The Spirit Adds Nothing; The Spirit Adds Everything
In Doctrine of the Knowledge of God John Frame explains an important biblical concept he calls “seeing as.” “Seeing as” is more than merely seeing, it’s seeing or perceiving something in a particular light or in light of a particular perspective. Often we sin, knowing full well what Scripture says about our actions. But our protective rationalizations shield us from guilt. Only the Holy Spirit can transform seeing to “seeing as.”
The Spirit’s work also helps us to use and to apply the word. Obviously, the Spirit cannot assure us of the truth of Scripture unless He also teaches us its meaning. And meaning, as we have seen, includes the applications. We can see this in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 for David sinned against God by committing adultery with Bathsheba and by sending her husband, Uriah, to his death. Here, David, the “man after God’s own heart,” seemed trapped in a particular spiritual blindness. What happened to David? In one sense, he knew Scripture perfectly well; he meditated on God’s law day and night. And he was not ignorant about the facts of the case. Yet he was not convicted of sin. But Nathan the prophet came to him and spoke God’s word. He did not immediately rebuke David directly; he told a parable – a story that made David angry at someone else. Then Nathan told David, “you are the man.” At that point, David repented of his sin.
What had David learned from that point? He already knew God’s law, and, in a sense, he already knew the facts. What he learned was an application – what the law said about him. Previously, he may have rationalized something like this: “Kings of the earth have a right to take whatever women they want; and the commander-in-chief has the right to decide who fights on the front line. Therefore my relation with Bathsheba was not really adultery, and my order to Uriah was not really murder.” We all know how that works; we’ve done it ourselves. But what the Spirit did, through Nathan, was to take that rationalization away.
Thus David came to call his actions by the right names: sin, adultery, murder. He came to read his own life in terms of the biblical concepts. He came to see his “relationship” as adultery and his “executive order” as murder...
Much of the Spirit’s work in our lives as of this nature – assuring us that Scripture applies to our lives in particular ways. The Spirit does not add to the canon, but His work is really a work of teaching, of revelation. Without that revelation, we could make no use of Scripture at all; it would be a dead letter to us.
Thus in one sense, the Spirit adds nothing; in another sense, He adds everything.
-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 157, 158.