Will we follow Holy Spirit or our confirmation bias?

One of the challenges for us as followers of Jesus during this pandemic is maintaining a vibrant faith while not being able to meet in the normal way. This is why I believe God is re-training us during this season to walk from rest. (There’s no social distancing with the indwelling Holy Spirit!)  And we see the barometer for our vibrancy when we take an  honest look at the condition of our heart.

Apparently, passion and enthusiasm for Jesus can have a shelf-life, if we don’t manage our hearts well. Here’s what Paul told Timothy in this regard:

 2 proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.

For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. (2 Tim.4:2-3 TPT*)

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. Paul is telling Timothy to preach the gospel, even when it’s not convenient for him, while living in a time where people have grown dull of hearing because they prefer convenience.

The first thing we need to know is that it’s God’s passion that ignites our hearts. We cannot conjure up this passion in our own strength. When we put our cold, dull hearts before the blazing bonfire of His love, we are ignited with pure joy and delight!

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 NKJV*)

I shared a study before that found that 32% of committed Christians have stopped attending either an online or on-location local church since the pandemic. Almost one-third who were faithfully working together in church families before now seem comfortable to just go on social media and listen to podcasts when it suits them…or they’re just not doing anything at all.

I’m not trying to be judgmental here, and there’s certainly other reasons why people have disconnected from these vital relationships; I’m only pointing out that while Holy Spirit is our Comforter, He’s anything but comfortable! He’s perfectly willing to break us out of our complacency and unexamined confirmation biases. And He’ll even use a pandemic to do it.

The Living Word exposes these self-inflicted boundaries to us—piercing our hearts, interpreting our innermost motives, and even challenging our cherished assumptions. This is why I contend that we should learn to let the Bible study us.

12 For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. (Heb.4:12 TPT*)

Here’s the danger. Without this continual “piercing,” without the Spirit’s constant recalibration of our perspective, without letting Holy Spirit speak through other people we’re in community with, who may even irritate us at times, our unexamined life will be just be following our own confirmation bias.

They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear.

Like birds of a feather flocking together, we’ll only be open to teachers we already agree with. We will have stopped “the eyes of our hearts from being enlightened” (Eph.1:18), resting in a truth that makes us comfortable instead the Truth that makes us truly free.

But, as Jesus told Peter, if He cannot wash us, we cannot share in His life (John 13:8). And we show we’re legitimate sons and daughters when we submit to this process.

Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons. (Heb.12:7-8 TPT*)

This correction deals with this box we’ve built our around ourselves, our propensity to walk away instead of grow, always learning but never experiencing the most important and wonderful discoveries about ourselves that we only find after we faithfully submit to His correction.

11 Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it. (Heb.12:11*)

This is because so much of what God wants to show us lies outside of our “box”; it lies beyond all we can ask or even imagine (Eph.3:20). We have no mental grid for it while still stuck inside the echo of our own thoughts.

Beloved, this is the key to staying strong in the Lord and staying vibrant in the faith, regardless of our circumstances. Let’s let Jesus be our guide: “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb.5:8). While it’s not always easy to follow Him instead of our fickle desires, the reward is incomparable! It was Jesus’ secret to a life well lived.

Finally, may the Will Reagan song, “Fill Me Up” be our continual mantra: “You provide the fire; I’ll provide the sacrifice.”  As a prayer toward this end, let’s let Tasha Cobbs minister to us with this song…until we overflow.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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12 Responses to Will we follow Holy Spirit or our confirmation bias?

  1. LightWriters says:

    An important word in season, Mel. (Draw the wandering, the restless, the lukewarm, the weary, the disenchanted,…Holy Spirit, pursue them, draw them with Your fiery wonderful constant and undying great love. Amen, Shalom) Psalm 84:10

  2. Good stuff, Mel!

    I really like how you went from “the healing words of truth,” right on over to “fully embrace God’s correction,” because they are pretty much one and the same. Discipline and disciple have the same roots, which all means to teach. We have to keep our heart teachable to keep hearing God at work in our lives.

    “Confirmation bias” has taken on negative connotations in our culture, but when it was first coined, it was actually a positive. We really will only see what we want to see or only seek out what we want to hear, but we can seize control of that and do it in a more positive way! If you genuinely believe you are dearly loved and have the Lord’s favor, than you will go forth and confirm that bias in your own life and in the life of others around you.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “If you genuinely believe you are dearly loved and have the Lord’s favor, than you will go forth and confirm that bias in your own life and in the life of others around you.”

      Yes! Amen. That’s a very positive confirmation bias, and it comes when believers who are being trained as sons and daughters in God’s love flock together. That would be creating the Kingdom culture on earth!

      And the thing about knowing that you’re loved is that you’re not afraid to step out of that environment to those who may even be hostile toward you, because His love makes us brave! And then even people who hate us will experience His love and grace.

  3. misterkiddo456 says:

    You are always full of great one-liners! 🙂

    The Living Word exposes these “Self-inflicted boundaries” to us. Self-inflicted boundaries. I pray God opens my eyes and heart to see and walk with Him in dealing with all my self-inflicted boundaries that block me from experiencing more of Him. ❤

  4. Pingback: The Decision-less Middle | Mitch Teemley

  5. pkadams says:

    Probably most of your readers are believers. But this bias you speak of can also keep us thinking that God is like a capricious, judgey, punishing human, but He is not! He is a loving, perfect Father to those who will trust Him.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen! You’re exactly right. Unless we deal with our natural confirmation bias, we will always project God in our own image. Angry preachers will see and preach an angry God, etc. If we’re insecure, we’ll turn our Christian worldview into an “us vs. them” war with the world, rather than be salt and light to it.

      • pkadams says:

        Yes , Mel, I’m saddened to see so many Christians teaching works based salvation. The gospel is the good news of grace !

        • Mel Wild says:

          Amen. I think human tendency is save ourselves, which is why religion was invented. Grace is counter-intuitive to the Adamic nature, hiding from God like Adam and Eve behind the fig leaves of religion. That’s why many Christians will mix the Law with grace, which Paul condemns in Gal. 3. We live in a word that learned to have our mind and body lead our soul instead of our spirit leading our soul. Walking by grace reverses that, or rather, puts it in the right order. Grace requires trust, but it’s also the power to live the way we were meant to live.

  6. A powerful statement:
    “The Living Word exposes these self-inflicted boundaries to us—piercing our hearts, interpreting our innermost motives, and even challenging our cherished assumptions. This is why I contend that we should learn to let the Bible study us.”

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