Never ever interpret the “silence” of the Holy Spirit over a matter as a divine approval or a go-ahead or a green signal.
In the School of Divine Guidance, assumptions are not allowed. There’s no room for unfounded speculations or unverified moves; accuracy is key and sensitivity is the pathway to it.
As we study along this line today, it’s important to first establish that predominantly and fundamentally speaking, it is not in the character of the Holy Spirit to “keep silent” because He’s a speaking Spirit.
Many scriptures establish this fact such as 1 Tim.4:1, Rm. 8:14, Jn. 14:26, Jn 16:13, Rm. 8:16, Gal. 5:18, Rev. 2:7, Acts 13:2, PLUS MANY OTHERS.
Therefore the Holy Spirit is a speaking Spirit; He gets through to us whether through audible or inaudible communications.
However, there are instances when it appears as if the Spirit is silent. A believer must be well trained to situate that silence in the proper context so as not to land into trouble.
We can’t ALWAYS generalize the dealings of God in our lives; God deals with us individually and all of us are at different stages of spiritual growth and also at different phases of God’s plan and programme for our lives.
There are believers who think that anytime the Spirit appears to be silent, it automatically means “Go ahead” but that is self-delusional.
As we shall see very shortly, the silence of the Spirit must be situated in context and interpreted correctly so that one does not have himself to blame.
Now don’t forget that I have already established that fundamentally, by nature and modus operandi, the Holy Spirit is a speaking Spirit; His silence is an exceptional response.
That lays to rest any form of argument that may come out of that. Now, the Scripture is our ultimate Guide in everything.
Based on Scriptures, are there instances when the Holy Spirit can be silent and for what reason?
I will show us one example in Genesis and we will dig further into why the silence of the Spirit cannot be thrown out of consideration.
In the Book of Genesis, God said His Spirit shall not always strive with man.
And the LORD said, MY SPIRIT SHALL NOT ALWAYS STRIVE WITH MAN, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Now what this means is that the Holy Spirit will “strive” with man for sometime but if He is constantly resisted, turned off, ignored and disobeyed, He will not “strive” forever.
It’s a principle in spiritual operations. To “strive” in this context is to tug the heart of man or nugde the heart of man in order to draw him closer to God and to God’s plan, but if upon all the “spiritual appeals”, man is adamant, then the Spirit becomes silent.
In the New Testament, the Word teaches that we should:
1 THESSALONIANS 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
You see, the Holy Spirit is a perfect gentle man; He will not force Himself or the will of God on you.
If He tells you to do something and you turn Him off, He will keep nudging your heart for a period of time, and when you ignore Him, He keeps silent.
That’s just an example. There are other instances when the Spirit is silent which may have totally different kind of underlying reasons.
It must also be stressed emphatically at this juncture that the silence of the Spirit should not be mistaken for the peace of God in our hearts over a matter.
The peace of God itself in your spirit is a note of witness within you and it is positive. And that note of peace is God actually speaking to your heart at times.
How do I know that? The Word says:
I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
He will SPEAK PEACE because He’s the One who leads us beside the still waters; not troubled waters – Ps.23:2.
In the New Testament, Paul teaches that sometimes when you divest your mind of cares, worries and anxieties and you project your petitions to God in prayers, the first manifestation of the reality of your answered prayers is THE PEACE OF GOD in your heart.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And THE PEACE OF GOD, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
That peace of God in your heart is God’s word wrapped in a note of witness in your heart telling you that God has taken over your cares, worries and anxieties.
Therefore the way you differentiate THE PEACE OF GOD IN YOUR HEART from THE SILENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is that the former comes with a note of divine assurance but the latter is blank – you just sense a blankness in the spirit, but unfortunately at this level, some people just cook up something on their own which is not what the Spirit of God is saying.
Having said that, here are ten instances (based on my study and observation) that could be responsible for the “silence” of the Spirit over a matter:
(1) WHEN YOU’RE INSENSITIVE: Here, it’s not that the Holy Spirit is not speaking and it’s not that there are no spiritual nudgings in your heart, but you’re not just SENSITIVE to it – Job 33:14.
(2) WHEN YOU NEED TO PRESS FURTHER: In some instances, you’re not to be in a hurry in God’s presence – Ecc. 8:3.
Sometimes you’re seeking the face of God for a clear-cut direction in life or ministry, and you’re in a seven-day fast, and then because you did not receive anything on the first day, you quit.
No! You may need to press further in prayer to discern the mind of God because it’s a matter that affects your future.
Moses was on the mountain for six days and all he saw was the covering of mount sinai with a cloud of glory not until the seventh day when he heard the voice of God, and then he went on in God’s presence for forty days and forty nights – Exo.24:15-18.
(3) WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE AN “IDOL” IN YOUR HEART: You already have a bias or what you want to do and you’re not ready to let the Holy Spirit have a say.
And then you come to disguise in prayer that you want the Holy Spirit to speak, God said He will answer you according to the multitude of idols in your heart – Ezek.14:1-4.
(4) WHEN THERE’S AN UNCONFESSED SIN: A believer sins and then he wants to brush it aside instead of simply repenting and confessing – 1Jn.1:9 and his conscience pricks him but he ignores it.
The same person comes to seek revelations from the Holy Spirit, of course he shouldn’t expect the Holy Spirit to be smiling. It’s first thing first. We shouldn’t play games with God.
(5) WHEN THERE’S CONSTANT DISOBEDIENCE AND COVER-UP: Genesis 6:3 lends credence to this. Also, Saul the first king of Israel ran into trouble when he couldn’t receive any prophetic word again following his act of disobedience and cover-up.
He sought the word of God through dreams, the Urim and the prophets but he didn’t receive anything. He then sought the witch of Endor and that really spelt his doom – 1 Sam.28:6-7.
(6) WHEN THERE’S MORE THAN MEET THE EYE: Here, there’s something you’re not seeing that you may have to take time to study well.
Sometimes you may have to look inward and introspectively examine yourself. Self-examination is recommended in the New Testament – 2 Cor.13:5.
(7) WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE THE ANSWER: You can’t change the mind of God. If the Holy Spirit has already told you IN CLEAR UNEQUIVOCAL TERMS what to do, you don’t ask Him again that what should you do? He may be silent. We all need to be sincere with God.
(8) WHEN YOU’RE PRAYING THE WRONG PRAYER: We’re only guaranteed answered prayers as we pray in line with the Word of God – 1Jn.5:14 – 15.
(9) WHEN YOU HARBOUR OFFENCES IN YOUR HEART: Offences deafen your spiritual hearing. So even if the Holy Spirit is speaking, it will appear as silence to you.
John the Baptist took offence at Jesus and he could no longer pick the heartbeat of the Spirit thus asking a question that refuted his initial stand on Jesus’ Messianic assignment – Matt.11:2-6.
(10) WHEN THERE’S A RED SIGNAL: Like I said earlier, it is not in the character of the Holy Spirit not to speak. At times His silence could just indicate a red signal which you need to clarify before you act.
Now, the bottomline is that DON’T EVER ACT ON THE SILENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; it’s presumptuous to do so. ALWAYS SEEK EXPLANATIONS OR CLARIFICATIONS.
And don’t also generalize. Situate the silence in context. Of course there are other reasons but for want of space.
Don’t get yourself in trouble or make avoidable mistake by following the line of thought that tells you that the silence of the Holy Spirit always means approval. No! No!! No!!!
Let me share two personal experiences here as I close. Some years ago, when we wanted to get our first car, there were two options. One was cheaper and more spacious than the other and my Pastors were very happy.
But deep inside of me, God told me that we shouldn’t go for the cheaper one but the other one. Well, I obeyed and that car was used for four years without much issues.
I once drove it to Ebonyi state to preach at Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF) State Conference and it was a smooth ride.
But beloved, when we were to change that car, we got an offer that appeared far far better but somehow somehow, I misinterpreted the “silence” of the Spirit over that move as a “go-ahead”.
Friend, that car was HELL ON EARTH. I didn’t drive it; it drove me. We changed the gear like four times.
That car was a demonic leakage to leak our family finances – it’s a car that can take you out of the ministry if you don’t know what you’re doing.
We spent over 1 million naira on just trying to fix it to no avail. Mehn, “owo aye wa lara moto yen” 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀!!!
That was a tough season. I learnt a vital lesson IN AN EXTREMELY PAINFUL WAY. I think I know better now by God’s Grace.
Also, sometime in the year 2005, I was pastoring at Osogbo, and during our Friday Prayer meeting in the Fellowship, I gave a word of wisdom in prayer and asked the members to pray against any road accident involving their parents.
A sister was absent at that meeting. Anyway, that sister later called that week that her parents were involved in a fatal accident while traveling from Ikirun to Osogbo and that they had been moved to LAUTECH Teaching Hospital at Osogbo.
I immediately mobilized some Fellowship leaders to go to the hospital. We got there and started praying but deep down in my heart, THERE WAS THIS SILENCE.
I just started saying ON MY OWN that there was no big deal and that in few days time the father and the mother would be discharged, NOT KNOWING THAT THE FATHER WAS ALREADY IN THE MORTUARY.
To cut the long story short, I personally visited the mother twice per day for three months consecutively untill she was discharged from the hospital because she had multiple fractures.
Well, as far as the Dad was concerned, all I knew while we were praying was that THERE SEEMED TO BE A SILENCE IN THE SPIRIT.
You know, dear friend, that’s part of the lessons we learnt on the road. Many people have stories to tell but I pray that for you, they will be good stories.
Please NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING; INTERPRET THE SILENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CORRECTLY and don’t ever rush into conclusion when spiritual facts have not been established.
As we learn to yield more to the Spirit of God, the Blessed Holy Spirit, we’ll get many things right; greater results we shall see and God Almighty shall be glorified in our lives.
Trust this is a blessing Sirs and Mas?