"the Holy Spirit lives in me"


This as an arguement I often hear from a protestant friend to support why he/she is able to interpret the Bible properly. There are a few places in Sacred Scripture that repeat something similar to the above. I’ve always found it distasteful because the particular individual with whom I chatted really seemed to consider him/herself incapable of error as a result of the “indwelling Holy Spirit”.
At a recent talk at my church the priest was talking about us being temples of the Holy Spirit, (during the course of a talk on the capital sins) so we must remain pure, etc. for that reason.
So what do you all think? Does Scripture (could Scripture) be only admonishing us guard our senses, and trying to tell us how holy we are as a result?


You might want to pass this on to your protestant friend. If the indwelling Holy Spirit makes a person incapable of error with respect to intreptation of scripture, the same must be true for his/her protestant brothers and sisters. I would ask this person to explain why there are over 30,000 different protestant sects operating today in the USA? Obviously they all cannot be right in their interpretation. How does she explain this?

Church doctrine, teachings and traditions based upon scripture and are the prescription for attaining “Eternal Life” not a mere admonishment. We are called to live in accordance not in fear.

St. Matthew 11

26 Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. 29 Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. 30 For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Iowa Mike


Isn’t it interesting that he ascribes to himself the gift of infallibility while denying the very same when applied to the Pope or the Catholic Church?

Ask him if he believes in purgatory, the Assumption or transubstantiation.

The infallible Church does. And we, too, have the Holy Spirit.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


Has he ever changed his mind on any interpretation of any scripture? If so, why wasn’t the Holy Spirit guiding him when he held an erroneous interpretation? And further if so, how does he know that his current interpretations are the right ones? How does he know that the Holy Spirit won’t be correcting him further down the line?

At the very most, all that he can hope for with his belief that the Holy Spirit will prevent error in him, is that at the moment of his death he will understand scripture perfectly. But he cannot say that at any moment before his death.


I’ve argued each point you’ve made with him/her, but my question pertains more to the follow up.
Could that “indwelling” be more an admonishment vs. some perceived automatic righteousness?


The discourse of Jesus, after His last supper (John chapters 14, 15 and 16), is directed not to all His followers, but to the leadership, the Apostles, the Bishops. It is to this group that Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come and lead them to all truth. It is to this group, and ONLY this group, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will lead to all truth. We’re told there are many gifts of the Spirit, but only one Spirit; 1 cor 12,4 Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; 5 And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord;),
So it is certainly possible to have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and be totally incorrect in your interpretation of Scripture. Jesus never promised everyone individually would be led to the truth, He ONLY promised His Church leadership, that they would be led to all truth.


I would also point out that having the Holy Spirit indwelling doesn’t cause perfect behavior (that is, we still sin), so why would it cause perfect interpretation? After all, if the Holy Spirit could only fix one thing I’m sure He would make us sinless before He would make us perfect interpreters of scripture. And yet we’re not sinless, so why in the world should we expect to be perfect interpreters of scripture?


For argument sake, let’s assume that Sola Scriptura is true, that Catholicism is false, and that the Holy Spirit speaks to each individual Christian and offers guidance and truth. Now, of all the thousands or hundreds or however many denominations or non-denominational churches you believe exist, take only two. Take the Presbyterian Church USA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, or the United Methodist Church and a non-denominational Church in Phoenix for example. Each of these denominations has millions of members. There is a good chance that the majority of them are nominal Christians who pay little attention to God other than showing up on Sunday. Therefore, let’s assume there are only 200,000 in each denomination that actually do care and try to make God a part of their daily lives. This is probably a low number, but we’ll take it. Now of these 400,000, there is a good chance that most of them have their minds closed to new interpretations due to either prejudice or presumptions as to what is true. Therefore, let’s assume that only 100 in each denomination have an open, unprejudiced mind and truly are seeking to understand God better. However, even then the majority of them, due to their fallen nature, might still be rejecting the truth with their free will because, once they recognize it, they don’t want it. Given this, let’s narrow the field down to one person in each denomination. I think it’s fair to say that there would be at least one person out of the millions and millions in these 2 denominations that is truly seeking truth, truly open to it, really listening to the Holy Spirit and living a life for God, and completely willing to accept anything one could possibly be led to. In reality, I believe that it’s ridiculous to say that there are only two people out of millions that really are honest in this way, but let’s say it’s true. This proves one of three things:

  1. the Holy Spirit does not always lead individuals into truth – and Sola Scriptura is false

  2. The Holy Spirit lies – He leads people into falsehood

  3. Christianity is a farce – There is no Holy Spirit to lead people

    Or, if the estimate of at least one true believer per group is wrong:

  4. Of the hundreds of millions of Protestants in the world, all of those are openly and honestly seeking the truth are found in only one denomination of all the thousands


Please help me understand. If the Holy Spirit is indwelling and guiding people’s interpretation of scripture, why are there 30,000 or more Protestant sects in existance today? Why would the Holy Spirit lead people to different and often conflicting interpretations?

Iowa Mike


It’s a mistaken argument because

*]the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit[/LIST]Nonetheless
*]it does not follow that one is thereby rendered incapable of error (sad to say !)[/LIST]Because
*]the Holy Spirit does not cancel, destroy, or abolish human personality[/LIST]So
*]it would not be wise for a Christian about to take exams to forget about revision, & hope that he will receive the necessary knowledge on the big day - God’s grace through the Holy Spirit does not abolish the need for us to act in faithful obedience to God, & to do our revision. The Holy Spirit is given to help us in that very obedience - not so that we can have a short cut that leaves obedience out of our lives as Christians.[/LIST]The Holy Spirit is God, we are not :smiley: - & different people have different characters, talents, abilities, interests, moral characters, temptations (& sins too); it is in & through this variety that the One God sees fit to work. He worked in St. Joseph of Cupertino, not by giving him the brilliance of a St. Thomas Aquinas, but by making him holy as the person he was, with the character, etc., that was his. So if a Christian cannot understand a Greek NT, that says nothing about his relationship to God; only about his linguistic ability.

If a Christian indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not know NT Greek, that indwelling is not going to give him knowledge of it; to understand it, the slog of studying the language is necessary - just as it would be if he were learning Spanish. He has a different motive from a non-Christian, because he can offer all he does to God; but he still has to learn the grammar. The work is the same for him & unbelievers - the motive is different.

The Holy Spirit transforms Christians - but Italian Christians don’t become Mexicans, any more than they go from being men to being elephants, or angels. If someone does not know the meaning of a passage in the Bible, reliance on the Holy Spirit - though essential - won’t by itself guarantee that he gets it right.


Your assumptions, I think, are truly untenable if you know Christianity at all:

*]There is a good chance that the majority of them [Protestants] are nominal Christians who pay little attention to God other than showing up on Sunday.

*]There is a good chance that most of them have their minds closed to new interpretations due to either prejudice or presumptions as to what is true.

*]Only 100 in each denomination have an open, unprejudiced mind and truly are seeking to understand God better.

*]The majority of them, due to their fallen nature, might still be rejecting the truth with their free will because, once they recognize it, they don’t want it.

I find it hard to comprehend that you actually believe this about Protestants.

But my problem is that I do not understand your optional conclusions: they do not march (tr from French). Can you explain?


I do believe that Jesus’ last discourse was for the apostles. However, at his ascension, there were many others present, where he promised to remain with them till the end of the age.

But then what do you make of the letters of John?

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 1 John 3:19-21

6 We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6

"whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us for ever: 2 John 1-2


You haven’t followed the argument. The problem is 33,000 denominations or whatever with different interpretations. However maybe most of the people in these denominations are not competent interpreters for whatever reason. But when you narrow it down, you’ve probably got at least one sincere, spirit-filled, godly, intelligent and informed person per denomination. So you can’t make the issue go away like that.
Geer’s idea wasn’t to imply that Protestants are particularly prejudiced, stupid, or fallen in nature.


Again, there are many gifts of the Spirit. Does He remain with us today? Certainly, are we then all assured this charism, or gift, of being led to all truth, no, not necessarily. We can have the Spirit but not this particular gift of the Spirit. The error is to think this particular gift must be with every individual who has the Spirit, it’s simply not true, it’s un-biblical. I may have the gift of tounges, but not have a clue as to a meaning of a Scripture verse, or the gift of charity, and not know what John 6 really means. Just because He is with us doesn’t give us the gift of being right in our interpretations. Again there is only one group and, separately, one single individual, guaranteed by Jesus Himself, “this” particular gift. The group is His Church (Catholic) leadership, the single individual is the pope. They and only they are guaranteed to be led to all truth. They alone can not teach, officially, in error.


“listens to us”…sounds to me like he is talking about “whoever knows God listens to us(apostles and the successors)” and “he who is not of God does not listen to us(apostles and the successors)” This is my personal interpretation…did I allow the spirit of error suppress the Holy Spirit…or is this truly the Holy Spirit?

So if the true successors of the apostles are in the Catholic Church…then non-catholics do not truly fully know God completely…for whatever reason or due to ignorance (not of their own fault.) Again, did I allow the spirit of error suppress the Holy Spirit or is this truly the Holy Spirit?


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