Is Writing Spiritual

Spiritual WritingCapture_1A friend told me the Muses were not speaking to her. Consequently, she had hit a wall with her writing.  I doubt she was seriously attributing inspiration to the Greek myth about the nine daughters of Zeus who inspired literature, science, and the arts. But there is a spiritual aspect to writing for both Christian and secular writers. Both have experienced times when words pour onto the paper, or today, computer screen. Both experience dry spells when writing is like giving birth from an empty womb. Both have experienced writing from a stream of consciousness or inspiration that follows the story until they discover the ending.

For Christian writers the stream originates in the Holy Spirit not the human will. God gives ideas and revelation to us as we are “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”[1]  At times God commanded the prophecies or inspiration to be preserved in writing.[2]

A person can also be “carried along” by ungodly spirits, which produce doctrines of demons. These ideas sometimes attributed to God get a lot of ink from misguided people who fail to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”[3]

Some Old Testament prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit and some were moved by lying spirits that lulled people into an apathy toward sin and its consequences. Jehoshaphat, a godly man and the King of Judah, agreed to help Ahab, the evil King of Israel, recover some land, but he wanted to seek God’s counsel first.[4]

Ahab summoned 400 prophets who announced God is with them and they would succeed. Jehoshaphat discerned the prophets were not inspired by the God he knew. He asked if there was a prophet of the Lord they could consult.

“There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah,” Ahab replied.

Jehoshaphat insisted they hear Micaiah has to say. The messenger sent for Micaiah warned him 400 prophets already said the kings would be victorious, and he would be wise to agree with them.

“I can only say what the Lord tells me,” said Micaiah.

Speaking truth to power is easier said than done. Micaiah was ushered into the presence of kings in their royal robes, sitting on thrones and a circus of “yes men” saying what they believed the kings wanted to hear. Micaiah decided it would be easier to go with the flow, “Attack and be victorious the Lord is with you,” he declared.

That announcement made Ahab look foolish. He had already told Jehoshaphat that Micaiah had nothing good to say. He rebuked Micaiah and demanded the truth. The truth, Ahab will die in the battle, contradicted the majority.

One of the false prophets slapped Micaiah, “Which way did the Spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?”

God inspired one man with the truth. Other spirits inspired 400 men. Yet all of the prophets believed they were the legitimate voice of God in the earth.

Fast forward to New Testament times. We learn from the gospel of Luke that many had written a narrative about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Luke wrote a narrative for Theophilus, so he would know the certainty of the things he had been taught. Before Luke wrote his gospel he did a thorough investigation. In other words, he tested the spirit behind the other narratives.[5] Many years later, the early church tested the many narratives written about Jesus. Luke’s version was one of four approved for inclusion in the Bible.

People are still “carried along by the Holy Spirit” with one difference. Peter said there were false prophets among them even as there will be false teachers among us. The Old Testament prophets revealed God’s plan. Today, the New Testaments prophets teach God’s plan by the inspiration the Holy Spirit gives them. We are encouraged to desire the gift of prophecy because its intent is to strengthen, encourage and comfort the hearers or the readers.[6]

Christians writing from a stream of consciousness are “carried along by the Holy Spirit” that we might build up the body of Christ. We are not adding to the writing new scripture. The Bible is complete. But God still inspires his people with words that help us navigate life by communicating truth through speaking, writing, music, or art.

When I wrote about local Christians more than one person told me they cried when they read the words that told their story. They were moved by my words because I was carried along by the Holy Spirit to write words that strengthened, encouraged and comforted them.

God gives us the flow of ideas and concepts in its raw form. We work together with God by fashioning the raw material into something easy to read and understand. Christian writers, especially those who write devotions and Bible studies, need to be sure they are being “carried along” by the Holy Spirit.

When someone contradicts what you wrote does it make you angry? Your anger is a sign your inspiration came from other spirits. Don’t slap them like the false prophet slapped Micaiah. Better to tear it up, delete it and forget it lest you spread ideas from God’s enemies.

[1] 2 Pt 1:2-2:1

[2] Ex 17:14, Dt 31:19, Is 30:8, Jer 30:2

[3] 1 Jn 4:1

[4] 1 Kgs 22

[5] Lk 1:1-3

[6] 1 Cor 14:3

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