory and authority over the powers of darkness. This is true, we do, and it’s perfect and complete. But unless we are walking in surrender to full Holy Spirit authority simply mouthing the Word avails nothing. It doesn’t make the Word untrue. That remains unchanged forever. But it does mean that the authority of the Word remains inactive until we yield to Holy Spirit authority. He alone has the power to wield that authority to effect God’s purposes in our lives.
The protection of living under Holy Spirit authority.
Words like ‘forbid’ tend to have a negative connotation, especially since we are conditioned to freedom of choice and personal right to make our own decisions. We more readily accept instruction to do or go than those to not do or go. But the Spirit’s work is perfect, and His revelations are always the complete will of God. To walk in daily surrender to Holy Spirit authority is as much a protection as it is a provision. Without Him, we are easily deceived into wrong choices based on our preferences or what seems the ‘best’ decision. There is no doubt that had Paul and his party persisted in taking the Gospel to Asia, it would have been entirely contrary to God’s purposes. There would have been no real anointing or release of power. We are protected when we obey the leading of the Spirit and yield to His instructions.
Lord, we thank You for the immeasurable gift of Your Holy Spirit. Draw us into a place of surrender that allows His work in every area of our lives. Thank You that You provide and protect through His authority over us, keeping us in Your will and guarding against the deceptions that could so easily destroy us. Forgive us if we’ve set limits on the Spirit, forgetting that His authority is Yours, and excluded Him from the practical details of our lives. Grant us humble hearts, Lord, willing to walk in submission and obedience, whatever His commands may be for we know that they are Your perfect will and purpose revealed.