Subjective Spirit Leading

Subjective “Spirit leading” is when one is moved by imagined nudging and impulses, then attributes that imagination to the “leading of the Spirit” (Holy Spirit of God).  It is never in complete harmony with Spirit “revelation” in the Bible. It is sometimes outright contrary to Spirit guidance through “revelation” (Eph.3:3-5). Thus, it mixes subjective feelings and imagination with a few misused scriptures, and attributes every thought to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

It is completely subjective as to whether it is the Holy Spirit instead of a “deceiving spirit” (1 Tim.4:1f) or just plain human desire and imagination (2 Cor.10:4-6). Yet, you can get drawn into the language and the thinking that imagines the Lord walking and talking with you, and then you start saying “the Lord told me this” or “the Lord showed me this.”  The same evidence (none) is used in all kinds of religions whether pagan, hypnotic, or attached to a “Christian” version of the same.  Real miracles confirmed that the Holy Spirit was with the apostles and prophets of Jesus in the first century, but no such demonstrations of the Spirit attend the modern, subjective variety of communications with God (1 Cor.2:4).

Francis Chan offers stories from those whom he says have experienced “real encounters” with God.  He says each of us has the choice every day “to depend on yourself, to live safely, and to try to control your life. Or you can live as you were created to live—as a temple of the Holy Spirit of God, as a person dependent on Him, desperate for God the Spirit to show up and make a difference.” Yet, he is basically telling people to imagine the Spirit “showing up” in some emotion-driven and imagination-perceived way, and all such imaginations automatically becomes self-confirmation that the Holy Spirit, instead of Satan as an angel of light, is doing this “showing up.”

Beth Moore is another that uses this imagination-driven approach where her imagination of talks with God become conversations with God in which she reports “what God told me.” This kind of thinking is very dangerous, and yet some of our brethren are jumping on the band-wagon of these kinds of authors and speakers, and they promote them as truly guided by God.  God did not work that way in the first century, but many have come to accept that God has started working this way today, and all you need is a vivid imagination and a claim, and gullible people will buy it without question.

The real “Holy Spirit” showed up in guiding the apostles into “all truth” (John 15-16). He revealed and confirmed “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3-4; Heb.2:1-4).  He powerfully leads us through that revelation (Heb.4:12; Eph.3:3-5).  That revelation was “complete” and thoroughly furnishes the man of God (2 Tim.3:16-17). When we are listening to the Spirit in scriptures used correctly we are listening to the voice of the real Holy Spirit (Heb.3:7-11).

Imaginations must be cast down and not exalted to the level of God’s word (2 Cor.10:4-6). When a person does not “abide in the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9-10) but gives greater or equal guiding authority to their imagination of conversations with God, they have quit “holding fast to the Head” (Col.2:19) and have “intruded into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Col.2:18). This is “empty deceit” because it is imaginary conversations with God told as if it happened in reality, and this is a form of lying since God did not actually tell them anything. It is purely an adult form of make-believe and empty of real revelation. Be careful of those who promote such. God confirmed the words of the apostles and prophets (Mark 16:20; Heb.2:4). He does not back up the words of the modern subjective “revelations,” and therefore we must not surrender the real words of the Holy Spirit (the scriptures) in favor of the unconfirmed claims of subjective and vivid imaginations. We must believe that the scriptures “completely furnish the man of God.” We cannot go wrong believing that we really are “completely furnished” by scriptures.


Cite this article as: Terry Benton, "Subjective Spirit Leading," in Answering Religious Error, April 15, 2015,
Subjective Spirit Leading
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