But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. – 1 John 2:27 NLT
The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He teaches us the truth about God, the Son, ourselves and the Word of God. Jesus told His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” John 14:26 ESV). He went on to explain the role the Holy Spirit would play in their lives. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13 ESV). He is the Spirit of truth. He speaks on behalf of the Father and the Son. He knows the mind of the Father. There is absolutely no chance of Him misleading you or misrepresenting the truth. That is why John reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit is to be their primary source of truth. He was not suggesting that the Spirit be their sole source of truth or their only teacher. John was not eliminating the need for human teachers in our lives, otherwise he would not have written his gospel account or his three epistles. John was dealing with a situation where false teachers were having a strongly negative influence over a local church. They were teaching false doctrine. They were denying the reality of sin and therefore, the need for a Savior. They were teaching a different gospel than the one Jesus Himself taught. And their teaching was confusing the faithful.
It would seem that John is suggesting that the Holy Spirit within us is there to help us discern false teaching from what is true. He equips us with the tools to tell the difference between what is a lie and what is truth. Paul told the believers in Corinth, “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14 NLT). It is the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God that makes it possible for us to comprehend spiritual truth. He provides us with the capacity to listen and learn discerningly. He does not eliminate the need for human teachers in our lives, but He makes sure we are able to tell which ones are dangerous and to be avoided.
Anyone who teaches a different version of the gospel, a different Jesus, a different way to be saved, or a different version of the truth of God, is to be avoided at all costs. The Holy Spirit exists to teach us the truth about all of those things. And He uses the Word of God to inform and instruct us. We must always rely on the Scriptures for our truth. The Holy Spirit will always confirm the Word of God, not contradict it. He will agree with the teachings of Jesus, not replace them. And while false teachers will always exist, attempting to substitute the truth of God with their own version of the truth, we will always have the Spirit of truth to help us know the difference. When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul had some very strong words. “Dear brothers and sisters,when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people.I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT). They had the Spirit of God within them, but they were not relying in His help. They were living according to their old nature, giving in to their flesh and experiencing a stagnancy in their spiritual growth. All because they were not listening to the Spirit within them. We can all do it. We do it every day. We have a choice to live according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. And when we choose to live according to or by the power of the Spirit within us, we receive a steady does of truth. He opens our eyes to see the truth regarding God, sin, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and our own sanctification. He helps us recognize our ongoing need for His transforming work in our lives. He reveals our weakness and reminds us of the power of God that is available to us each and every day of our lives.