The notion that the Holy Spirit lives and acts within the Christian believer is a useful one. However, problems arise when the christian’s behaviour falls short of that which is expected of someone in whom God’s Holy Spirit is thought to operate.
Over the centuries, many prominent and trustworthy Christian leaders have often done amazing things for God only for them to be later on corrupted and fall away from the Church. Given that the Holy Spirit supposedly acts as an Advocate within each person to guide them in God’s ways, then we must presume that when things go wrong and communication is awry, then one or more of the following factors must be at play:
- God is active
- God is silent. Unable to hear what God is saying, the person is forced into a decision which has disastrous results.
- The person actively seeks God
- The person willfully rejects God and eventually ends up going against what the Holy Spirit with detrimental results.
Of course, at the heart of whether a person is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit is the issue of human freewill. It is this willingness to cooperate or rebel against God that determines what outcome will follow. In the case of the mentally unstable, it is not too hard to imagine how delussional episodes might cause some believers to think they are experiencing some form of spiritual attack which (in the worst case scenario) requires them to take action against a person or thing they believe to be spiritually afflicting them.
This probably explains incidents in which murderers like Peter Sutcliffe cite God as the initiating force for the atrocities they commit. In doing so, it also causes many people to question the goodness of God as they naively believe the Divine would direct such a person to be the instigator of perverse thinking and outcomes. However, the willful behaviour of humans that defame, kill and injure is best understood in the context of the Divine Himself as explained in John’s letter which observes that ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1v5).