The Person of the Holy Spirit in our lives – questions and discernment

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I’m posting this in the Pilgrim’s Progress forum rather than the Theological as it pertains primarily to our practical Christian Walk.

As I post more from Dynamics of Spiritual Life, by Richard Lovelace, I question his view of how we see the Holy Spirit in our lives. I mentioned in the recent Assurance thread how I have reservations about some of Lovelace’s views; this here is one of a number.

In a nutshell, contra Lovelace (though I could be wrong), I think of the Holy Spirit not speaking of Himself, as Jesus said, “he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak . . . He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13, 14, 15). (Emphases added)

So I see the Holy Spirit’s role – generally, in this matter – as the Vicar, or Representative, of Jesus Christ, in the heart of a believer, and that the Spirit works by bringing us the presence of Christ, as God alone could be a conduit of God to His people (cf. Psalm 46:4). Thus, I do not seek the Spirit’s direct guidance and presence, but Christ’s. I do honor the Spirit as a Person, as one who brings me Christ, and not Himself, so to speak.

When I commune with Christ I ask Him – and the Father through Him – for whatever needs I, or those for whom I pray, have. If I need comfort I ask, through the Spirit, for Christ’s consoling presence. If guidance, I ask in the same way, trusting Jesus will give it in His time.

I am very cautious as regards opening myself to a distinct presence and voice within my own consciousness, guiding me this way or that, even if that voice – or intuitive guidance – does it by Scripture. The distinction is between, as I put it, Christ by the Spirit bringing Scripture to mind for me to consider, to weigh, or the Spirit Himself authoritatively declaring a way.

I realize that, in the first distinction, I am the locus of volition, deciding what is of God, whereas in the second, the Spirit is the locus. In Phil 2:13, where Paul says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”, I reckon it is by the Spirit this is done, God giving me a heart (and ability) to do His will. How He actually does this I don’t know, except that I then find a desire in me to mortify the flesh, or avoid an action. Often I allow the bodily appetites (not the sinful flesh) to stand. (Or to quote Chesterton, “Temperance consists in finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that.” G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, p 51.)

At any rate, here is Lovelace’s view. Any thoughts on this, and my own view, would be highly appreciated!
_____

In both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal Christians who are spiritually vital there is usually a very explicit recognition of the indwelling Holy Spirit as a counselor (paracklētos, one called alongside) who is personally real and dynamically active in the life of the believer…..

This failure to recognize the Holy Spirit in our lives is widespread in the churches today. Sometimes the lack of recognition is intentional and theologically motivated, as in Fundamentalist or confessional churches which are afraid that too much emphasis on conscious communion with the Holy Spirit will lead to a lessened regard for Christ, enthusiasm, mysticism or Pentecostalism. More often it is simply ignorance. Even where Christians know about the Holy Spirit doctrinally, they have not necessarily made a deliberate point of getting to know him personally. They may have occasional experiences of his reality on a hit-and-run basis, but the fact that the pronoun “it” is so frequently used to refer to him is not accidental. It reflects the fact that he is perceived impersonally as an expression of God’s power and not experienced continually as a personal Guide and Counselor.

A normal relationship with the Holy Spirit should at least approximate the Old Testament experience described in Psalm 139: a profound awareness that we are always face to face with God; that as we move through life the presence of his Spirit is the most real and powerful factor in our daily environment; that underneath the momentary static of events, conflicts, problems, and even excursions into sin, he is always there like the continuously sounding note in a basso ostinato.

The typical relationship between believers and the Holy Spirit in today’s church is too often like that between the husband and wife in a bad marriage. They live under the same roof, and the husband makes constant use of his wife’s services, but he fails to communicate with her, recognize her presence and celebrate their relationship with her.

What should be done to reverse this situation? We should make a deliberate effort at the outset of every day to recognize the person of the Holy Spirit, to move into the light concerning his presence in our consciousness and to open up our minds and to share all our thoughts and plans as we gaze by faith into the face of God. We should continue to walk throughout the day in a relationship of communication and communion with the Spirit mediated through our knowledge of the Word, relying upon every office of the Holy Spirit’s role as counselor mentioned in Scripture. We should acknowledge him as the illuminator of truth and of the glory of Christ. We should look to him as teacher, guide, sanctifier, giver of assurance concerning our sonship and standing before God, helper in prayer, and as the one who directs and empowers witness.

We should particularly recognize that growth in holiness is not simply a matter of the lonely individual making claims of faith on the basis of Romans 6:1-14. It involves moving about in all the areas of our life in dependent fellowship with a person: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16 NASB). When this practice of the presence of God is maintained over a period of time, our experience of the Holy Spirit becomes less subjective and more clearly identifiable, as gradually we learn to distinguish the strivings of the Spirit from the motions of our flesh. (pp 130, 131)​
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The issue is this, without sanctification – without holiness – no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14). And as it is the indwelling Holy Spirit who works this sanctification in us (Rom 8:13), and who – as regards our assurance – bears witness with, or to, our spirits that we are indeed the children of God, does it not behoove us to study and understand how this is done by Him?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
In a nutshell, contra Lovelace (though I could be wrong), I think of the Holy Spirit not speaking of Himself, as Jesus said, “he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak . . . He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13, 14, 15). (Emphases added)

Ok, I'll bite.

Ephesians 5:18-20​
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;​
speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,​
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;​
giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;​

I think what you said in the quotation above, coupled with the Ephesians 5 passage I quoted (and there are other places), gives us the heart of a practical doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. I plan to quote what I wrote in the thread by @Ryan&Amber2013 "Has God Ever Directly Communicated With You?" But I want to say a few more words first about the importance of the subject.

But before my remarks, I want to tell you about my relationship with the Holy Spirit. I am frequently filled, often to overflowing, with the Spirit's power. But I do NOT have a relationship with Him. I pray to God through Jesus to send the Spirit's aid and presence, but I never pray to the Spirit. I am sure that while considering the Godhead, I have said something like, "And thank you, Holy Spirit." But most of my prayers are directed to the Father through the merits of the Son. I learned this probably 45 years ago from Jesus, who taught us how to pray. (Matthew 6:9-13) Did I take Jesus too literally? I don't think so.​

I consider the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the believer the greatest need in the Church today. In any day. But particularly at this time for the following reasons.
  1. Many, I think most believers in our day do not expect all that much from the Spirit. And I include especially the Reformed Christians.

  2. We don't expect very much - We have become accustomed to things as they are now as a norm for the Church. We see the need to pray for the Spirit's help in prayer and other Christian work such as teaching, preaching, wisdom in raising our children, and the like. But, we have learned not to expect anything particularly dramatic to happen. This lack of expectation was not always so.

  3. Our day - I consider the day we live to be as far below "normal" as Pentecost, and the years following were above normal for the Church. And we are used to things as they are now.

  4. We have some good things - Surely, the Lord is still bringing the lost to faith. Our church programs, preaching, prayer times, and our theology are all fine--as far as it goes.

  5. Our impact on the World - As far as I can tell, the modern Church, at least in the US, has made about as much impression on the World as dipping our finger into a cup of coffee and then removing it. But the early Christians that they "turned the world upside down." Sure, there is some evidence of persecution here and there, but by and large, the Church is at best considered like any other religion. We are not impacting the World. And we seem to go on and on as if nothing was wrong.

  6. Every Christian has the indwelling of the Spirit. But, and this is my main point, not every Christian has the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It's called the filling of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Finally - I consider this filling of the Holy Spirit as the single most crucial need of the Church today. And it seems that few know this, and fewer still seek this blessing with all their mind, heart, and strength. And some deny that there is any such thing as the filling of the Holy Spirit--that that ended with the Apostles.
I have decided not to re-post what I said in @Ryan&Amber2013 poll. But you can go there and read it if you like.
I will stop here to see if there is any response. There was none to what I posted on the poll. And BTW, I voted an unequivocal NO to the question, "Has God Ever Directly Communicated With You?"

Ed
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
Every Christian has the indwelling of the Spirit. But, and this is my main point, not every Christian has the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It's called the filling of the Holy Spirit.
I second this. The Spirit's presence comes through the passive and active obedience of Christ in our lives.
While I'm not quick to agree with everything he says, Brother Lawrences' Practice of The Presence of God, puts this into perspective.
Living for Christ, (the 'deliberate effort' to which Lovelace refers) is when the believer can experience the presence and power of the Spirit and behold the glory of Christ.
The typical relationship between believers and the Holy Spirit in today’s church is too often like that between the husband and wife in a bad marriage. They live under the same roof, and the husband makes constant use of his wife’s services, but he fails to communicate with her, recognize her presence and celebrate their relationship with her.
Obviously the opposite would spark greater knowledge of the spouse-- namely, God and His Spirit's presence. Constant high thoughts of God as he is revealed through scripture does this. This is the 'deliberate effort.'
Eph 2.8-10
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Bump - reason given below
[quoting Lovelace] - The typical relationship between believers and the Holy Spirit in today’s church is too often like that between the husband and wife in a bad marriage. They live under the same roof, and the husband makes constant use of his wife’s services, but he fails to communicate with her, recognize her presence and celebrate their relationship with her.
Finally - I consider this filling of the Holy Spirit as the single most crucial need of the Church today. And it seems that few know this, and fewer still seek this blessing with all their mind, heart, and strength. And some deny that there is any such thing as the filling of the Holy Spirit--that that ended with the Apostles.

Greeting fellow Pilgrims,

Why I bumped this thread:

I have searched the PB and noticed that topics about the special, occasional work or filling of the Holy Spirit meet with pretty ho-hum responses. There seems to be little interest in the subject. Threads that bring up the subject are not too common and often get only two or three posts. One cessationist brother argued strongly with me against there being such a thing as a further work of the Holy Spirit.

I admit that I am puzzled by this apparent lack of curiosity.

Here are various random verses about this additional and occasional power-giving, joy-producing, assurance-increasing, etc., work of the Holy Spirit. A work that not all Christians experience and that no Christian experiences at all times. Do we think that this is a doctrine of little account?

Acts 13:52​
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.​
Acts 4:8​
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,​
Luke 1:67​
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,​
Acts 13:9​
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him​
Luke 1:41​
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,​
Acts 2:4​
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.​
Acts 4:31​
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.​
Luke 1:15​
for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.​
Ephesians 5:18​
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.​
Acts 9:17​
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”​
Romans 14:17​
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.​
Luke 10:21​
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.​
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks for your thoughts on this topic, Ed!

Part of the problem is that – similar to end-times views – there has been so much contradictory teaching on both holiness and on the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not mainly because of disinterest, I do think, but who wants to delve further into what is an abstruse field?

But at this point in my nearly 80-year-old life I have a real need to understand the mechanics – so to speak – of how we walk after, or according to, the Spirit, and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:1, 4). I have walked so for years, but desire a new precision in understanding. For one who desires to have intimate communion with God in Christ this is of great importance, as it is the Holy Spirit who also communicates the presence of the Godhead to His children.

As I've noted in my signature, I'll be leaving the country soon to work at re-planting a church that failed – the only Reformed witness in a major city in Cyprus – despite my being physically frail (I'm not used to that!), and spiritually poor. To be able to effectively undertake such an endeavor will require much more than I can do naturally, which goes without saying. I will need the vitality and anointing of the Spirit so that my preaching and teaching – and related witnessing activities – will attract the attention of those the Lord will draw (I will be advertising the work in newspapers).

So I am seeking to sort through the thoughts of wise men on the topic. Lately I have found in my stacks, J.I. Packer's Walk in Step with the Spirit, and he does an excellent job in analyzing the various holiness movements (Augustinian, Wesleyan perfectionist, including Finney, and Keswick), minutely analyzing them, and presenting his own views. I have found this a great help.

For me, in essence, it boils down to – how do I discern the leading of the Person of the Spirit? I am greatly leaning to the view (of Packer), that the Spirit works by means of creating a new heart in me, and I desire according to the new creature I am, against the worldly desires I also have (Phil 2:13). This is very nuanced, as my non-sinful physical desires are not to be automatically discounted. As pertains to fasting, for example – which I have need to do at times – as the powers of darkness oppose me, as does my flesh (which I have appropriately named Pig Self). It's a mine-laden terrain I traverse, and I need His help.

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it may edify someone at some time.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
As I've noted in my signature, I'll be leaving the country soon to work at re-planting a church that failed – the only Reformed witness in a major city in Cyprus – despite my being physically frail (I'm not used to that!), and spiritually poor. To be able to effectively undertake such an endeavor will require much more than I can do naturally, which goes without saying. I will need the vitality and anointing of the Spirit so that my preaching and teaching – and related witnessing activities – will attract the attention of those the Lord will draw (I will be advertising the work in newspapers).

Dear Steve,

Your physical weakness, age, and the knowledge you have of your desperate need of the Spirit's help in what may be the most important undertaking in your life, coupled with your desire for "precision" and the holy awe with which you approach the whole, are merged into a kind of perfect storm that could lead to a powerful manifestation of the power and glory of God. I know that's what you desire.

From all you've said, I can think of but one tweak to your thinking. When you say, "to effectively undertake such an endeavor will require much more than I can do naturally," it is good as far as it goes. But I think the contrast between the natural and the Spiritual, at least in Paul's thinking, is even more dramatic.

Pardon the long citation from Philippians, but it is always good to consider Paul's approach to his calling.

Philippians 3:1–15 (ESV)
Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
3
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Straining Toward the Goal
12
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/revival/own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

The heart of this passage may be summed up in a phrase from verse 3 where Paul said, "[we] worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."

Where you said that your ministry "will require much more than I can do naturally, " Jesus said, "for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Consider also Paul's philosophy of ministry.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Related verses:
2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 4:13; John 14:12-13; 2 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 4:7; (all of Second Corinthians)

It might be helpful to look over my seven points in the first post I made in this thread.

Whenever you consider a shortcoming in yourself, rejoice in it as a strength and not a weakness, knowing your sufficiency is from the Lord, and you but a jar of clay. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

May the Lord grant you new strength, firm hope, and great joy in believing, and a fruitful ministry in Cyprus.

Ad Dei gloriam

These sermons by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones can't but help.

May I suggest sermon #RV20 — Isaiah 62:6-7. It's near the end of the list. You'll see how dear this passage is to me by looking at my signature. If I have any calling from God, it is to this ministry of the Watchmen.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ed, I should have put it, "will require much more than I can do normally, or ordinarily" – seeing as "naturally" can easily be misunderstood.
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for your thoughts on this topic, Ed!

Part of the problem is that – similar to end-times views – there has been so much contradictory teaching on both holiness and on the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not mainly because of disinterest, I do think, but who wants to delve further into what is an abstruse field?

But at this point in my nearly 80-year-old life I have a real need to understand the mechanics – so to speak – of how we walk after, or according to, the Spirit, and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:1, 4). I have walked so for years, but desire a new precision in understanding. For one who desires to have intimate communion with God in Christ this is of great importance, as it is the Holy Spirit who also communicates the presence of the Godhead to His children.

As I've noted in my signature, I'll be leaving the country soon to work at re-planting a church that failed – the only Reformed witness in a major city in Cyprus – despite my being physically frail (I'm not used to that!), and spiritually poor. To be able to effectively undertake such an endeavor will require much more than I can do naturally, which goes without saying. I will need the vitality and anointing of the Spirit so that my preaching and teaching – and related witnessing activities – will attract the attention of those the Lord will draw (I will be advertising the work in newspapers).

So I am seeking to sort through the thoughts of wise men on the topic. Lately I have found in my stacks, J.I. Packer's Walk in Step with the Spirit, and he does an excellent job in analyzing the various holiness movements (Augustinian, Wesleyan perfectionist, including Finney, and Keswick), minutely analyzing them, and presenting his own views. I have found this a great help.

For me, in essence, it boils down to – how do I discern the leading of the Person of the Spirit? I am greatly leaning to the view (of Packer), that the Spirit works by means of creating a new heart in me, and I desire according to the new creature I am, against the worldly desires I also have (Phil 2:13). This is very nuanced, as my non-sinful physical desires are not to be automatically discounted. As pertains to fasting, for example – which I have need to do at times – as the powers of darkness oppose me, as does my flesh (which I have appropriately named Pig Self). It's a mine-laden terrain I traverse, and I need His help.

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it may edify someone at some time.
I will not give any personal input on your topic question at this time, but I wanted to say that I will be praying for you and the work in Cyprus. I think it is a good thing when a man realizes that he cannot do it himself, it is a continual reminder in the need to rely on our Lord.
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
Please @Ed Walsh and others, if you have any more insights and advice on how to attain to a greater filling of the Holy Spirit, knowledge of God and a closer walking with Him, please do offer them.

The advice from Lloyd-Jones is to examine ourselves, acknowledge our poverty and seek these blessings from the Lord.
I know the passages of Scripture. I understand and feel the need for the grace and power of the Spirit in our lives. I understand the need for prayer and attending to the means of grace, and to offer up our lives without holding back or clinging to idols and unrepentant sin. But I am so acutely aware of how I lack these graces so often, especially recently - the manifestation of God’s presence, His abounding love, joy in the Holy Spirit.
I want to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, to be conformed to His likeness. I have known something of these blessings in time past but for so long I have been so dull and cold and hard.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
John Newton to J. Foster Barham
[Copied from Grace Gems; printed in Letters of John Newton (reprinted Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2018), 210-211]

Letter I. — How trials are to be estimated.

October 15, 1774.

My dearest sir,

I think the greatness of trials is to be estimated, by the impressions they make upon our spirits — rather than by their outward appearance. The smallest will be too heavy for us — if we are left to grapple with it in our own strength, or rather weakness; and if the Lord is pleased to put forth his power in us, He can make the heaviest trial, light. A lively impression of his love, or of his sufferings for us or of the glories within the veil, accompanied with a due sense of the misery from which we are redeemed; these thoughts will enable us to be not only submissive — but even joyful, in tribulations.

When faith is in exercise, though the flesh will have its feelings, the spirit will triumph over them. But it is needful we should know that we have no sufficiency in ourselves, and in order to know it — we must feel it; and therefore the Lord sometimes withdraws his sensible influence, and then the buzzing of a fly will be an overmatch for our patience. At other times, He will show us what He can do in us and for us; then we can adopt the apostle's words, and say, I can do or suffer all things through Christ strengthening me. He has said, My grace is sufficient for you.

It is observable, that the children of God seldom disappoint our expectations under great trials; if they show a wrongness of spirit, it is usually in such little incidents that we are ready to wonder at them. For which, two reasons may be principally assigned. When great trials are in view — we run simply and immediately to our all-sufficient friend, feel our dependence, and cry in good earnest for help. But if the difficulty seems small, we are too apt secretly to lean to our own wisdom and strength, as if in such slight matters we could make shift without him. Therefore in these we often fail.

Again, the Lord deals with us as we sometimes see mothers with their children. When a child begins to walk he is often very self-important; he thinks he needs no help, and can hardly bear to be supported by the finger of another. Now, in such a case, if there is no danger or harm from a fall — the mother will let him alone to try how he can walk. He is pleased at first — but presently, down he comes; and a few experiments of this kind convince him he is not as strong and able as he thought, and make him willing to be led.

But was he upon the brink of a river or a precipice, from whence a fall might be fatal, the tender mother would not trust him to himself — no not for a moment. I have not room to make the application, nor is it needful. It requires the same grace to bear with a right spirit a cross word — as a cross injury; or the breaking of a china plate — as the death of an only son.​
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
When I look at something I wrote in the OP (I'll quote it in a moment) it seems now that what I was desiring in my seeking to "walk...after (or according to) the Spirit" (Rom 8:1, 4) actually was autonomy, as the bolded portions below indicate:

I am very cautious as regards opening myself to a distinct presence and voice within my own consciousness, guiding me this way or that, even if that voice – or intuitive guidance – does it by Scripture. The distinction is between, as I put it, Christ by the Spirit bringing Scripture to mind for me to consider, to weigh, or the Spirit Himself authoritatively declaring a way.

I realize that, in the first distinction, I am the locus of volition, deciding what is of God, whereas in the second, the Spirit is the locus.

But it is me deciding. This is the definition of autonomy: the right or condition of self-government; self-determination (from Greek autonomia, from autonomos ‘having its own laws’, from autos ‘self’ + nomos ‘law’). The law of me.

What if "walking after the Spirit" is actually my awareness of Christ, and my conscience – illumined by His living word in my mind – gladdened by my conformity to it / to Him, or saddened by a lack of conformity to it / to Him? So really it is as Paul says in Gal 2:20, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". It is not then "a voice in my consciousness authoritatively declaring a way coming from outside me (or within but alien)" which I must weigh, and choose, but rather a voice that is part of me: I live, yet not I but Christ, or as the Geneva 1599 says, "but I live, yet not I anymore, but Christ liveth in me".

What is required to walk this way is to, by faith, walk in His presence with an alert conscience and a mind in which the word of Christ dwells richly. The union I have with Him, buried with Him and risen with Him in newness of life (Rom 6:4) – "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God...Christ, who is our life (Col 3:3, 4) – this union is organic and there is no separation. I live, yet not I but Christ, and yet I live – I am still Steve.

Time for me to go to sleep, and to think more on this – I've just been thinking out loud.
 
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